Hi!

My name is Gabby.  

I lost half my body weight through exercise and eating right.

 I'm here to motivate you, inspire you, and make you laugh on your journey to a healthier and happier lifestyle.

THE SKINNY ON NUTRITION: Not All Calories are Equal

THE SKINNY ON NUTRITION: Not All Calories are Equal

Warning: Adult language

Please do not read any further if you are offended by adult language.

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photo credit: pixabay.com

photo credit: pixabay.com

“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”
— Doug Larson

Ha! Isn't that the damn truth! But in all honesty, eating healthy isn't as hard as you think. What's hard is making the change. We resist change. It's normal for us to resist anything that is different. And when it comes to eating, let's be honest...sitting around eating yummy bad foods is a helluva lot easier than working up a sweat and eating a salad. But eating healthy doesn't mean rice cakes and celery sticks. There are endless options to eating healthy that are easy and delicious. 

An important fact to remember is that you crave what you eat. If your scarfing down sweets and grease everyday, that's what you'll crave. If you make the change and eat healthy, you'll crave healthy foods. The same is true with activity. If all you do is sit around and do nothing, that's all you want to do. If you start exercising everyday, your body begins to crave it. You feel good afterwards, have more energy throughout the day, and you feel sluggish if you stop for a few days. Just start by putting one good day together and go from there...one meal at a time. Once you adopt a new routine, it soon becomes a no-brainer. The hardest step is starting. 

You. Can. Do. This. I promise.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”
— Jim Ryun

NOT ALL CALORIES ARE EQUAL

I CANNOT stress this enough!!!! Do NOT waste your time and effort by putting empty calories in your body!

Let me give you an example of a classic mistake all dieters have done at one point or another. Okay, you are counting calories and want to keep your calorie count to 1600 calories per day. You decide to save up all your calories all day because you really want to eat McDonald's that evening. You order:

  • A Big Mac (576 calories)
  • Large fries (500 calories)
  • Large 22oz milkshake (500 calories).

Did you stay within your allotted calories?  Yes... BUT. And it's a BIG BUT. (no pun intended ;) But...what kind of calories that make up that 1600 matter!

First of all, you've skipped all of your meals and snacks leading up to this grease fest. Which means your metabolism is running at a snail's pace and has put your body into a mini starvation mode (full blown starvation mode takes three days to enter into). So what this means is that this 1600 calories you are about to eat....wait for it...

IS GOING TO BE STORED AS FAT!

Yes, all of the fat in this meal (85 grams!!!) will be stored in your fat cells. Uh, ya...that's gonna set you back. Is it really worth it? Ya, you stayed within your 1600 calories, but you're gonna pay for it. Big time.

Secondly, other than some protein from the burger, you have consumed a bunch of meaningless useless calories. There isn't any nutritional value in these foods. So not only are your fat cells hibernating like a damn bear for winter with this shit you just fed your body, but your sugar levels are gonna go through the roof and leave you tired and hungry.

I'm not saying you can't ever indulge, but use your head. It would be much better to compromise with yourself. Eat healthy all day, then eat a Happy Meal for dinner. Better yet, go to the store and buy some lean beef or turkey and make a big juicy hamburger on the grill. Make your own shake with some skim milk, plain yogurt, stevia, and fresh fruit or cocoa powder. Switch out the fries with sweet potato fries and grill corn on the cob or fresh veggies. Idk, something else. Anything else.

You can't go your entire life without eating some of this crap every once in a while, but be cognizant of what you're doing and don't lose all control. And don't make a pattern of it. Losing weight takes consistency and living healthy is forever. These are forever changes you need to make.

Believe me, after you eat healthy for a while, this fast food slop is not appealing! You could not pay me to eat that shit. Just driving by it and smelling it in the air makes me want to hurl. I am dead ass serious.

