Better With Sprinkles

The Colourful Side to Healthy Living.

Blogger Influence, Part 2.

50 Comments

So…remember that VLOG I posted a few weeks back?

If you didn’t catch it, I talked about how readers can be influenced by bloggers in terms of their exercise and eating habits. Not all healthy living bloggers really live up the the ‘healthy’ label, and some I would consider severely disordered. But I think that even with the bloggers that do have a healthy (or relatively healthy) relationship with food, we shouldn’t necessarily be trying to emulate what they do. Just because it works for them, doesn’t mean that you need to be doing the same thing.

(I thought about doing another VLOG – they’re quite fun! – but the boyfriend is passed out upstairs with the flu and I don’t want to wake him. So I’m writing it out, word-vomit style. Bear with me).

I was feeling inspired to discuss that topic because I had been feeling a little frustrated with myself. I’m sure we’ve all noticed the current blogger/healthy living trends going around:

  • heavy weights
  • paleo
  • ‘clean’ eating
  • low carb
  • cut abs/muscle tone
  • bodybuilding competitions – and emulating the physique that goes with that

And of course…I was feeling the influence. At the beginning of January, I mentioned a new nutrition plan I was going on. Why did I want to embark on it? Because my Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest feeds were being filled with shots of women with chiseled abs, toned muscles, and low body fat percentages.

 

Yup. First there was thinspo, which has now turned into ‘fitspo’.

While I never had the desire to look like a fitness model, I thought that maybe, my diet could use a little bit of tweaking so I could see some more muscle growth…and maybe some more ‘chiseling’ while I was at it.

So I bought a nutrition plan. Fairly typical of what you see in bodybuilding plans – high protein, high fat, low carb. Even from the beginning I had no intention of following it to a tee (I’m sorry, my body needs complex carbs more often than right before and right after workouts. And I need chocolate more than once a week), but I wanted to use it as a guide for altering my own habits a little bit.

 

So, that lasted all of two-three weeks. I realized that this plan was not working for my body at all – my digestion problems got worse (I looked like I was three months pregnant, I was bloating so much), my sugar cravings were all-encompassing, and even though I was eating enough calorically, my body felt like something was missing.

(source)

 

So I stopped the plan. And things have drastically improved. I went back to eating the way my body was guiding me to eat, and I feel better than I have in weeks.

So here’s my current plan: more carbs, less protein.

Yes – I kind of feel like I’m the only person saying this right now, but I’m adding more carbs to my diet and reducing my protein a bit. In January, I was eating something like 180 grams of protein daily – too much for my system. By focusing so much on protein and reducing my carb intake, I was definitely lacking fibre in my diet. Which, had some not-so-fun consequences.

So what am I doing now?

  • Cutting back on protein powders. I still find them versatile and delicious, but I’m trying to put more focus on whole foods and not relying on powders all the time. At one point, I was having upwards of 2.5-3 servings a day – too much.
  • Cutting back on stevia. Not because I think it’s contributing to my stomach issues, but because I’ve come too reliant on it. I add it to everything – even food I never bothered to sweeten before (oatmeal, plain Greek yogurt, etc.) Yes, it’s natural, but it doesn’t replace refined sugar, fruit, honey or maple syrup on my palate. Sometimes I need to reach for those too.
  • More carbs and fibre. I’m sorry, but our bodies NEED complex carbs, no matter who tries to tell you differently! So I’m going to be adding more grains, root veggies, high-fibre fruits, and beans.
  • And this has become a bit of a secret weapon:

DSCF3672

all I need is prune juice, and I will officially feel like an old lady.

DSCF3676

Yup. A fibre-y breakfast, several days a week.

DSCF3673

A serving with a sprinkle of granola, blueberries and almond milk with a side of eggs.

So how have I been feeling with these implemented changes?

SO.MUCH.BETTER.

