1) Dry January wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
Also, decreasing my coffee consumption wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. If you want to know more of my thoughts on dry January, I’ll leave this link here. It’s funny that at first, giving up something (like alcohol, caffeine, or really anything) can seem impossible or like it’s really going to suck. And maybe it will. But I bet it will suck less than you think if you really commit to it. As soon as I committed to dry January and alcohol just wasn’t an option, it was easier to not think about it. As soon as I decided I wasn’t going to have more than one cup of coffee per day, I was happy to try out different herbal teas. So if you need to “break up” with a food, beverage or whatever it is in your life, once you commit it just might not be as hard as you think.
2) People still really fear/ demonize carbs.
To all my new nutrition clients I ask, “Are there any foods that you fear or demonize due to their nutritional content?”. The overwhelming majority of the time, the answer is carbs. And when I dig further, the answer isn’t really carbs — it’s processed carb AND fat based foods. The eventual goal is to not fear/demonize any foods, but the first goal is to realize that carbs (fruit, rice, oats, potatoes, carrots, etc.) aren’t bad, they are actually quite good for you. The second goal is to realize that we often say “carb”, when we mean “carb+fat” based foods that are super delicious. The third step is to realize that if we focus on including nutrient-rich foods in our diet most of the time, there is room for some super delicious carb+fat based foods (like cookies, pizza, ice cream, etc.). If you improve your knowledge about these foods, how the body digests them and your relationship to them — you’re well on your way to a stress free relationship with carbs.
3) Big breakfasts fix a lot of diet issues.
This is ironic coming from a former intermittent faster, but in my experience most women (including myself) respond best to being well fuelled all day — starting in the morning. Also, it’s really hard to get in enough protein if you don’t knock off a chunk in the morning. I know it’s scary and a big change for a lot of my clients to shift more calories to breakfast and lunch than they are used to, but I’ve yet to have it pay off negatively. If you’re afraid to start eating more at breakfast, start small and increase over time as you feel the benefits.
4) Most of us are overly critical of ourselves, but not of others.
It’s not our fault that women’s bodies are subjected to so much scrutiny and it’s no wonder that so many of us hyper-fixate on things and have self-talk that is less than kind. Our self-kindness, self-talk and mindset play a huge role in our health and fitness. It seems counter-intuitive, but you can’t shame or guilt yourself into treating your body in the healthiest of ways. If you’re compassionate and kind to yourself, you’re more likely to treat your body well and not view slip ups as total failures. Spend time deep diving on why you feel certain things (like your physique) seem like the most important thing about you. Evaluate if you ever notice those things on other people. It’s not an overnight process, but overtime you put things in perspective and learn to change your mindset.
5) The best running shoe is the comfortable one.
Don’t just take it from me, take it from my soon to be PhD in Biomechanics husband the footwear researcher. There’s so many shoes to choose from out there, but you know what feels comfortable on your foot. Make sure to not wear your shoes into the ground and change them every 300-500 miles. Keep in simple, try shoes on in person and pick the one that you feel fits your foot well.
6) You have to chop/prep veggies in advance or you’re not eating them.
Chop those veggies almost as soon as your get them in the house. If I think, “Oh, I’ll have time to chop/cook these peppers right before lunch!”, I’m doomed. Do you future self a favor and chop things and get them cooked in advanced, or at the very least whenever you do cook them, cook a few servings at once.
7) The body is resilient.
You don’t lose or gain progress overnight. If you have to take time off for an injury, you’ll come back faster than if you were a total beginner. Vacations aren’t a prescription for weight gain and/or muscle loss. Our bodies and health are a game of averages. Focus on what you do most of the time. That’s what matters.
8) Running in the cold isn’t so bad if you’re well dressed.
It’s true! My lifesavers for running in crazy cold weather are: 1) A good ear wrap and/or tight hood.2) A neck gaiter 3) Wearing two pairs of leggings. If you’re new to running in the cold, start with small loops near your home so you can change layers and experiment if need be. In general, you have to get used to be a little cold at the start of your run. I recommend keeping another light top layer in a running backpack and another pair of mittens (to put on over gloves) as a back up if it’s a long run. Also, I never regret doing a cold run instead of skipping it.
9) Soups are a great food category.
I used to just write off soup as an entire food category that I DESPISED. Maybe it’s the Canadian winters, maybe it’s tastes changing as I get older but now I think that soup is one of the easiest and most delicious things to have make. Some recipes I’ve tried recently and loved are this, this, this and this. Moral of the story: give things a second chance. (More evidence that your tastes can change: I used to hate blueberries and now love them.)
10) Focus on what you can do.
As I’ve dealt with a back injury in the past few weeks, it’s taken conscious intention to stay positive and focus on what I CAN do. It’s tempting to think about how I’m not deadlifting or barbell squatting. If I focus on that, I lose all zest for the gym. But, if I focus on what I can do and how much I enjoy working on different lunge variations, I’m much more positive and feel more successful in the gym. This injury has been a good challenge to practice what I preach to my clients: Focus on the positives and what is going well. Keep doing more of that.
You’re turn! What’s something you’ve learned about health & fitness this year?