Life

My Gluten-Free Journey

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"Sometimes it's the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination." - Drake

 

Hey everyone! I’m back to writing after taking the summer off to be with my kiddo and travel and figure some things out. Honestly, I’ve also been struggling with what to write and how to write it. I’ve been pulled in lots of directions personally and professionally with health and nutrition and it is probably time for me to start to niche down more, even with my writing. My experiences have fueled my passion to help others. Others that are like me when I was dealing with health issues I didn’t know as much about, lost and not sure where to turn.

Previously, I was writing more about intuitive eating, which I’ve really loved on a personal level. I may still write more about it here and there but my heart is pulling me in a different direction with the types of clients I want to see and the work I want to do. If you want more on IE, let me know and I can point you in the direction of some great IE dietitians!

I am getting more into the integrative and functional side of nutrition as well as the food sensitivity piece. Basically, getting to the root cause of illness and using a more natural approach to health and healing. I am finding that a lot of people with autoimmune diseases, GI disorders, acne, chronic inflammation among other problems are really struggling to feel better with conventional medicine alone. Lifestyle and nutrition, among so many other things, can play a huge role in symptom improvement in these areas but it’s hard to know where to start. I am learning so much and have so much more to learn that it has been a bit overwhelming but exciting at the same time.

So, as I’m doing more writing and working on creating new recipes, you will probably see me reference gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, AIP, etc because it is where I am and will hopefully help others out that might be needing the same. I have been gluten-free for almost a year now and I thought I would share with you why and how it is going for me.

Last summer I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid. I got the call from my doctor’s office and was told that my medication was called in and I would go back in 6 weeks for more bloodwork. I was given no other information, not even when or how to take the medication, which I don’t think is abnormal. BTW, the medication is pointless if you aren’t taking it correctly so it’s a pretty important piece to tell someone that is just starting on it, right? So, I made it my mission to learn more (not an area I have done much work with), do what I could to help myself, and seek out another opinion.  

I started reading books and listening to podcasts about thyroid health and learned so much. I, thankfully, did not have thyroid antibodies so I did not have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis but I treated it as such until I had a better handle on my levels and what it all meant. This was when I decided to remove gluten from my diet.

As some of you who may have done similar things know, it was a hard adjustment. I also went mostly dairy-free and later, pulled a few other things out. The hardest adjustment for me was traveling and eating out. We don’t eat out frequently but it is the perfect date night for my husband and I or just a night that I don’t have to worry about feeding all 4 of us who eat very differently. I just make sure I check out menus before we go and do the best that I can. We traveled to Belize not long after I went gluten-free and that was much harder than I expected but we made it work…but not without a few breakdowns.  

I wasn’t sure if going gluten-free was going to help my hypothyroidism and I’m still not 100% sure that it did because I can’t necessarily correlate the two things. What I did notice was that it improved my Raynaud’s disease over the winter. I didn’t have near as many episodes, even though I was out walking my dog in the cold almost daily. I also avoided the painful bumps I get on my fingers called chilblains, until later in the season. Unfortunately, once they start it is hard to get them to go away. The biggest improvement I saw was with my mood and anxiety. Again, not 100% better but enough to say that I was prepared to continue with my gluten-free lifestyle and it’s been about a year since I started.

That is briefly my gluten-free journey. One of my biggest hurdles is calming all the negative talk and worry in my head. I worry about what others think because I don’t have celiac or another diagnosis that absolutely warrants a gluten-free diet. I worry about other dietitians judging me. I worry about what to say when someone at a restaurant asks if I need gluten-free for an allergy…because I don’t but I don’t want to discredit those who do. I worry about if the little bit of gluten I ingest by accident is causing me problems that I can’t see.

I also worry about the content I'm writing and the recipes I’m creating and what you all might think because they are now gluten-free. #Truth. It doesn’t mean that I think everyone should be gluten-free or that it is a cure-all. But, this is where I am and where I’m going right now. Feel free to leave any questions or comments below or shoot them over in an email. 

Thanks for following along! 

Lin

A Letter to Fitness Instructors

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Hey all! I hope you are having a great week! This post is a way for me to get out something that has been weighing on my mind lately and to hopefully make a difference.

