I was an average medium built looking woman during my 20’s. My average weight was 155 pounds at a height of 5’7. I worked out daily but did mostly cardiovascular activities and ate relatively healthy (or so I thought). It is a shame to say this, but during my years studying to be a dietitian at University of Arizona (UofA), I really was NOT healthy. I drank slim fast, ate protein bars for my meals, drank energy drinks and diet soda, chose non-organic meat, artificial sweeteners, and low-fat foods, used margarine, and fixated on calories. Overall I fed by body way too many toxic ingredients because of ease, availability, and a lack of balance in my own life.
I was young and educated by fellow dietitians who were severely overweight or simply unhealthy role models. I was taught to follow the food guide pyramid principles under the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HSS) who are influenced too much by food manufacturers, food producers, and special interest groups.
It was during my graduate school at Arizona State University (ASU) for my Masters in Exercise and Wellness that I really got into what I was actually putting in my body. The moment I went into a bod pod (a very accurate machine to measure your body composition) and found out my results, I almost fell to the ground. My body fat was over 30% which is considered OBESE for females. I began to really question my role as a dietitian – how can I educate others when myself needed a makeover.
My journey to gain lean muscle mass, get rid of excess body fat and change my dietary choices and habits began. I was no longer going to follow the traditional dietitian role and advocate on dietary principles that I no longer thought were accurate and healthy.
Shortly after, I became pregnant with my first child who was born in April 2013. I knew this baby inside me needed to be fed REAL food produced without pesticides or have chemically derived ingredients. I gained the recommended 30lbs which brought my weight up to 185lbs. After the initial weight loss post baby, my weight was about 170-175lbs. I lost an average 5lbs/month or just little over a pound a week over a period of 8 months. I ended up at 135lbs with about 16% body fat. I couldn’t believe it! I literally felt like a new person – more energized, physically stronger, mentally sharper, emotionally stable, unrestricted, happier and simply rejuvenated! You may be thinking, what did she do?
Let’s start with the primary foods: Career, spirituality, relationships, physical activity
I realized my relationships needed some balancing. As a new mom I craved a network of other moms to relate to. I no longer could relate to my previous non-mom friends. Some days were harder than others and my moods really fluctuated. My husband didn’t know who he was coming home to on many days of the week. I reached out and joined some mommy meet-ups and eventually found a really great group of like-minded mothers with kids of similar ages. These moms helped me get through the sleepless nights, get my butt out of the house for play dates and relieve my constant worrying and questioning of motherhood. The lack of sleep, confinement to my house with naps, and resentment towards my husband would have put a toll on my own health if i didn’t work on my primary food, relationships.
In regards to secondary foods, I eat full-fat foods (i.e. avocado, butter, yogurt, cream, coconut milk, nut butters/nuts/seeds, egg yolks, cheese, higher fat grass-fed meats) cut out all artificial sugar and use real sweeteners (i.e. honey, maple syrup, dates, coconut sugar) in moderation, stopped paying attention to calories and listen to my hunger cues, food prep, provide fuel to my body multiple times a day, limit starchy carbohydrates (i.e. wheat crackers, bread, pasta), choose minimally processed foods with no more chemically derived toxic ingredients (i.e. GMOs, soy isolates, MSG, artificial coloring, carrageenan, nitrites) and treat myself to a piece of dark chocolate daily. Food is literally the most powerful drug on the planet – it creates our mood, thoughts and emotions.
In addition to eating better and following my own dietary guidelines, I changed up my exercise routine. I lift weights (heavy) daily and only do a high intensity cardio or yoga two times a week. Weight training increases your lean muscle mass so your metabolism is faster and therefore you can actually eat more and indulge once in a while without the body fat weight coming back. GOODBYE 45-60 minute elliptical or stair master workouts and HELLO barbell!
I was able to get the same results with baby #2! My second child was born in September 2015. I ended that pregnancy weight at 160lbs with the recommended 30lb weight gain. After the initial baby weight lost, I lost an average of 4lbs/month or ~1lb/week and reached my goal weight 135lbs with 16% body fat within 4 months. So lets bring on baby #3!?!
Bio-individuality is the key when approaching health. We are all biologically different and I promise to help guide you in your journey of healthy living by focusing on primary and secondary foods.