Empty calories hold no nutritional punch and offer your body nothing. It's a waste. Once you start feeding your body real food, it will reject greasy slop and it'll make you feel like hell... and land you some time in the bathroom. Your body can only handle this shit now because you have forced it to get used to it. Bodies will adapt to what we do to them. But give your bod some healthy, wholesome food for a little while and it will bitch slap you every time you try to load it up with fatty chemical foods.

Make every calorie mean something.

There should be a reason for every single calorie you put inside your body. If you are going the extra mile and making the effort to workout, for God's sake give your body something to work with. You need fuel, especially if you are pushing through a workout. Healthy food and exercise work together. When it comes to optimum health, one cannot live without the other. You need both to get the full benefits from either.

EAT OFTEN

The three big meals a day with no snacks doesn't work for most people. It leaves too much time in between meals and allows your sugar levels to drop (along with your energy and motivation) as well as makes you run out of gas. You want to keep your furnace stoked all day long. Long periods of time without eating causes you to become too hungry and leads to overeating. Eat every three hours and keep it healthy. Throughout the course of a day, eat everything: Carbs, Fat, Fiber, Protein, etc. You need it all. Period.

In today's day and age, we are eating in our cars while racing to work or from one errand to another. Or we get home starving from a busy day and sit in front of the TV munching all night long, most of which we don't even remember, enjoy, or even taste because we're too busy watching Maury tell us who's not the father. Slow it down. Pay attention to what you are eating. If you need something to munch on constantly while your boob tubing it, keep fresh crunchy veggies cut or pop some plain popcorn.

You gotta make the changes. If you're eating all your calories in your jammies, not only is all that shit gonna lay in your stomach while your sleeping, but you don't have any time left in the day to burn any of it off. Don't sabotage some of your efforts by making poor choices. Don't settle for half-assed. Do it right.

ALWAYS BE PREPARED!

I cannot stress enough how much this helps!

If you're on the road a lot or work long shifts, invest in a giant lunch box or a small cooler. I'm serious. Fill that sucker with more than enough healthy foods. Take one day a week and prepare a bunch of different foods so that you have a fridge stocked all week with quick healthy foods. There really are so many healthy options. You can make chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad, crack salsa, oven hard boiled eggs, lean taco meat, turkey or lean beef patties (or meatballs), blueberry muffins, pumpkin muffins, apple pie muffins, or turkey-veggie egg muffins. Have on hand cut up fruit and veggies, yogurts, nuts, Lara Bars, bananas, cottage cheese, low-fat cheese, etc. There are tons of healthy foods that are delicious that you can prep in one day and have them for the next seven.

Meal prepping makes it effortless for the rest of the week. There is no time to even get hungry because there is always a multitude of items to eat, all healthy choices. 

At any given time, I can pull food out of my purse. No matter where I am going, I always eat right before I leave AND bring snacks. Even if I only plan on running to Walmart, you never know when you're gonna be tripped up or end up running a couple more places or running into someone, etc. I throw a banana, apple, fiber bar, bag of carrots, wheat crackers, or even a yogurt and a spoon in my purse. But do remember to take the uneaten food out of your purse or gym bag. One time I found a rotted liquefied clementine in a side pocket of my purse that I never use. It was funk nasty. I gagged for twenty minutes after cleaning it up.

DON'T REWARD YOURSELF WITH FOOD

Your reward after a long hard day of eating healthy and exercising should NOT be food. Your reward for eating healthy and exercising is looking better, feeling better, and living longer. And if you need a tangible reward, go buy an outfit or something, but leave food OUT of it! Using food as a reward and attaching food to your emotions is what got you in this shit in the first place. Change your relationship with food. 

In the future when you are holding your great-grandbaby, you can thank healthy living for that. But if you continue down an unhealthy path and you are battling heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or chronic pain by the time your kids graduate high school, well...you can thank unhealthy living for that.

It comes down to choice. One that you are responsible for making. Making the right choices isn't easy all the time, but you still have to do it!

“It’s so hard when I have to, and so easy when I want to.”
— Annie Gottlier

SHOULD YOU COUNT CALORIES?

