I rarely talk about weight loss because I feel it sends me down an unhealthy road I once traveled. Health is not about weight loss. Some people may struggle with body image, may wish to lose weight (or its possible that they need to) but I rarely talk about loss. The reason is that I spent some 8 or so years only thinking about loss when it came to health. I spend so much of my life with a focus on “I need to lose weight” instead of “I want to feel healthy” “I want to glow from the inside out” “I want to radiate good energy”…. I just wanted to be skinny for an event, a boy, a dress. I now choose to eat, work out, and make healthy decisions to feel full and satisfied, to feel happiness and love. These feel me up more than any feeling of emptiness, hunger or lose clothing could. And guess what, they do always say once you stop stress and stop trying, it comes naturally.... in work, relationships and weight loss. Stop pushing the way that doesn't work and follow the natural flow of life and let it surprise you.
There are a lot of people that still ask about diet routine so I thought I would address the topic from a different approach and tell you how I lost body fat, built muscle, controlled my hunger and found a routine that worked for me. Complete disclosure, this doesn't mean it will work for all of you, but I do get asked rather often what works for me, what I eat and how to lose weight and gain muscle.... so here you have it from my perspective. (And as my body and mind change with each new step in life... this may change, but for the past few months It has been my routine and it has worked!)
I will tell you very briefly about my standard diet. I have been a pescatarian for almost 15 years. I stopped eating red meat because it creeped me out. I was bothered by the fact that it seemed normal to eat animal flesh as your meal. I cut it out when I was about 12. Being so young my parents made me keep eating fish, which is how the pescatarian thing came about. Fast forward to only a few months ago and I decided to cut out dairy because of the hormonal imbalance my body was going through. I also stay away from seafood now to ease the digestion process and also for the reasons of hormones. That being said, I never want to be the most difficult guest at a dinner party (even though I probably am!) so I never call myself vegan. If I am in a situation I will be okay with eating seafood someone cooked for me, or if in Greece I won't say no to a greek salad with authentic feta. I also take vital proteins every day in my smoothie or coffee which is not vegan. That's why I don’t throw around the label of vegan easily, I just say I am meat and dairy free 99% of the time.
To compliment this, I also cut out added sugar. If it creeps in every now and then I totally feel the low after the sugar spike, but again being so strict and stressing yourself out over it will be worse on your body. You'll release stress hormones and it will cause you to keep any weight on… plus tons of other negative side effects of cortisol. But if you decide you'll have sugar or dairy that day, decide, go for it and then move on back on track if thats what you choose. People forget that stressful thoughts like regret can play a big roll in our diet.
Additionally, I don't eat starch based carbs on the regular because these too cause a sugar spike in your blood sugar. A little life hack, regulating your blood sugar is the key to health. It regulates hunger, cravings and mood. Equals balances happiness and healthy eating! When I eat too many starch based carbs, I feel the same sluggish feeling and low that I feel when I eat sugar. Same rule applies here. Should I choose today is my day for avo-toast (which it was btw!), then by all means count me in! No regrets and no stress.
Now here is one of the most important and body fat altering changes I made in my diet to date. I follow what is called IF - intermittent fasting. Essentially it means you don't eat from 8pm at night until 12pm the next day. As you get used to the fasting time frame you can slowly push it from 12 to eventually 1 or 2 pm. I still eat 3 meals, my smoothie around 1pm, a salad around 3pm and dinner somewhere around 7pm. The time window in which you eat in may be shorter, but your calorie intake must still be normal. We are not starving ourselves by any means but rather regulating our cravings in IF. In short, what IF does is keep your body in fat burning mode. We go into detoxification and fat burning when we sleep. By keeping our body in our overnight fast, we stay in this place longer. When we do cardio fasted and take BCAA (branch chain amino acids) we also help burn fat and not muscle in this extended fast. This is what I do every morning! Keep the fast going, take BCAA’s in my water for spin class and then don't eat until my first smoothie at lunch! It may seem simple but thats because IT IS. It does take a bit of time to get used to, but you will see the results within 3-4 weeks. It will become easy to control cravings and hunger. You can also have a coffee in the morning if you wish, bulletproof or a matcha, to keep you going.
From doing this I saw a huge drop in body fat, I kept building muscle and the regulation of my blood sugar has helped promote that happy feeling you get when you're not riding a mood, sugar, or stimulant roller coaster.
Here are some of my favourite facts about Intermittent Fasting :
- Insulin drops which helps with fat burning. Insulin is what the body produces to regulate our blood sugar levels when we consume too much sugar.
- Hormones increase which is one thing to pay attention to for females. The higher level of hormone production will promote fat burning and muscle gain, however too much of a spike in hormone levels can cause women to have missed periods, skin break outs or other signs of hormone imbalances. I often suggest that we should be tricking our body as women who do IF, and only doing it 4-5 days a week and not 7 days.
- Cells repair faster when fasting as our body is in waste removal mode, aka detoxification. Ever eat too late and wake up feeling like you didn't sleep at all… maybe your stomach feels full of acid or burning? I know this happens to me when I eat too late! It's because our body starts to detoxify and rid of the waste but with only a short period to go through a process that takes all night, we are unable to finish detox and it is interrupted, leaving acids in our stomach.
- Fasting has also been linked to protecting our cells and genes to decrease the signs of aging and promote longevity and fight disease.
- Fasting can lower stress and inflammation in the body, ultimately protecting you from diseases as we know body inflammation creates welcoming environments to cancerous cells, alzheimer and other disease.
- And of course best benefit of fat loss, increased fat burn and weight loss from IF.
As I said, I don’t track my weight all that much anymore, because as I mentioned it puts me in an unhealthy mindset. I didn't use to think of weight loss as a health goal, I thought of it as as a distraction of way to hide from something.... Something I once used when I was lost at an earlier point in my life & struggling with body image issues as I've spoke about before. I now track my body fat percentage rather than weight, and since starting IF, cutting sugar and dairy, it has dropped significantly.
I wanted to share this routine with all of you as right now this has been a huge game changer. I get asked this all the time and I figured it was about time I share.
Here are some of my fave products to help you kick start your IF should you wish to give it a try!
3. MCT Oil
5. Matcha Ninja