How to Eat Healthy Without Being a Jerk

I’ve been struggling with my weight for several years. It easily can turn into a destructive cycle of eating because I’m depressed because I’ve gained weight or gaining weight because I’m depressed so I binge eat. Anyone who battles this with any regularity will know that it’s not as simple as just exercising and dieting. It takes a commitment to completely change how you live your life. But the problem is when you think about it like that and attack it like that it can feel like shovelling your driveway with a plastic spoon. The problem feels so big it’s overwhelming.

In the last year I’ve tried to look at it as a series of small issues that I can change rather than attempt to make a complete overhaul of my life. Looking at it like “Ok I need to lose 60 pounds in two years.” is an easy way to set yourself up for failure and in no time you’ll find yourself standing beside the fridge using a cookie to scoop ice cream right from the container. Then the shame kicks in, then a sandwich, then a soda and next thing you know all of your progress is shot.

I am not an expert by any stretch. It’s something I still fight daily. There are times when the last thing I want to do is go to the gym. Just the thought of it gives me stomach pains. But since April 2013 the best thing I’ve done for myself is sign up and go at least 3 times a week no matter how I feel. That was step 1. Regardless of what else I accomplish just getting active helps tremendously both physically and mentally. Have I lost as much weight as I’d like? Nope, not even close. But now when I park on Pine street downtown and walk up the mountain and then the 95 steps to get to my car I don’t invent new curses to unleash on a cruel God that would make free parking so hard to get to. I don’t even stop partway up the stairs anymore. Feeling good about yourself is probably the most key aspect in succeeding in getting healthy. So when it comes to more than exercise what else can we overweight people do to get more fit? Well, it’s been a while since any of you have asked me such a great question. Here are 7 rules I try to stick to every day to help me.

1- Eliminate Soda- To say that I like Coca-Cola would be a lie. To say I love it would be an understatement. To say that I have an unhealthy obsession with it and that I have posters of it in my bedroom may be closer to the truth. If someone would tell me that the Coke CEO had a framed picture of me on his wall and thanked me every day for putting his kids through college I would not be surprised. At my peak I would down between 2 and 4 litres of the stuff a day, sometimes more. Problems with my teeth? Check. Problems with my stomach? Check. When I finally stopped drinking it I went through full out withdrawal. I would get the shakes. I would have nightmares. I would have the most brutal of headaches and once in a while cave and have a coke and the headache would be gone in minutes. To this day when I hear a can being opened I get goosebumps. The thought of that sweet bite in the back of my throat still makes my mouth water. Breaking up with coke is one of the hardest things I ever had to do but also one of the most necessary.

kale2-Eat Green Food- I’m not going to go through all the details of what green veggies bring to your body. I’m no expert by any means. All I know is that as someone who long suffered through bad heartburn and low energy levels that adding much more greens to my meals has done wonders. Along with eliminating soda doing this has pretty much completely gotten rid of all my heartburn problems and I don’t have a need for any meds to deal with it. I find that along with giving me energy that greens like kale, spinach and swiss chard also help my body recuperate faster after workouts too. I’m no doctor here, I’m just telling you what it seems to do for me. If you think you’re not a fan of most greens trust me there are hundreds of creative ways to prepare them, add them to sauces, stirfrys, etc. and still reap the benefits.

3-Buy Local- If you live in North America, well except for the far north, there is no reason to not go to farmer’s markets. There are farms everywhere just outside any city. There are depots and downtown markets where farmers sell their produce directly to you. Are there health benefits to buying local? Well, if you are buying and eating something that was picked that very morning there’s a good chance it’s going retain way more of its nutrients than something that was picked before it ripened half a world away and took two weeks to get to you. When it’s harvest time buy in bulk and freeze stuff too. Freezing tomatoes, broccoli, peas and whatnot right after they’re picked will help them hold a ton of what they have that’s good for you. Supporting local farmers is also a nice way to take money out of faceless corporations and put it into pockets of hardworking people. Does a billion dollar company really care if you’re eating stuff with pesticides and lord knows whatever else all through the DNA of what you’re eating? Doubtful. Get to know your local dudes, ask questions, and find the farmers that value what you value.

4-Eliminate Processed Foods- Convenience is an evil bastard. Who among us doesn’t fall victim to it sometimes? Ah crap, only got 17 minutes for dinner tonight, McD’s it’ll have to be I guess! Look, it’s ok to treat yourself to that stuff sometimes but we need to find other options on a regular basis. Too many of us don’t cook anymore. We grab a box of Pogos (corndogs for you in America), we grab a pack of hotdogs, a frozen pizza. Like I said, to do it once a month is one thing but to do it a few times a week? I can’t imagine we aren’t already creating a generation of peeps already suffering long term effects from it. There was that dude who ate nothing but McDs for a month and made a documentary about it. The fact that he concluded that what he did turned out to have adverse health effects on him is supposed to be alarming? Shocking? I like big macs as much as anyone but my body feels the pain after one trio. Did anyone really need to make a movie to tell us that eating fast food every  day is bad?  Treat it as a treat, not a lifestyle.

