Use it or Lose It

Hey everyone! For a few weeks I had been letting my at-home morning workouts slide. Doing constant push-ups on the counter started giving me a repetitive strain injury in my elbows (ouch), my babe was (and still is) teething his molars, and a thousand and one other things got in the way. So frustrating! I love working out, but sometimes you just can’t seem to make it happen.

But I noticed something interesting. My coffee intake massively increased, my general interest level started dropping and my energy levels plummeted.

Hunh?

Hunh?

You would think that since I wasn’t pushing myself super hard every day I would have more energy! My body wouldn’t be using up all it’s energy healing itself, I would have more time… But no. The exact opposite happened. My body started shutting down.

This week’s Uncomfortable Truth:

Use it or Lose It

I’ve talked about this before: We are living in the 21st century walking around in bodies designed for cavemen. We pack on the pounds quicker and easier than we lose them, we instinctively check our surroundings every 7 minutes give or take (start watching for it!), and we are designed to move. Our bodies start to hate us after a while if we don’t let them loose! Basically: Our bodies are hyper active puppies. If we don’t take them out for daily walks and let them run around and smell the trees, they get depressed.

OMG EVERYTHING!!!!

OMG EVERYTHING!!!!

In order to keep your body in peak physical form, you do need to use it. I wrote a blog a few weeks ago called Abs are Made in the Kitchen. This is very true, you can’t have a great body with a bad diet (unless you’re a kid running around at level 11 all day every day) but you also won’t have a happy body unless you allow it to move.

Exercise works wonders on our bodies and our minds. By pushing our bodies to move faster, lift heavier, breathe harder; we’re allowing our bodies to do what they were designed to do. We were not designed to sit in front of a computer all day. We were designed to run, lift, carry and jump for hours on end on very little food. Obviously I’m not saying starve yourself, but I am saying our bodies are starving for action.

OMG EVERYTHING!!!!

OMG EVERYTHING!!!!

If you compare our western cultures to those on the other side of the globe, you will see a very noticeable difference. Here, we’re suffering from an obesity epidemic. Illnesses due to poor diets and lack of exercise are greatly on the rise. When I went to community college, it was cheaper to get a heaping plate of fries drowned in gravy than it was to get a small plate of vegetables. And when you do get vegetables, it’s cheaper to get the ones dosed in toxic chemicals. Then you look at Eastern cultures… Children in China eat cucumbers as a tasty snack as opposed to Twinkies. Look at their sidewalk vendors: Where we have hotdogs, they have corn on the cob. Even people in their 80s are still running marathons!

Yes. This is real. Photo Credit: @LoneCaravan

Yes. This is real. Photo Credit: @LoneCaravan

It is possible to stay healthy and full of energy until long after we’ve typically given up in the west, but it does require some work. We need to give our bodies a purpose; a challenge. Those days when you feel the most like giving up are the days you need to push yourself harder.

Perfect example! I used to get sick. A lot. The last couple winters before I met my manfriend I had no less than 5 colds per winter. No joke. No exaggeration. Within 4 months I had 5 colds. Probably even 6. Know why? Because the second I felt that little tickle in my throat, I gave up. “Oh woe is me! I’m getting the sniffles! Better lay down.”

Pathetic.

In the four years we’ve been together I have had one cold. Total. Maybe two at most. Because I stopped giving in at the first sign of trouble and started fighting. Plus, I became a mother, and as we all know moms don’t get sick days. So now when I feel a throat tickle coming on I take 6 1000 mg Vitamin C capsules with an Emergen-C drink, I sleep a little more, and I work a little harder.

Much harder to do when there's a baby screaming for you and a kitchen that needs cleaning and supper that needs to be prepped... Someone pass me the Vitamin C, I'm going in!

Much harder to do when there’s a baby screaming for you and a kitchen that needs cleaning and supper that needs to be prepped… Someone pass me the Vitamin C, I’m going in!

Yes you read that right, I work HARDER. Working less does nothing but give your body less incentive to work more. The less you work, the less you want to work, so the less you work, and down the spiral you go.

Our bodies are designed beautifully, this is very true. But there is one major flaw:

The less you use it, the more you lose it.

It is actually a brilliant survival technique. What we don’t need, we shed. Did you know that when astronauts arrive in space, their first pee is chock-full of calcium? Gross, but also fascinating! Due to the lack of gravity, the lack of constant pressure on their bones, they don’t need all that bone mass so they start shedding it to be more energy efficient.

So long bone density! Hello moon walking. Level: expert

So long bone density! Hello moon walking. Level: Expert

The same thing happens across the board. What we don’t use, we inevitably lose. Muscles get weaker over time, bone density goes away, connective tissue weakens… Slowly our bodies start to fall apart and weaken if we stop using them.

So stop letting your body waste away long before its time! There is absolutely no excuse. I am insanely busy, and I still make time to work out every morning. I often joke that I have an entire day long before noon. Designate a corner to be your workout area, set up some of those baby play mats from Walmart, and get to it! The hardest part is getting up to the point where you’re about to start. Once you get started, your body takes over. Because your body wants to workout! It’s your brain that gets in the way. Now that I’ve been back on my workout schedule for the last two weeks, I feel amazing! I’m drinking less coffee, I’m sleeping better, I’m getting more done in the run of the day, and I am all around more interested and more happy. Plus I’m getting my muscle definition back again, always a fantastic feeling. What more could you ask for?

You can find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lasttwentypounds and on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/last20pounds and on Twitter as @Last20Pounds. See you next week!