My digestion feels regulated – which I don’t remember that ever happening in my life. My sugar cravings are back to manageable levels (as in, I’m no longer cravings sweets all day long), and I’m not crazy-bloated anymore. I’m no longer overthinking and planning each meal. Life is good. Smile

I’m not going to lie – I am really nervous to be posting this. I’m so aware and passionate about the influence of ‘healthy living’ bloggers and fitspo, that it’s difficult for me to admit that I got swept up in it myself.

But, we live and we learn, right? I do really enjoy weightlifting, so I am going to continue to do that. I love seeing watching my muscles grow and the feeling I get every time I hit a new PR. It gives me something to work for in the gym, which I find inspiring and motivating.

But do I have to look like these images that keep popping up? Absolutely not – and I’m making peace with that. I don’t have to look like them, I don’t have to eat like them, I don’t have to change my priorities or my habits to make myself look like them. I am wonderful without the six-pack and 12% body fat, thank you very much.

Every time I try to do something like this, it always leads me back to the same conclusion: my body knows what’s best for me. All I have to do is listen to it.

(source)

<— Confession time: Who’s been feeling  influenced by the ‘fitspo’ movement?

<— What are your feelings on stevia? I feel like it’s fine in moderation, but I’ve been stretching that definition lately.

<— Really, how wonderful are carbs? I’m definitely enjoying the upped amount right now. 😀

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50 thoughts on “Blogger Influence, Part 2.

  1. Yes, yes, yes!! To ALL of the above! I’m so glad that you made the decision, tried it, realized what was best for you, and are going back. I noticed THE EXACT same thing in my body. Feeling great is the best feeling in the world. Through years of switching up my macro ratios (with permission and guidance from my dietitian) to figure out what worked and felt best for me, it turns out that high carb/moderate protein with a suitable dose of fats (of all kinds!!) and sweets (chocolate, whipped cream, and maple syrup on the daily, thanks!) works for me. I have never been happier than I am now. I have never felt more alert. I have never felt stronger. I have never felt more confident. Are my muscles as cut? Nope. And for the first time in my life, that’s just fine with me, it’s welcome. Because I am more ME than I ever have been.
    Thank you for being honest, thank you (as always) for being a rebel and going against the blogging grain and being a natural inspiration.
    Ps. I love your new hair colour.

    • My body seems to work best with the same sort of approach. And I’m so happy for you that you’ve figured out what’s working best for you! Happiness and overall well-being should be the priority in our lives, not figuring how to get the most ‘cut’ figure.

      And thanks darlin, I’m happy with how it turned out!

  2. Yayyy I l LOVE this post! Kudos on listening to your needs and stepping away from fads.

    I’ll admit I sometimes see those “fitspo” pictures and get slightly jealous. But not jealous enough to actually do anything about it. I like my pasta and pizza and treats too much. 😛

    Carbs rock! And coming from someone who studies nutrition, you definitely don’t need 180 g of protein a day. At those levels, you’re just peeing out a lot of extra protein and possibly even putting strain on your kidneys.

    I don’t really know what to think of stevia. I don’t have it at home and I don’t use it, but I wouldn’t refuse to eat something with it in it. I’ve had Zevia before and I think that contains stevia, right? Like anything, I think it’s all about moderation!

    • Thank you Chelsea! And I think you’ve given me a pizza craving…

      I think it’s fine in moderation (and yes, it is in Zevia – had one of those last night, actually) but I just don’t want to feel like I have to add it to absolutely everything.
      And good to know about the protein! I noticed some issues with my kidneys during the ED (my sides would get puffy and red…I think they were inflamed) so they probably don’t need the added stress.

  3. I wish there was a love button because I would totally hit it! This is amazing, love, and I feel completely the same way! I haven’t been influenced by the fitspo movement honestly but the “running” one (high mileage at crazy times)….oh yeah. Carbs have always made my body work best, no matter how many times I’ve tried to make it in other ways, and it’s just not worth it. Plus, let’s be real…carbs (and chocolate) are the best….I will take a toasted bagel or a steaming bowl of pasta over a steak dinner any day (personally), and my body likes me much better when I do! I’m just starting to experiment with stevia but also incorporating other sweeteners like honey in my diet.

