Growing up, I frequently heard the saying, ‘You are what you eat.’ However, it wasn’t until about two years ago that I truly grasped its significance and began to put it into practice. During high school, I was a dedicated three-sport athlete, and I even played volleyball in college. Fast forward to three kids later, entering my thirties, I felt the pressure to ‘bounce back’ after each pregnancy. My sole focus was on the gym, with the goal of regaining my previous slim physique. This pressure led me to experiment with fad diets and extreme workouts, only to find myself feeling lost in the world of fitness.
1. A Change in Perspective
I realized it was time for a change. The relentless pursuit of a slim physique left me drained and unhappy. I made a conscious decision to prioritize strength over a skinny image. To kick start this shift, I joined gyms that emphasized strength training as a core component. Their focus on progressive overload and foundational principles resonated with me, and I discovered my passion for the gym again. Armed with newfound knowledge, I established a non-negotiable routine that involved 4 am workouts. This early morning commitment allowed me to invest in myself without disruptions. I understood, however, that exercise was only one piece of my fitness puzzle. If I aimed to lift heavier weights and build muscle for strength, my body needed the right fuel. That is where my journey into understanding nutrition began.
2. The Importance of Fueling Your Body
“Fueling your body is more than just a necessity; it’s the foundation upon which your health and vitality are built.” This quote highlights my evolving perspective on nutrition. As my gym routine focused on strength training and progressive overload, I recognized the need to concentrate on protein intake, opting for simple ingredients and reintroducing carbohydrates into my diet. I made conscious choices to eliminate soy, seed oils, and artificial additives like red dye as there are multiple studies that indicate that these ingredients can lead to inflammation, digestive issues, and mitochondrial dysfunction. Experimenting with simplicity, I even started baking my own sourdough bread to ensure transparency in my food choices, aligning with the idea that “you are what you eat.” I wanted to know exactly what I was putting into my body because this was the fuel for the 4am workouts and this was key to feeling happier and healthier within my own skin. I knew the key to keeping consistent in the kitchen was going to be keeping it simple and learning what helped fueled my body so I could start growing and gaining the strength I needed to feel good.
3. The Transformation
Shifting my focus from being skinny to being strong had transformative effects. I found myself more energetic, able to lift heavier weights, and genuinely content. I noticed a huge difference in my progress photos and saw that the weight gain was needed in order to help me reach my goals of being stronger in the gym. My approach in the kitchen was simple and sustainable. I was learning more about macros and able to create a plan for me that left me happy and full. I will never fall for one of those “skinny diets” again because I have learned what my body needs in order to make the progress I want through trial and error. I scheduled a time for when I made my meals (after the gym worked best for me). I wanted to create meals that were simple yet realistic and something I enjoyed eating. It helped me realize that fitness is such an evolving journey. Once you feel like you conquer a certain part you read more about what else could help you optimize your progress in the gym like the importance of certain supplements, hydration, and sleep. Fitness and its components is a never ending journey of growth and discovery and that’s what makes it fun and exciting.
My Personal Nutrition Approach
To maintain my consistency, I established a couple of my favorite weekly staples:
Carbohydrate: jasmine rice (cooked in bone broth to add protein) and a variety of potatoes, sourdough bread
Protein sources: uncured bacon, grass-fed steak, grass-fed ground beef, shrimp
Snacks: watermelon with a hint of salt (pre-workout), pineapple for hydration, pomegranates satisfy my mid-day cravings and increase blood flow for better workouts and healing, vanilla Greek yogurt, different desserts using sourdough starter.
Protein shake: raw milk, cocoa, salt, egg yolks, sprinkle salt, maple syrup and optional protein powder.
Example of how I make one of my favorite high-protein meals: No Soy Shrimp Fried Rice
What’s needed: shrimp (can substitute ground beef, chicken, steak, etc.) no soy soy sauce, eggs, carrots, peas, corn, garlic, ginger, green onion, bone broth, jasmine rice, salt and pepper if needed
- Cook jasmine rice in bone broth, set aside and let cool (splash of the no soy soy sauce)
- Add Carrots, corn, peas in pan and cook in no soy soy sauce, add ginger and garlic
- Combine the carrots, corn, peas to rice
- Now cook the eggs scrambled and add to rice
- Lastly cook your protein ( shrimp, chicken, beef, steak) and add on top of rice. Stir in more no soy soy sauce to flavor. Top with green onions.
As a mother of three, striving to balance the demands of home, multiple jobs, and a fitness-oriented lifestyle, my journey has underscored the vital importance of consistency and simplicity, both within the gym and in the kitchen. Embracing the fundamental principle of “You are what you eat” has directed my focus towards enhancing my strength, overall well-being, and personal happiness. It’s not solely about attaining a specific body image; rather, it’s about discovering joy in the process of nourishing my body with whole, nutrient-rich foods. Just like when you schedule out your gym time, remember to schedule out your meals or meal prep time so you can focus on staying consistent with what your fuel your body with food wise. Whether it’s about mastering the art of strength training or creating simple yet tasty meals, I believe achieving success in the realm of fitness hinges on a steadfast dedication to holistic well-being.
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