Kym at the Gym: Episode Three
Kym at the gym reporting again! Today I want to talk about food. Just like every other fitness professional out there I have my own opinions and theories on how best to fuel a healthy body. However, I want to front everything I’m about to say with what I think is the most important rule to follow in terms of your health. Rule number one is that YOU must find what works for YOU!! It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine when I hear people, experts and non-experts alike, say “everyone should…”. Like what? The only thing everyone should do is mind their own damn business and focus on themselves. Seriously! Now this might be easy to agree with when talking about fads like juice cleanses but recently someone told me that “everyone should be eating intuitively”. Intuitive eating is the next buzz word for sure. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s basically eat when you’re hungry, whatever you’re hungry for and stop when you feel full. Sounds simple enough and considering how much stress the average person feels when making dietary choices this sounds like a beautiful remedy and for many people it is. However, people simply can’t be lumped into a one size fits all, “oh just do this” plan or idea. Let me use myself as an example here to illustrate my point.
Remember my first rule, you must find what works for you. If intuitive eating works for you and you’re able to be happy and healthy that way, then great! Honestly, intuitive eating can also help a lot of people reshape their relationship to food. Having gone through recovery from eating disorders I got to a point where I needed to not demonize any food and increase my awareness of what my body was trying to tell me. Having spent over a decade trying to ignore any hunger signals this took a bit of time though. Which makes the “oh just eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full” thing actually very hard to do. Sometimes, I would think I was just tired or drained when I was in truth hungry. Other times I kind of felt nauseous with the start of a migraine when yet again, I was hungry. Then on the other hand, the moment I had something that for so long had been “bad” and binge worthy there was no stopping at just one. When I’d have whatever I wanted, or thought I wanted because again being intuitive is pretty hard to accomplish, I often found myself over eating which would then bring with it triggering feelings. It’s like potty training a child. You don’t just jump right in to diaper freedom. You use pull ups and ask them constantly if they have to go to the bathroom. Then slowly, over time they build an awareness of their body’s signals, so they start to recognize when they have to go. Accidents happen, sometimes playing is just too much fun but eventually they get better at recognition and can say for themselves when it’s time to go. So yes, on the one hand intuitive eating can help build a more balanced relationship to food but it can also be triggering depending on the person. Hence…YOU must find what works for YOU!
So fast forward a couple years into my training, at a time when I felt like I could train and eat for a specific goal without going back into my disordered thinking. My first attempt was to calculate my macronutrients which include protein, fat and carbohydrates. The calculation part was easy, trying to build everything out in terms of balanced meals was much more difficult for me and I found myself slipping back into the “fuck it I’m just going to think about this later” mentality. Which left me craving and hungry while also frustrated. I gave it a good amount of time, but it was just not working with my lifestyle nor how I wanted to spend my energy. So, then I tried the Weight Watchers app and I really think it’s one of the easiest ways to build a healthy relationship with food and begin listen to your body’s signals while also achieving realistic goals. If you follow it, it will work. When people ask me for a recommendation I tell them to check out the WW app because its flexible, easy to use and works. I should be getting paid with how much I promote that app but unfortunately, I don’t. I used it for an entire year and though I really liked it I got to the point where I wanted to be a little more specific with my training and goals for my individual body. There’s a long story that includes some injuries over the last year that isn’t important right now so long story short, I wanted to get stronger again after getting cleared for training. My subscription to the WW app was up and in thinking about my goals I felt that I needed something that was geared towards the style of lifting I was doing so I switched it up and went with the RP diet app. I follow this company called Renaissance Periodization on Instagram and they just came out with a meal builder app that is based on an individual’s macro needs. I’ve just started but so far, I really like it. Not only does it have the flexibility, for the most part, but it also makes meeting macro needs much easier than the previous time I tried. Not to mention it sets an optimal time to eat which is helpful for me as I often can forget to eat when I get busy with work. I know I felt some eye rolls at that but like I said, that is me and that is my reality. Anyway, I’ll give it a year as it takes time and consistency to reach any fitness or wellness goal and I’m in no hurry!
My point with this personal preference story is that for me, personally, “just” eating intuitively doesn’t work. It not only triggers a lot of old disordered thinking and feelings for me, but also because I have different goals now that are going to require both a focused nutrition plan as well as a focused training plan. That isn’t a bad thing or something to fear doing. It is not bad to have realistic goals, it’s not bad if over time your goals change. It is not bad to want to eat healthier foods or have something help you balance nutritionally dense food with calorically dense food (see what I did there, no food is good or bad!), it is also not bad to want to enjoy the food you’re eating. Food itself is not bad or good, it’s fuel. Goals are not inherently bad or good. As long as you are realistic in terms of your own body’s healthy, your lifestyle and how much time you’ll sensibly need to achieve them. It’s up to you to find the balance between food that makes your brain happy and food that make your body happy. You are the only one who gets to decide that. So please, don’t let anyone make you feel bad for using an app to help you stay on your track. Likewise, don’t feel like you have to follow an app or a diet plan of any kind if that doesn’t fit your needs. Be you, do you and as always, be happy and be healthy.