Before I get into what you should be eating, I wanna say a few things about counting calories. When people want to lose weight, they get all crazy and obsessed about calories. STOP IT! 

There is no need to get all insane. Let's talk about whether you should count calories or not. It really depends on what kind of person you are and how much knowledge you already have pertaining to nutrition and eating.

Many experts say you MUST count calories in order to keep track of what your eating and to find problems if plateaus arise. If you really are lost about what you should be eating and have never followed a healthy eating plan, I tend to agree with the experts. I think at least for a little while, until you get a better understanding, it would benefit you to keep a food log. However, if you are one of those people that has always known what to eat but simply doesn't, you may not need to (at least not for very long). I'm on both sides of the argument and I see benefits to both.

The biggest benefit to keeping a food log, is obviously knowing exactly how many calories you are consuming. But even more importantly, if you are having mad success, you can directly see (and know for sure) what is the ideal eating plan for you. On the other side of that coin, if your weight isn't budging and you're having a hard go of things, you can clearly see what foods you should cut down on or notice patterns (eating too much at night, skipping breakfast, too many refined foods, etc). We clog our brains up with so much crap all day that without writing things down, it is impossible to remember what and when we eat, let alone figuring out patterns. I did in fact keep a food log in the beginning. Two things about it:

  • It was useful.
  • It was a pain in the ass.

It was useful because I wasn't losing weight in the beginning. I was unaware of it, but eventually I found out I was insulin resistant, which makes it very difficult to lose weight. My log made it easy for my doctor and nutritionist to see I was in fact eating perfectly. It helped motivate them to figure out why I wasn't dropping weight. Without the log, I'm pretty sure they would have thought I was lying to them and inhaling Twinkies and Ho-Hos all friggin day. Actually, I'm not 'pretty sure', I'm 100% certain. Because after 4 months of not losing weight, I made a doctor's appt and my doctor looked at me like there was NO WAY in hell I was telling the truth about eating right and exercising... until I pulled out my food and exercise logs.

{To find out more about Insulin Resistance and why it doesn't let you lose weight read my article, "In the Beginning It Was Tough As Hell."}

But after the mystery was unraveled and the problem was fixed, I shit-canned the exercise and food logs. I was confident in my knowledge of what I was supposed to be eating and it was taking up too much of my time and brain power to log everything. I was sick of it and I would make myself stressed about it. Then there were days I was crazy busy and would find myself at 11pm trying to remember every morsel I ate and flipping through my calorie counter book. Ugh. I was over it. I made a promise to myself if I hit plateaus or had issues come up, I would go back to the logs (at least until the problems were figured out). 

  • {Update: I wrote this article five years ago and I have indeed gone back to food logging and counting calories every time I've had a backslide or weight gain. It has helped me tremendously in finding the problems in my diet and making me accountable for how much I'm eating. I don't do it all the time, but it's definitely a wonderful tool to get back on track when I have any kind of setback. Also, because of food apps like Lose It and My Fitness Pal, logging food and counting calories isn't nearly the pain in the ass it once was. I usually just use my fitbit app.}

Luckily, after I moved past those initial four months, I NEVER hit a plateau after that. For the next 16 months, I consistently lost weight and lost inches. I attribute this to maintaining a well-balanced eating plan and faithfully changing up my exercise regimen (and exercising every day!).

Counting calories is totally up to you. Everybody has their own perfect way of doing things. Some people would drive themselves crazy with all the logging and having their head in a calorie book all day trying to figure out what they've eaten. Others welcome that structure and control that keeping logs provide. The more OCD peeps need to know exactly what the deal is. I can appreciate both sides of the fence.

WHAT SHOULD YOU BE EATING

    First of all, you can find zillions of healthy, delicious recipes that will blow your mind. You will not believe you are eating healthy. Don't eat the same three things over and over again. Find replacements for your favorite things. How about chicken fajitas with wheat tortillas or turkey chili or taco omelets? There are limitless options. Find and discover all the combinations and different foods out there. Try something new. Have you tried edamames, a pummelo, a lemon cucumber, or an applepear? 

