This week we are joined by Erin, the talented and inspiring blogger who writes over at Holistically Fed. Her health journey reminds me of how connected so many of us are by where we came from. Many of us grew up as young children with distorted images of health and beauty, and now that we’ve grown up we have the choice to change those misconceptions for the better. Erin has not only made the choice to change her thinking and her habits, but made it her mission to inspire others to do the same.
It sickens me to this day when I look back on my high school pictures and see this stick figure, and very clearly remember often thinking I was fat. Going back even further than that, I remember putting on a bathing suit and standing in front of the mirror when I was only in the 5th grade and speaking those same hateful words to myself. From a young age I had it in my head that I had to look a certain way. Go figure. So, I did the best I could with what I knew about eating healthy and exercising to maintain a healthy weight.
From the time I was in high school, and all the way up into my first year of marriage, I knew very little about choosing the highest quality foods to properly fuel my body and very active, and often stressful lifestyle. The result of this was what felt like extreme exhaustion all the time and frequent episodes of illness. My body would just shut down and force me to stop and rest. My food and lifestyle choices were very typical of most people looking to lose weight and be healthy: eat less calories, eat foods that are low-fat, low-sugar, whole wheat instead of white, etc., and of course exercise more and sleep when I have time. It saddens me that so many people are stuck in this way of thinking.
I was doing it all wrong.
When I first got married, I used the app My Fitness Pal to track what I was eating. I had gained a couple of pounds from our honeymoon and was determined to get it back off. So, calorie counting began and my daily runs grew a little longer. Eat less, exercise more. That’s how it works right? Might I add I was trying to keep my calories under 1200 a day. I laugh at this now. I now often eat close to 2,000 calories or more a day, and am not only healthier than I have ever been, but feel much better and have way more energy!
All of my health goals previously revolved around decreasing a number: decreasing my calories, decreasing my weight, decreasing inches, decreasing a size in jeans, etc. I had limited my health to a lousy number. How pathetic and life sucking is that? I vividly remember days waking up feeling amazing and confidently walking into the gym, and then stepping on the scale to find an increase in weight by maybe a couple of pounds. Day ruined, just like that. I would instantly feel fat and those feelings would control me the rest of the day or even week. I feel embarrassed to even say that, but it was true. Even worse than that I would be telling my clients that our health is so much more than just a number and to not obsess over it, but to instead focus on the positives, and how far they had come yet, here I was, unable to even practice what I preach.
So what changed?
It was the perfect storm and sequence of events that slowly moved me forward in my journey towards true health.
I had been personal training for 2 years at this point in my life and wanted to further my education in nutrition to not only help my clients, but to also learn how to take care of my own body through whole foods. I became interested in the popular Paleo diet, and quickly read through The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain and It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig within a matter of a week. I was fascinated, and as I was reading felt like I had finally discovered my true passion and calling in life. I could not put the books down and wanted to learn more.
After a lot of research and input from loved ones, I finally enrolled at Bauman College to begin studying to become a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. I couldn’t wait to start learning.
Around that same time a CrossFit gym opened up in town and I was asked to come and be one of their coaches. I was pumped and ready for this new adventure. Little did I know, it would completely change my life and overall outlook on health for the better.
Remember when I said all my goals revolved around decreasing a number? Yeah, that was so boring and lame. When I started CrossFit, my goals slowly began to change. Everything about CrossFit pushed me to constantly increase in multiple areas of my fitness. I don’t walk into the gym now and go straight to the scale to check my body weight for the day. I go to the white board to check what weight I get to LIFT that day. I track how much weight I lift, and always hope to be increasing that number; always getting stronger. There is so much more joy and satisfaction in lifting a heavier weight or achieving a new personal record, than seeing a number go down on a scale. There is beauty in seeing all that I am physically and mentally capable of and CrossFit allows me to push those limits.
I believe our bodies are miraculous and intricately designed by an all powerful Creator. I don’t want to waste or take for granted this precious gift, and I definitely don’t want to limit it’s worth to a number on a scale or number on my pair of jeans.
If there is a skill that I am not good at or can’t do, I am going to figure out how to change that. Why? Because I can, and it gives me something to work towards. The goal is always more, not less. What more can I do, whether that be lifting a heavier weight, learning a new skill, or improving my Fran time, not how much less (less weight, less inches, less you fill in the blank) can I be? I don’t ever weight myself anymore. I really don’t see the point, and I have never been happier or felt better.
