Evolution tells us a different story to social media

Evolution tells us a different story to social media

Something has been on my mind lately that I just can’t seem to fathom.

The female body is an incredible thing; it is so complex and so strong, literally being able to change its morphology to carry a new human. The hormonal system alone is something to be impressed by. The way that everything just has to balance and what the internal body environment has to be to do this is unreal.

Yet we idealise thinness and extreme muscularity in today’s world, when in actual fact, this is the opposite of what a woman is designed to be. 

Now before you hate on me, hear me out. I have always been that tiny, lean, athletic girl who just seemed to always look on point. 

Sure it looks good for the gram, but it had also taken away my femininity, my ability to be an actual functioning female – did I really want that?

Women are meant to have body fat. Our bodies need it to function.It is essential for fertility, as our fat cells contribute nearly 1/3 of the oestrogen levels we need for things to work. Our body will not feel safe or equipped to carry a baby if it can’t even get it’s hormones right. 

This information when I first heard it scared me. From an evolutionary perspective, the women is designed to carry a baby (if you don’t want to no pressure, just speaking from evolution). Having body fat enables this. When we are super lean and shredded, those fertility hormones will not be working. I wanted more than anything to have kids – and I had given it all up to look a certain way.

It is not your job to exercise and lose weight. It is not your job to be as thin or as shredded as possible. It is your job, to live a happy and healthy life. This will never be, speaking from personal experience, at your smallest most shredded weight, where you are controlling what you eat and pushing yourself with exercise to the point of obsession. 

Women are incredible. We are strong, we are capable, and we are so goddamn beautiful. Our bodies are beyond words – the fact they can create a human, an actual living being, birth it and live to tell the tale is just everything. We can’t nor should we fight evolution – women aren’t meant to be super musclar or thin (unless you’re naturally like that then awesome). We’re designed to carry babies and we need body fat to do so, around 20% the research suggests. 

Women are beautiful. You are beautiful just as you are, even if you do have body fat. We are meant too. 

Instead of worrying about being as lean as possible, why not just celebrate your body; this incredible female body that although might not look as shredded as the guys, can do so much more (sorry boys)- we can create life. 

Calorie counting & technology

Calorie counting & technology

Between our phones, smart watches and even the equipment themselves, it seems that we are always haunted by the number of calories we ‘burn’ throughout the day. 

Not only can this be quite harming to our idea of health as we are encouraged to only focus on the numbers rather than how we feel, but it also gives us the wrong idea as to how much energy we need during the day. 

Most obviously, they are super inaccurate. For example, my watch told me I had burned 45 calories during the exercise, whereas the machine had told me I had burned 127 calories.

Now I know better than to rely on these tools to dictate my intake, but I also noticed it made me feel bad for not burining enough. I don’t calorie count, but having this number in my face makes me more inclined to. If you find looking at these numbers stressful, please remember that they are highly inaccurate and avoid them if possible – your workout should never be to burn a certain number of calories anyway. 

These trackers either highly overestimate how much you burn, or highly underestimate it. There is no way you can determine your energy requirements purely based on your heart rate – there are some very special (and expensive) pieces of equipment that measure this, used predominantly for research. 

According to my watch, I should be on around a 1200 calorie per day diet – which is probably enough to keep me alive for general bodily funcitons of breathing, digesting, pumping blood, let alone fuel me for any exercise I do. I would become very malnourished very quickly if I ate to that!

So my advice, is to not watch your calorie expenditure via technology. Every single body is different in its metabolic processes – there is no way one type of watch can track them all! They are very generalised and won’t give you an accurate picture of what your burn. Basically, it is super inaccurate.

More to the point, you shouldn’t feel the need to burn everything you eat anyway. Food should be enjoyable and nourishing, exercise should be fun, it shouldn’t be about the calories. This is a slippery slope towards disordered eating (speaking from experience) and there is so much more to life than this. If this is you, then please ditch the technology. 

If you’re concerned about your calorie intake and would rather not rely on fitness trackers, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. My passion is helping those who want to live a life free from restriction and stress around food and exercise.

Live life on your terms – not your fitness tracker’s!

Meal Planning – to plan or not to plan?

Meal Planning – to plan or not to plan?

