South Beach. Atkins. Ketogenic. Low carb. Vegan. Paleo. Vegetarian. Low fat. Mediterranean. NutriSystem. High carb. Weight watchers points. As you read all of these diet ideas, you probably have lots of thoughts about which are better, best, worst, and total crap.
A person’s diet and nutrition are extremely personal, and so many things inform how we think about what we “should” eat. Magazines, Instagram celebrities, online fitness gurus, our parents, and even our culture tell us how to think about what goes into our mouths.
As a nutrition coach, I talk about food with lots of women. We spend lots of time breaking down her thoughts about food before deciding on an approach, because there’s no such thing as a perfect diet plan–only perfect for you. All these conversations got me thinking, what’s shaped my perspective around nutrition?
So I thought it might be an interesting blog post! Below are five events or milestones in my life that have impacted my nutrition and my overall approach to food. Some are more serious than others but they’ve all impacted me personally.
What changed my approach to my diet and nutrition
In high school and most of college, all I did was cardio. I was queen of the long run, treadmill, and elliptical.
Because of this, I constantly exercised to burn calories; that was all I could ever think of.
But when I started lifting weights, I realized there was something much more important than burning: building.
Calories stopped being those pesky things I needed to get rid of, and they became the fuel I needed to change my body.
I’m sure you can guess where this is going!
Suddenly, there was a substance I could ingest that had no nutritional value, tasted amazing, and was part of tons of enjoyable situations, good times with friends, and frankly just feeling good.
All of my tendencies towards restriction told me I should not drink (and I didn’t at all until I legally could for that reason). Drinking alcohol was “empty calories” that didn’t do anything except deposit fat on my body. I shouldn’t have booze just to indulge or have fun.
But I think turning 21 and it being legal (ha) helped me realize that it was OKAY to just enjoy. Food and drink suddenly became something more than calories to burn off or to build muscle. Choosing to drink was possibly my first step away from restriction and towards a more moderate lifestyle.
Being put on bed rest
In the summer of 2013, I was in an exceptionally unhealthy place. I was working out two+ hours a day, eating nowhere close to enough, and constantly thinking about my body, trying to get smaller and smaller.
I can vividly remember dragging myself away from the beach on vacation with my family and Andrew to get in my second workout of the day.
Almost as soon as we got back from that vacation, my doctor told me I had to stay in bed for three days, no exercise at all. My heart was not stable enough to handle the incredible amount of stress I was putting on it. I could either do the bed rest at home or go into the hospital.
Real quick I had to rethink my approach to eating and moving. This rude awakening was what I needed to stop restricting and start moving towards eating disorder recovery. It was one of the hardest times of my life.
Getting a dog
Juno’s changed my life in more ways than one (and all of them good), but being responsible for another completely shifted how I think about nutrition.
See, when I got Juno, she was very sick and way too skinny.
She needed to eat three+ times a day to put on weight and grow. This was a big time commitment, meaning I or Andrew needed to head home at lunchtime to give her a midday meal.
But the truth is, we never questioned it. We never thought “oh we are too busy to feed her, she can wait.” No. We always prioritized her and taking care of her.
One day early on, a switch flipped for me: I need to look at myself the same way. All throughout college, I would skip meals because I was “busy.” It wasn’t until Juno that I stopped making those excuses and honored my body.
Becoming a PN coach
I’ve always been super interested in food and nutrition. I had lots of knowledge bouncing around in my head but couldn’t know what was 100% true or helpful. It wasn’t until I started working with Precision Nutrition that I really how to put it all together.
PN is fantastic about breaking down all the shades of grey in the nutrition world, and this has helped me in my coaching (and my own life). No longer am I able to see things in black and white. Now I feel empowered to create nutrition strategies that will help anyone, regardless of his or her situation.
I’d love to hear a little bit about the things in your life that have helped shape your attitude toward your diet in the comments! If YOU want to change how you think about food, grab a copy of my checklist to eating for fat loss. I’ve distilled down some of my best nutrition strategies into a series of simple, yes/no questions. Don’t miss this.
What’s one thing that’s influenced how you think about food?