Random side note that I have much appreciated and would highly recommend to all gyms – ditch the mirrors – there are no mirrors where we workout. The focus is taken away from how you look to instead, how you perform.
As I slowly began to learn what it meant to eat for health, I began eating way more than I ever had. I was no longer afraid to eat. Food became the fuel I needed to perform better in the gym, have energy, fight illness, create a healthy growing space for hopefully a baby one day, and so much more. When I finally let go of what the world was telling me about health and how I was supposed to achieve that, and instead moved towards true health, I slowly began to feel better physically and mentally than I ever have. This did not happen over night. It took time and I am still constantly learning exactly what my body needs. This is again, opposite of what the world and media tell us about achieving health. And we wonder why we get so frustrated that we’re not losing weight fast enough, regaining our energy, etc. Patience people. It is a marathon, not a sprint when it comes to achieving optimal health. One month or even 6 months is nothing in comparison to potentially years of poor eating and lifestyle habits. If you are struggling on your health journey, don’t give up. Give it time and find people to encourage and support you along the way. It is worth it, I promise.
It is my absolute passion to educate and help others discover their true health story through whole foods nutrition and supportive lifestyle habits just like I have. It’s important to understand that this is an ongoing journey that is constantly changing as we phase in and out of different stages in life. We can always be improving in one area of our health whether that be physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally. If we focus too much on one, we may neglect the other, and all are equally important when it comes to our overall health.
So yes, I mentioned I eat lots more than I ever used to and this makes me very happy because I love to eat.
What do I eat?
To end this post, I wanted to share with you what a typical day of eating looks like for me. I preface this with the fact that I work out at high intensity 4-5 times a week:
- 6:00 a.m., before I workout: 2 large meatballs made from buffalo breakfast sausage with a handful of nuts/seeds
- 7:30 a.m., after I workout: 1/2 a sweet potato baked into sweet potato fries, and 2-3 hardboiled eggs (I make these ahead of time and bring them with me to the gym)
- If I have time to come home after I workout, before I train my next client, I will whip up a large omelet with 2 pieces of wild caught pork bacon, 1 large handful of kale/spinach, 2-3 eggs and any other chopped veggies I have on hand
- Lunch: 1/2 pound buffalo summer sausage with a side salad topped with 1/2 an avocado, chopped veggies, and fresh squeezed lemon juice, or leftovers from dinner
- Afternoon snack: smoothie with frozen berries, almond milk, lots of greens, and flax seeds OR a few more meatballs with some nuts/seeds
- Dinner: This varies. I try to make at least 1 new recipe a week to keep things interesting. Here are the links to a few of my favorite recipes that I’ve made lately:
I buy all my meat from Slanker’s Grass-Fed Meats. They sell 100% grass-fed beef, buffalo, goat, wild caught pork and pasture raised chickens and turkey. They are located just 25 miles from my house in Powderly, Texas. They deliver all over the US as well. They also have tons of great educational resources on their site that is well worth your time to browse around and read.
My husband and I both don’t have the normal 9-5 job and are constantly on the go, so I always take time to plan ahead at the beginning of the week. Every Sunday I spend at least 2 hours prepping as much food as I can for the week to save time and prevent stress. I love cooking, but if I’m pressed for time it is a stressful thing for me. I try to avoid this in every way that I can. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard if you simply put a little time and effort into planning ahead.
Thanks for letting me tell a little about my story. I hope you walked away with a few new insights/tools you can use as you continue on your own unique healthy journey!
Rather than focusing on the suppression of symptoms and illness, Erin Finch uses a holistic approach to health and wellness. She considers each individual’s unique interconnectedness of the body, mind and emotion in relation to their environment in customizing nutrition and fitness programs for her clients. She received her Bachelor of Science in Health from Texas A&M University and her Holistic Nutrition Consultant Certification through Bauman College. Her fitness certifications were obtained through NASM and Cross Fit Level 1 Certification course.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://paleoparents.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/erin-finch-small.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Olivia Erin Finch has a passion for life and believes in living life to the fullest. She believes taking the time to love yourself through whole nutritious foods and regular exercise is key to a balanced healthy lifestyle. To read more about her story visit her at Holistically Fed.