I have spent many years trying to figure out what is a sustainable way of eating for me. I don’t count calories or macros or use meal tracking apps, because it fuels negative thoughts and guilt around my food choices.
But just because I don’t count calories doesn’t meant that I eat whatever I like, whenever I like. Intuitive eating simply means that I allow my appetite cues to dictate my eating habits.
This has been a process that I have developed over a number of years and it wasn’t something that I necessarily just decided to do one day. It took practice and patience and trusting that just as some days I wasn’t hungry, there would be days I would be starving. This is my body balancing my energy needs. With three pregnancies in 4 years, I have had to lose around 30kg of baby weight and I had to make a choice every time to work damn hard on getting fit and healthy again. Now, i have done this twice and I am embarking on the 3rd postpartum journey, and i am going to do what i know works FOR ME. I know my body is capable of controlling my energy balance if I follow LCHF principles, exercise, fast and trust my body cues.
So this is what I think (for anyone that cares):
- Not everyone needs to count calories to be healthy and lose weight
- Some people need to count calories to be healthy and lose weight
- Not everyone can eat intuitively
- Some people can eat intuitively
- Not everyone can stick with ketogenic eating
- Some people can stick with ketogenic eating
- Not everyone can go high fat
- Some people can go high fat
Do you get my point?
So here are 10 of my best health tips:
- Focus on protein (and eat the fat that naturally comes with it). Aim for a higher protein intake rather than lower. I try to get around 1.8g of protein per kilo of body weight per day. This translates to about 120g of protein per day for me. In terms of food this could be 200g of chicken with salad at lunch and 200g of steak with veg at dinner.
- Lift heavy stuff! At least a few times per week lift some weights. If you’re trying to get strong, drop your reps under 6 and increase your weight to about 90-100% exertion. If you’re trying to gain muscle mass, generally keep your reps between 6 and 12 and the intensity between 70-85%. To gain mass, you will need a bigger volume of training than if you’re only trying to improve strength.
- Get fit! Do some high intensity cardio. The beauty of high intensity is it can be done in as little as 12 minutes and YES you do get fitter in that time!
- Mix up your high intensity and low intensity training. Too much high intensity training is not good of you and will lead to burn out and injury.
- Recover properly! More is not better and more can lead to injury and burn out. It is during the recovery phase that our body adapts to the training we have done. This is where the magic happens so make sure you maximise it! Eat well, hydrate, sleep and rest. These are the crucial components to a good recovery.
- Fast! Intermittent fasting has been a complete game changer in my life. It has allowed me to have flexibility in my diet without worry or stress. I find if I have a relaxed day or weekend (or week), doing a fast after this helps reset my mind and body and get me back on track.
- Stop drinking energy and keep yourself really hydrated. Hunger and thirst originate in the same part of the brain so keeping yourself hydrated is your best way of ensuring hunger cues are really hunger cues and not hydration cues.
- Don’t be afraid of fat. It’s good for us (so many processes in our body need it) and it keeps us full.
- Try a low carbohydrate diet. It’s not restrictive and it is really good for us. No matter what people say, we don’t need grain in any way shape or form and it can be keeping us unhealthy and overweight. My gut has never been more happy than when I stopped eating grain.
- Stop worrying about what anyone else is doing. Every aspect of health is individual and you have to take nutrition and fitness principles and apply them to your own life. Ultimately, what works for one person will not necessarily work for you so you have to figure out your own plan.
I would also add – don’t be in a rush!
There are no prizes for losing weight the fastest or for who bounces back after bubby the fastest. Why put unnecessary pressure on yourself?
At the end of the day I have figured out a nutrition and fitness program that works for me but it is ever evolving. I don’t get too stuck on any one idea and I certainly love playing around with things. I figure we only live once so I don’t want to spend my time fretting over food and whether or not i’m in energy balance.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and if you have your own tips and tricks! What is working for you? What isn’t?