nutrition

What if we stopped talking about food as good or bad?

A few weeks ago, Sheila and I were out to dinner.

One of my favorite things is to try new restaurants and new atmospheres. I can’t really cook all that well, but I’ve become a bit of a foodie and Maine has no shortage of great restaurants to try.

On this particular night we found a good spot in Falmouth and settled in for our meals, when I ordered a Cobb salad.

I’m trying to be good, I’d said to Sheila, who hadn’t asked.

We continued on with our meal, and enjoyed a nice conversation before strolling out to the car, walking slowly and enjoying the warm summer night., We got into the car and before she started the engine, she stopped for a minute and looked at me.

This image by my friend and wild life photographer Joe Chandler doesn’t have anything to do with food - but it’s awfully adorable.

This image by my friend and wild life photographer Joe Chandler doesn’t have anything to do with food - but it’s awfully adorable.

“You know, when you say that you’re trying to be good with your food, it makes me feel like my choices are bad.”

Ohhhhhh suh-nap.

Upon reflection, I realized that I was doing this all of the time. How many of us have this same dichotomous view of food? Broccoli is good, pasta is bad. Grilled chicken is good, ice cream is bad. It’s a great way to make you and the people around you feel awful.

I try so hard to pay attention to language. I try to remind clients every day to not minimize their achievements.

I only did three sets.

No, you did three sets.

It’s just one pushup.

No, it’s one pushup.

The thing about food though, is that I don’t think half of us pay attention to the way we talk about it. It’s not just saying that food is good or bad – I’ve also caught myself saying– upon eating a bowl of ice cream or chocolate snack at work, “good thing I worked out today.”

Or, “I’m going to need to workout now that I’ve eaten this.”

No.

We don’t need to earn our food, and we don’t need to punish ourselves for the food we do eat. We also don’t need to talk about our food in a way that shames other people.

I had a conversation with a client last week who was out to breakfast with her friends. One of those friends was on a diet and the way she talked about her food and what she was going to order affected everyone else at the table.

She didn’t just turn down the toast with her eggs – she turned down the toast and offered the commentary that toast had so many carbs.

“It’s a restaurant you go to once a summer,” the client said. “And I was absolutely ordering the stuffed French toast - I’d been looking forward to it. But her commentary affected everyone else at the table and made the whole experience less enjoyable.”

We don’t know what someone else’s struggles are. We don’t know what someone else’s situation is. But when we make unsolicited commentary on everything we eat, it can have unintended results.

Ever since Sheila’s comment to me about “being good,” I’ve caught myself saying that phrase a hundred times. And each time now, I remind myself that my language matters.

Language always matters.

F*** the scale

Pardon my inference of profanity there.

But seriously.

I’ve been in a sprint mode these past four weeks with my fitness and nutrition. Not only am I coaching several clients in an online nutrition program* - I’ve been really focusing on my own anchor habits - eating slowly, eating until I’m 80% full, and hitting at least 100 grams of protein every day.

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I’ve been tracking my food, increasing my workouts, and yesterday I came in to the gym feeling pretty darn good about myself.

Then I got on the scale we have.

Before I go on about how I almost put a stick of dynamite on the scale and launched it into a 50th anniversary trip to the moon:

I am and have always been fairly lean and I’ve never struggled with my weight. But I still have my own goals with fitness, and I certainly still have body image struggles. I’d love to say that I’m immune, but I’m just not.

So yesterday……

The scale said I’d gained two pounds of fat and lost a pound of muscle.

I was seething.

The string of expletives that came out of my mouth would have caused my mother to slap my face for a month. (Sorry Mom, that I said all of the things).

I mean if the scale didn’t cost thousands of dollars, I’d have taken it out to the parking lot and driven Doug’s F150 over it. Then I’d have take a sledge hammer to it, danced a fing polka with a three ton moose on it, before throwing the ever loving piece of **** on I95 for all of the summer traffic to drive over.

Until December.

Because what the *^%*&?

It was really hard not to let the results ruin my day.

But then, as I was sitting in my corner in the gym lobby (no really, there’s a sign, I have my own corner), stewing on my scale results - I put my elbows on the bar and my head in my hands.

This process takes work. I know this process takes work.

And I’m not talking about the work it takes to get my nutrition on point or my workouts in for the week. That takes work too.

I’m talking about the work it takes every damn day to shift your perspective.

It is a daily practice to work on your mindset.

Accepting yourself, loving your body, and loving who you are is as much a daily practice as brushing your teeth.

It’s all good and fine for me to run over a scale with my car. And if your curious, I did that with the old scale from the gym - and yes - I also used a sledge hammer on said scale and it was very cathartic.



But it takes daily reminders and practices for me to love and accept myself for who I am now, and not who I will be when I lose more body fat or add more muscle. It’s a daily commitment and a daily job to love ourselves.

And dammit, it’s hard. Really really hard.

But it’s a daily practice, and we have to hold one another accountable to the process. So I’ll hold you accountable, and the next time you see me….

Maybe check to see that I haven’t started a dumpster fire with the scale.

I mean, just in case.