I have been taking some awesome group fitness classes at the same studio(s) for the past 3 years. I can't even believe I have been going that long since I was so scared to go in the first place but here I am, still taking my place at the barre most days of the week. They offer a wide variety of classes, none of which are easy. They are fast-paced, high energy, kind of addictive and I like them. Maybe I like them too much. I started because I wasn't happy with my body but I've continued because it makes me stronger and better in many other ways. I've mixed up my schedule over the past 3 years with different classes, different times and different instructors trying to find which ones suit me best. I have a few instructors that I prefer and I few that I tend to avoid, but I think that is the same for most everyone. I need someone that plays great music, can keep my attention for the full hour and puts me in a great mindset. I don't think that is too much to ask for (eye wink, tongue out emoji).

Over the last year or so I have been paying much more attention to what is said by the instructors during classes, and it's mostly great. But there have been times that I've thought to myself, "wow, did you really need to say that"? Maybe because of my work with Intuitive Eating. Maybe because I feel that no one should feel guilty about their body size or what they ate or drank last night. Maybe because I feel exercise is not a form of punishment. I am more aware of my previous disordered eating and thinking toward food and exercise, maybe even some orthorexia behaviors. This has made me a little more sensitive to the words spoken during these fitness classes. I know that I am not the only one that is dealing with orthorexia and disordered eating. There could also be some women in the classes with a full-blown eating disorder. So, words matter. They matter a lot to someone who could very easily be triggered by those words to continue the disordered behavior.  

So what kinds of things might be unmotivating or triggering in a fitness class? 

  1. Talking about being there to workout because of something you ate or drank the day(s) before. Food shaming. 
  2. The instructor talking about their own guilt due to eating or drinking habits.
  3. Talking about burning calories as motivation to keep going. 
  4. Showing or talking about a big calorie burn after class. 
  5. Saying that cardio is the most important part of the class. 
  6. Talking about needing to earn something by working harder (earning a meal, a drink, a relaxing day, etc)
  7. Talking about fitting into skinny jeans or a bathing suit and tank top for summer. 

So, I am certainly not saying that these types of comments are causing eating disorders or disordered eating. I am also not saying that I hear them often where I personally do fitness classes. These comments can, however, trigger someone who is already experiencing it to continue with those behaviors. They can change a mindset from positive to negative pretty quickly and put the focus on negative thoughts and behaviors vs. positive ones. And, to the fitness industry, I get it. I get that people are coming in to change their body. I get that people want to be leaner and stronger. I get it. But I think if the focus is on the good stuff, they will want to keep coming back and if they are taking classes like I do, their body will change. 

Here are some eating disorder statistics from The National Eating Disorders Association:

  • Between 3-4% of women and 1% of men will suffer from anorexia at any given time.
  • The best-known environmental contributor to the development of eating disorders is the sociocultural idealization of thinness.
  • Among overweight and obese adults, those who experience weight-based stigmatization engage in more frequent binge eating, are at increased risk for eating disorder symptoms and are more likely to have a diagnosis of binge eating disorder.
  • There is a strong link between exercise compulsion and various forms of eating disorders. 
  • An estimated 90-95% of college students diagnosed with an eating disorder also belong to a fitness facility. 
  • 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years.
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What are some positive, motivating comments that can be made in fitness classes? There are lots of ways to do this. Dig into the mindset, the psyche, and the heart. We all go to work out for different reasons but we all have a heart and mind in addition to our body. I reached out to one of my fitness instructors a while back to thank her for having positive comments on mind, body, and soul instead of how we look. She nails it every single class! She made a comment in last week's class that she is "bored with focusing on looks" and instead we should be "loving ourselves and our people well", which I totally appreciated. Here are some other ways to provide motivation in a positive way:

  • Share a positive quote or a word to think about for the day
  • Encourage participants to set a goal or intention for the class 
  • Tell the class how great they are doing or how strong they look. It doesn't have to be individualized. 
  • Talk about how lucky/grateful they are to be moving their able bodies.
  • Tell them it is just as effective to do a modified form of the exercise. 
  • Anything else motivating and encouraging that doesn't talk about looks, size or calories/food. 

I love fitness and I love being part of a fitness community. I have my own reasons for going to work out and they might be different from the next person. No matter what those reasons are, we deserve to feel good, positive vibes each time we walk through those doors. Let's put the focus on well-being and not just on calories, food shame and body size. Words do matter and can make a difference in someone's life and their struggles.

