Be a Skeptic

nashville personal trainer

With so many diet and exercise trends out there it’s hard to know who or what to trust. You may come across someone who looks like a trainer with their chiseled abs and defined muscles promoting their own agenda of eating zero fat along with crazy amounts of protein shakes. Or you may be shopping at the seemingly trendy, health food stores and come across something that is promoted as sugar-free or reduced fat on the label. With all of the media diet and exercise trends out there, there is just one rule that I can give my clients, and that is to be a skeptic of everything and everyone, especially when it comes to mainstream opinions on food and health.

For the longest time I was a rule follower, mostly shopping at Wally World and trying to save money by buying generic wheat bread, bags of frozen veggies, skim milk, and using Splenda and skim in my coffee. I would put many different colors on my plate with frozen carrots, brown rice, frozen chicken from a bag, and green beans from a can. I just knew I was eating healthy, but why did I still feel like absolute garbage? I found the answer when I came to workout with Terry at Life Fitness Academy. I had been eating like this for a long time, and one offseason of working out with Terry changed my whole outlook on the food and exercise industry because it opened my eyes to the way things are marketed.

It’s exhausting out there. You drink meal replacements or protein shakes. You think you’re eating healthy, buying items at the store with Low Fat or something Sugar-Free on the label. You use calorie-free Splenda and drink fat-free skim milk. You shop at trendy health food stores hoping that what you buy may just happen to be better for you than the generic cheap stuff. You just hope that that green wrapper on that food item means that it’s healthy or that All Natural means its better for you. You buy eggs with labels like Cage Free or Fed a Vegetarian Diet. All of these things appear very safe and trusting, but being a little skeptical you can see this stuff very differently. It is a great thing to want to get something healthy and it can make a huge difference in your daily life, just don’t believe the corporate opinion when it comes to what is healthy.

Try looking at the labels like this:

• Low sugar = garbage. There is no FDA regulation on defining what “Low” means so it can literally mean anything from nothing to high in other forms of sweeteners
• Reduced Fat = 25% less fat than original counterpart
• Meal replacements/protein shakes = synthetic chemicals or heavily processed and refined foods; terrible for your digestive system
• Wheat bread = modern variety of wheat with troublesome structure; due to processing and additives it can spike blood sugar levels; sometimes contains high-fructose corn syrup or refined sugar
• Splenda = caused leukemia in test mice
• *insert your favorite zero calorie sweetner here* = calories equal ENERGY so we need calories; if you can’t burn it you will most likely store it as fat
• Canned veggies = Not fresh, not as tasty, usually in cans with toxic BPA; always opt for USDA organic
• Skim milk = zero healthy fats; plus it is pasteurized meaning destroyed probiotics, enzymes, denatured proteins, and reduced vitamins
• Low Fat = high in refined sugar (which your body stores as fat)
• Sugar Free = typically this means using artificial sweeteners which are more dangerous than the sugar they are replacing. FDA states that less than 1 tablespoon/serving can be labeled Sugar Free
• Green wrapper = statistics show people prefer green labels because it has connotations with “go,” “healthy,” “clean,” “good,” and etc.
• All Natural = does not mean USDA Organic and can still contains GMOs. Also many times contain other heavily processed and refined foods (as can organic)
• Cage Free = kept in a cramped room with many other chickens, little to no sunlight (think disease-ridden, smelly, dark, noisy, and packed tight)
• Fed a Vegetarian Diet = typically genetically modified (GMO) corn and soy meal diet

So now that you see how many companies and stores are doing it, you should begin to get wise and a little upset. Many of these companies and stores, especially in the private label store brands, just want to make as much money as they can by saving as much money as they can–without thought or care for deeper consequences. If that means tricking us consumers by using misleading labels, then so be it. If that means by mistreating animals behind closed doors, then so be it.

Terry and Life Fitness Academy encouraged me about eating organic but also taking it another step further to eating local, nutrient-dense, farmed food. Eating local food, where you know the farmer is one of the best ways of knowing where your food comes from and how your food was handled; you can get food like great pastured eggs and grass-fed, unpasteurized milk. By being a skeptic you are more aware and you know what you are eating as well as how your food was handled before it was brought to the store. You won’t become a target of marketing schemes. You won’t become a victim of misleading labels. You will know how the animals were treated. By being a skeptic, in this way, you are able to live a healthy lifestyle for yourself and your family and you will better know what you are putting into your body.

Just Eat Good Food

It seems to me that many people in this country have an eating disorder to some degree. Even if it’s only when you eat a huge bowl of ice cream and say something negative about how fat you feel now, or how much you’ll have to run tomorrow.

I recently heard someone say they ate poorly because it was the easiest route and they would just feel guilty about it afterward, not to mention sluggish, cranky and overweight. I understand that everyone else has regular jobs and doesn’t spend all day thinking about food like I do usually. But if you eat food that is good for you, you won’t feel guilty about it, and you can even eat a lot of it! The aforementioned guilty eater was concerned about portion size, and I told him, “You can’t overeat on vegetables. You just can’t, try it.” I dare everyone to try it. You can certainly get full on them though! You should actually eat quite a lot of vegetables to get all your vitamins and other nutrients, so why not get full on them and not eat the junk that makes you pudgy?

This is why it’s so important to know what you’re eating. When you know what your body needs, you can make good choices by default, almost. Plan meals around a nutrient you need for the day. For instance you might notice you haven’t had any greens that day. Pick two (or three!) green veggies that you like and figure out what to add to them to make a meal you’ll be satisfied with. Using that same example, you could grill asparagus, steam broccoli and bake kale chips. Add some grilled chicken, salmon, or a grass fed steak and a sweet potato to those and you’ve got a nutrient packed and satisfying dinner. It is not hard to cook any of those things and could probably be done in about 40 minutes depending on your culinary skills.

You have certain foods you know are good for you and that you should use. Get creative! Use the tools you know about (veggies, good fats, fruit, etc.) and create anything you can within our guidelines. It’s like “Chopped” on Food Network (it just so happens to be one of my favorite shows). They give the chefs a basket of ingredients and they have to make something delicious using those ingredients and what is in the pantry. Well that’s all you do. Enjoy your healthy food; make it taste good! Eating well doesn’t have to be a chore or something terrible that you can’t wait to be done with. Make a lifestyle change to eat better when at all possible. If for some reason you eat poorly, your body will probably let you know about it in the way of some digestive discomfort, then it will pass and you won’t have to feel so guilty about it.

If you would like to learn more about how to prepare great foods ask us here at LFA. We all love to cook on some level and can give you the skills you need to take your cooking to the next level. If that doesn’t help we can even cook for you but only until you learn how to do it for yourself.

By: Ashley Dance