In Pursuit of (Im)Perfection

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Many people don’t believe me when they hear I didn’t actually set out to lose 70 pounds a few years ago. They don’t believe that I don’t obsess over my daily calories, or that I’m feeling comfortable in my own skin. You’re a millennial, female in her mid-twenties, AND your a Dietitian. How is that possible?! I try to focus on being perfectly imperfect. Too bad that type of messaging doesn’t bode well for a culture that believes in deprivation, what you shouldn’t eat, and how you shouldn’t look.

I focused my efforts more on lifestyle change and creating abundance in my life. It wasn’t until I woke up one morning on my 18th birthday that I decided I was sick and tired of letting my weight dictate who I was going to be. How could I live a life that wasn’t riddled with guilt and shame? I was ready for change and to pursue the real me. Weight loss just happened to be a nice addition. Truth is, the less you focus on what you should cut back on, and the more you focus on newfound health prosperity in your life, the better the results.

Here’s my version of what I didn’t do during my 2-year lifestyle journey:

I didn’t get frustrated with myself

Changing your life starts with small steps, small changes, and is often uncomfortable. I decided to wake up every morning with intention. How would I view the day as an opportunity to succeed further? What could I learn from my actions?

Example: I felt really out of shape during that jog yesterday, maybe I started out too fast. I should probably ease into it and take fast walking breaks in between.

I didn’t feel deprived

As a dietitian, I don’t believe in meal plans. Instead, I want to help figure out what are good choices you can make no matter the situation. This mentality has a lot to do with how I found balance in my own food choices. There is not one.single.food that is somehow better than others. All foods fit in your life, from swiss chard to birthday cake. What matters most is how you treat food (not putting on a pedestal) and knowing that some foods provide more nutrients than others. Food is meant to live. You’re not meant to live for food.

Example: Halfway through my journey I met my now-husband, and we were dating. With dating comes going out to eat or making last-minute plans. I wasn’t going to NOT eat pizza if we were going to a pizza shop. Let’s be real, pizza is delicious. I’d be thinking about it all night if I didn’t have a slice, so I simply ate a friggen’ slice and enjoyed it!

I wasn’t obsessed with detail

There are many patients I’ve worked with who have become obsessed with their daily calorie target. “OMG I’m in the red! What do I do?” “I went out for breakfast and didn’t know what to do” Don’t look at the day like a bucket, think of it more like a checking account. Just like when you’re working on budgeting and saving money, you start to see results over a period of time. In a month or two, you suddenly seem to have more money! How did that happen? You worked at it everyday, but not all days were the same.

Example: I actually didn’t track calories during my two-year period. I started off by figuring out my personal calorie amount and came up with a few meals that would fit that target. Over time and as I became more confident in my food choices and portion sizes, I came up with more meals. That way, I didn’t feel paralyzed with fear over ordering food in a restaurant. I knew I needed to be flexible.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” -Lao Tzu

Interested in creating abundance and balance in your life? Contact me today!

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My Secret Weapon For a More Fit Lifestyle

Happy Friday!

I feel like I’ve been in a million different directions this week. Lots of forms, phone calls, and research. All good things though! Fingers crossed that I can start accepting insurance in the next couple months for my private practice. It’s a lonnnng process…

Any plans this weekend? I am off to IKEA and consignment stores to look for some furniture for our back patio. Riveting, I know.

Let’s jump in to some weekly favorites, shall we?

Fitness: Get a Dog!

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Jason and I bought a puppy back in June, a black and white Labradoodle named Odin, and he’s basically the best thing to ever happen to our little family. I’ve had/been around dogs my entire life ranging from Labradors, Bouviers, Portuguese Water Dogs, Pugs, Hungarian Vizslas, and an English Bulldog. It had been a few years since I’ve lived with another dog in the house, and I was starting to feel the itch! Labradoodles are a very spunky, active, and energetic breed, but that’s what we wanted. Suddenly, I always make my 10,000 step goal on my FitBit! Rain or shine (or Arizona summer), we go for walks/jogs in the morning and after dinner, sprint around the front yard, hike, or swim in the pool on the weekends. We were active before Odin, but now we’re hardcore. I’ve joked with Jason that we’ve felt every ounce of summer this year. I’m not the only one who agrees that having a dog is one of the healthiest things you could do!  Check out what Harvard Health Publications has to say on how “Having a Dog Can Help Your Heart – Literally.” and this post on Women’s Day with “10 Health Benefits of Owning a Pet.”

Food: Trader Joe’s Faves

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We used to live very close to a Trader Joe’s, but now we’re kind of in-between, so my trips are less often. It’s probably a good thing! I made a point to stop there this week on my way home from an appointment, and picked up a couple of my favorites: Edamame Hummus, Just Mango, and Ancient Grains Oatmeal. I’m not that person that goes apeshit over hummus, it’s definitely been an acquired taste. I will make an exception for this edamame hummus, OMG. I like it with rice crackers, on toast, as a dip for veggies, or in a turkey sandwich. The mango is delicious, and it literally is “just” mango. I often find dried mango is way too sweet, but this reminds me of fruit leather, and is slightly sour, slightly sweet. Honestly, The Ancient Grains Oatmeal was kind of meh when I made it as just oatmeal. It’s a tad earthy in flavor and full of good stuff like rolled oats, amaranth, quinoa, with sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, flax, and chia seeds. I buy it now to sub for oats in oatmeal cookies or when making oatmeal bread. Delicious.

Flourish: “Just Get Started” on the FoodBalance YouTube channel!