Meal planning. Either you love it or you are afraid of it. Basically, it means you have majority of your main meals and snacks planned out for the week. Personally, I do not plan my meals too often, though I would like to get into it more. There are benefits and negatives to meal planning – like with everything – and it really comes down to finding what works for you, your goals and your lifestyle. 

BENEFITS

  • It helps you be organised; particularly helpful for those who are busy. You know what groceries to get, you know what to cook and it takes the stress out of thinking.
  • It can help save money. By knowing what you’re cooking, you only by the ingredients that you need – instead of buying random products and figuring out what to make!
  • Can help you stay on track with your goals. If you have a health goal, then meal planning can help you ensure you’re eating a balanced and varied diet whilst meeting your nutritional needs. It also helps with portioning snacks and be more mindful of what you are eating.
  • It can help you learn the foundations of a balanced diet, particularly if you follow a specific dietary pattern such as being began – it can help you see what it looks like and act as a guide until you are able to just prepare food instinctively.
NEGATIVES

  • It can be very inflexible. Having a set structure can make it hard to be spontaneous with food, which can in turn, lead to rigidity around eating and unecessary food rules. 
  • It may no coincide with your body’s wants. Meal planning is great for structure, but sometimes you just want soup or a cookie and unfortunately that is not in your meal plan – so either you restrict, or eat it, which is usually followed by guilt.
  • It isn’t as fun and can get very repetitive. If all you’re having is leftover for lunch, you might get a bit bored with it. It takes out the spontaneity of eating; you may even find it hard to socialise because you’re so stuck to structure!

So really, it comes down to what works for you and what feels good for you. I rarely write specific meal plans for my clients – it doesn’t teach you how to eat for yourself. Instead, if it is something you are interested in, I give you the skills you need to do it yourself (because at the end of the day you’re not supposed to need me!) I use a simple meal plan to sort out my meals for the week, more for organisation than anything else. But I keep it flexible; if I get invited out to eat, then I will. Structure is good but only when it doesn’t control your entire life. My advice is to not count calories either – it is too busy to become obsessed. Instead, include a variety of meals from all food groups, interesting and different snacks, cook seasonally and ultimately listen to your body and it’s needs. If you have just done a big workout and that light soup won’t cut it – then have something more.  Remember, freedom to move and freedom to food. 

Recipe : Baked Choc Apple Oats

Recipe : Baked Choc Apple Oats

If you’re looking for a cruisy and delicious way to enjoy some warming oats, then this is the recipe for you. 

Baked oats is an easy (but slower) way to enjoy your porridge. What I love about it is that it tastes so creamy and the baked fruit is so delicious – I want some right now! 

Of course, you’re also getting the nutritional benefits of having low GI wholegrains, fruit, protein and just general deliciousness. 

Baked Choc Apple Oats

Serves 1

Time: 25-30min

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2-1 cup milk (I used Vitasoy Soy Milk)
  • 1 apple, cut into bite sized pieces with some for decoration 
  • 1/2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1tbs walnuts, crused 
  • 1 scoop choc protein powder (I used White Wolf Vegan Choc Mint) OR cacao to taste with some maple syrup to sweeten 
  • Fruit to serve 

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Lightly grease a single serve baking dish with olive oil.
  2. Place the oats, milk and protein powder (or cacao and mapl syrup) in the dish and mix until combined. Use as much or as little milk as you like (it dries up quickly when baking so it’s okay if it’s quite milky). 
  3. Add in the apple, chia seeds and walnuts. Leave some apple slices on top to bake.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cooked to liking. Remove from oven, dress with some other delicious fruits, and enjoy!

So you want to go vegan?

So you want to go vegan?

You would know at least one vegan around. Almost every shop, restaurant or cafe caters to vegans. It is a trending diet growing popularity and it may have crossed your mind to try it. This in itself is fine. I have been vegan for 7 years myself and I do believe you can live a full healthy life in doing so. But there are few things you should think about before going vegan – to ensure it is the right decision for you and your health. 

1. Think about why you are going vegan

Seems like an obvious statement, but there are so many different reasons an individual may choose to go vegan – ethical, health, religious, spiritual. 

I am a huge animal-lover and deep down I feel this was partly my decision to go vegan. Ethics is one of the most common reasons as to why someone might go vegan. Less meat eaten, means less animals have to be slaughtered to make it. 

