First of all, if you're reading this with the intention of implementing my advice into your daily life, high five. I mean, I'm not a genius and I don't know everything, but my journey through healthy eating has been a very diverse one so I feel as if I could at least help one person out (maybe even you).
I've tried just about anything to get the body I want, at one point even eating under 500 calories per day. There were times when I'd go home for lunch in high school and eat an apple and seven almonds, along with a carbonated flavored water full of aspartame to get skinny, my idea of 'fit' at the time. There were also times in college where I focused on good fats and bad fats, good carbs and bad carbs, eating only organic whole foods and spending hundreds of dollars on fancy food items. Not surprisingly, both of these lifestyle choices led me to obsessing over what I put into my mouth almost 98% of the day, working out only because I felt fat and unhealthy, and delving into binge eating at least once per week: cue images of Aubrie shoving Oreos covered in peanut butter into her mouth, eating an entire bag of month-old stale Doritos because she didn't want to leave her apartment, driving through McDonalds at midnight for ten Dollar Menu items and eating it all in secret inside her car glancing out the windows making sure no one she knew was driving by. That was me. Was.
As you know, recently I got to spend the weekend in LA and, not to channel Harry Potter like a nerd or anything, but while I was there I got to be a muggle. If you're not familiar with that term, I basically got to be a normal person that is not afflicted with the burden of having magical powers (such a burden to be able to turn your worst enemies into slug-munchers, or maybe even turn flowers into chicken nuggets hot and ready for consumption-BURDEN). I didn't mess with the wizardry of tracking macros, I just ate intuitively, mostly due to the fact that I was staying at my sister's friend's house and having access to my normal foods was not realistic within such a short trip. Living life as a muggle was very nostalgic for me and it brought me to a mental place where I think the majority of the population is at. Maybe I am extremely far off, but I believe that the majority of people are in a place where they exercise occasionally, drink alcohol occasionally, eat out at least once per week, and have a general, not overwhelming, desire to remain somewhat healthy. For three days, I got to be that person again. It was wonderful and much needed but it inspired me to expound on a topic that I am confronted with often when others ask me for fitness advice- "I want to be healthy, but I don't want to reach an extreme. What kinds of things should I be focusing on?"
Although Brad and I place very high value on macro budgeting, weightlifting, and frequent healthy routines, we understand that there are many people who do not want the lives that we lead- BUT they still want to be healthy and fit and enjoy a long life. Okay great, we commend you. Our lifestyle is not for everyone, although we do love showing others how simple it can be. So, to answer some of those questions I compiled some advice into a list format that hopefully will be helpful to you on your journey.
1. Drink more water. Way more. Please remember that juice is not water, coffee is not water, tea is not water, cola is not water, Gatorade is not water, diet cokes are not water, crystal light is not water, even flavored water or carbonated water is not water. So when I say drink more water, I mean that clear junk coming from the faucet.
2. Focus on protein. Even if you don't exercise, protein is very important and most people don't get enough of it. I'm not referring to protein powders or "fake" protein either- limit that to one serving or none serving per day. Protein feeds your muscles more than carbs or fat, and you want your muscles to stay fed especially if you're not growing them or challenging them through daily exercise.
3. Get moving. Use your food intake as fuel for movement. Take a walk, go catch Pokemon, go to the gym more often, do yoga, sweat and breathe heavily. Your body will thank you.
4. Watch your cats. I mean FATS watch your fats, stupid autocorrect. If there's one thing I noticed while eating intuitively on my girls weekend, its that most people eat a lot of fat without knowing it- guess what your body does with fat? It makes fat. That is, if you don't expend energy far often enough. Even if it's occasionally looking at labels for fat content while choosing items at the grocery store, or skipping out on oils and nut butters, or eating chicken more often than beef, it's a start.
5. Focus on more vibrant vegetables and less fruits. I loved fruit at one point in my life, I would chow on two apples per day and a bucket of grapes and lovely little mandarins day in and day out. But when I stopped eating as much fruit this last year I realized something: I crashed less and snacked less. After some research I discovered why- the glycemic index and carb count of fruits are very high which means they are great for a boost of energy right before a workout or activity but by no means did they help me while sitting at work in front of my computer. My body treated it like candy, and I only wanted more and more fruit the more and more I ate it. Stick to fibrous and vibrant vegetables throughout the day, and use fruit as a sweet treat or a pre-workout energy boost. It will help you feel full and vitaminized (made that word up but you get my point).
6. Sleep. Although I'm not a believer that late-night eating will make you fat, I did at one point come to the realization that the only reason I was eating late at night or at two o clock in the afternoon was because I was tired. Once I got more regular sleep habits I stopped using food to keep me awake. Simple.
7. Stop trying fad diets and get-fit-quick schemes. It's ruining your body and your wallet. Brad and I could literally speak for 24 hours regarding this topic and maybe some day we will do just that and enter into the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest most boring informational speech on the planet, but we couldn't believe more strongly in this piece of advice. Stay the course, treat your body as a prized possession, eat real food, and exercise. You don't need a pill, a shake, a cream, a microwave meal, to get fit.
8. Alcohol is not your friend. A glass every now and then, maybe even one per night, it depends on the person. But if I hear one more person complain about not being able to lose that stubborn weight, yet I see them consuming glasses upon glasses of alcohol each week, I swear I will lay the wrath DOWN. Did you know your body processes alcohol like fat? Yep, learned that one from Brad and I've become conscious of that ever since. There are plenty of other reasons I stay away from alcohol, for example the mere fact that every time I drink more than one serving of alcohol I grow a hollow leg that can only be satiated by an extra large pepperoni pizza, but beyond that it just makes me feel groggy, stuffy, sick, and unable to function normally. Reason enough for me. And the bonus is I get to save money for other really important things like socks with mini hotdogs all over them.
9. Trust and listen to your body. It is the only one you have, so stop treating it like your ugly cousin that you always ignore at the family reunion. Learn how your body responds to stress, more food, less food, different kinds of food, exercise, new environments, etc. and find a healthy balance that is maintainable until you're 70 years old (because everyone knows that after 70, you can just let yourself go and start acting a fool). That means no extremes, focus on longevity. If you notice your body is not feeling energetic, you're feeling unwell or just unhealthy (acid reflux, fatigue, dizziness,indigestion, post-nasal drip, ring a bell anyone??) be real with yourself and tame some of those unhealthy eating or lifestyle habits you've adopted. Drop some of them and watch how your body responds. Hey, it might even save you a trip to the doctors' office.
Brad and I want everyone we know to be health-conscious and confident with their bodies, which is so unrealistic and far-fetched but we will die trying. If we could, we would put everyone in the world on macro budgets and have them lift and hang out and workout with us, but we know that in reality, there are more people than not that are only halfway concerned with their health and fitness. And it is for that reason that we stay up until midnight each night drowning in deep pools of our salty tears, sobbing and drooling ugly cries of depression (picture Kim Kardashian's crying face- THAT ugly), wondering why not everyone could just surrender their lives to us and become healthier human beings.
Just kidding, we don't care that much.
But we do care about you. And we know you're worth every minute of hard work you put toward living a healthier lifestyle, which is why we hope this information can be of help to you in your journey.