Why your Relationship with Food is Important

Are you struggling with eating to achieve your fitness goals? Do you most often feel guilty for your food choices? Unless you have body dis-morphia, or lacking proper structure and consistency than maybe your relationship with food is holding you back.

Most popular diets have essentially one thing in common, and that thing is ”restriction”. Before this explanation I have to give a disclaimer. I am not a dietitian, but a nutrition enthusiast with a minor in nutrition. I only want to help you make good choices that make you happy and not guilty.

Now, what do I mean by restriction? I mean most of these diets don’t exactly promote eating certain foods more than others. Instead they say more often to stay away from certain foods. Stay away from carbs, stay away from meat, dairy, fat; whatever the case may be most “diet” trends tend to focus on what you should not eat.

You may think, why is this a bad thing; aren’t some foods bad and other foods good? Well my friend I have some poor news for you. There is not such this as a healthy food. An even bigger statement is there is no unhealthy food. I know that is hard to believe, and  it goes against what you have learned about foods.

The truth is there are no unhealthy foods. There are only unhealthy eating habits. My experience in dieting and reverse dieting has been that unhealthy habits are brought on by both a lack of foods and an excess of foods. Too much of a good thing is common, like too many sweats and over indulging on pizza.

The other end of the spectrum is that a lack of good things can bring about bad habits. In an undergrad nutrition course, I had to take food log and determine what nutrients I was lacking. I found that four out of the five days I logged were lacking most minerals and vitamins even though I was eating sufficient whole foods for caloric intake.

That fifth day, however, was well over what vitamins and minerals I needed including selenium, iron, zinc, Vitamins E, A, K, and D. What was the difference you may ask? That day I had splurged on almost a whole pizza.

What can you take away from this. If I had spread the pizza between the five days, my caloric intake and nutrient needs would have been structured better in my favor. Restriction on Pizza the rest of the week ultimately resulted in over consumption.

Pizza was not a bad food in my case. It served more good than most of the foods I had ate. Just like eating too much pizza over time, the lack of nutrients that the pizza provided would have hurt me down the road. Am I condoning pizza? Some pizza? YES! The line between over indulging and enjoying foods that can contribute to your diet is much bigger than the industry has lead you to believe.

This example shows that demonizing foods can be just as harmful as a diet over-saturated with certain foods. Dieting at the moment could not be easier. I have lost nearly ten pounds so far eating 5 donuts a week under a 4,000 calorie day volume. I am not telling you to eat that way. What I am telling you is to enjoy the foods you like while not getting carried away or feel the need to justify your eating habits with more exercise.

Ideally, it would best to eat a bulk of whole foods a day and filling the rest of your nutrient needs with foods that you enjoy. The only way you will know is to track it. This is where I give you a tool that can optimize your diet. ChooseMyPlate has the best specific dietary recommendations including telling you what nutrients are present in what foods. For more ease, I would use the mobile app MyFitnessPal.

Whatever tool you use, stay informed and make wise decisions. You do not have to feel bad for every treat you have, because these treat may be useful after all, but do not get carried away.

Should I exercise during depression?

Depression is a condition that isn’t talked about very often in mainstream fitness. Even though, being emotionally well is a huge component to being fit. Depression can be hard and disabling. In most cases, depressive moods can drain energy and physically exhaust anyone. Is it a good idea to exercise during a state of low esteem, low energy, and low motivation?

To be honest there is not a straightforward answer to this question. Exercise has shown to drastically reduce depression in most individuals, but that is not exactly as black and white as it would seem.

With the wide amount of factors playing into the affect there are really two factors that stand out the most hormones and mindset.

  • Hormones

If the reasons for exercising are related to feeling better about ones self, whether its through muscular strength and power or looks and aesthetics, hormones will be a huge factor in achieving these goals.

Most would think that hormones during hard times can be a detriment, however, results from exercises that are highly depended upon hormones in some cases seem to be in favor of progress. Certain hormones like testosterone, estrogen, Growth Hormone, IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor Type 1), and many more are keys for success. These hormones contribute to gains in muscle strength and size along with mood.

Some studies have shown increase in growth hormone responses in diagnosed MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). These studies also indicated that stress hormone cortisol did not impair the strength and energy of those patients. Contrary to popular believe strength training and cardio can be good for mental and physical progress in a state of depression.

  • Mindset

Depression is a tough place to be so entering a social environment to show vulnerability can be frighting and frustrating. Fear of social encounters during depression is very real, and most of the time it can limit progress both physically and mentally.

