The nutrition journey – part 1

As mentioned a few times before, my issue when it comes to the whole body weight thing is not due to being a lazy bum who doesn’t exercise, in fact that is probably the most consistent part of my life (for those of you that train with me, I think you can attest to the fact it’s very rare for me to miss a session).

It is the other part of the equation, namely the food….

Turns out, until recently, I have never been ‘into’ food.

Not really.

I wasn’t raised to be focused on food or what I ate and until I quit swimming I truly could eat whatever rubbish I wanted and never gain weight. Basically I ate because I had to.  Not really because I enjoyed food. It was the fuel I needed to get me through endless training sessions.  I didn’t appreciate wholesome good foods. I had nutritionists come to speak to me about what I should be eating but when it came down to it as long as I had energy going in, I would have energy being burnt up in the pool.  When you are swimming for 4-5 hours a day (6-10km a session, ie: 240-400 lengths for you non-swimming types) you can literally consume everrrrrything you can get your hands on after training.  I remember coming home and devouring half a loaf of bread and cereal. A typical snack for me was pasta on toast with cheese on top (don’t mock it till you’ve tried it) and usual snacks during comps were rice crackers, cold pasta (sometimes pasta in between rice crackers – yum!), powerade and barley sugars.  Can anyone say carb overload?!!

I didn’t realise the impact healthy food has on your body, mind and spirit.

The university years didn’t help with my attitude to food.  Ask any of my former flatmates, I didn’t even used to eat veges (true story!).

Fast forward a few years to a desk job and obviously sitting in front of a computer screen ALL day is not the way to lose weight or live a healthy lifestyle.  Yes, as mentioned I always had my daily (or more so) workout whatever that may be, but regardless of that sitting on your bum all day is always going to be counterproductive for your mind, body and posture (let’s not get started on posture and mobility – we could be here ALL day!).

FACT: Many studies have shown that people who exercise regularly but sit down at work all day actualy negate the good deeds of their work outs and have worse health than those who are less sedentary in their lifestyle.  So, while I have a great job, I am now a different sort of busy. While my work life is flat out every day, most of it is done on a computer with long periods of sitting (even if I do get up very regularly for tea/coffee/snack/chatting breaks 🙂 ). 

Over the years the kilos crept on (despite the exercising! I was super speedy at burpees – even with a few extra kilos).  Till I decided to do something about it and educate myself about nutrition.  I stumbled across the “Michelle Bridges 12 week body transformation” or 12wbt (she is a trainer on the Australian biggest loser). I had previously had great results on a similar programme the “Body for life” challenge so I jumped on board and signed up.

Long story short(ish), these ‘programmes’ both follow similar guidelines, 5-6 small meals a day, but the body for life programme taught you about macronutrients (macros) whereas the 12wbt was all about counting calories and didn’t really teach you much about the nutrition content of food.  12wbt has you to stick to 1200 calories a day, with a focus on higher wholegrain carbs, moderate protein and minimal low fat dairy.  Anyone who knows about calories will know this is NOT much.  Especially the amount I was exercising.  At the time I was going to the gym in the morning then playing a few games of netball at lunch/night or running.  And guess what?  The weight FELL off, like literally around a kg a week.  It was great! While I could maintain it. I’m a pretty determined person, so it was maintainable for a fair while. But, overall it was not maintainable, not for me anyway. I mean don’t get me wrong, there are people who to this day have all the success on this programme.  I’m just saying it wasn’t right for meeeee. My muscle was literally eating itself. Looking back now I think I screwed up my metabolism a bit and I had no idea.

Anyway, few more years on and a few paleo challenges under my belt I have learnt a few things about what works for me in terms of nutrition (for the record I found paleo long before crossfit for those out there that think all people go paleo when they start crossfit).  Ultimately I try to eat fresh nutritious food (ie not from a packet), limit bread, remove sugar (this is a huge one), try to eat veges at 2 out of 3 main meals a day (or all 3 – even better!) and I know I feel better with higher fat and protein and less carbs.

Fresh green veges - more of these

Fresh green veges –  more of these

Because this post is already horrendously long, I have decided to spare your poor eyes and make this a ‘journey’ and this is ‘part 1’.  Not yet sure how many parts there will be, but at this stage there is definitely a Part 2 which will address eating for performance. As I mentioned in my recent goals post, I am currently trying to lose a few kgs whilst gaining strength.  It’s a pretty fine balance I assure you. To do this I have been mixing up my macros, which I will talk about in the next post.

Have you had to change your nutrition over the years as your lifestyle has changed?  What have you done differently? I would love to hear what works for you.

Jane x

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