Positively,

Lin

Weight Isn't Everything

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Happy holiday season everyone. I felt like the timing for this post would be perfect amongst a lot of talk about weight gain, weight loss, food restrictions, accountability around the holidays, etc. Is anyone already thinking about weight loss as a New Year’s Resolution? Well I’m here to tell you that weight loss isn’t the best goal to set and it is certainly not the only measure of success when it comes to health and wellness.

I will admit that I’m guilty when it comes to weight loss being at the top of my list of reasons why I’m making changes. But the disappointment when the scale doesn’t budge is real! The disappointment leads to emotional eating, bad moods and wanting to quit. Anyone else?

I know my body very well after living in it for 36 years. I know that I retain fluid and my weight can fluctuate a few pounds pretty regularly. I know that it will go back to normal but it still pisses me off every single time! Back when I was training for half marathons I would easily be up 3-4 pounds the day after my long run. I knew this was going to happen but it still messed with my head and my positivity. I burned 1000 calories running 10 miles, why did I put weight on?

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I was always focused on the wrong thing and felt like I was always a failure and that my weight was the determinant of my success. I know now that I had it all wrong.

About 3 years ago I was really frustrated with my fitness and running wasn’t doing it for me any more. My anxiety was at an all-time high, I was a little depressed, my weight went up to the highest it had been in a while as well. I started at a local fitness studio taking group classes on Valentine’s Day of 2015. The studio has mirrors on almost every wall and it was really hard for me to look in the mirror while I worked out. I was so hard on myself! I weighed myself every day forever just waiting for that scale to move because I was working so hard and thought my weight would drop quickly. Of course it didn't. I’m not sure how long it took but eventually it moved about 5 pounds back down to my normal and I’ve pretty much been there ever since.

What I didn’t realize until later were all of the little successes I had along the way that didn’t have anything to do with my weight.

  • I gained confidence. This was a big one for me. Slowly I was getting better at these classes and it made me feel good about myself. When I started I would set up as far back in the studio as possible and I am now more confident to set up wherever there is an open spot.
  • I gained some body positivity. I started out not wanting to watch myself in the mirror at all when I worked out but now I use them regularly to check my form and I don’t hate what I see. I try to appreciate what my body can do. Really great workout pants also help!
  • I gained a lot of strength as I continued to go and work hard! I can do all the push ups in a class on my toes, even some triceps pushups. I’ve noticed some big changes in my arms and they don’t jiggle as much when I’m punching. It didn't happen right away but little by little I was getting stronger.
  • I gained caring less about what others think. I pick up the heavier weights for some classes and I’m not ashamed if I need to drop to a lower weight because that works better for me. It doesn't bother me if I need to modify some exercises because it is better for my back pain. It’s my hour, my body and my workout.
  • I gained dropping a few pant and shirt sizes. I am not a “skinny” person and probably never will be. I couldn’t believe the size of pants I could fit in for the 1st time in my life, even though my weight was really staying consistent. This can definitely be a measure of progress and why weight isn't everything!
  • I gained more enjoyment in my exercise. It doesn't feel like a chore or like punishment for what I ate over the weekend. Exercise is helping me to achieve my smaller goals and ultimately help me to feel better.
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There are so many more ways to measure success in wellness other than weight. Weight does not define you and weight should not determine how you feel about yourself in a day, month or year. A phrase I hear often in my workout classes is "let go of the things that are not serving you". This is just my personal story but how many of you can relate? Does anyone have any non weight related New Year's Resolutions or goals? Feel free to share.

I hope you all enjoy the holidays! Cheers!

Lin

 

 

How to Plan for Multiple Diets at Mealtime

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Is anyone else dealing with a multiple "diet" household and struggling to find meals that please everyone? How about multiple food allergies? I'm convinced pleasing everyone is impossible anyway then you throw in the "I don't eat that" or "I can't have that" and it's a whole different ballgame. Maybe it's food allergies, auto-immune disease, against animal cruelty, or maybe for other reasons. Ok, so it's not totally impossible but it takes a little more time and effort as well as a little bit of I don't give AF (if everyone is 100% excited about the meal) to make it happen with less stress. The problem is that I give too many Fs when it comes to what we eat so I need to work on that last part. Also, I am in NO way recommending anyone adhere to any particular diet, just offering ideas if needed.

