When I was a child, the nutritional catchphrase tossed around the media was, "You are what you eat." I thought I knew what the food police were trying to convey to me. If you eat junk, you are junk. You are a reflection of what you are eating. It was slightly insulting and almost too simplistic. Like most kids, nutritional messages only sank in part way. I knew what was supposed to be good for me and what was supposed to be bad for me, but when you're young and healthy, you don't care about such things. Decay and disease are years away and you just want to eat what tastes good.
Since those early days, I have actually matured (just a little) and now I understand what, "You are what you eat," really means. It goes way beyond the idea that junky food will give you a junky body.
When you eat, food literally does become a part of you. It enters your body and is broken down into the most essential elements. From there it is absorbed into your bloodstream. It feeds you on the most basic, cellular level. It truly becomes part of who you are physically. Our bodies are built on the foods we eat. We truly are what we eat.
Another statement that stuck by me all these years was something a food writer said about eating. She called it one of the most intimate acts we perform. Food touches our bodies the way nothing else does. We bring food into our bodies directly and it eventually touches every part of us. Shouldn't we be aware and conscious of something so intensely personal?
I don't want to sound too out there and new age. I'm a realist. Everything we put into our body can't be holy and pure. I think this whole "clean eating" mindset is a bit extreme. Just as the food we eat becomes part of us, we are all related to the food we eat, whether it is clean or not.
In school we learn about the Periodic Table in chemistry class. The world is made up of 117 elements. The structure of everything around us is made from chemical combinations of one basic set. Assuming we are all a product of the Big Bang Theory, then the elements that make us also make up the entire universe. As the old saying goes, "We are all made of stardust."
There is no magical alchemy in our food, even processed food. Everything we eat is natural at the basic level. There aren't foods made of fairy dust or Satan Slime. It's all just a combination of everything life is made of. Calm down and stop worrying about "natural" and "clean eating". If you discover a food is having a negative on your body, don't eat it or at least eat less of it. If it doesn't seem to be harming you in any significant way, go ahead and eat it. Just try to focus on those foods that integrate the most what your body is made of. Eat them until you are satisfied, both physically and emotionally.
Anyway, my last phase of exercise is a bit lame. I had a hard time in this phase trying to push my weight limits. I don't think I broke any personal records this month. (Ooh look! I'm getting all bodybuilder-ish and talking about PRs!) I just faithfully did my workouts to the best of my ability and hoped that eventually I'd bust the plateau.
I did sort of bust the plateau this morning. I bumped my lat pulldown up to to 80 pounds this month. It has been a struggle to complete all four sets of four reps. This morning it wasn't so hard. I guess I'm ready for the next Phase.
My upcoming phase will be the final stage of The New Rules of Lifting for Women. I just finished Stage 5, but that Stage 6 is optional. It's supposed to be a major strength building phase and if your goal is fat loss (as mine is right now) the phase is not as important. I would like to work on Stage 6, but my elbow still hurts and the upper body work in Stage 6 is intense. I was working on Stage 6 when I injured my elbow in the first place. Almost two years later it still hasn't healed completely, so I'm sure not going to do anything to aggravate it. I'll move on the Stage 7 for my next weight workout.
At some point when I'm 100% healed I will work on Stage 6. It will be a fun change of pace to throw a massive strength phase into whatever workout program I'm doing.
So what program will I do once I'm done with TNROLFW? I am still not sure. I have looked at some books and some online programs. I have narrowed it down to two.
The first is The Fit Body Blueprint. I have worked with Sean Flanagan before and he's a great guy with a realistic approach. I'm familiar with his approach to food and nutrition and I like it. This program is 3 1/2 months long, which means I may be stuck looking for another program before 2016 is up. It's also all digital and I don't like to take electronics to the gym. I don't even take my phone to the gym. I take an old iPod Nano for music and that's it.
The second program I am considering is The Modern Women's Guide to Strength Training by Molly Gallbraith. I have never worked with Gallbraith, although I am a long time fan of her Girls Gone Strong site. I can buy a printed copy of the program (although it costs 3 times what Flanagan's program costs). There are three 16-week programs so I won't have to worry about not having a workout for a while. The nutrition advice is from the same author who wrote the nutrition section of TNROLFW, and I have some reservations about that as I felt the meal plans in the book were a little restrictive (although honestly I think I could use a little smart restriction),
Well, right now I don't have to make a decision because I still have another stage of TNROLFW to finish. I'll worry more about it then.
So what will I work on this month?
I think it's time to conquer the beast. I need to do the habit I hate the most. I will keep a food journal.
I have been doing an exemplary job of cutting out the evening eating this month. There have been many times I have stopped myself from mindless snacking before dinner. I have implemented strategies and developed distractions. It's all good, but what about the other mindless eating I do? What about the bad choices I sometimes make for lunch, or the cookies and doughnuts I sometimes grab in the morning or in the afternoon? Shouldn't I make myself more aware of that?
I am going to write everything down now. I want to have a record of where I go wrong and when. If I can obtain a calorie count of my meal, I will do so. I will also record how satisfied I felt after each meal. Did I feel stuffed, or did I feel hungry an hour later? That will help me monitor portion sizes.
Plan for Phase 8
Sunday: AM: NROLFW workout Stage 7, PM: Riding
Monday: Long walk outside (Zumba or other Kinect activities if weather is inclement)
Tuesday: NROLFW workout Stage 7
Wednesday: Zumba or interval cardio on bike or elliptical (40-45 minutes)
Thursday: NROLFW worout Stage 7
Friday: Interval cardio on bike or elliptical (40 minutes)
Habit: Keep a food journal that includes all foods eaten and satiety levels