I’ve been having fun with iMovie the past couple weeks, so I’m thinking of making this a weekly series. Do you have any video requests? Any topics you’d like me to cover on nutrition, fitness, or overall well-being? This week I talked about procrastination, and I how I let that envelope my life for a long time. Then, I learned one simple mantra, that changed my life! Make sure to subscribe to my channel, and give it a thumbs up, please and thank you. 🙂

Fun: Lianne de Havas – “What You Don’t Do”

Another YouTube video, but I’m currently obsessed with this Lianne’s voice. Soulful, smooth, and amazing. Have you ever listened to an artist and want them to sing the soundtrack to your life? That’s how I feel about her. You can listen to multiple songs from her album, “Blood,” as well. Trust me, the whole album is excellent!


I hope you have an excellent weekend. Get outside and enjoy the last bits of summer. Don’t forget to eat your veggies!

xo, Erinn

Nutrition 101: Let’s Talk Fat

Think back through today’s meals so far. Can you name what types of fat you ate? For most people, this is a tough question. You see, fat is found naturally and often not-so-naturally in many of the foods we eat. Fat provides taste, a certain consistency, and stability. All foods that contain fat, from ice cream to oats, to chicken all have a “blend” of specific types of fats. Some foods have a better blend of fats than others.

All these foods are from my kitchen. All of them contain different types of fat. Also, fig newtons are <3

All of these foods are from my kitchen. All of them contain different types of fat. 

In the past two years, media has been abuzz and claiming “Butter is Back!” due to a large scientific review and meta-analysis of over 76 studies involving over 600,000 participants in 18 countries on the topic of fatty acid exposure. “Exposure” basically meaning how much fat did people have floating around in their body (lab values and fat stores) and how much did they eat. The problem with that review was mainly in the blatant omission of studies showing significant results and incorrect interpretation of results. It missed the point! Just know, that this is another important reason to always read beyond the headline. And with that, let’s talk more about fat.

Why does the body need fat?

  • It helps with normal growth and development
  • Provides energy and is 9 calories per gram. The most energy dense of all macronutrients.
  • Helps with absorbing vitamins like A, D, E, K, and certain carotenoids
  • Provides cushioning for your internal organs
  • Stabilizes cell membranes

Are there different types of fat?

Yes, there are many types of fat, and I wish I could have you listen to a lecture given by my former Advanced Macronutrient professor at ASU. I won’t go over all the types of fat, but I’ll give you the quick and dirty on the main four that you hear about most often; polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, saturated fats, and trans-fats.

Polyunsaturated fats (PUFA)

Found in: sunflower, corn, soybean, flaxseed oils, walnuts, flax seeds, fish, canola oil

Bonus! Omega-3 fats are a super important type of PUFA. Studies show a lower risk of premature death for those with high intakes.

Monounsaturated fats (MUFA)

Found in: olive, peanut, and canola oils, avocados, nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans), and seeds (pumpkin and sesame)

Most people don’t get enough of these types of fat! When you use these types of fats in place of saturated fats, you can lower your risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and improving blood lipid levels (HDL and LDL).

Trans-Fats

You have most likely heard of this type of fat because of FDA regulations requiring food manufacturers to list the amount on the nutrition facts panel.  Although I don’t like to place labels on things, trans-fats are pretty toxic. Some meat and dairy products naturally contain some trans-fats, but most is formed in a factory. When hydrogen is added to vegetable oils, creating “partially hydrogenated” oils, it causes the oil to become solid at room temperature. Manufacturers do this so their products are less likely to spoil and have a longer shelf life. Many fast food joints used oils with trans-fats in their deep fryers so they didn’t have to change it as often. Yuck.

Saturated Fats

This type of fat has been the subject of many studies over the years. Is it good, is it bad? Actually, it’s not as black and white as you may think, and there’s no “all good” or “all bad.” The fact is, even healthier foods like nuts or chicken have small amounts of saturated fat. Higher amounts of saturated fat are found mainly in animal foods like dairy products, meat, poultry, and pork, but there are a few plant foods as well like coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil.

Oh yeah, what about coconut oil? I recently bought some.

This plant-based oil is actually a type of saturated fat, but not the same type of saturated fat found in a cheese steak or a stick of butter. Coconut oil contains Medium Chain Triglycerides which are fatty acids of medium length. Most of the fatty acids in your diet are long-chain, but the medium chains found in coconut oil are metabolized very differently. They go straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they’re used for a quick energy source or turned into ketone bodies. There is strong data that shows that coconut oil actually raises the “bad” LDL cholesterol but at the same time raises the “good” HDL even more! Crazy, right? The jury is still out on whether or not it’s good in the long-term, but in the meantime, give it a try and see how you like it. I like to use it for baking and sauteeing. Let’s face it, though, the more you cut out the packaged high saturated fat foods like chips and cheese, the more room you have for even better for foods like coconut oil. Choices.

I’m still confused! One day I’m told to eat butter and red meat, the next I hear it’s all bad for me?

First of all, anytime you’re isolating an individual nutrient within the diet, like fat, it can get misleading. Looking at the most current research, when you cut back on fat, you’re more than likely going to replace it with more carbohydrates, often the refined kind. Think white bread, chips, crackers, candy, etc. Eating those refined carbs in place of saturated fat can lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol, but it also ends up lowering the “good” HDL cholesterol and increases your triglycerides. This can be just as bad for the heart as eating a consistent diet of foods high in fat and sodium!  Also, you don’t get fat, specifically saturated fat, from just food. Your body also synthesizes it in the liver when you consume excess calories and refined carbohydrates, like sugar.

Bottom line: You’re not going to have trouble including the good types of fat when you eat whole, balanced foods. As I’ve talked about before, research has found that the best kind of diet focuses on overall diet pattern and quality, not nutrient by nutrient. Foods that are minimally processed and close to nature, including vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are going to the best bet!