This is a series I am starting based off my own personal health journey of trial & error. I am not a nutritionist or dietician, so do not take anything I say as fact. It is always good to do your own research. The tips I will be sharing with you in these blogs are merely through my own extensive research and experimentation of what I have found to really work and be true over time!
If you just want the bullet point “get lean” tips without all the reading scroll on down to the bold lettering!
Over the past 4-5 years I was in a never ending cycle of diet, binge, diet, binge and so on. I’ve heard it called “yo yo” dieting, which I think is a good name for it. I never gained too much weight doing this, maybe fluctuated between 5-7 lbs up or down on the scale. But I just didn’t look toned. And I didn’t feel that great.
In high school, living at home I would eat healthy during the week then binge on alcohol/ junk on the weekends or snack late at night. I’d wake up bloated and not feeling my best. It was in high school that I first became interested in nutrition and health, researching endlessly health trends, facts, different ways of eating (ex. Vegan, Low carb, Raw till 4, Paleo, IIFYM, etc.) But I was in high school and never stuck to anything. I would learn the information but not implicating anything consistently did me no good.
In college I ate junk pretty much 90% of the time, even if it wasn’t fast food I just was eating whatever on a budget, grabbing Chick-fil-a for lunch, eating unhealthy (and all you can eat) dinners at the sorority house, snacking on late night Domino’s Pizza, drinking way too much. Luckily I was blessed with a good metabolism so it did take a while to start to catch up to me. But before it showed on the outside I just felt bad all the time on the inside.
The summer after freshman year of college, I got home and I “yo yo” dieted off and on basically eating low calories, working out a ton one week then partying and eating whatever I want the next – I lost some weight but again, didn’t feel very good, or necessarily look healthy or lean.
Now I don’t know if you’ve noticed but when you’re traveling to different states and countries you get this bug to want to try every new and exciting food. When I got to gap year this past year I was traveling for an entire year and try every food is exactly what I did. Specifically in the Middle East. This time I did gain about 9 lbs., and I was not happy about it. I decided this was it. I felt bloated, sluggish, sad and for me and what I like to look like for myself, overweight. By no means was I fat but for my own personal goals I knew I was not at my best or healthy. I was having stomach pains and indigestion after a lot of meals and I just all around didn’t feel good.
It was in February that I made the best lifestyle change I have ever made and this time really stuck to it, never looking back.
I became Paleo based. I say based because I eat Paleo about 80% of the time. When I am home I eat Paleo closer to all the time but I am a huge believer in listening to your body and eating intuitively. If I am on vacation I will have a margarita or pizza, chips, you name it. I will go out to dinner with friends occasionally and not worry about what I order but it’s all in moderation. The key to having this be such a successful lifestyle change rather than just a crash diet is never depriving myself of what I crave. If my body craves oat, i will feed it oats. If I am craving unhealthy food, I have found countless healthy alternatives that will do the trick and curb those cravings for the most part.
But the best part is, over time your body begins to crave the healthy food you are feeding it and not want the junk so much anymore.
I won’t say it is a magic way of eating, but for me it has done the trick. I almost never get bloated anymore, I feel good after my meals, my mood is better, I have more energy, sleep better and my stomach is much flatter. In my first 2 months of eating this way I lost 10 lbs. (and have kept them off!) These before pictures are pretty embarrassing but I have to share the comparison! This was my change in just 2 months of still eating to where I was full but making all the lifestyle changes I will be sharing about in this series, and upping my workouts from basically zero at the time to 3-4 times a week. Excuse my messy room in Chile, but check it..
To start off this series, which I am breaking down into a 5 part blog, I am going to share with you my top 5 tips to starting your own journey towards a healthy lifestyle. Of course not everyone needs or wants to be Paleo based but since I am, some of my tips will come from that general direction.
TIP #1 – Majorly UP your daily intake of water
We have all heard it said time and time again, “drink more water”, but actually doing it is a whole other animal. Personally I have to make myself drink water or I would go the entire day and forget. But like anything else the more water you start drinking the more your body craves it. A general rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces per day. For me I aim to drink 1 1/2 – 2 liters of water everyday to feel my best, sometimes a bit more depending how hard I work out that day.