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If It Looks Too Good To Be True…

Hey guys! Welcome to this week’s episode of me crushing all your hopes and dreams. That sounds harsh, but I can’t help but feel a little bit bad about this blog… You see, I was once like you, dear reader. I would look on Pinterest, or at my Low Carb cookbooks, and see all these wonderful recipes for “Healthy Chocolate Cake” and “Healthy Pizza” and think “Wow! I can still eat all my favourite foods and lose weight?! Life is awesome!”

And then I gained over 70 pounds by the end of my pregnancy and a year and a half later I still have those ever frustrating last 20 pounds to shed. Well, 10 or 15 pounds now, but you get my point.

But it said it was a HEALTHY cheesecake!

But it said it was a HEALTHY cheesecake!

Le sigh.

Unfortunately this is a sad truth for most women. We’ll make these awesome sounding “healthy” recipes, and as the years go by keep putting on more and more weight and never really know why.

God damn you Pinterest, you lying bastard!

LIES

LIES

Which brings me to this week’s Uncomfortable Truth:

If It Looks Too Good To Be True, It Is

This is a very, very dangerous game we play with ourselves. For some reason, healthy scares us. I personally blame cartoons. Every character’s favourite food is cookies, or pizza, or ice cream. And what happens when a Brussels sprout pops on screen? They freak out and vomit every where. I didn’t touch a Brussels sprout until I was 27! And you know what? They are freakin’ delicious.

The only exception.

The only exception.

So because of this programming we’ve been bombarded with, unbeknownst to us since we were infants, we’re convinced that healthy can’t be tasty. What are you nuts? Who would ever choose to eat salad over pizza?! If the Ninja Turtles choose pizza, then so do I. If Homer Simpson says “You don’t win friends with salad” then who am I to argue? If the Cookie Monster devours every cookie in sight…

My childhood. No pizza could ever compare.

My childhood. No pizza could ever compare.

You get my point.

But as my palate has learned in this last year or so of experimenting with new foods, healthy doesn’t have to mean boring. It doesn’t mean having to eat “bird food” or things that taste like dirt. You just need to be interested enough to learn about healthy food, and how to best prepare it so it tastes a thousand times better than a bucket of deep fried chicken parts.

Yum? Not since I discovered the deliciousness that is anything else!

Yum? Not since I discovered the deliciousness that is anything else!

To go back to my original point, I get violently angry now when I research new healthy recipes on Pinterest. You know what I find? People trying to fake healthy. People so desperate to hold on to their favourite foods they’ll change them just enough to deem it “healthy” to the untrained eye.

You know what’s healthy? Cauliflower.

Actual yum!

Healthy.

You know what’s not healthy? Cauliflower coated in so much cheese you can barely even taste it.

Not healthy.

Not healthy.

Don’t hide your vegetables under bad food. That will only trick you into thinking you’re eating good so you put your guard down, pig out, and gain weight. Even if you don’t pig out, a cauliflower crusted pizza is still pizza. It’s not only the bread that makes pizza bad. Cheese is very, very high in calories. It also has a very high glycemic index, meaning it is much more likely to boost your blood sugar and make you gain weight faster than other foods with the same amount of calories.

When it comes to wanting something sweet… I get it. I really, really, really get it. When it comes to sugar cravings, some days I don’t know how I’ll get through it. Now, most people think that that’s sad. It’s sad that I can want something so bad and “deprive” myself of it. But do you know what I want more than that cookie? A body I can be proud of. Sugar cravings will pass. The taste of the cookie is gone 20 seconds after that last bite. But the feeling of pride I get from overcoming the craving, that lasts forever.

So when you want some dessert… There’s not much you can do. Sure, you can make these “gluten free” cookies or cake or muffins, but they’re not going to help you lose weight. If it looks too good to be true, it is. If you want to lose weight, don’t bake anything. Not even gluten free anything. If it has sugar in it in any form, if it has carbs in it in any form (gluten free included!) It. Will. Make. You. Gain. Weight.

Gluten free does not mean it's healthy.

Gluten free does not equal healthy.

A healthy dessert to have once in a while would be a cup of plain Greek yogurt with a handful of berries in it and no more than a tablespoon of organic honey. It’s not going to taste like ice cream. It’s not going to taste like cheesecake. But it is tasty in it’s own right.

That’s the scary change we need to make. We need to stop dressing up healthy food and expect it to taste like bad food. Bad food is delicious, there’s no denying it. But we pay a price for it. Start appreciating the subtle and delicious flavors of healthy food.

So that’s the question you need to ask yourself. Are you willing to sacrifice a body you can be proud of forever for 5 minutes with something that tastes good? A moment on the lips forever on the hips isn’t just a cheeky old saying to make you want to punch your Grandma in the face. It’s a hard fact.

Smart ass.

Smart ass.

The change needs to start with us. We need to change our palates. It won’t be easy at first, but nothing great is ever easy at first. Start small, find some delicious sounding really tasty recipes (I have a ton of them on Pinterest!) and start there. Then start experimenting, get really interested in what you’re cooking. Before you know it you’ll dive in to a spinach salad with orange pieces and red pepper and a balsamic vinaigrette with the same passion you once dove into a poutine with bacon.

Don’t fear healthy. Healthy food is actually delicious, and it leaves you feeling energized, and most importantly… It leaves you feeling proud.

What are some of your biggest road blocks when it comes to weight loss? Sound off below!

You can find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lasttwentypounds and Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/last20pounds and you can follow me on Twitter as @Last20Pounds. See you next week!