Thursday, October 18, 2012

Nutrition

Several people have asked me questions recently about nutrition.  I have to make it very clear...I am NOT a nutritionist.  I don't remember if I heard it, or if I read somewhere that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist but you have to be licensed to have the title "dietician".  Well...I did some research today and found that to be incorrect, at least in the state of Alabama.  (See the rules and regulations here.)  So...let me state again, I am NOT a nutritionist.  I'm not a dietician.  I'm just a person who eats food!  :D

Here are some things I believe.

You have to eat if you want to lose weight.

Yes...that's what I said.  If you want to lose weight, you have to eat food.  If you try to stop eating your metabolism will slow down, your body will not know when to expect you to fuel it again so it will start storing everything as fat.  Now, you have to be smart about what you are eating and when and how much...but not eating does NOT work.

Losing weight is not (usually) a simple matter of calories in/calories out.

That's right...it's nutrition not mathematics.  Back when I first started running I couldn't understand why I wasn't losing weight.  I was accurately counting everything but it wasn't working.  Well, come to find out the types of foods I was eating were causing me to basically retain water.   (Yes, water...not food.  That saying "you aren't retaining water, you're retaining food" sorta ticks me off...)  When I cut out those foods, I lost weight.  It's very important you understand, I kept the same AMOUNT of calories, and I cut out "good-for-you" foods like milk, garlic (not many calories lost there), eggs.

When I eat those foods now, I can gain 2-3 pounds in one day.  Those 2-3 pounds are NOT due to excessive calories (1 pound is 3,500 calories....I can tell you I'm pretty sure I haven't had 10,500 in a day, ever).  You need to know what works for your body and what doesn't.  Naturally if you are eating more than you are burning you will gain and theoretically vice versa, but that equation is too simplistic for such a complex process.  And, going back up to my first point, if you reduce intake too much, your body will store what you eat and you could end up gaining weight when, on paper, you should be losing.  Part of the reason you may gain is the "calories out" portion is going to be wrong.  If your metabolism slows down, you won't be burning as many calories as you think you are.  And, if you restrict too much, you're bodily functions will shut down and you'll die.  (Cold hard fact of life.)

If you want a healthy body, you have to give it healthy fuel.

If you have a car that runs on unleaded gas but you decide to put diesel in it instead, it won't run very long.  However, if you put gas mixed with a little water, it will run, just not very well.  Everyone knows you have to eat food to live, but a lot of people eat the "wrong" kinds of foods to allow their body to function at its best.  Everyone is different.  I do not think our bodies are "one diet fits all" so I am NOT saying you need to follow a "boxed" plan.  However, I am saying you need to be a student of what works for you.  Some people I know function at their best with a higher protein diet, others seem to do better going vegan.  The key is to know what works best--FOR YOU--and to DO IT.  This requires you to 1) pay attention to what you are taking in, 2) pay attention to the results and 3) follow through.

I remember when I was a teenager.  I went to see a dermatologist for typical teenage acne.  I wanted him to give me a list of foods I shouldn't eat.  He told me there are no foods that cause breakouts.  I told him I noticed every time I would eat chocolate my face would break out.  He said, "then don't eat chocolate".  I remember asking him why he couldn't just tell me that in the first place; he explained  chocolate doesn't cause everyone to break out.  He also said it may not be causing my breakouts; it may have been merely correlated in timing.  (Maybe it was hormonal; the same thing that was causing the breakouts caused the chocolate cravings.)

That doctor said the same thing I've been hearing my whole life-I need to know my own body better than anyone else, because I live in it.  Although there are some absolutes, after all, no one can live off rat poison!; there is far more grey area than black and white when it comes to food.  How many calories I need to eat, what kinds of foods will upset my digestive system vs rev me up, how long it takes for my stomach to process food to avoid intestinal distress during a race....these kinds of things (among others) are what people have to figure out for themselves.  Yes, there are some good guidelines and some starting points that work for a majority of people, but what works best for you requires a level of self awareness most people simply do not care to have.

Take the time and effort to get to know your body...it's the one you'll have the rest of your life!

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!!
:D

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