Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Here's The Skinny

Today was another beautiful day!

My white hydrangia turns a beautiful golden/pink in the Fall :)
Today was also Wednesday which means it was dance teaching day! I'm excited because my boss, aka my sister, worked a "flex" class into my schedule this year. It's called flex but really, it's aerobics/toning. We got the name from the hour long class that I teach during the summer session, half of which was devoted to improving flexibility. Now the class is only 30 minutes so we do 20 minutes of cardio and then use the rest of the time for cool down/toning. After the cardio portion, I asked them what they wanted to tone and the answer was unanimously, "abs." These girls are middle/high schoolers and there are 18 total, most of which are in excellent shape. They are competitive dancers after all. That being said, I got some very disturbing answers among the "abs" votes. One girl pinched her non-existent love handle and said, "Obliques! I have got to get rid of this". After I gave a small explanation about how you can't really spot train, I asked for a volunteer to tell me the best way to get rid of those problem areas and that's when I got the most disturbing answer of all. The thinnest and possibly the prettiest middle schooler in the class said, "a knife." I stopped in my tracks and just stared at her.

Once I was able to pull myself back together, I of course, gave them the usual lecture about how they are all unique and beautiful and yada, yada, yada; but even as I was saying it I knew it wouldn't do any good because the youth of our society are just too far gone.  Most of them are sucked so far into the social media vortex of being flawless that nothing that I could say would ever change that. That is when I decided to use this flex class as an opportunity to educate these teens on a better way to care for their bodies. 

David's and my journey to our current level of health and fitness has been a long one and is still on-going.  We are not perfect and are still constantly tweaking our diet/exericse regimes. We have, however, discovered the answer to all of our body image problems.  I used to be just like all of the girls in my flex class when I was in high school.  I was in "good shape" becaues I was dancing all the time but I wasn't thin by any means.  I was dancing my butt off, figuratively, but somehow not literally.  How can that be?

What I didn't know as a teen, but that I do know now, is that being lean has little to do with your level of activity and a ton to do with your diet.  A great quote from Michael Pollan is, "Eat FOOD, mostly plants, not too much."  There it is.  There is the answer to America's growing obesity epidimic in one tiny phrase but unfortunately it is much easier said than done.  Food and sugar addictions are no joke.

When David and I first started dabbling in being healthy we started drinking Slim-Fast for breakfast, having Healthy Choice freezer meals for dinner and working out at the gym for hours each week.  We also still endulged in the "occasional treat" of Taco Bell, Fazolis, etc.(another great quote from Michael Pollan is, "If it comes through the window of your car, it is not FOOD.") Despite eating fake tasting, non-filling food, spending hours of our precious time that we'd never get back at the gym, and getting so sore that we couldn't even sit down without moaning and groaning; we still were not getting results that we were satisfied with.  I then stared following some food/fitness/health blogs, and had my eyes opened to the world of eating a clean diet of whole, organic foods.

 I started reading more blogs, books and articles to educate myself as much as I possibly could.  I began learning about how our bodies are unable to properly matabolize processed foods and that toxic by-products and free radicals are left behind like residue in every cell of our bodies (which can lead to a slew of cancers over time).  I learned that "waste = weight" and the cleaner your diet, the less excess weight you will carry.  I was also shocked to learn that eating fat actually doesn't make you fat and that all of those "healthy" shakes and freezer meals with all of their artificial ingredients and preservatives were actually the culpruts, along with our occasional fast food "treats". We began eating whole grain pasta and bread as well as brown rice as apposed to all of their white counterparts. As an avid dairy consumer (I had a glass of milk, a yogurt, and several servings of cheese everyday), I have to admit that I hated hearing the idea that perhaps we are not meant to consume cow's milk and that our bodies do not properly break down the proteins.  What finally got me on board was the idea that humans are the only mammal that consume the milk of another mammal after we are weaned.  I also learned that most infants, Ayden included, are born with an "intolerance" to cow's milk proteins. In my opinion, it makes sense that if we have to build a tolerance to something over time, we probably aren't supposed to comsume it to begin with.

*Side note* - I also find it interesting that in our society, mothers are expected to wean their babies by 1 year and then told to give their child whole cow's milk until they are two.  Why not just encourage mothers to breast feed until their child is two?  That way a child can comsume the milk from the mammal species to which they belong and that their little bodies are actually designed to process for as long as those important nutrients are necessary. - just my thoughts...