  4. THIS IS SO FREAKING GREAT.
    seriously, Sam, on so many levels this post is beautiful, truthful, and awesome. Listening to your body, giving it what it wants and needs, is SO much more healthy and important for ALL of us than trying to fit ourselves into a mold. What is so great is that all of us are different, and our bodies need different things, and can function at their best with different fuel. THere is no plan that will work for two people equally, so I love that you are finding your own way. I know that Paleo has worked for some people, and that for some its hell. Just like some people thrive on wheat and whole grains, and other people’s tummies just can’t handle it. As for fitspo, it makes me just as sick as thinspo. Both promote the idea that our body is something to be manipulated and molded in order to fulfill some arbitrary ideal, and no matter what the image looks like, this idea is flawed and just plain SICK.
    And so that you don’t feel alone, I’m adding carbs too! I’ve been all about the veggies and legumes lately, but I’ve noticed my energy sometimes crashes toward the afternoon, and since my tummy is one of the lucky ones that can handle a lot of wheat, I’m adding more of it! AND I’m on the stevia kick too. My nutritionist was like…you’re using HOW much? I know its a better option than splenda or whatever, I still don’t think its good to use all the time. You’re right, oatmeal and yogurt don’t need it, and for the things that do, honey (esp. locally harvested clover honey with the comb still in it…be still my heart) is a pretty fabulous option too.
    Once again, thanks for this post. Your honesty is refreshing !

    • Thank you so much Sloane! You are wonderful!

      And yes – trying to force our bodies into the images portrayed as ‘fitspo’ or ‘thinspo’ is terrible and unnecessary. It’s a challenge for me sometimes, but I need to remember that my body does NOT want to look like that!

  5. Oh I love this post, Sam…especially as I’m going through something similar!  After using protein powder twice a day for agea, I rarely use it anymore.  I much rather get my protein from whole foods even if it means eating less protein daily.  Even though I once believed I worked well on a higher-protein diet, my body seems to be loving the extra carbs- my cravings are so much more under control!

    While those fitspo pics may be inspirational to some, I’m not a fan.  They set unrealistic expectations and if anything, they should come with a disclaimer: “Models don’t look like this all year round”..and if they do, they sure are missing out on some of the yummier things in life!

    • Exactly!! No one (at least no one should) look like that all the time – it’s dangerous and unnecessary!

      And I had been fooling myself with the same idea – that I was functioning better off of a high protein, lower carb diet. Clearly lying to myself!

  6. I am so glad you see through all the bull in the “healthy living” world. Too many people don’t. I don’t eat protein powder, stevia, avoid carbs, etc. because I know what works for me. It baffles me to no end how some girls can know so much about nutrition and preach it like it’s nobody’s business but then not take their own advice. Seriously, grow up and eat a bowl of pasta or some cereal. It won’t kill you!! And since you’re feeling much better as a result of those very slight changes, I think a lot of people out there could learn a lesson from this post.

    • Thanks Sarah! I love how you’re able to avoid that bullshit as well. It is sooo frustrating at times, because the protein powder/stevia/gluten free diet gets preached as the best way to live and approach food, when I really don’t understand how it can be.

  7. I like this post a lot…I do use stevia, but I try to use it minimally, like drinking my tea plain instead of adding it in. Sometimes I do add it to my oatmeal, but I try to use spices instead, like cinnamon, nutmeg etc. I think you def need to listen to your body and find out what works best for you…For me, high protein diet works great…I work out a ton and lift heavy weight, at least try lol…But I maybe only use protein powder once or twice a week…I try to eat lean meats to fulfill this….I had a big bowl of Uncle Sams original cereal this morning and it so much fiber and carbs….good ones though, should keep me full for a while!

    • I lift about 4 days a week, so I do recognize the need for an increased protein diet, but I was taking it waaay too far. And I don’t necessarily think there’s anything wrong with stevia (I have no intention of cutting it out) but I just think I was starting to forget what some foods taste like without it. I do need a few drops with tea though!