*I’m going to open a few additional spots in my program beginning in August. Shoot me an email at kim@kimlloydfitness if you want more information.

Five tips for meal prep

On a scale of one to I hate meal prepping, it’s a 17.

But here’s the deal: you know, and I know, that if you want to make healthier choices with your nutrition, you need to meal prep. 

Here’s the other deal - I hate it. 

But I have to do it.

But I hate it.

So how do you reconcile those two things? I can’t tell you exactly how you should do it, because I don’t know what makes meal prepping hard for you. But I can tell you what makes it hard for me, and how I’m working with my feelings on food prep to try and better implement the process. 

1. Look ahead

This is the planning part. I’m not a planner. According to my client who is a successful writer, my writing style would qualify me as a “pantser.” I write by the seat of my pants. I do everything by the seat of my pants. But here’s the other thing: when it comes to looking ahead to my schedule, I have it easy. 

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Because I don’t have kids, my weekly schedule largely stays the same. I don’t have to worry about baseball games, lacrosse games, or end of school year concerts that your kids forgot to tell you about until the morning of. I know I have it easy. 

The only planning I have to do is around my lunch options at work. I generally plan my fasting days for Tuesdays and Thursdays when I’m busiest, but if I don't bring something to work on Mondays and Wednesdays, I'll end up making choices that aren't inline with my current fitness goals.

2. Make a menu

Here’s my menu for this week:

Monday - Salmon and broccoli 

Tuesday - Chicken and peppers

Wednesday - Smoked Turkey Breast and zoodles. 

Thursday - There’s a food truck at the gym for client appreciation night so I’ll have a protein shake before hand and maybe have something from the food truck. 

Friday - I’m off so I’ll find a recipe to spring on Sheila Friday night. (These efforts usually appears on my instagram stories, because I don't really know what I'm doing, but I'm trying).

3. Shop for ingredients (but make it fun)

When I shop, I wear my giant noise cancelling headphones and listen to Doris Day. I just do, ok? Que Sera Sera.

I also buy most of the same items: low fat cottage cheese, almonds, packs of tuna, beef jerky, and veggies that I can eat on the go like sugar snap peas, peppers, and cherry tomatoes. I’ll also pick up the proteins for the week or ask Sheila to do that because she does more shopping than I do. 

4. Cook for the week (but make it fun)

Last week I found a new recipe for salt and vinegar grilled chicken and that’s what I made while I watched the Pirates lose. Again. I made enough that night to have some lunch options for the week. The only way I’m going to make this routine stick is to make it fun. Right now, that means I make Instagram stories and catch up on the Handmaid’s Tale, because I need to entertain myself while I try to figure out what it means to julienne a vegetable...

5. Store it conveniently

To me, this is the most important step. If I have the food I want to eat ready to go in the fridge, and all I have to do is grab it and go, I’m in. Will I sometimes leave that food on the counter because I’m a shit show getting out the door? Yes! Of course I will. But I have a better chance of success if I have it in a container and ready to go.

Here’s the thing - making healthy choices takes work. And you have to be willing to put in the work. I’d like to pretend that it’s different than that, but it’s not. 

But I will also say that meal prepping is doable. You just have to find the routine that works for you, which might not be the routine that works for everyone else. 

Find a way to have fun with the process. If you can do that, you can stick with anything. 

The trouble with numbers

125

4

100

1200

125 pounds was the weight I thought was perfect for me.

4 was the size of pants I thought I should wear.

100 was how many calories I burned in one mile of running, approximately.

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1200 was the number of calories I thought I should eat in a day.

Those numbers have been burned onto my brain since I was in my early twenties - maybe earlier. 

We have relationships in every part of the fitness process - we have a relationship with exercise, we have a relationship with food and many of us, especially women, also have a relationship with the numbers. When I was a freshman in high school, my friend Jodi told me that if we multiplied our height, then that was our ideal weight. 

My ideal weight came from a friend who heard it from someone who read it somewhere and I thought that number was gospel.

At 5’5, my ideal weight was 125 pounds. Less was okay, and throughout high school I weighed 115 pounds. But when I went off to college and gained a little weight. I was ok as long as I weighed no more than 125 pounds. Though I didn't proclaim to anyone that I was on a diet, the minute my weight went over 125, I ate nothing but salads and was strict about staying below 1200 calories, which was another number I soaked up from somewhere I can't remember. I also knew that running burned roughly 100 calories per mile, so I'd run three or four miles. 

This was my unwritten rule for myself. 

That is the unwritten rule for so many of us. 

The rule of my ideal weight exploded in my face in my early thirties when I took up strength training. I was feeling stronger and enjoying the workouts but I wasn’t prepared for the scale to go in the opposite direction. Instead of going from 130 pounds to 125, I went to 135. Then to 140. 

Intellectually I knew what was going on - I knew that muscle weighed more than fat and blah, blah, blah, science. I knew that. 

But I still could not reconcile this new number. Because the old one, as bogus as it was in its foundation (shockingly, not everything I learned in high school locker rooms was true…) was absolutely seared into my brain. 

Seeing a number on the scale that was more than my ideal weight made me feel shameful. I felt bad about myself, despite what I knew intellectually.  

