Monday, September 7, 2009

It is a truth universally acknowledged...

One of my favorite Jane Austen phrases. Finding universally acknowledged truths to be false is delicious to me. I have found so many of these in the nutrition/fitness world. I grew up with the food pyramid etched in my brain as the recipe for perfect health. Even now, I would say that most Americans are fixed upon the idea that grains are the base of every healthy diet, and that whole grains are the ultimate in good health. I went for years filling myself with a diet comprised mainly of carbohydrates in the form of grains. The idea was that these were “low fat” and therefore “good” for me. I was literally starving myself. Yes, these are delicious. But I was never very satisfied or full, and I certainly had a weight problem.

Before the low fat diet era of the late 80s, early 90s, there was the low calorie diet. This is the diet my thin mother used to maintain her weight, and how I did as a young woman. My poor mother would literally eat NOTHING in an entire day, saving her daily calorie intake for a giant piece of chocolate cake. Where was the protein? Yes, calories do play a role in maintaining weight loss. Even if you eat only the appropriate foods, eating too many calories will still cause weight gain. But, don't get too hung up on calories. It is vital to get a balance of proteins, fats, and carbs in your diet. In the last decade or so, carbohydrates have been the enemy of many dieters. While I believe this is closer to the truth than the food pyramid, carbohydrates are necessary—just get them from fruits and vegetables!

I can tell you that for many years a truth I universally acknowledged was that very few women could actually attain “good” figures. And I’m not talking about the extremes of waifish models and body builders. I’m talking about what I think most women want—lean and trim with slight definition of muscles. I just thought those who did have this were blessed by nature. While that may be somewhat true, what I have found is that attaining this is possible for anyone…but it takes hard work and discipline. This is not saying that I personally have a great figure. I can just tell by my experience that it is possible for those who work hard. Yes, I have stocky, muscular legs that would require calorie deficit and some serious distance running to reduce. You may have larger hips, or a larger bustline. Embrace these differences. Healthy diet and exercise will improve these areas to their finest and most efficient…it is not easy, but it certainly can be done.

I have spoken many times in this blog about women lifting heavy weights. The universal truth is that lifting heavy weights will create large, bulky muscles. But, the delicious fact is that this is completely untrue. We were made to carry babies (who can get VERY heavy) and how many times have you carried a crying baby while vacuuming or picking up the house? Don’t tell me I’m the only one. Women are efficient multi-taskers who can naturally lift heavy things at the same time they run around doing other strenuous things.

Will there come a day when the things I now consider truths will become obsolete? Maybe. But science and history are with me this time. Plus, I have the evidence from my own “laboratory” experience to back the theory up. Living this way is not hard, expensive, or time consuming. It CAN be all of those things, but it need not be. A few minutes of strenuous, weight bearing exercise a day along with a diet of sensible, REAL, and unprocessed foods will get you where you want to be. It just takes discipline and the realization that it will not happen overnight.

“Success is dependent upon the glands—sweat glands.”
Zig Ziglar


  1. " A few minutes of strenuous, weight bearing exercise a day along with a diet of sensible, REAL, and unprocessed foods will get you where you want to be. It just takes discipline and the realization that it will not happen overnight."
    --A perfect summary of a healthy lifestyle, Laura. The only way I became a believer was to JUST DO IT and notice over time the difference in my quality of life. It is a slow process, but as Laura has said before, it's more about performance than appearance. Performance is measurable while appearance is not!

  2. Thanks Christy and Jennifer!

    And yes, the most important thing about any diet/exercise program should be improved health. Of course we all want to look better, but to actually FEEL better should be the over-riding goal. This is what lasts for years to come. This is where we can and should measure success.