  8. Don’t be nervous to post this! I think this is wonderful and I completely agree with you. That Ellen quote is now the background on my iPad. And carbs are one of the best things, like ever.

  9. Great post!!! I’m surprised that the nutrition plan you got was high fat, high protein, low carb because I know typical bodybuilding plans are usually higher carb, higher protein, and lower fat. I personally do my own thing, and I do SO much better on higher carb, higher fat, and lower protein. Whenever I eat too much protein, my body hates me and I can never poop (TMI) !! lol oh well 😉 I think it’s important that everyone just does whatever is best for them, and stop trying to mimic other people! Everyone does better with different macros, eating styles, etc. and not everyone will ever have a 6 pack. Screw that, just be healthy, strong, and enjoy life. It’s wayyy too short 🙂

  10. LOVE this post Sam. We are all different and different things work for different bodies! Some diet plans recomend crazy amounts of protein – the kind you would never naturally eat. That is just not cool for me. I don’t use protein powder (I’m allergic to whey and I’m really not that bothered on adding something in powder form to my menu) and I’ve never tried stevia. Carbs are wonderful. I noticed a massive improvement in my skin (and energy levels and sugar cravings) when I started eating sweet potato. I want to be the best version of myself – not someone else – and do what is right for ME.

  11. I am the same way with eating, I NEED lots of carbs….asking me to give up oatmeal is ridiculous! I always feel weird when I get too much protein and end up gaining weight. I may never have perfect abs, but at least I am listening to my body! Great post!

  12. I feel bad for people who think carbs are bad! I’m on a very high protein diet, but also very high carb. I aim for around 170g of carbs a day because I need them after my workouts. I could never be one of those no carb people. I went through that phase 10 years ago when all I was doing was cardio and I was exhausted. People don’t realize your body needs carbs to function.

  13. Wahoo! I’m so glad you discussed this my dear, because I tried the whole “protein trend” I admit it, I got a little sucked in and ended up severely bloated (oh man) plus I was intolerant to eggs/dairy after that I dropped 7 pounds of pure bloat it was awful when I was eating that stuff (and I didn’t need to lose weight anyways) so now I have to increase my calories, but I don’t know why I got SO influenced by that. I guess it was everyone doing that whole trend and yah, carbs are my bff. I was sad without my bread, chocolate, ice cream. So I’m glad they’re back:) I will never eat faux oatmeal, not my thing haha. Life is too short to be worried about calories, carbs, fat, protein all the time! I’m also working on decreasing stevia and increasing natural sweeteners like maple syrup and gasp even sugar. Okay, sorry for the lonngggg comment ha.

    • I am always happy with long comments 😀

      It’s frustrating to realize how sucked in you get by that sort of thing, isn’t it? I’m doing so much better since I added in more carbs and reduced the protein a little bit.

      And those are all fabulous things that I need in my life too! While I like adding a little bit of egg whites to my oatmeal, I’ve experimented with ‘egg white oatmeal’ and not really my favourite thing.
      A little bit of real sugar never killed anyone :-p

  14. Can I say that this is exactly the kind of post I have been wanted to hear from a blogger in a long time?! Seriously, this is SPOT ON. I have struggled with fitspo for a long time and through unhealthy diets and major over-exercising, I have still been left so frustrated that I can’t reach the crazy impossible ideals that they set up. I am currently in the early stages of recovery from bulemia, and I really think that all the fitspo nonsense and “cutting” diet plans on pinterest, blogs, and the like had a pretty big contribution in landing me where I am right now. I just wanted to say what an amazing inspiration you have been to me Sam, your recovery story and amazing posts like this one can really brighten an otherwise struggle-filled (is that a word? ha oops!) day. Thanks again for being so awesome 🙂

  15. Loving everything about this post 🙂 The honesty to admit that you got swept up in it all, and the inspiration you are for snapping yourself back to your reality after only a few short weeks. It took me months to finally realize what worked for me and my unique body compared to what I thought were “perfect” ratios of carbs/protein/fat. It’s also a great feeling not knowing exactly what you’re eating. I know when I’m getting sources of protein, fat, etc. but I have no idea exactly how much. I used to be able to tell you when I got 90g of protein in a day vs. 60g. I won’t let myself go back to that!

