Friday, November 27, 2009

No sharing allowed

Its official, we don't like to share (food). I think this is very close to the 'clean plate' rule in that we like to know what we're eating, how much and we're going to enjoy every last bite.

Despite obvious evidence to the contrary, I think we are hardwired to believe that food is scarce so often we fear not getting enough to eat, we fear hunger and we fear missing out! If I get anxious about this sort of stuff or I get the urge to continue eating after finishing a meal, I'll often remind myself that I can always get more food if I want it however, my next meal is never far away!

Growing up at my house, I remember that whenever one person had something they HAD to offer it around to everyone else first before they ate it. So if you could had a chocolate bar (which wasn't often), you'd reluctantly offer it around to everyone "for a bite" and hope that you get at least 50% back. I only have one sibling so often it was also the case that we'd only get one item and have to cut it in half. Seems fair doesn't it? But if you think back it never was, especially if you were the younger sibling! Its so funny to think about what a big deal this was as a kid!

I totally get that parents need to teach their children how to share but you don't really get that warm fuzzy feel good feeling after sharing when you are forced to! I've heard of some families that buy their kids one each of everything from computers to the same exact toy that they'll be bored with in one week anyway, to avoid the fights over having to share. Incidentally, I heard the other day that the 'cost of raising a child' has been reestimated as one million dollars (!!) and that this is largely to do with all the new technology available - craziness!

So I guess the 50/50 rule works sometimes but not so well in other circumstances. I definately think that food is one that should be an exception to the 'must share' rule sometimes....
Ps how cool is my picture today?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Are you going to finish that?

I've been thinking about little habits/behaviours we develop in relation to food. I'm one of those people whose parents made them eat everything on their plate as a child, ah we can blame childhood for so much can't we? Yes the whole nine yards, "you'll sit there until you eat that" mexican standoff that is so much fun for all involved. I even still associate the music of the 6pm news with dinner time - seriously, I'd hear that music and dread the battle of wills that would come!

Now, as an adult I rarely leave anything on my plate. I'm not very good at listening to 'hunger cues' to know when I'm satisfied, I just keep going until its all gone! I think 'dieting' both helps and hinders the situation. When I follow a meal plan I know exactly what portions I should be having, hence I'm not only entitled to eat the whole thing - I probably should or else I'd be undereating. I suppose now I manage the situation by continuing to 'volumise' my meals with fibrous vegetables. I put on my plate what I intend to eat and don't go back for more. You can see how this works at home but not so well at buffets...

I don't like to share either (lol). When I go out to dinner with my friends they often only want to order a couple of meals (less than one each) and just share them and I just don't understand that! Unless its tapas or that kind of menu.. I suppose if you're really not that hungry it might be a good way to save money and not waste food? I like to know that what is on the plate is mine and I can take my time eating it... maybe I'm afraid of not getting enough or missing out? I'm pretty sure this stems from childhood as well... Do any of you find yourselves eating too quickly for this reason?

I'm sure everyone has their own little habits with eating. What are yours?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Working with food rather than against it

For my own benefit really, I want to recap some ideas because I tend to write as I think and therefore am not as concise as I would like to be!

(I know how to diet when i need to)

1. I love food- who doesn't? I love fresh healthy unprocessed foods and the way they make me feel. I also love the taste of a lot of processed, high fat/high sugar foods. I love to cook, watch cooking shows, read and talk about food. I am a foodie!
2. I am also an athlete who loves to train.
3. My food choices are consistent with my current goals, therefore:
a) I make wise choices about how much and how often I eat high sugar/high fat foods.
b) If I want to lose fat or am preparing for a comp, I am comfortable with ‘being on a diet’ for that purpose and only eat what is on my plan. Not to fear, the plan is usually pretty flexible and generous to begin with anyway! Key points re dieting = never hungry, never deprived.
4. I am liking the approach of balancing my intake between “functional fuel and purely for taste”. Patent pending! I aim high for functional eating – 80-90%?
5. I probably wouldn’t touch the term ‘intuitive eating’ because my intuition might lure me into a sugar coma. My 90% goal would suffer.
6. Not only that but my portion sizes would be immense! Too much fuel can make you fat too you know :S
7. Learning to cook and making “functional fuel” (aka healthy food) taste great is worth it, given I'm eating it most of the time.
8. Lovely fresh ingredients don’t need that much help anyway- hello garlic! During prep I didn’t eat one thing I didn’t enjoy the taste of.