In my house we are working with a generally picky 9 y/o who hates change, a vegetarian that just moved back in, and I'm gluten-free and mostly dairy-free due to my thyroid health. My husband just doesn't like cilantro or snap peas, weirdo! I'm also really working toward more real food when possible. Like, gasp, real butter! Who's with me on that? I'm trying to keep it simple with decent ingredients and keeping in mind everyone's preferences. I have a few staple meals that we make when we are all going to be around for dinner. Here are some ideas on how we make it work:

Mexican Dinner Night

I feel like you can get around most diets with some good ol Mexican food. You have a meat option, a vegetarian option with beans, gluten-free options are easy and the set up doesn't take too long. I put it all out and everyone makes their own. Easy peasy! Here is what I make:

  • Ground turkey, ground beef or chicken seasoned with garlic, onion, chili powder, cumin, paprika and salt. You can find homemade taco seasonings online as well.

  • A can of black beans mixed with a can of refried black beans.
  • Tortillas - whole wheat and gluten-free corn
  • Brown rice - I often use this to make a taco bowl/salad and skip the corn tortilla
  • Fire roasted peppers and onions (freezer section of TJs)
  • guacamole or diced avocado
  • other toppings as desired

Breakfast For Dinner Night

This is another no brainer when it comes to pleasing the masses at my house. Our vegetarian will eat eggs so that makes it a little easier. Here are our go-to breakfast for dinner meals:

  • Breakfast burritos - egg and cheese, egg and sausage (and jelly for the little one), egg and sausage and cheese, the options are endless and work for everyone. Throw in some sautéed veggies, a fruit on the side and it's a complete meal.
  • Breakfast bowl - this one is SO good, find the recipe here
  • Scrambled eggs and pancakes or waffles. I like to use the Lean Green Bean's whole wheat waffle recipe you can find in this post and I've been using Kodiak Cakes pancake mix lately. They have a gluten-free mix that I need to try but I tend to make banana pancakes for myself, recipe here.

Pizza Night

This has now become a weekly meal when all 4 of us are home because it works well. Here's our pizza line-up:

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  • We like using TJs frozen cauliflower crust for our gluten-free option but have also used some gluten-free focaccia bread.
  • This flatbread makes the best pizza and the boys love it! It comes with 2 so I can make them each their own.
  • Your favorite sauce. I top the sauce with a sprinkle of Italian seasoning as well. On the cauliflower crust, I have used EVOO with garlic or a cashew cream sauce.
  • Shred up some cheese. I usually use mozzarella and parmesan for the boys and add some goat cheese for ours because goat cheese makes all things better!
  • We have been adding roasted veggies to our pizza and it's so good. Currently we are using butternut squash, onion, broccoli and peppers.
  • Preferred meat toppings or skip the meat.
  • Any other toppings like olives, spinach, arugula, pineapple, etc.
  • I have been using TJs balsamic glaze drizzled on our pizza for an extra little zing. I've seen other balsamic glazes at the grocery store by the vinegar as well.

Chopped Salad Night

I love a good chopped salad but it doesn't please the masses like the other meals I listed, particularly my little guy but we make it work. Think of it like a pizza where your salad greens are the crust and you can top it however you want. Here are some ideas:

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  • We usually have chicken for our meat option but choose your favorite protein.
  • For a vegetarian try chickpeas, black beans, edamame or boiled eggs in place of meat.
  • Add lots of veggies like peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, snap peas, mushrooms and red onion.
  • If you are looking for some carbs as well as more texture try cooked brown rice, quinoa or Israeli couscous (not gluten-free).
  • Soft cheeses add lots of flavor and texture but a little can go a long way like goat cheese, feta or blue cheese.
  • Then add fun toppings like chopped nuts, dried fruit like raisins or cranberries, avocado, and thin apple slices. Toss in your dressing and voila.