One of my newest discoveries is that plain greek yogurt tastes exactly like sour cream. I have been smearing this little miracle on tacos, quesadillas, and taco omelets like a fiend lately. I've also been using it to make spinach and veggie dips as well as fruit dips (I sweeten it with Stevia). I have avoided sour cream for years because of it's high calories and fat and low nutritional value, but I love it and I missed it. All of my girlfriends started using the plain greek yogurt as well. It is blowing our minds. Lol. Hey, it's the little things in life.

Let's get into some specific about what you should be eating, shall we? Let's talk about some easy-to-follow rules to help you eat right and lose weight.

EATING RULES TO LOSE WEIGHT:

1. EAT EVERYTHING

Don't cut out fat, carbs, or eat low calories. You need everything. And all of the reduced-fat and diet stuff is made with fillers and preservatives. In order to not sacrifice taste by taking out fat and calories, they add more salt and other harmful ingredients.

The only exception to this rule is low-fat dairy items (low-fat milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc.). Dairy items can be made low-fat by simply removing the fat without adding anything else.

Low-fat and reduced-fat dairy items should in fact be a consistent staple in your diet (if you can handle dairy, of course). They provide loads of protein, calcium, potassium, folate, etc. for very little fat and calories.

2. EAT WHOLE FOODS (Foods in their purest form)

For example, orange juice-NO, an orange-YES. We were designed to eat whole foods. Foods that are in their natural, original state are the healthiest for us. Once food becomes tampered with and changed in some way, it is not only stripped of vitamins and minerals but unnatural, unhealthy substances are added. We were meant to live off of the land and animals. Foods today are loaded with preservatives, pesticides, chemicals, and countless harmful substances. Our bodies don't know what to do with this stuff.

Whole foods are what our bodies were designed to eat. When we were all cavemen stomping around banging sticks and grunting, we weren't pulling bags of Cheetos off of trees. Make a conscience effort to eat more whole foods and organic foods.

3. AVOID REFINED FOODS.

Chips and cookies (yes, even the 'diet' kind) are processed in your body like sugar. All the 100 calorie snack packs are refined foods.

Refined foods offer no nutritional value and are empty calories. One of the biggest culprits that people overlook is dry cereal. Almost every single dry cereal on the market is total refined crap. Be VERY careful with this stuff. The wording on cereal boxes is very misleading. Turn the box around and look through the ingredients, it'll surprise you. 

Breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day. It sets the tone for how your body is going to run for you all day long. Don't start your day off with a bowl of sugar. The average American will eat 12 pounds of cereal each year. Yikes! Try steel cut oats or eggs and whole wheat toast instead. If your in a mad hurry, grab a yogurt and a banana. Almost anything would be better than a bowl of cereal. Again, you can't stay away from everything ALL the time but eat refined foods very sparingly. They illicit an insulin surge and leave you hungry very quickly after eating them.

4. EAT WHOLE GRAINS.

Get rid off all the white foods (potatoes, rice, pasta, bread) and replace them with sweet potatoes, brown or wild rice, wheat or rice pasta, quinoa, steel cut oats, and Ezekiel bread.

If you're eating white foods, you might as well eat jelly beans. That's exactly how your body processes white foods...as sugar. They hold absolutely no nutritional value, spike sugar levels, make you tired, and make you hungry.

After a while, you will find that whole grains and complex carbs taste better. Every single one of my friends and family members who have made the switch agree. It really does taste better. I cannot eat white bread. It tastes like a mushy disgusting mess in my mouth. Gross!

Did you know that white foods begin digesting in your mouth BEFORE you even swallow them? Your saliva is enough to already start breaking down these simple carbohydrates. That gives you a pretty good idea that there isn't gonna be much to get from it once it's in your stomach. White foods will not provide any sustenance or nutritional value. Complex carbs such as quinoa, old fashioned and steel cut oats, brown and wild rice, and other whole grains. Whole grains are called complex carbohydrates for a reason....they provide nutrients that stay with you. They also have fiber which not only is vital in a healthy digestive track but keep you feeling full and satisfied for a longer period of time.