I also want to convey that although my posts tend to come across as advice (lectures?) I’m really just reflecting on my own thoughts/what is or isn’t working for me etc. I like to think that there’s people reading who might be able to relate or benefit from some of my ideas.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Intentional Chocolate

Chocolate doesn’t really even rate highly on my list of foods I crave but I love today’s title, borrowed from Yes, my current strategy involves intentionally eating all of the things I love, balanced by portion control and keeping up my training. Basically I like to see what I can get away with food-wise, lol! Keeps that metabolism cranking! is one of the few ‘foodies’ blogs I like to read (I’d read more if I were allowed to surf the net all day). We share a love of thinking of all the yummy things we love and trying to eat them all at the same time…. For example I’ve gotten a lot of fabulously naughty ideas to make a bowl of oats for breakfast more like dessert… Kath is a runner so I guess can afford to ‘carb up’ a lot more than me (so lazy!) so my compromise is to choose one or two things to add to my oats each day to make life just that little bit sweeter. This morning I had 50g mango through my oats.. yum!

I think the ultimate goal for emotional eaters is to feel in control of your eating habits and enjoy food.

What about if you want to or like being all ‘hardcore’ and are genuinely happy to only ever eat food as fuel? Wow well if that’s true then good for you and I’m a little jealous of your six-pack right now! Although just quietly I am wondering what planet you are from and whether you have ever tasted hot chips with garlic aioli or baked cheesecake… haha. (Talk about “sometimes foods”!)

In the past I have wanted to achieve this and used to think that to truly consider myself an athlete, I had to be disciplined enough to eat ‘functionally’ 24/7. To be honest, I used to think that anyone who preached using a balanced approach was ‘soft’ and just wanting to justify eating crap….! At the end of the day you can tell a lot more about a person by what they DO not what they SAY.

For most of us, there’s a little struggle going on in your mind where some days you just want to be able to eat whatever you want but on other more motivated days, you’re willing to do whatever it takes to be lean as…. I’m about 80% fuel and 20% taste right now and am using a bit of common sense in planning my meals to balance these conflicting extremes and keep all the voices in my head happy …(!)

Using my list of foods from yesterday, I have a good idea of how often I should be eating each item and what is a reasonable portion for me – this is something we all have to consider for ourselves based on your foods, activity level and current goals (usually losing/maintaining fat and gaining lean muscle mass). It also depends on how disciplined you’re willing to be. There’s no point saying you want to have abs year-around but also want to eat chocolate everyday. Basically, you need to align your eating/exercise habits with your goal and keep it realistic. Break out of the cycle of setting unachievable goals and feeling like a failure because you can’t keep up with what it takes to get there.

As for these foods triggering overeating, I guess that’s a risk you have to manage by not eating when you’re upset and staying focused. But if you know you can have x food again tomorrow or later in the week then that makes it a lot easier to stop. I’ve been on some mad binges in my time. If I’m feeling that behavior coming on, I ask myself “you have to stop eating at some point – do you want to feel good about it or … gross?”

Its worth thinking about …. Personally, if I tell myself I can’t have a particular food for longer than say, a week - then I consider myself to be on a diet. I don’t want to be on a diet 365 days a year, do you? It’ll make comp dieting easier, I promise!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Too much of a good thing?

Hannie’s done a great post on what she’s been craving lately and possibly considers to be her ‘trigger’ foods. No its not oily greasy chips and KFC, its things like – bananas, peanut butter, natural yoghurt! I think a lot of us could relate to it, with the exception of the ricecakes (bleghh!) I could have written a very similar list. Just for fun, here is mine in no particular order:

Bananas, peanut butter, natural yoghurt, dried fruit such as dates and apricots, heavy grain/seed bread, plain oats, granola, fruit scones, banana bread, cheese, sushi, dark chocolate with nuts.

We all LOVE food. We understand that there are a lot of clean foods that taste great AND make us feel good. In the right quantities, many of the above things that I crave can form part of any healthy meal plan … But that’s the issue – can you stop at ‘the right quantity’ or ‘in moderation’? It always comes back to good old portion control!

When it comes to clean foods emotional eating may not play as great a part in controlling portion sizes (unless perhaps if you’ve placed yourself on a restrictive diet). However, because most of the items are (sweet) fast acting sources of carbohydrate we also have the body’s physiological responses to contend with. We get an insulin rush then drop AND a nice release of happy chemicals from the brain and can end up overeating. Cheese is slightly different but apparently releases a similar chemical in the brain found to be released in the brains of heavy drug users… addictive much? Unfortunately it is possible to have too much a good thing.

So what is the solution for you? To eliminate these foods? Completely or just for a while?
Don’t eliminate them but keep them out of the house? Or … purposely incorporate them into your meal plan?

I’ll let you know what my current strategy is and how its going so far in part 2


Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'm on the seafood diet

I ‘see food’ and eat it, lol- I never get tired of that joke. But seriously, I was really excited about my lunch today….

On the weekend I went down to Southport on the gold coast to visit my mum. Having not seen her in about three years I didn’t know what to expect but this post is going to focus on what I think was the highlight of the trip – we had an amazing seafood lunch at Georges Restaurant, next to Australia Fair shopping centre.