For many of us, certain numbers bring elicit memories and emotions. 

Maybe it was how much you weighed on your wedding day or when you graduated from college or some other positive time in your life. The ideal number in our head triggers positive memories or experiences. And that’s what we want.

For many others, there is a goal weight in mind - those who have struggled with weight all of their lives might have a number in mind as an end to the journey. 

Once I hit this weight….fill in the blank.

Once I hit this weight I’ll be happy. Once I hit this weight I can stop going to the gym seven times a week. Once I hit this weight….

And it’s not enough to intellectually understand that it’s ok if your weight goes up when your muscle mass goes up and your body fat goes down. Because sometimes you can tell yourself over and over again that it’s ok, but you never really buy what you’re trying to sell yourself. 

Developing a relationship with your body that doesn’t have numbers is so. hard. to. do. 

It is so hard. 

Because we sure as hell don't like the other feedback we rely on, which for most of us is mirrors. Just this morning I got up, took one look at myself in the mirror, and was thoroughly disappointed with what I saw. I haven't trained consistently because of injury, so I feel sluggish and quite frankly, didn't like what I saw in the mirror. 

I share that mostly because I know there are so many out there who feel the same way. 

So what do we do? With the numbers and the feedback?

We work on it. I know - that work is hard and complicated. But we create awareness where we can, we remind ourselves, at every opportunity, that we are more than a number. 

We ask for help. 

We offer help.

We remind each other that we're beautiful. 

We lift each other up. 

In the words of the ladies over at Girls Gone Strong - "strong women lift each other up."

Lessons from an ugly teapot

On a Saturday afternoon in March of 2002, we were celebrating my friend Melissa's upcoming wedding. As bridesmaids, we took her dancing on Friday, showered her with gifts on Saturday, and then someone decided that should we paint our own pottery.

For Jon and Melissa.

As a gift.

That they'd have forever. 

My artistic skills begin and end with watching Bob Ross. Watching. While I was fascinated that he could create a painting in under 30 minutes, my skills were limited to stick figures.
 
But, I suppose I was feeling ambitious that day. More accurately, I was so wanting to show my appreciation for Melissa’s friendship that I decided to make a grand gesture. Melissa and I often shared cups of tea while trying to sort out our purpose in life (or mostly she listened to me trying to sort out my purpose in life) so I decided to go all in and paint a teapot.  

16 years later, that gesture continues to be grand. 

Rather than take the simple approach and paint my teapot one color, as my fellow bridesmaids did, I decided I’d paint a nature scene on the teapot. 

I was an adult when I painted this.

I was an adult when I painted this.

But after finishing a barren tree with no leaves, I decided I’d just paint the other side green. Then I painted the lid yellow and gold, because Jon was a Steelers’ fan.

Then I painted the spout brown because…well, it was already pretty ugly.

By the time I was finished, the thing was so ugly that I felt compelled to add a quote on the outside that read, illegibly, that “it’s not what’s on the outside that matters.” 

When I took the final product to the employee, I tried to bribe her to break it before it made the kiln.

"Oh no," she said. "We're very careful with our pottery."

"But if I gave you an extra 50 bucks..." I offered.

Nothing says best wishes for your future like a barren, dead tree in winter. 

Nothing says best wishes for your future like a barren, dead tree in winter. 

My reaction when the teapot reappeared in my life a decade later...

My reaction when the teapot reappeared in my life a decade later...

This teapot, needless to say, has been the butt of jokes since 2002. It has survived multiple moves and plenty of questions from Jon and Melissa's kids. The teapot made a surprise trip from Pennsylvania to Maine in 2013 when Melissa spoke at our wedding. 

Melissa reminded me recently of the teapot last week when she told me that it was currently on prime display on her counter top. 

Originally, I was going to use the teapot as a symbol of what happens when you constantly change your nutrition and fitness routines - jumping from the Whole 30 to the 21 day fix to weight watchers to nutrisystem. 

And I do think that’s true when it comes to health and fitness. Jumping around from program to program makes it very difficult to see progress. You have to commit to a process for at least 90 days if not longer to see results. 

Um...can you guess which ones her kids painted? Her kids whom are all under 10? 

Um...can you guess which ones her kids painted? Her kids whom are all under 10? 

But as I started writing this post, I was reminded of several conversations I've had in recent weeks with friends and clients. These folks are taking big risks - leaving old jobs for new ones - leaving jobs without a new one - going back to school - starting their own businesses, and deciding that it’s time for a change in their lives.

Sometimes a blank slate, while appealing and beautiful and filled with possibilities is also terrifying. It can feel permanent and scary. 

This teapot, ugly as it is, is pretty symbolic of the way my past 16 years have gone. I’ve started and stopped multiple journeys - second guessed decisions, tried to please other people, and in the process, created something that was sometimes ugly, sometimes beautiful, but always, always, always authentically mine.

So I guess my message today is two-fold:

Choose a fitness and nutrition plan and give it time to work.

But follow your curiosity and your heart. This is your journey. This is your story. Write it for you. Take that leap of faith. 

Be kind to yourself, today and always.