WHY I'M NOT DIETING IN 2018
I’m really excited to be collaborating with my friend (and personal trainer) Megan Kogucz to bring you our thoughts on nutrition and fitness. Kyle and I have been training with Megan since November, although we did so much traveling in December I’m not sure you can really count that month. I met Megan not too long after moving to Austin in 2015, and she quickly became one of my closest gals in town. She's not only positive and motivating to be around, she’s one of the nicest people you’ll meet. I’m so proud of her for following her dreams to become a personal trainer, and I’m in awe of the success she’s had this past year. With that said, first up we're talking nutrition. You can put hard work in at the gym, but still sabotage your goals with what you're eating. But, we're talking about why dieting isn't the solution and your focus should be on FUELING your body.
Goals and resolutions are important - especially when you’re harnessing the energy of a new year. But, for once, I decided I would not add “dieting” to my laundry list of things I wanted to accomplish in 2018.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve dieted with pretty great success in the past. Some of my favorites being Whole30 (read about my experience here), the Whole Life Challenge and The 4-Day Diet by Dr. Ian Smith. Dieting CAN work - especially if your eating habits are out of control or if you have an unhealthy relationship with food. Changing your relationship with food can be tough, which is why so many people turn to dieting in the first place. It’s a good way to start to reset yourself.
But, as I get older, and hopefully wiser, I’ve realized most dieting isn’t realistic.
Why do we stop dieting? Often times because whatever diet we’re on isn’t a sustainable long-term solution. We turn the month of January into four weeks of detox hell. I don’t know about you, but as soon as I deem something “off limits”, it’s all I can think about. No sugar. I need doughnuts. No carbs. I need pancakes. No dairy. I need a cheese plate stat (plus a glass of wine). Not having sugar, carbs or dairy for the rest of my life sounds miserable - so I’m focusing on moderation and living with intent. Because eliminating entire food groups doesn't have to be your "answer". There's a better way to live that doesn't involve pounding through a 14-Day crash diet.
I thought Megan would be an awesome resource of knowledge to step in and give us all some advice on what we should be eating and how we should be thinking about food. Of course, everyone is unique, so if you have special dietary concerns, please consult your doctor.
Megan: MK here! First and foremost food should never come with a side of guilt. When I think about food and talk about proper nutrition with clients, it’s simple: Food is fuel. Once you replace the idea of eating as an action, with food as it is used to fuel your body your mentality will change. Thus, the first step is to change your mentality and thus change your lifestyle choices. Everyone is different, therefore everyone has extremely different health and wellness goals. For example, I train both athletes and professionals and their caloric and nutritional intake looks vastly different. Their needs are based on their goals, but they are still using food to fuel their bodies. Do you need to fuel your body for sleep at 10PM, 11PM at night - maybe not. Do you need to fuel your body for your workout in 2-3 hours, hell yes. That being said you are human, life gets in the way and sometimes your sprinting just to get to work on time. BUT the body responds to consistency. If you consistently fuel your body with proper nutrition, while being true to yourself life will remain balanced. If you want some halo top, do it, and love yourself for it. But always keep your goals in mind, and if it’s not serving you have the strength to let it go.
Megan Kogucz, National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist
QUESTIONS FROM FRIENDS:
Is the Keto Diet actually good for your body?
MK: The idea behind the Keto diet, being in the state of ketosis (the body’s fat burning state) is interesting - using fat for energy instead of relying on mostly carbohydrates. The issue at hand is you cannot cheat. The second you are over on your number of carbohydrates you are out of ketosis. That being said, I feel like it is definitely not for long term use.
KG: The biggest turnoff for me is that it just doesn't align with my personal beliefs. I'm not into counting calories or carbs. It's not something I want to do long term. The Keto diet is extremely popular right now, but I'm aiming for a lifestyle shift. I've read about this diet, and I just can't buy in to a lot of the food choices.
What are some foods people should avoid?
MK: This one is hard because everyone is different. In general an easy cut back is always dairy, grains, and general processed/packaged food. As a rule, if you make it yourself you can control the oil, lack of additives, and overall freshness. You will feel like a new person if you stick to majority of lean protein and vegetables and use the rest as a supplement to your diet.
KG: I've definitely felt better after removing dairy in the past, but I LOVE CHEESE. Haha. Personally, I am one of those people that graze on food if I have the option. So, half the battle is NOT BUYING items that are unhealthy. Stack your pantry and fridge with nutritional options - because then you've removed the temptation of ice cream, chips, and processed junk.
What are some foods/products that are advertised as healthy, but actually aren’t?
MK: The bane of my existence -The energy bar, trail mixes, and the chips. The greatest way to overcome this is read the nutritional content of your food. Energy bars slapped with organic labels and X amount of protein read evaporated cane juice as the first ingredients. High sugar content run rampid in all three. Trail mix are roasted and salted with added oils and packed with chocolate or dried fruit. Chips are hard because their high carb yes, but I get hooked on the crunch and then boom entire bag gone. So again, READ YOUR LABELS. KNOW, and take ownership in the nutritional content of your food. (See below for alternative, healthy options).
KG: Megan said it best. Read your labels, people. It can be extremely eye-opening.
What should an ideal meal be composed of?
MK: Lean protein and green vegetables. Great source of carbohydrates are root veggies (sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, yams, carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, butternut squash, and artichokes)
KG: When I said I wasn't dieting, it didn't mean I get a free pass on veggies. My philosophy is to EAT SMART - make smart swaps. If you're eating white rice every night, it's time to make the switch and try some new recipes (coming soon) to incorporate fuel with more nutritional content.
Healthy snack ideas?
K: Avocado with a little olive oil and salt is my favorite. When you think about snacks you still want to prepare these yourself. Instead of grabbing that bar or reply on a vending machine think a small spinach, chicken salad. Think dry roasted unsalted almonds/almond butter with celery. Think carrots and spicy hummus with olives and red bell pepper. Basically don’t limit fresh foods just to lunch and dinner.
KG: First off, I'm the biggest snacker around. However, what I've started doing is focusing on if I'm actually hungry for a snack. Megan has taught me so much about the importance of drinking water. Often times our thirst is disguised as hunger. So, before you lose yourself to the vending machine - drink a tall glass of water, wait about 20-30 minutes and see how you're feeling.
Can I still eat pizza?
MK:100% YES. Since food is fuel as we talked about earlier. I would choose pizza on a very active day, helping build energy stores for a heavy lift or long run. When consuming delicious, but let’s face it high carb, high calories it becomes more of a treat than a staple in your diet. On a completely random note, I went to school in Florence, Italy for a semester and PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF PIZZA stay away from ‘hot and ready’s, huts, and john’s (it’s not food, it’s just processed starch).
KG: Yessss. Lo and behold this beautiful 'ZA from ABGB last weekend. It's OKAY to indulge. But, remember we're talking about a lifestyle change. You can't expect to eat pizza 3x/week and reach your fitness goals. But, if you're eating it OWN IT, ENJOY IT, and DON'T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT!
We've got lots of other fun recipes and ideas coming your way.
Please comment below if you have any other questions you'd like Megan to answer.
We're always going to be tackling exercise, so turn on those post notifications on Instagram, join my Facebook page and keep an eye out.
Xo, Kimberly + Megan