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  • My Week of Food Freedom

    What would it be like to eat whatever you wanted without a second thought? To eat when you are hungry and stopping when you are comfortably full? To enjoy all of the dessert you want without guilt? Food Freedom: the ability to feed your body intuitively without negative emotions associated with your eating choices Countless people work to reach their goal of experiencing food freedom; myself included. Despite my being a dietitian, I still have my own struggles when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. However, on my recent trip to Disney World with my sister, I had one goal in mind. To eat freely without guilt. To my slight surprise, I didn't gain weight, nor did I eat past fullness. You see, when you release yourself from the pressure of eating healthy 24/7, the unhealthy foods (or as I like to say joy foods) do not seem so tempting. It is natural human behavior to want what we can't have. So, when we feel like we can't have ice cream, chips, or churros, that's exactly what we will want. Knowing this, I went to Disney World with the intention of eating what I craved and making sure I enjoyed every bite of it. This resulted in a week full of a combination of fuel and joy foods. Of course, I am going to highlight the joy foods, as no one is interested in the leafy greens and tofu I consumed. Of course I needed to get Starbucks in Magic Kingdom. And no Disney World trip is complete without a Mickey Mouse pretzel. In Epcot, I enjoyed a variety of alcoholic beverages as well as a Kringle. Something that is important to note is that by allowing myself to eat what I wanted, it was easier to say no to things I didn't truly love. That pastry is a prime example. After trying 1 bite of the Kringle, I realized it was NOT my cup of tea. Now although there was a slight pain at the thought of the 5+ dollars I spent of the pastry, I quickly realized that if I continued to eat the pastry when I didn't enjoy it, I would be doing myself a disservice. Now I know this thought process may sound horrifically simple to some of you. But throwing out food is not easy for many people. For some it is the thought of wasting money, and for others it is the ingrained belief that you need to "finish your plate". Regardless of the why, the point is getting rid of food is difficult. So, this was a HUGE win for me. And I am very happy to say that I didn't have ANY thoughts of my intake except "Damn this food is amazing!". So, next time you travel or are celebrating a special occasion, eat what you like. But that is the key here, eat what you TRULY LIKE. Every bite of food should hit like that first bite. The minute you are not feeling that joy of eating a treat, it is no longer serving you. Now I realize this is easier said than done. However, if you keep putting in the work, I promise you'll get there. And remember, you are worth the effort.

  • Feeling the Pressure

    How do you handle juggling weight loss, work, family, and self-care? It seems impossible, and to be honest sometimes it is. What I mean by this is we cannot prioritize everything at once 24/7. Think of your energy as a pitcher of water. We only have so much water to pour out. Now imagine every responsibility is an empty cup on a table. Well, if we equally pour the water into every single cup on the table, not only are we going to run out, but every cup is only going to have a small amount of water which makes virtually no difference. Now, let's choose 2-3 cups and disperse your water into them. Those cups will be full, and you will likely still have a bit left in your pitcher. We live in a society that constantly tells you to hustle. Constantly tells you to work more, do more, go faster, and be better. Well, if we are consistently focussed on spreading ourselves thin, are we really going to be able to truly accomplish anything? Hustling can easily lead to burnout. Burnout can lead to nothing getting done which makes you fall behind. Falling behind increases stress, guilt, and overall negativity. Before we know it, what started out as us being a "boss" has snowballed into rushed half-assed work fueled by pure anxiety. Now, I am not saying that hustle culture is evil. In fact, I like to think I'm hustling most of the time (feel free to book a nutrition consultation with Vitality Rose Nutrition). However, I have had to learn that I cannot focus on my business 24/7. I CANNOT continuously worry about my success level. When I do, my quality of work decreases because I am just trying to put out content rather than work on what I am passionate about. Every morning take a moment before starting your day and choose 1 cup to focus on. Make that cup full of water. Pour a lot (but not all) of your energy and passion into that cup. By the end of the day, watch how much more energized you feel. Watch how accomplished you feel because you are actually going to be productive instead of being in catch-up mode. Rather than focussing on how much more you can do, focus on what accomplishment is going to make the biggest difference in your life? Stop what you're doing, take a breath, and approach life differently. It may not get easier, but you will get a hell of a lot stronger.

