First let me say, I am not a health professional.
I have never played on on TV (mostly because I am not an actress because if I was asked to play one on TV, I think I could totally pull it off but I digress), nor do I even remotely pretend to be one in real life.
I just have to deal with my own health and wellness on a daily basis and in the last 41 years or so I have observed a thing or two and the struggle is real.
Food food, sleep, and exercise.
Now I am going to tell you in 800 words or less what I have been learning…
If a health and wellness “professional” who looks particularly healthy and well says they eat whatever they want, but work out a lot implying one can eat what one wants if they work out a lot… that person is either a) LYING or b) not representing the full truth or c) should not be working in the field because they are stupid.
Over the last 6 months or so I have learned through experience paired with some old school research… what we eat is 80-95% the fault of how well or unwell or healthy or unhealthy we are.
How much or long or how hard we exercise is not 80-90% of our wellness.
I spent YEEEEARS thinking exercise plus paying attention to at least kind-of eating healthy was the ticket… “I exercise so I can eat.”
Rule #1 – Don’t let that be in your health and wellness language. Yes, exercise can help justify that dessert, but that is the exception not the rule.
Exercising to eat what we want is bad. Exercising because it does lots of other great things for our bodies and health is what’s good.
Exercise enhances wellness efforts. It is not the reason we become well or healthy.
When I was hitting exercise hard (several years of triathlon and half-marathon training) I was able to lose and tone. True. And it was nice. I was strong.
And exhausted. Because I sacrificed sleep to get that workout time in.
In the last 6 months I have made great changes and efforts to eat well… and right… I have lost more than I did while training, I feel far better, and have exercised far less than I thought I’d ever have to.
I am not saying no exercise. Not at all…
The deficit in my wellness now is muscle tone. I do have that to work on. Back in the day (6-8 years ago) I had more tone, but I was heavier. Muscle does often mean more weight, but I wasn’t a weight lifter.
Something was off.
Believing in the philosophy that I could exercise my way to eat what I want was baaaad.
I ate knowing I could burn it off. Not often eating whole foods. And not getting the sleep my training body needed for essential healing.
And therefore… my food issues remained, but I also developed a deeper relationship with obsession. I was still obsessed with food, but I also became obsessed with exercise. So I could eat the food.
I saw someone who was in the fitness profession casually say on a social network, “I eat what I want. But I workout.”
Um…is it possible that person only WANTS to eat healthy things? Do they not eat cheese or fried food because for whatever lucky-to-be-you reason they do not LIKE cheese or fried food?
“I eat what I want” is a statement that requires some thought. I feel, no one in the fitness industry should be making such broad statements. I know for a fact I cannot eat what I want regardless of how much I exercise.
Because I legit WANT foods that will kill me.
ALL THE MOCHAS.
I’m not even getting into the foods that have been genetically altered, etc and whathaveyou that trick our brains into wanting them more… want, want, want…
I should have asked, “So what foods is it that you want? Because if you want broccoli and kale then I can see how you can eat whatever you want. In general, I usually do not want broccoli, and especially not kale.”
(And the GMO thing is A WHOLE OTHER DISCUSSION.)
If I legit wanted only vegetables/hummus/the occasional lean meat #struggleisreal would not be real for me. It would not be real for the vast population of those living in the first world.
What I have discovered over the last 6 months is I cannot eat what I want. I need to want what I used to not want.
I cannot exercise like I used to to eat what I want. To keep up that level of exercise means I would get no more that 4-5 hours of sleep. So not only would eating what I want would kill my cholesterol, it would also do quite a number on my adrenals… which would then make it harder to work out, and then stress and then it’s effects on the little sleep I’d be getting and our society is so jacked up.
I have learned sleep is better for my brain and life than exercising.
If my body doesn’t get the time it needs to heal from all that healthy exercise, then healthy now becomes unhealthy.
If I eat better, I can exercise moderately, I can get good sleep so I can exercise and be happy and stress is easier to handle and decisions, and on and on it goes.
I am learning to make myself to eat what I need as opposed to what I want… which means less time for exercise… because I am cooking a lot more.
And I’m OK with that.
Eating what I need is better for me than forcing me to sleep less so I can wake early to exercise to eat the easy food because I am too tired and busy.
I am not at he weight or in the shape I ultimately want to be… though I weigh less now that I did in my 20s. But I am feeling strong and healthy and my brain feels better and better.
There was a time, for years I walked around with burning eyes all day – BUT I GOT MY WORKOUT IN!
Not only does inadequate sleep wreak havoc on your ability to lose weight, but also on your brain.
Your actual, for reals sanity takes a hard hit.
I am reading Thrive by Arriana Huffington and the whole book talks of this very issue and you must read it because she actually cites awesome science sources. It focuses a lot on corproate issues surrounding not sleeping, etc… but as the CEO of my life so much of what is written fits my life perfectly.
And I could link to studies. But if you google it, you will find more than you imagined.
I have learned so much these last several months and operated under a myth for so long. I embraced a philosophy that is actually quite harmful.
And when I saw that one guy say that one thing about eating and exercise I just had to give my 2 cents.
But I lived it.
Eat good food. Get good rest. Exercise moderately. But don’t sacrifice eating right and rest on the myth that exercise is the key. It’s important, and I still love it. But I love sleep more, and it’s not because I’m lazy.
It’s not for no reason I bought me THIS hoodie last year…