So here we are today living a mostly Paleo lifestyle and getting more and more strict as we learn more about food and how our bodies process it.  Is it hard for us sometimes?  Sure. But is it worth it?  Absolutely.  We finally have the bodies we have always wanted and other than the extra food planning, we really don't put in that much extra effort.  We exercise when we want to and because we want to and our reason is just to be healthy and nothing more.  There is no pressure to burn x amount of calories because we had our daily weekly "treat."  Though it has added some stress at times, it has also been one of the most liberating things we have ever done.  At 28 years old and almost 8 months postpartum, I felt more confident in my string bikini during our recent beach vacation than I ever have. We also feel amazing, which is even more important than how we look.

For some people, they'd rather have the delicious "naughty" food than to be lean.  If you are one of those people, then this post isn't for you.  If, however, you love your food but you also wish you had a different body or are spending most of your free time in the gym without the desired result, I have a challenge for you. Eliminate all processed foods from your diet. Start with a goal of just one week and if you feel good keep increasing the time and broadening your healthy horizons.

Though our diet seems strict to most of the people that we know, we feel the opposite. We enjoy full flavor (aka full fat) foods and do not count calories or control portions (except for meat). We eat when we are hungry and because all of the options at our finger tips are so healthy, we are able to have as much as we want and end up feeling more satisfied with less food. We cook with a variety of herbs and spices and as a result we savor every mouthful because it is so full of flavor. We've also had fun researching paleo-friendly dessert recipes and still enjoy treats, sweetened by raw honey, regularly.

I plan to start sharing everything that I have learned about nutrition with the girls in my flex class. I wish I had been raised with the knowledge of what is best for our bodies and will admit that being naturally thin would have saved me from a lot of unhealthy thinking as a teen. I gave my class the week-long challenge of no processed foods as well. It will be interesting to see if any of them actually follow through, because believe me, I know the transition can be a challenge, but at least a seed is planted. Perhaps my enthusiasm for the topic can spark a desire in them to educate themselves on proper nutrition. After all, the type of fuel that you put into your body is directly related to the performance and energy that you get out of it.

It's a bummer that poor nutrition and consumption of artificial ingredients, GMOs (genetically modified organisms), etc are such slow killers because it makes people feel removed and gives a false sense of safety and freedom. If you are interested in making a change but don't know where to start, I can recommend a few documentaries that really helped us start moving in the right direction: Killer At Large, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, Supersize Me, and Forks Over Knives to name a few. Michael Pollan has two great, eye opening books: In Defense of Food and The Omnivor's Delimma.

There are tons of "diets" out there. Some are healthy some are not but one consistency that no one can argue is the power of fresh vegetables. Not only are they packed with nutrients but they can help clean up and even repair the damage done by all of the junk we've been putting into our bodies over the years. According to studies discussed in Forks Over Knives, people have actually reversed serious damage and another author, Kris Carr, discusses how she cured her rare liver cancer with a Vegan diet in her book, Crazy Sexy Diet. I also know someone, personally, who had Rhumetoid Artheritis (RA) since she was a child and after switching to a Vegan diet, not only did her RA go into remission, but she conceived a baby after 5 years of unexplained infertility.  The lesson to be learned here is: "Let thy food be thy medecine!"

Are you motivated and up for the challenge? Please comment below with your thoughts and if you plan to attempt not eating any processed foods for a week. If you are in, be sure to come back and let me know how it goes and if you plan to take any further steps in changing your lifestyle. It always helps to have a buddy and I can be that for you!

Our little stander, who will be raised eating just like us!!



  1. LOVE this! I have been doing paleo for about 4 months and I have lost about 20 lbs. I have a lot more to lose, but I love the way I feel! No more migraines!!! It is hard, but I like eating the food with whole fat! Wish I would have raised my kids on this way of eating sooner!

  2. I have an autoimmune thyroid disorder and ever since watching your video about how your husbands autoimmune condition was helped by a paleo diet, ive really wanted to give it a try. For me, however, it would be a real challenge because I am 21 years old, living out of home for the first time and struggling with planning and eating "normal" meals. I also live in New Zealand where organic and unprocessed foods are not as readily available and are very very pricey! I don't know if I have the time and the willpower to succeed :(

  3. Hi, I am a fairly new reader of your blog! I found your blog after seeing your video on vitex success. My husband and I are working on eating healthier, and I have been doing research on paleo. It is definitely something I am interested in, however I think I will have a hard time convincing my husband. I really like your idea of trying it for a week to see how it goes (I think I could get my husband to at least try that!).
    When you and your husband switched over to the paleo diet did you do it gradually or all at once? Do you have any tips for people looking to convert to a paleo diet? Thanks for the inspiring post!