The first myth to be busted is that you cannot be indulged into ones emotions in public. Its perfectly acceptable to shove headphones in ears and avoid interaction as much as possible. It is not mandatory to be social in the gym.

Most fears and worries are likely overcome by taking the step forward into breaking the barriers that hold us back. Its okay to take small steps into making exercise a habit. Be short with people that must be to interacted with, and try to engage in the social pleasantries most people expect from everyone.

Going to the gym is for you and you alone to bettering yourself. Be selfish and be self-absorbed. Taking the step to love yourself starts with being able to look at yourself in the mirror and respect that you may not be happy with what you see, but your working to be a better person into tomorrow. Eventually, you will respect and begin to love the person you see working so hard.

Answer

The answer will be more often than not, YES! The truth is that for someone suffering MDD or even symptoms of depression, exercise in any form is something that will beneficial.

The act of exercising is more important than the choice in activity, so choose something you might enjoy, but keep moving forward and decide to do something. Take a class or take up boxing, no matter the choice it will be in your favor to do something.

Everyday doesn’t have to be your day

Because it is widely recommended to make an appearance in the gym for progress sake, do not think that means your obligated to do so. Some days come crying spells and some days are filled with such a strong disposition that going can result in making your mood worse. Feeling overly vulnerable can be counter productive, so don’t be afraid to hold off on exercise until your ready.

Taking time off to deal with feelings is absolutely acceptable, and the progress you have made will still be there after a day or two. There are options to replace time in the gym so that you stay on track during the hardest of times.

Peaceful yoga in the comfort of your room or the solitude of the park may be an option. This will let you feel how you feel without being uncomfortable while getting in touch with your body. A walk in the park or the neighborhood is also a step in the right direction.

Keep in mind that it would be adventitious for whatever activity that is chosen that this activity is enough to break a sweat. The way that the body responds to exercise releases hormones that make you feel good. The only way that you’ll benefit from those reactions is to be sure that the exercise your choose is intense enough. It doesn’t have to be “Ball-to-the-Wall”; just enough that your sweating for the majority of the time and throughout the cool-down.

A word of encouragement

Most others wont understand what your going through, they may sympathize and do their best to empathize, but no on will feel the way you do, and that’s okay. Do not let that discourage you to come to the gym. Most gyms are filled with people that want the same thing you do; to look and feel better about themselves. So do not let that hold you back. Doing what you have to for you, is something no self-respecting person will judge you for.

Make strides and stay as consistent as you can. If you keep at it, you feel and look better in no time. Overcoming your ailments through exercise is a tough process, but it will make you a stronger person. Stay resilient and strive to be a better person everyday and success will be inevitable.

Supporting Articles

  1. Jesper Krogh, Merete Nordentoft, Mahdi Mohammad-Nezhad, Åsa Westrin, Growth hormone, prolactin and cortisol response to exercise in patients with depression, Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 125, Issues 1–3, September 2010, Pages 189-197, ISSN 0165-0327
  2. Khorvash, Majid et al. “An Investigation on the Effect of Strength and Endurance Training on Depression, Anxiety, and C-Reactive Protein’s Inflammatory Biomarker Changes.” Journal of Research in Medical Sciences : The Official Journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences 17.11 (2012): 1072–1076. Print.
  3. Carless, D. and Douglas, K. (2010) Rebuilding Identity Through Sport and Physical Activity, in Sport and Physical Activity for Mental Health, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK.
  4. Payne N, Jones F, Harris P. A daily diary investigation of the impact of work stress on exercise intention realisation: Can planning overcome the disruptive influence of work?. Psychology & Health [serial online]. January 2010;25(1):111-129. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed November 13, 2016.
  5. Richard A. Rawson, Joy Chudzynski, Rachel Gonzales, Larissa Mooney, Daniel Dickerson, Alfonso Ang, Brett Dolezal, Christopher B. Cooper, The Impact of Exercise On Depression and Anxiety Symptoms Among Abstinent Methamphetamine-Dependent Individuals in A Residential Treatment Setting, Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Volume 57, October 2015, Pages 36-40, ISSN 0740-5472
  6. Jesper Krogh, Merete Nordentoft, Mahdi Mohammad-Nezhad, Åsa Westrin, Growth hormone, prolactin and cortisol response to exercise in patients with depression, Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 125, Issues 1–3, September 2010, Pages 189-197, ISSN 0165-0327,