5. EAT GOOD CARBS.

All the whole grain foods mentioned above fall into the 'good carb' category (brown or wild rice, wheat or rice pasta, quinoa, steel cut oats, and Ezekiel bread). Fruits and veggies do as well. Fruits and vegetables should be eaten every day. Fruits should be a little more limited than veggies because of their high sugar content, but they are still an important part of a healthy diet and should not be avoided. Veggies on the other hand, well you can eat your weight in those. I personally allow myself an unlimited amount of veggies. I rely on them for the crunch I need when I have the munchies.

Fruits and veggies offer us vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that we can't find anywhere else. Their nutritional value is unparalleled to other foods. There are a ton of them out there, including ones you have never even tried or tasted. Find the ones you like and don't be afraid to try new ones or even try old ones in a different way. Maybe you don't like asparagus by itself, but maybe cut in bite-sized pieces thrown in a stir-fry would be a new favorite.

6. EAT GOOD FATS.

Fish (including most seafood), nuts and legumes, olives, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, natural nut butters (almond butter is my current fav), flaxseed, etc. Stay away from the 'unhealthy' saturated fats such as any fried food, cheese, ice cream, meat fat, potato chips, all sweets, etc. Many people are still very misinformed about eating fat. Many still believe if you eat fat, you become fat. Your body needs fat to function properly. Just be sure to stick to the good fats.

You must eat fat to lose fat!

7. AVOID ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS.

Use Stevia. It's the only natural sweetener out there that isn't loaded with harmful ingredients and doesn't illicit an insulin surge. All of the artificial sweeteners on the market (except Stevia) are processed in your body like regular sugar. Your body doesn't compute any calories from it but your body, primarily your pancreas, registers this food item as sugar. 

This means your pancreas spits out a ton of insulin into your body to fight a bunch of sugar that isn't even there!

This wrecks havoc with your system and causes the sugar 'crash' afterwards, which leaves you hungry and tired. One of the biggest pitfalls is diet soda. Diet sodas not only cause these unwarranted insulin surges to happen, but countless studies have proven that they actually increase hunger. Artificial sweeteners have also been proven to trigger sugar cravings. It's not worth it. Try Stevia. It will taste a little different at first, but after a few weeks you'll get used to it and wonder why it ever tasted different in the first place.

Here's a disgusting fact to throw at ya. We all know what formaldehyde is right? Well Aspartame (NutraSweet, SugarTwin, and Equal) breaks down into formaldehyde after it is eaten. Isn't that just wonderful? I mean, who doesn't want to ingest something that can also embalm roadkill?

{For a great weight loss tip regarding Stevia read my article, "How the Hell Did I Live Without These For So Long?"}

It seems there is so much information out there and often it becomes overwhelming to take it all in and figure out where to start. But it really comes down to two basic things:

EAT SMART AND MOVE. 

All the rest falls into place. Try to eat often, in moderation, and stick to healthy whole foods as much as you can. Any change is better than nothing. Start small and build from there. You will quickly feel the positive effects of eating better and that alone can help motivate us to keep going. YOU CAN DO THIS. Start right now, just take one meal at a time.

“When it comes to eating right and exercising, there is no ‘I’ll start tomorrow.’ Tomorrow is disease”
— Terri Guillemets

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*The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content in this article is for general information purposes only. I am not a doctor, nor am I a dietitian. Talk to your physician before making any changes in your diet or exercise regimen. The information found in this article is from various sources which include, but are not limited to, the sites listed above. I encourage you to do your own research and talk with your physician before making any changes in diet or exercise. What has worked for me may not work for you. This information in this article or on this website should never replace or serve as medical advice.

NEVER DISREGARD PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE OR DELAY SEEKING MEDICAL TREATMENT BECAUSE OF SOMETHING YOU HAVE READ ON OR HAVE ACCESSED THROUGH THIS WEB SITE.

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