  16. This is such an interesting topic, and so spot on. I find myself being VERY influenced by what I see in the blog world, and, as a result, I feel that much worse when I do or eat something that doesn’t live up to the ideal I see online everyday. I think it’s a slippery slope that we all need to be aware of.

  17. more power to you. you know how i stand about this. i think a lot of the fads are making bloggers and those that read feel like it is normal to eat extremely high protein and little carbs. hellooooooo this does not work. i too have had periods of trying things out only to realize I function best, in all aspects with a higher carb diet. I just do. And no deprivation, aka sugar will be on the regular. I hate hearing some stupid intentions that some bloggers use as a mask as to why they eat a certain way when in reality it is the thinspo that drives them there. If people were more honest, i feel like it would be less of an issue. wow ramble sorry I just am pretty peeved about all of this at this moment. because I feel like it is getting worse

  18. Love, Love, Love this post! I also love carbs and cookies 🙂 I try to eat healthy wholesome foods most of the time because I think my body feels better that way. For instance I could never eat like many of my male friends who live on wendys, taco bell and beer. I am by no means a nutrition or fitness expert but i think doing what feels right for YOU is most important! I have started weight training because my last physical therapist told me it will help prevent future injuries not because I want to become a body builder. I have been a long time blog reader and feel very fortunate to have only been positively influenced. I love reading new recipes, trying new foods and workouts. I have yet to be really pressured into changing who I am because I am worried I’m not as ‘healthy’ as the next person.

  19. Really just LOVE this post . I too have been influenced by the movement over blogs on ‘clean eating’ etc but then I just feel so restricted. Which leads to eventual binges. Never good! I try to eat between 1200-1500 calories a day {on higher end if I’m working out more than 75 minutes}. While I don’t eat food that is HORRIBLE for you (i.e. McD’s) by counting calories I am more flexible rather than eating protein/fats at certain times. It just works with my lifestyle better. Yes, it may take me longer to get the body shape I aspire for but good things take time and are worth the wait 🙂

  20. I took today off from blogging, but I couldn’t help but comment on this post – I freakin’ love it that much. And I freakin’ love carbs too. I was definitely influenced by a lot of the trends that seem to sweep the blog world and tried going on a high protein/low carb diet for a while. Big mistake. Not only did it mess with my digestion big time, but I was constantly fatigued, irritable, and my face even started breaking out like crazy. After cutting back the protein to normal levels and upping my carbs, all of my ailments vanished. Coincidence? Probably not. Some people may thrive on a high protein diet (although sometimes I wonder…), but I’m definitely not one of them.

    • I noticed you took it off, now I just feel special 🙂 ❤

      I have to wonder that too…I realize everybody's body is unique, but considering my own reaction (and it seems like a lot of people have echoed my experience) it seems hard to believe that some people really do thrive off of that.
      And I'd say, not a coincidence! :-p

  21. Preach it, sister!! LOVE this post, Sam! It’s a breath of fresh air, and not only that—it’s the truth. The fact is, nobody knows our bodies better than…our bodies. I embarked on a self-written bulking diet at the end of December, which was initially slightly uncomfortable (merely because I was eating more than I had been), but it worked because I was eating foods that agreed with my body. Then, last week, I finally received the new training and meal plan that I’d been waiting for for over a month (I hired a trainer to work with me, but had to wait because she was booked through January). The meal plan she wrote was extremely regimented, and after following it for three days, I knew I had to let it go. Like you, I was bloated. I was irritated. My protein counts were through the roof. And I was eating plain oats ALL THE TIME. Not fun. I understand the importance of following a strict plan when preparing for a fitness competition, but that’s not my goal, so why would I put myself through something like that? After doing some soul-searching last week, I came to the same conclusion as you: I had chosen to do it because I was intrigued by some of the lifestyles I read about on blogs. This week, I’m back on track with ME. I’m still eating a lot, but not restricting fat (the plan was super low), and including some processed carbs in the mix (because I need them sometimes). Do I feel better? Heck yes! I’m so glad you’re doing what’s right for you now, too. ❤ ❤ ❤