  • Beat the Bloat

    Most of us are cursed with the dreaded food baby....except sometimes we seem to have a food baby while living in romaine lettuce and water. So what causes bloating, and how do we fix it? Causes of Bloating Fiber: There are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber helps decrease GI transit time (treats constipation) whole soluble fiber increases transit time (treats diarrhea). With this being said, having too much or too little of either fiber can cause disruption of your digestion and result in bloating. Dehydration: Water is KEY in regards to your digestion! Think of a street that's backed up (this may seem like a gross comparison but bare with me). The street is backed up with cars and it seems like no one knows where to go, resulting in a ton of traffic. Well, add a traffic light to that scenario. The light is able consistently keep the cars moving and prevent a large back up. Well, water is the traffic light. So drink up and keep the cars moving. That time of the month: There isn't much to say about this one. However, what's important to note is that bloating and other period symptoms can happen up to one week before and after the actual cycle (that's potentially 3 weeks of bloating). An actual food baby: Our bodies can only digest food so fast. So, when we overfill our stomachs it's bound to get piled up in the abdomen, resulting in bloating (and potential discomfort). Artificial sweeteners: As a dietitian, I see many clients go for the sugar free items. Well, those sugar free items may have artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, suclarose, sorbitol, etc. Very common side effects of artificial sugar are GI disruption and bloating. So next time you go for that sugar free treat, see if that may be a potential cause. How to Treat Bloating Water: Pardon me while I sound like every stereotypical health nut. But sufficient water intake is DIRE to your overall health. Hitting your fluid needs is a very helpful way to treat and prevent bloating as it promptes healthy digestion. I recommend seeing a dietitian to help you calculate your specific fluid needs. Fiber: Having a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains will help you be more likely to reach your fiber needs and prevent bloating. I recommend 20-25 gm per day (although EVERYONE is unique). My go-to sources of fiber include lentils, avocado, and broccoli. Exercise: Movement promotes healthy digestion which will prevent bloating. Aim for 150 active minutes per week, consisting of strength training and cardio. If this is a big jump for you, feel free to take smaller steps and work your way up to that goal. Cut out the fake stuff: This one is complicated to discuss over a one-sided blog post. Because of this I am once again going to recommend you see a dietitian. However, depending on your health factors and current conditions, sometimes it's better to consume the "real" sugar and treats in moderation than to have limitless amounts of sugar-free soda, candy, and macchiatos. When you consume actual sugar, your body can use the calories for energy through movement. However, artificial sweeteners have no calories within them, meaning our bodies cannot utilize them for anything in particular. So, having a small amount of regular soda may not align with your dietary goals, but it does provide our bodies with something to use, as well as be less likely to cause bloating compared to the sugar free beverage. Final Thoughts This is NOT a comprehensive list of bloating causes or how to address it. However, if you feel like you are constantly bloated or can't seem to get a handle on what causes you to bloat, seek medical assistance. I recommend a gastroenterologist as well as a dietitian to get comprehensive treatment. But remember, regardless of whether you have a food baby or not, that does not change how you should feel about yourself when you look in the mirror. You are not defined by your shape. ❤️

  • 100 lbs Down: Part 3 (The Finale)

