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
- ‘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.
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:
all I need is prune juice, and I will officially feel like an old lady.
Yup. A fibre-y breakfast, several days a week.
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?
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.
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.
<— 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. 😀