    • I’m so glad you were able to move on from the new plan so quickly! It is ridiculous how much better we feel when we’re eating the way our bodies want to, and not off of some arbitrary plan.
      And hell yes to the occasional processed carbs! 😀

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  23. FANTASTIC post & great points!! I love your honesty. THAT is what is needed in the blog world.

    And amen. I love protein powders, don’t get me wrong, but TOO high of protein in anyone’s diet will actually not be absorbed & will be lost in the waste (and possibly damage along the way). So I am careful about my intake. It is higher than say, a normal person’s, but I also teach a lot, so I don’t want to lose my muscle! hah 😉

    But I pretty much eat carbs at every meal or snack–and this goes right back to what I said before. WHERE Is the pasta in the blog world’s pictures?!?!?! haha 🙂 I freaking love pasta. so sad I ‘hated’ it for so long. that stuff is legit.

    xoxo

  24. I really think a lot of bloggers should read this post, it really confirmed a lot of what I’ve been thinking lately. I started lifting recently and I’ve been semi sucked into the paleo low carb no grain mindset but a vegan (who loves eating plant based) this just does not work for me! I need whole grains and beans to get my protein and nutrients and I love carbs anyway so my fears of them are ridiculous! I will admit I love peanut flour as a protein source, it’s less fake I guess than protein powder but its not technically a whole food but I just love it too much to give it up and it helps me get enough protein so I don’t care that its not exactly a real source of it. I think we’ve just gotta eat the way that’s right for us and ignore all the other trends out there!

    • Thanks Ashley – it’d be even harder to do paleo on a vegan diet! And no shame on peanut flour, I break out the PB2 once in a while. I don’t think anyone needs a 100% whole food diet…convenience foods are fine once in a while.

  25. well i really think that you are brave for posting this because i’d be worried about the same too, admitting i get caught up in something i’m aware of. but really we’re human and i know it happens to me all the time. i am always advocating telling yourself that you’re amazing and i truly believe that but dammit if the thoughts in my head telling me i’m not amazing get the best of me sometimes. no one is perfect and those who teach have to also be willing to be taught and that’s what you’re doing!
    all the trends you mentioned are definitely not for everyone. i haven’t found myself at all interested in paleo and i’m proud of the fact that i haven’t tried to get into it even t hough i’ll see girls with admirable physiques who are really into it. it’s easy for the mind to see what a person looks like and say OH I MUST DO WHAT THEY DO.
    and i’m proud of you for upping carbs and decreasing protein because in my mind carbs are still scary and i’m trying to be more OK with eating them, even a normal amount…i’m eating a better amount of calories than i used to eat but i get nervous the more of them come from carbs. i’m sure my digestive issues would ease up a bit if i ate a bit more carbs. really i think you’re one of the bravest bloggers out there for following a higher carb plan! you inspire me daily. thank you for keeping up with these wonderful posts – each time i think you can’t get any more insightful and hit-the-nail-on-the-head, you (thankfully) do!

    • Thanks Caitlin!
      It’s not easy, but I think I treat my blog as a journal-type thing…that gets posted on the internet, lol. I always admire bloggers who are honest with their readers, so I do my best to be honest too. Being aware of these trends that I described do not make me immune to them, unfortunately.

      And I’m proud of YOU for recognizing why you need to up the carb intake! Carbs were so hard for me during my recovery, but I think you really will find yourself feeling better if you upped them a bit.

      And oh goodness, you make me blush <3<3

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