    Warning: This post mentions disordered eating and negative body image. I am going to spare you a lot of details. To be honest, I am not comfortable going in depth about how what began as a healthy lifestyle change spiraled into a whirlwind of restrictive and disordered thinking. Just know that before I knew it, I was enveloped with the fear of going over my calorie limit for the day. I was eating mostly raw fruits and vegetables with lean proteins. No sugar, fat, or joy for that matter. Then came college. I went away for my bachelors degree and it was the first time I would enter a school not being the "fat girl". I spent most of that time doing everything I could to keep the weight off. Unfortunately, I was drinking so much that I couldn't "afford" many more calories without gaining weight. Luckily, I found that my partying wasn't so much because I liked it, but more because I liked the people I was partying with. But this isn't about my bad judgment of character. This is about my journey. Looking back, I am eternally grateful that the individuals I was fond of were older than me. That meant I had about 2 years where they had graduated and I was alone. At that time, I was longing for the familiar feeling of getting lost in eardrum damaging music and the taste of cheap vodka mixed with diet Mountain Dew. However, with the lack of drunken late nights came the opportunity for reflection. I had time to build new relationships with people I now call my best friends. I found myself practicing yoga and meditation in my cramped dorm room and practicing gratitude for all I was. And although I still had days where I despised what I saw in the mirror, I now had the ability to logically recognize that my thoughts were not completely my own, but the disordered thinking making itself known. By recognizing that, I was able to bring myself out of those depressive episodes. Now I am not saying I cured my depression, not by a long shot. But I am saying that on those "special" days, I can use logic to remind myself that it is just an off day and my self-perception is not accurate; it's not fact. 3 years and 20 pounds later here I am. A heavier, but much healthier me. I now eat, workout, and meditate all from a place of self-love rather than self-hate. I prioritize healthy foods and indulge when I wish. But every time I eat something unhealthy, I truly enjoy it. It was a long and exhausting journey that I wouldn't trade for anything else in the world. Because without the drawbacks I wouldn't be who I am today. My journey has led me to have a career where I can spend my days helping others get healthier while they learn their worth. I can build people up and teach them the importance of self-love as they are working to meet their dietary goals. That is why I started Vitality Rose Nutrition; because this journey is about so much more than the number on the scale.

  • 100 lbs Down: Part 2

    If you haven't read the first part, you can do so here: Plateaus are a funny thing. Well not so much funny as they are awful. You work and work and work just to get that weight off then without warning it all just stops. You try eating less, working out more, but nothing gives. What was I to do? I was already working out almost every day and eating as "clean" as possible. Well, I did what anyone else would do. I Googled "How to break a plateau". Soon I came across a never-ending source of diets promising to help you "lose 10 lbs in 10 days", or become your "thinnest, prettiest self". In my opinion, that was the beginning to a very slippery slope. Now don't get me wrong, the internet is a wonderful thing. It is filled with valuable resources that can provide you with evidenced-based information. It is also the home to a lot of non-proven toxic content that can absolutely diminish any healthy foundation you have built. Now I didn't dive right into the fad diets. I would trial them, fail, and go back to my normal lifestyle. Although the deprivation never actually made the scale move, it did fuel the negative self-perception that was already building within me. Surprisingly, what actually made the scale drop was simply continuing what I have been doing. In all my years of being on a healthy journey as well as being a dietitian, I have come to realize that the human body will react to consistency. Plateaus happen, but that does not mean you need to create a larger calorie deficit or exercise for 3 hours a day. You just need to keep going. Show up for yourself, because at the end of the day this journey should mean so much more to you than what a piece of machinery reads. That's the lesson I wish I learned earlier. Because despite my consistency, and eventual plateau break, I was never good enough. I was never thin enough, pretty enough, or doing enough. The more weight I lost the more people congratulated me. So, I kept losing. After about 2 years of relentless work, I hit the 100 lbs mark. Little did I know, that wasn't the end of it. With the end of my physical weight loss came the beginning of a journey I did not expect to go on. But before I could reap the rewards of being in a comfortable spot with myself physically, I needed to do A LOT of work mentally. There was a point in my life where my weight loss totaled 130 lbs. I was as thin as I could possibly be but it still wasn't enough. Looking back, I realize that my confidence, or evolution into the person I am now didn't come from weight loss. It came from the mental war that occurred when I realized that no matter what number I saw on the scale, my eyes would only see my flaws. Unfortunately, in order to get to the point where I truly loved myself, I would have to go through a period of disordered thinking, weight gain, and a ton of self-discovery. Part 3 coming soon.