5-Don’t Diet- As soon as you start to force yourself to stick to a strict diet or eating pattern the sooner your brain will start to mess with you. tandoori troutYou might be able to avoid carbs for a few weeks but before you know it you’ll be dreaming about being naked in a tub of spaghetti with bolognese sauce piled with mountains of parmesan. What? Am I the only one who has that dream? Most of us who would try a diet like that are bound to crack at one point and then the binging on pasta kicks in and here comes the shame spiral. I also don’t believe in vegetarianism or *shudder* veganism. Before anyone gets on the vegetable high horse there have been recent studies showing that plants do feel pain and can communicate with each other to warn of oncoming danger. I feel no moral dilemma with eating meat. There are sustainable options out there like rabbit, deer and duck that tax the environment much less than shipping bananas, kiwis, and avocados here does. So take that Jack! Or maybe I should say take that Wind, or Rain or whatever hippie names apply here. Honestly though I have no problem with vegetarians so long as they don’t try to harsh my meat mellow. I eat meat but I do my best to buy meat that was humanely treated and doesn’t tax the planet so much. And I’ve switched to more reasonable portions like a 6 ounce steak instead of a 12 ouncer. For health reasons try to get stuff that isn’t injected with antibiotics, hormones and all that. Again, local farmers can help a ton with this!

6-Don’t Keep Junk in the House- We all crave some sweet junk food sometimes or a nice bag of salty chips. Whatever your poison is the worst thing you can do is buy big piles of this stuff and keep it in the pantry. I am actually amazing at just not buying this stuff. If it isn’t in the house I don’t eat it. But I know that the moment my girlfriend buys some cookies I am eating half a row of them, nightly. She can hide them but it’s like I have this power that feels them in the house and somehow I always manage to find them. I feel bad about eating the stuff from the moment I am taking them out of the bag. For whatever reason when I feel bad about it I only end up eating more. I think the best thing I can do is once in a while when I am really craving junk to just go to the store and buy a chocolate bar and have at it. Then when it’s out of sight it’s out of mind.

Apples7-Listen to Your Body- One of my worst habits in trying to get fit is to kill myself at the gym. I started off by going 3 days on, taking one day off and going 3 days on again. It worked great for about 3 weeks. Then I would find myself falling asleep in traffic, having trouble getting out of bed from my sore back, or just sleeping too much from being so wiped out. The body needs time to recuperate and repair itself. Going at it too much can actually take away from the hard work you’re putting in. It took me about 6 months to establish a good routine. Now when I feel my body needs an extra day off I take it. Be careful of that too. Experts say it takes 6 months to build a routine but 1 week to lose it entirely. This applies to eating too. The more I work out and pay attention to my food choices the more I find that my mind or my body is telling me what it wants to eat. Out of nowhere I’ll just crave liver so I know my body is saying it wants iron or I’ll be dying for oranges since my body wants vitamin C. In those cases the body knows best. In the moments it tells you it wants a pint of ice cream tell it to go f**k itself. Sometimes the body is drunk and wants to mess with you.

I’m not a poster-boy for fitness by a longshot but I’m working at it. Every time I play outside with my kids and don’t feel like I need my asthma pumps is a small victory. It amazes me how much everything ties in together. When you feel good about yourself it’s easy to make good decisions about food and exercise. When you feel like a steaming pile of crap even for a moment it’s way too easy to undo so much hard work. That’s why you need to find a balance and not some extreme solution. One of the most important steps is to accept that you’ll make mistakes along the way. Don’t beat yourself up over them. Learn from them and move on. Besides, punching yourself in the face too much will start to make people think you are crazy.

Stay phat-not fat.

swiss chard

Categories: Phood Philosophies

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2 replies

  1. Thanks for this dude. I suffer from the same thing; emotional eating, the back and forth battle, etc etc. One thing I learned in addition to what you’ve detailed here, is learning the different ways to speed up one’s metabolism. Let your body do some of the work for you. Sure, it’s massively important to put in the time, the discipline, find the balance and keep one’s head up, but when someone is coming from a point where they’ve pretty much damaged their body to such a degree, it’s easy to loose touch with how it’s supposed to work in the first place. Fiber fiber fiber. Through greens, beans, all of it. Try to get that fiber in every day somehow. it may not be pleasant, but as you stated there are multiple ways to prepare the foods we may not like to eat so that we can at least start by putting them in, and eventually come to enjoy them. Fiber helps the body go through it’s cycles from metabolizing food to the digestion process. Get that metabolism working as soon as possible. I’ve been forcing myself to eat within 5 mins of getting up in the morning. Holy crap does it suck, but what it does is it kick starts the metabolism and gets it working, helping you burn calories and use energy more efficiently and from an earlier point in the day. Energy boost? Hell ya. Noticed a huge difference. Awesome article, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this. 🙂

    • It honestly was tough to write and had me pretty emotional throughout. Great point about eating right away. I am not a breakfast guy but I’ve started eating it and it makes a huge difference.

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