A Thursday Thought from Dietitian Addie
Focusing on either maintaining or improving your current health is FABULOUS! Virtual HIGH-FIVE to you for noting the importance of taking care of your body by both what you eat and how you move! But are you truly looking at health changes or are you just a slave to the numbers?
Calories & the weight that shows up on the bathroom scale are 2 numbers that cause people the most stress and keep the dieting culture alive and thriving. One moment we can be thrilled about finishing a great workout – to in a matter of minutes moving on to the scale to see a number that completely changes our mood and how we value our bodies. Focusing on these numbers alone creates a negative, “I have to do this” approach to health. It becomes a forced chore rather than a daily positive habit.
Now do not get me wrong, calories in vs. calories out is one tried and true way to determine intake balance in comparison to your expenditure throughout the day. Body weight can be used as a health outcome measurement (let’s say achieving a healthy BMI for example) and a way to track certain progress. HOWEVER, only focusing on these numbers will keep you from missing the main goal – LIVING WELL. You can restrict your calories & lose weight… but you may also be missing out on essential nutrients. If you are only restricting calories, but eating highly processed, sodium rich, sugary and fatty foods, you might be losing weight but actually becoming more unhealthy. So I ask you, is your focus a number that you have fabricated in your head that will make you “happy”, OR is it learning how to create positive daily habits that will naturally result in maintaining a healthy body weight and physical strength, as well as preventing disease?
When it comes to tracking your daily health habits, I promote a big picture focus rather than looking at the numbers. Numbers can fluctuate from day to day based off of a variety of factors. If we get too bogged down with those numbers, frustration will typically occur and our emotions creep in. Instead of only crunching the numbers, slow down and take a look at your day to day choices. As I say to many clients, we are not human calculators meant to live a life of adding up calories. We are meant to treat our bodies well each day by fueling them with good food and moving to keep them strong. If we do these two things, we are well on our way to achieving optimal health and wellness!
I do not teach calorie counting, carb counting, macro counting or any other mathematic approach to nutrition and fitness – I teach consistency. I promote eating a balanced, whole food, plant-based diet that is rich in colors, fiber and flavor! I encourage cooking at home, making informed choices when eating out, and surrounding yourself with positive & supportive people.
I encourage you to find a form of exercise that you truly enjoy most of the time. I say most of the time because just as life has ups and downs, some days we will really want to work out and others not so much. However, just as we keep on living through the bad days, I encourage you to move anyway – you will never regret it! So whether it be running, walking, Zumba, swimming, spinning, lifting, structured classes/sports or working out alone – choose one form (or a few) and consistently move your body every day. Not because of the calorie count on your fancy fitness watch, but because when we move we promote muscular health, circulation of nutrients throughout our amazing bodies, and positive mental health.
Focus on the day to day choices that set you up for success, keep it positive, and never pass up an opportunity for more plants or the chance to move!