As you know when it comes to seafood only the best (freshest) will do – luckily George’s menu is half price at lunch time J We all chose a mixed appetiser that had 2 oysters, 2 king prawns, a bug and smoked salmon with capers on salad with avocado, seafood sauce, fresh lemon wedges and fruit garnish. Plenty of food leaving us feeling satisfied and fantastic rather than full and sluggish!
So for today’s lunch I treated myself by replicating part of the meal - smoked salmon on salad with avocado, capers and fresh lemon juice. I tried making my own figure friendly seafood sauce too by mixing together equal parts of low fat mayonnaise with low sugar tomato sauce.. clever aren’t I? hehe.

I am loving my food at the moment and the increased energy I have for training. After going through a little bit of a struggle patch recently I worked out that if I could make small increases of healthy things that I love on a daily basis eg oats, fruit, natural yoghurt etc I can shake this ‘on a diet’ feeling once and for all. This has been working really well and I’m not getting cravings for junk or the urge to binge. Keep asking yourself – how will food X make me feel compared to food Y? For example, I have been raving about that seafood at Georges all week and before I ordered it I was tempted by the lasagne on the menu (you know its my favourite!) The main reason I went with the seafood was that I knew it would be very high quality but by the end of the meal I felt so good that I knew I had learned a valuable lesson. I wish I was on the seafood diet, I would love to eat this stuff every day, wouldn't you!!? .... imagine it, living on a beautiful island - before long you'd be saying McWhat?!

I weigh myself once per week and this morning was sitting just over two kilos heavier than I was the week leading up to the show. 2kg of FAT mind you = looking and feeling a lot softer. I have been keeping training intense with the goal of gaining at least 2kg lean muscle mass by the time I’m ready to compete again (2kg heavier onstage). I’m estimating that if I keep working hard, this will take me about 2- 3 years. If anyone tells you that as a natural female you can gain muscle faster than this, I’m sorry but they’re having you on!

I’m also absolutely amazed at how much fluid I seem to hold. I look positively FLAT in the mornings before I’ve had a drink (and of course that’s when I weigh myself!) Ali told me that when we were dieting toward the end there I looked like I was dying first thing in the morning, haha! The positive side of that was that dehydrating for comp worked really well for me, our coach couldn’t believe the difference!

I’m getting more and more used to my new ‘offseason’ look and although I miss looking and feeling ‘hard’ I certainly cannot complain. I have been meaning to take a photo to post – can someone harass me if I don’t do this over the weekend please?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Get out of my way!!!

Trying to get out of my own way really- yes, I'm talking to myself in the title! Thanks Jehanne for giving me a lil push to blog :)

I have been very up and down in terms of mood, which I'm really over! I'm sure its the hormone issues at play - wish I could just feel ... calm and on the level but I'm usually either pumped and full of positive energy or down in the grumpy dumps!

I still find it difficult to relax too, but am getting better. I've discussed 'anxiety' with a few people lately and its shockingly common these days, many people seem to struggle with it to some degree. You know that overwhelmed feeling? hate it. Sometimes your own head can be a scary place to be. Got it every now and then during comp prep which was to be expected I guess but its still popping up now. A good measure for me is whether or not my food prep and housework is getting done without me going totally nuts about it, lol!

So the goal of de-stressing continues! Especially not to stress or worry about things that are out of our control. During prep I worried far too much about what others thought about me and how what I was doing affected other people. There was nothing I could do about that and really, what others think of you is none of your business (unless they want to let you know). The advice I would give to others is:

Do NOT be apologetic or let anyone make you feel guilty for your decision to compete or live a healthier lifestyle. Be open, honest and polite about it but assert your right to choose what you put in your mouth and how you spend your time.

One qualification to that is please don't complain though either! You can't say your decision to compete is not affecting anyone else if you pick on them for their 'normal' eating habits/won't let them eat in front of you etc etc.

I was pretty happy with my focus during comp prep though while the daily monotony of routine and crazy business stressed me out at times I never worried about whether or not I'd actually get there. I never saw cheating or bailing as options. I know some people feel safer with an exit strategy but I think it just makes the daily motivation more difficult. It also makes it dangerous for excuses to emerge post comp about why you weren't in the best condition possible.

Do the work and everything else will take care of itself.

So although I'm not competing again in the near future, I feel I have learnt a lot that I could put to use next time and have identified lots of things to work on in the meantime.

Came across a great quote from Ronnie Coleman about competing that I thought I'd share, it was in a 2002 Flex mag i was reading on our treadmill this morning so at this point he had won Mr Olympia 4 times:

"Work hard, improve, stay calm and keep quiet. There's no reason to go around complaining and worrying about where you place. You've got to train as hard as you can and leave all that other stuff up to a higher power. Put in the work and everything will come out alright.

Look at me. I'm the best example of that!"

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