Staying hydrated actually speeds up your metabolism and keeps everything flowing in your body and digestive system aka helps you poop out all the bad junk and in return not be bloated. Yay for a flat tummy!!
a few of my favorite more fun ways to get my water in are:
– adding fruit to my water, ex. lemons, limes, oranges
– making large cups of herbal, decaf tea
– adding a spoon full of chia seeds to your glass.
If you are not aware Chia seeds are a superfood that are packed full of fiber, omega 3’s, protein and various micronutrients. When added to liquid the seeds expand and become jelly like, so the added texture to your water makes it interesting and fun to drink + additional nutrition!
TIP #2 – Cut out processed food, sugar, pre packaged snacks
This is one of the easiest tips to do but sometimes the hardest if you are a snack junky. The food industry today is filling our grocery store aisles with countless prepackaged snacks jammed full or sugar, excess sodium, unrecognizable ingredients and minimal nutrition. Cutting out the packaged junk alone will make a huge impact on your body.
In order to really follow through on this on you have to find healthy alternatives for your go to snacks.
For me when I go grocery shopping I try to stick mainly to the outer edges of the grocery store – produce, meats, etc. I will venture into the center aisles for select things but try to keep my packaged vs. fresh food at a minimum.
Here are a couple of my favorite junk alternatives:
– craving popsicles… eat unsweetened frozen fruit
– craving soda… try la croix or flavored, unsweetened Perrier
– craving ice cream.. make banana nice cream (recipe blog to come)
– craving chips… eat carrots or bell peppers in hummus, the crunch is often what we are satisfied by! another alternative is homemade air popped popcorn or popcorn popped with a tablespoon of coconut oil
*If you love salt & vinegar chips like me try slicing up cucumber, drizzling them with apple cider vinegar & sprinkling with pink himalayan sea salt.. really hits the spot!
Craving a burger – make it at home to control the quality & try it with ice burger lettuce as the “bun”
TIP #3 – Get more sleep
This is pretty self explanatory but it does wonders for you metabolism, mental health and body. Try and aim for atlas 7-8 hours a night.
I have always been a night owl but switching over to heading to bed an hour or 2 earlier has made a huge difference. Give it a try!
TIP #4 – Eat volume foods!!!
This is such a good tip!
If you are anything like me and have a bottomless pit for a stomach then snacking during day is second nature.
Eating what I like to call “Volume Foods” gives you the freedom to snack all day or eat big meals at meal times with no regrets. This is key in my opinion to being successful in your lean journey because it ensures that you stay full. Nobody is happy with their diet if they are hungry all the time. And you shouldn’t have to be!
Volume foods are basically low calorie, whole foods that I use to bulk up my meals or just to snack on. They are foods you can eat as much as you want of to through out the day.
here is a list of my go to/ favorite volume foods:
– bell pepper
– spinach, romaine lettuce, kale
– zucchini/ squash
TIP #5 – Learn your body & Eat intuitively
This is really important. So many of us are not in tune with our bodies and what we need. The more you can understand you body the better you can feed yourself.
For me I have learned through trial & error that I do best on a high fat, high protein, low carb diet. My body needs good fats like avocado, coconut oil, nuts and seeds to function and I need a good portion in all of my meals to help me focus and keep up my energy.When I eat too many carbs I get sluggish. Other people do well on a higher carb, lower fat diet. Start experimenting with how you eat, paying close attention to how you feel depending what you put into your body and when.
Learn when you are hungry vs. bored or hungry vs. thirsty, Learn what foods make you feel not so great and try and find alternatives.
For example dairy does not sit will with me. I am not lactose intolerant but I just have never liked milk to begin with and dairy products make me feel not so good. Dairy also makes my skin break out so when I cut it out, a lot cleared up for me – literally! I now use almond milk, coconut milk and different alternatives when cooking.
Find what works for you!
Comment below or DM me on Instagram if you have any questions on the tips in todays blog! Soon to come tips 6-10 🙂