Have you ever had a time in your life where you didn’t feel comfortable in your body due to weight gain? If your answer is yes, believe me, you’re not alone.
In fact, most people I know have had this experience at one point or another. I know I sure have. And what usually accompanies this experience is an immediate, desperate sense of “This weight must come off now!” This may be followed by a sudden attempt at calorie restriction, stressing over everything you’re putting in your body, beating yourself up if you go over your calorie limit, and letting your mood be completely altered by whatever number is on the scale that day. Sound familiar?
The problem with the concept of simply counting calories is, calories can be deceiving and are not the basis for determining what’s healthy.
For instance, an apple with almond butter may have more calories than a 100-calorie snack pack from a factory, but which snack is going to keep your body fueled and satisfied longer? Which one will provide your body with more nutrients?
AT SIMPLE GREEN SMOOTHIES, ONE OF OUR MOTTOS IS: “IT'S NOT A DIET. IT'S A LIFESTYLE.”
I adopted this mantra after realizing that counting calories wasn’t a sustainable practice, nor did it mean I was actually eating healthy foods! I’ve personally found that when we focus on fueling our bodies with more nutrient-rich, whole foods, not only do our bodies naturally settle into a more comfortable weight, but we FEEL better energy-wise, sleep-wise, and skin-wise. It’s all related!
At a recent rawkstar team meeting, one of our fabulous team members, Jessie, was gracious enough to share her story with us about how switching her focus from calorie-counting to whole foods was a game changer for her after giving birth to her second child (a beautiful baby girl named Beatrice!).
Because I was so inspired by Jessie’s story, I asked to interview her to find out more about how the change from counting calories to focusing on whole foods has had a positive effect on her and her family. Keep scrolling down to read her awesome story!
JESSIE'S JOURNEY: SHIFTING FOCUS FROM COUNTING CALORIES TO CONSUMING NUTRIENT-RICH FOODS
Before Beatrice was born, were you already concerned with losing baby weight while you were pregnant?
I think the majority of women are concerned with the weight they’re gaining during pregnancy. I also initially had a doctor who was concerned about every pound I gained, which wasn’t a healthy mindset for me. I found myself being stressed out before every appointment, which for me, led to a vicious cycle of feeling stressed out about gaining weight, eating comfort foods (Ben & Jerry’s is my weakness), gaining more weight, and then feeling stressed out again. I ended up switching doctors, and found one that was more focused on having a healthy baby as opposed to centering the appointment around my weight.
After Beatrice was born, what made you start counting calories and how did that switch to focusing on consuming whole foods?
It’s always hard for me to lose weight, but especially after having kids. It’s so crazy, it takes nine months to put this weight on, but we want it gone the next week. It’s not realistic to expect it to come off overnight.
When I spoke with my doctor about this, he told me that, to lose the weight, I needed to eat less and move my body more. And so, at the beginning, I needed to count my calories to see, realistically, what everything was. I used the My Fitness Pal app for 19 days and tracked everything I ate. But the problem was, if I went 30 calories over my limit for the day, I would get so down on myself. Finally, my husband was like, “Instead of putting our focus on the calories you’re putting in your mouth, let’s focus on WHAT you’re putting in your mouth. How can we make those foods better?”
This was like a wake-up call for me, and really helped me change my outlook on food and re-evaluate my choices. I started focusing on putting more high-quality, nutrient-dense foods in my body, and began switching out high-calorie foods that are void of nutrients for more wholesome ones.
For instance, I started switching out white sugar for maple syrup. I also stopped buying refined bread at the grocery store and began making my own bread at home with just a few ingredients. These little differences add up!
What inspired you to start moving your body more?
Like I said earlier, my doctor told me that I needed to move my body more, and I definitely wanted to make that part of the equation. He told me to just walk an extra mile a day, and that will help spur something on. After walking that mile for a bit, I thought, well maybe I could jog half of it. Maybe I could jog a whole mile. After seven months, it turned from walking a mile, to running a mile, to joining a running club, to training for my first marathon!
What changes have you seen in your body?
I can button and zip up my pre-pregnancy jeans that I haven’t fit into for a year—not by counting calories. It is incredible! Plus I have a whooole lot more energy to chase my four year old, nurse Beatrice and train for my first marathon. I have learned, whatever I put into my body is the type of energy I will get out of it, junk food = cranky mommy. Nutrient dense whole foods = happy, fully of energy mommy!
What’s your favorite whole-food meal that you and your family enjoy?
When I’m at the grocery store, I always stock up on frozen, organic veggies. They never go bad! You just pop ‘em open, drizzle on a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper, and bake or broil them. Put the veggies over some brown rice and sprinkle some almonds on top and you have an easy, wholesome meal that the whole family loves.
I love making meals like this for my family, because it’s important for me to teach my kids that you can make yummy things that don’t have 100 ingredients in them. You can make simple, delicious recipes at home and be just as satisfied.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to people in a similar situation?
For me, it all started with small changes. The first big switch I made was from white sugar to maple syrup, and that inspired me to create more changes! Start with one change and see where it takes you. Those little differences really do add up!
I also want to say, I don’t think that calorie counting is completely bad, and I know it works for some people. Tracking my calories in the beginning gave me the insight to see that I was more satisfied eating lots of veggies, fruits, healthy fats, and high quality proteins. I could see that it’s hard to eat 2,000 calories of vegetables and fruit, but when you have processed foods, like a bagel or a block of cheese, it’s much easier to overeat.
Finally, it’s all about asking yourself, “What’s the most beneficial thing I can do for my body?” For me, that meant I had to stop worrying about the number on the scale and the calorie content of everything I ate, and start focusing on eating nutrient-rich foods and moving my body in a way I love. And I feel great!
WHAT'S YOUR STORY?
Drop us a comment below and share your experience of making the switch to focusing on whole foods!
P.S. Want to include more plant-based fare in your family's diet but don't know where to start?
Be sure to check out our Let's Eat: Dinner Made Simple meal plans. These seasonally-inspired, digital recipe books—we have plans for both SUMMER and AUTUMN—include 4 weeks of vegetarian dinner recipes (kid-tested and approved!) + weekly shopping lists for stress-free trips to the grocery store. Kale yeah!