Chili Night

This would be an easy meal to do vegetarian. Skip the meat and add in extra beans. You could also make 2 different batches and have lots of leftovers..always better the next day! I love adding chopped sweet potatoes in chili to add a little sweet with the acid from the tomato and extra veggies never hurt. My picky 9 y/o even likes it.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas on how to work around having different diets at the dinner table. It takes a little extra time and effort but it's worth it to have a meal everyone can enjoy. Comment below if any of you are struggling with this as well and have any tips or if you have other restrictions you need help with.

Lin

 

 

Real Talk, Take 2

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I went to a local event this week called Food Yeah! put on by Indulge, which hosts wellness events in KC. They had a panel of 5 experts in their own realm of the food world. This included a dietitian, 2 health coaches, a doctor and an organic farmer. They had wine! and we tried The Unbakery and Juicery's juice and protein balls. It was a lot of fun and I even won a giveaway.

This event was a great way to bring together like-minded people to discuss food. Topics included food priorities, diets, fats, where we get our food and why it's ok to not be perfect. The overall messages were great and definitely topics to build conversations on. They agreed that dieting doesn't work. High fives on that! Nutrition is very individual and it's important to find what works best for you when it comes to feeling your best. They agreed that we should be eating fat, in different varieties. They agreed that we should enjoy our food and enjoy the experience that food brings. Yes, yes and yes!

I think the event rekindled my love for food, nutrition and wellness a bit, even though I didn't agree with everything that was discussed. It showed me that there are a lot of people who do care about food and nutrition and a lot of people who still need help finding answers. I've considered numerous times giving up my career in nutrition (because apparently everyone is a nutrition expert) but I keep hanging on. I love wellness and really helping people to be and feel their best and I know I am capable of doing that in some form.

I started this blog back in April after I stopped my part-time gig as a way to continue trying to help and/or motivate others with nutrition and wellness. I also just needed to do something while I figuring out my next move. I named the blog 4ever healthy lifestyle because that's what I feel we all need in our lives - a healthy lifestyle that we can continue forever. It isn't named let me help you yo-yo diet and feel really bad about yourself or just eat veggies all damn day or exercise until you die because that is life. Maybe those names would get me more blog traffic but not the vibe I'm going for.

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What is a healthy lifestyle? By definition, a lifestyle is a way in which you live. So a way in which you live healthy, right? It is a way in which you live and treat your body and mind to where you feel your best in all aspects of your life so you can live a long and fulfilling life. Your healthy lifestyle will not look like anyone else's. This may include food/nutrition, activity, stress management, sleep habits, relationships, and/or spiritual health. It should probably contain a good number if not all of these =)

What a healthy lifestyle can provide for you:

  • Consistency - when you adopt healthy habits and make them a priority, consistency is so much easier. You start to crave those healthy habits.
  • Ability to get away from the diet mentality because you have great, doable habits in place that keep you well and happy, which can offer better weight management.
  • More energy, more happiness and more overall enjoyment in life!

What a healthy lifestyle should not provide for you:

  • Strict rules! You do what feels best to you on any particular day. For instance I try to go to the gym 5-6 days a week but there are weeks I go less because my body needs more time off and weeks I go everyday because it feels good.
  • Guilt! It's ok to not be perfect, not follow a diet, miss days of exercise, and not do what everyone else is doing.
  • An all or nothing mentality, especially when it comes to food. This can lead to disordered eating, which can cause a lot more problems.

How do I create my 4ever healthy lifestyle?

This would require more than a blog post to really answer for you individually. The idea is to find some key priorities and make small changes that are sustainable longterm. If you make a lot of big changes all at once, it's harder to stick to it. They need to be your priorities and not someone else's or you won't buy in and work toward your goals. Here are some questions you might ask yourself:

  • What are my ultimate goals? Is it more sleep? Eat more vegetables? Drink more water? Increase the # of push-ups on toes instead of knees? Decrease cholesterol?
  • What are a few small, doable changes I can make to accomplish a goal?
  • What might be holding me back from making those small changes and ultimately keeping me from my goals?
  • Do I need a support person for some motivation? Maybe a dietitian? 

If you are reading this, thank you for coming on this journey with me. My hope is that I am helping you find your 4ever healthy lifestyle with ideas, recipes, information and motivation but not with rules and guilt. I would love to hear from you if you have topics or information you'd like me to post about or if you have made any changes toward a healthy lifestyle. Feel free to comment below.

Have a great week!

Lin