3/5: Disarming the Word "Diet"

There really should be water in the glass. Sorry dairy lobby.
It's about time I got to talking about diet.  I've already written about my thoughts about the other parts of the puzzle:  1/5:  The Foundation and 1/5:  Exercise.  Just to refresh, I firmly believe that wrapping your head around being healthy can be split into a pie with 5 wedges and distributed as such: 

1/5th — Foundation work
1/5th — Exercise 
3/5ths — Diet

I've saved the hardest one (my hardest one) for last mainly because it's something that I struggle with, but also because I couldn't figure out how to jump into it.  That is until this past xmas and I was talking with my dad (hi Dad!).

Dad and I always talk to each other a lot–and about a wide range of topics.  I think his least favorite topic is when I start talking to him about his health, or about how many of my issues with food, exercise, and my body were inherited from him and my mom (check out "Discovering Dad" Part 1 and Part 2!) (this is in the spirit of understanding, not blaming).

Turns out that dad really hates the word "diet" as in "What's your diet like?" 

Dad associates the word "diet" with fad diets and/or deprivation (like the time when he went on a super low fat diet; got results but was miserable).

I'm kinda on the other side of "diet" being a loaded word (thankfully).  I've been able to disarm the bomb that is the word "diet" and see if for what it really is (my definition):   the stuff you choose to put in your mouth, how much of it, with the intent of it helping you live (a healthy) life.   The thing is, the focus of the definition is on the word "choose."  Let that sit for a second.

Some people may choose to be vegetarian or vegan.  Some people may choose to be paleo, do whole 30, or suck air.  Some pick choose to pick up a magazine with pretty photos and promises of results.  Some people choose to believe government guidelines.  That's their choice.

But... what leads up to that choice? (what follows is my opinion)

(1) your attitudes about food  (such as certain cultural beliefs, your preference/taste, etc.)
(2) your knowledge of what your own body needs (your relationship with your body/mind affects the decisions you make regarding food–do you need more calories one day? do you need to focus on getting a particular vitamin? etc.)
(3) your relationship with food (is it fuel? is it an emotional issue? etc.),

That feels super complex, but most of those choices happen subconsciously. When we feel that we need to change our diet for one reason or another, we begin to pay more attention to how the question of choice breaks down. We bring consciousness to our beliefs and habits.  And sometimes it's gentle and constructive, sometimes it's harsh and detrimental.

We examine those ways we can choose what we put in our mouth and how much and for what purpose:
(1) Can you change your attitudes about food?
(2) Can you change your knowledge of what your own body needs?
(3) Can you change your relationship with food?

I think this is what most people are really doing when they "go on a diet"–they are reexamining those questions not through their own process and examining within, but instead relying on outside information rather than examining within.

I don't want to promote any diet over another.  Everyone has different needs. But I do want to advocate everyone looking at their diet and asking themselves if it's working for them.  And if it's not, I hope you feel empowered to try and make small, sustainable changes. Your body has a wisdom all its own–listen to it.

As for Dad, I drew my handy dandy quadrant diagram (still a work in progress).  The whole point of it is that all foods can be put on a spectrum and you have to know how to rate food.  In terms of volume (feeling full) you want nutrient dense but caloric efficiency.  You can have red meat, but understand that as compared to some other proteins, you should probably have less of it because there's less "bang for the buck."

Long story short–"diet" is not a dirty word.  It's the word that describes how we fuel our lives.
That's all.

Taking the Win

Say hello to my new friend.

It's so hard to say goodbye to My Cruel Mistress, but that's what life is about sometimes -- having to move on and leave the past behind so you can open yourself to the opportunities of the future.  In the end, she wasn't a cruel mistress, but a dependable friend and a constant in my workout routine. I missed her both before and after my surgery.

After many years, my office has upgraded the gym facilities.  Today was the soft opening.  I got there a little before 6 am to see the new digs.  The space and the new machines are really nice:  4 new treadmills, 2 new ellipticals, 1 lateral elliptical crosstrainer (which might be my hip flexors' new nemesis), new smith machine, new cable machine, various weight machines, new free weights, kettlebells, resistance bands AND a group class room.  We also have new locker rooms, but unfortunately, we can't rent/use lockers overnight.

But there were two HUGE new changes:  we have an in-house NASM-certified trainer (**waves** hi Kat!) AND we'll have access to Workouts On Demand in the group class room.

Anyways.... I woke up this morning with a singular goal:

It's been 5 months (as of tomorrow) since my surgery and I have been cleared to use an elliptical.  My goal this morning was to do 3.1 miles, or 5k, and to do the other 3.1m/5k in a second visit.  And that way I'll have earned my virtual "Beat The Blerch"  2016 medal.

Just as I'm about to cross 3.1 miles, I somehow manage to unplug the machine (the power adapter under the pedals, not at the wall).  So there's no pic, but it did happen.  Scout's honor.

But the title of the blog post is "Take the Win" -- what do I mean by it?  Well in the 5 months since my surgery, I've only gained 4 pounds. And in my mind, that's statistically inconsequential (it can be a normal swing from week to week and/or after my period).