  • 100 lbs Down: Part 1

    Let’s start from the beginning. I was standing in the doctors office already hating myself. Looking at the piece of machinery that would define my self-worth. Step up on the scale. I look up at the doctor who I dreaded visiting as I knew with every appointment I would be told the same thing, to lose weight. I step up on the scale and close my eyes until I hear a beep. Opening my eyes, I see 125 lbs. I am thrilled; I didn't gain weight! I couldn't remember the last time I maintained my weight. Feeling extatic I turn around to see how proud my mom is. She was not proud. Her face was buried in her hands as she can't believe her daughter weighs 125 lbs. Something I should mention is that I was in second grade. 7 years old, weighting 125 lbs. Now, my mom is the strongest woman I know. She provided my sisters and I with a wonderful childhood and she is truly my best friend. She tried her best to provide my sisters and I healthy food. The issue was, she didn’t know what was healthy. She would order us chicken and broccoli from a Chinese restaurant and she truly thought that would assist in weight loss as it was veggies and protein. Needless to say being overweight made me the victim of a lot of bullying. The more I got bullied, the more I used food as a coping mechanism, which made me gain more weight and be bullied even more. It was a ruthless cycle. Fast forward to my freshman year f high school. I weighed almost 300 lbs, BMI was 42 kg/m^2. One day on the school bus, I experienced severe chest pains. I truly thought I was going to die, and was internally pissed that I was going to die on a bus next to people who would probably make fun of “the fat kid who died of a heat attack”. Thankfully, the chest pains subsided. However, that was enough to scare me into making some serious changes. It started off with me going back to basics. My diet consisted of fruits, vegetables, and proteins. I cut out almost all "junk" food, even foods that were marketed as healthy like the 100 calorie cookies, or reduced fat crackers. I also started going to the gym, although I had no idea what I was doing. I would walk on the treadmill for 20 minutes then go through almost every machine at Planet Fitness to teach myself how to use them. I probably did this about 5 days per week. Believe me, it sucked. Words cannot describe how discouraging it was to be completely winded after 20 minutes of walking on a 3 mph speed and 0 incline. Then, learning how to properly use the strength training machines when I am already red faced, sweaty, and surrounded by active thin regulars at the gym was an uphill battle. However, I pushed through. Every Saturday morning I would weigh myself. Every week the number would stay the same. I tried and I tried but nothing seemed to change. Then, at week 16 (yes you read that right, about 4 months into my journey), I weighed myself and lost 3 lbs. After that, the weight consistently dropped. I was losing anywhere from 5-10 lbs per month. When I hit the 50 lbs mark I was ecstatic! I couldn’t believe I had lost that much weight! But as soon as that excitement came, it left. Because after 50 lbs lost, I hit my first plateau. Part 2 Coming Soon!

  • The After

    What is "The After"? It is where you want to be. It is the moment when you can proudly post and declare "Look at me now"! Think of a before and after picture. The before is usually someone who isn't smiling; being obviously unhappy with their appearance. Maybe they have some extra weight on them, maybe they are not as toned as they would like to be. Now think of the after. A thin, toned, glowing depiction of someone who has truly earned the right to love themselves. That's the problem. Why is it that in order to smile and be proud of our progress we need to see a specific number on the scale or fit into that one pair of jeans we wore back in college? We are often fighting an uphill battle to be who we once were rather than celebrating who we have grown to be. Now, I am not saying that it is wrong to want to lose weight or to change our appearance. I myself have lost over 100 lbs naturally and gratefully help others on their own journey. What I am saying is that your after doesn't have to look like the stereotypical weight loss success story. Whether you are petite, midsize, or plus size you should be working towards the healthiest and happiest version of you. Your success should not be defined by the scale or by your pants size. You can be the after as you are.

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