Health is another common reason. There are many benefits to going vegan – the traditional diet is lower in calories, easier to get fibre/nutrients and less processed foods are consumed (not so much these days though). Many use it as a way to lose weight, which is 100% the wrong reason to go vegan. It is a form of restrictive eating and can often mask disordered eating, before it fully manifests as an eating disorder. So please, really think about your reason for going vegan – if it is to lose weight, talk to a dietitian before committing to determine if it is disordered eating in disguise or something you really want. Sit with this for a few days or weeks before making the switch. 

2. What do you need to change to become vegan?

Switching from one dietary pattern to another isn’t an easy thing to do – nor should it be changed overnight. Once you know your reason for being vegan (and it’s not disordered eating) then look at your current diet and see how it matches up to a vegan diet.

Vegan diets eliminate all animal products – meat, dairy, eggs, honey and any products that contain animal-derived ingredients such as gelatine. If your diet is high in animal products, then you need to find appropriate substitutes – both nutritionally and delciously to this. Also, this may also mean using household products – such as toothpaste, make up or even certain clothes – that are vegan firendly. 

Many find starting off with small changes, such as ‘Meat free Monday’ can help the transition. Others trial a vegetarian or pescatarian diet first. If you have been vegetarian for a while, you may find it easy to switch to vegan. This is highly individual to you. 

3. Talk to a practioner and see a dietitian

I cannot stress this enough. 

It is extremely easy to become malnourished on a vegan diet if you don’t approach it correctly. There are many nutrients that are abundant in animal-foods that are less so in vegan foods, so it is important to know where to get these nutrients from. Before you make the switch, talk to you GP and a vegan-knowledgeable dietitian on making the switch.

Personally, I also encourage routine blood testing when first going vegan to check the nutrient levels – it can take a while for the body to adapt to absorbing nutrients from less bioavailable sources, so it is important to manage any deficiencies ASAP as they arise. This includes things such as iron, vitamin B12 and calcium, as well as ensuring you are getting enough energy to sustain you and help you thrive. 

Over time, it becomes second nature to know what foods contain what nutrients. Your body also learns to absorb these foods from less bioavailable sources. The fibre intake is also often increased significantly, so doing this with a dietitian can prevent any tummy upset happening along the way. 

4. How this will affect others in your life?

Lucky for me, I am too stubborn to let others get in my way of what I want. However, it can be hard to be vegan when you live with other people, or even see other people for that matter. 

If you are the only vegan in your family, you may have to start cooking your own meals, ensuring that your meals are nutritionally adequate. It can be quite stressful at first and having meal ideas that are easy to turn vegan (I plan on writing a cookbook on this) that work with other non-vegan meals is essential. 

Eating out can also be an issue. A lot of places don’t have many vegan options and asking the staff to adapt orders can be scary. But you’ve made this choice, so act confident and no one will question you. This also goes for eating at other people’s homes. I find it good to always bring a dish myself or even offer to cook, so they don’t have to stress about making me food. 

5. Don’t be that vegan

So you’re loving the vegan life – you feel great, you now you’re helping animals and the planet and you want others to feel this vibe. But honestly, there is nothing more annoying than someone forcing their beliefs on you so just don’t. 

Let your health and vibe speak for itself. Tell the world you’re happy, you’re vegan and you’re loving life, that’s fine, but don’t force others to go that way if they don’t want to. Cook family and friends vegan meals for them to try, encourage them to have a vegan meal once a week for their health – but force-feeding them food or beliefs will never get you anywhere.

(Sorry if I offended anyone, but it’s the truth! Lead by example!)

I love being vegan. I love the food, the vibes, the lifestyle and I obviously love helping the animals and the planet. But I made this transition a long time ago due to medical reasons and it just happened to be right for me. One of the reasons I found it so easy was because I didn’t miss eating animal foods – I have a gnarly dairy allergy so I never ate dairy anyway. 

I also know this isn’t the right dietary pattern for everyone. It can be stressful and inconvenient at times and it can be hard to have great health.

So really think about this decision before you make it. Consider your reasons for it; talk to your health professionals – especially a dietitian. Think about what needs changing and who this may affect. 

Don’t rely on social media for advice. Don’t use it solely as a weight loss method. Think deeply and listen to your body – it will tell you if it’s right for you.

If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to reach out! Aways happy to chat about one of my favourite topics!