I owe my body a huge apology! When transitioning to a ‘healthy lifestyle’ I made massive changes overnight. Quitting the contraceptive pill (read why here), going vegan and cutting out all refined sugars and processed foods probably put everything internally into overdrive and shock.
The initial detox stage was inevitable but I carried on being a ‘health freak’ and didn’t give my body any rest. Seeing amazing physical results like muscle gain, weight loss, shiny hair and strong nails kept me going but it’s taken me 6 months of being on this strict, full on health journey to realise I’m doing more harm than good.
After approaching a holistic doctor about my doubts I did some research and took it upon myself to implement a few changes ~ rather than paying the £120 nutritionist fee. Here are the major mistakes I made when thinking I was doing my body some good…
Cardio addict –
Hormonal imbalance is a b*tch. I’ve been struggling with my hormones for at least 8 years, migraines, painful cramps, constant breakouts and mood swings made my teenage years a struggle. So the doctors did the expected and put me on the contraceptive pill, which I took for 5 years until 6 months ago. And no, pumping synthetic hormones into my body didn’t help. Quitting the pill definitely alleviated some of my symptoms but the hormonal imbalance is still there.
Since quitting the pill and going plant based I’ve been doing high intensity interval training (the Insanity home workout videos) 5 days a week. The cardio workouts worked miracles for my confidence, I’m stronger, leaner and slimmer. Little did I know the constant exhaustion on my body was wreaking havoc on my hormones. Chronic cardio creates free radical damage, adrenal fatigue and spikes cortisol, the stress hormone. Our bodies take 48 hours at least to overcome this so I was releasing stress hormones by the gallon!
Cardio like running, HIIT, spinning and even jogging should be kept to 2 – 3 times per week MAX.
Low fat –
Low fat doesn’t mean NO fat. When going vegan I adopted a high carb low fat lifestyle which I still believe to be healthy however the traditional 80% cabrs, 10% fat, 10% protein rule just wasn’t working for me. The recommended fat intake of total calories is 30% or under and my daily average is now a healthy 20% from sources like avocado, nuts and oats.
Being super low fat is another contributor to hormonal imbalance and low energy levels. Plus, a little fat is good for happiness and keeping warm in winter! When you’re addicted to almond butter like me the extra fat allowance is necessary.
Portion sizes –
My self discipline is pretty good, I haven’t given in to the temptation of junk food, not that the cravings come often anyway. However, one thing I’m bad at is portion control, I figured that everything I eat is healthy, fresh and low fat so I usually end up having two servings of everything and a bloated belly afterwards.
Going high carb low fat usually means eating huge portions of fresh fruit and veg to obtain enough calories through these alone so I picked up the habit of extra large portions in this phase. Now my meals are higher in fat and starch I’m having to reduce the portion sizes to avoid over fueling and bloating, it’s a hard lesson to learn because I love food so much. Sticking to eating when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m full is the healthiest way to tune in to my bodies needs.
There are so many diets out there; low fat, low carb, zero sugar, gluten free and shaking these labels is tough once you’re in a routine. I loved being high carb low fat and I still believe that’s what I am most days but I will never say no to an avocado or tablespoon of nut butter just because I’ve gone over my 10% fat intake. Life is short and you only live once so do what makes you happy and respond to what your body craves.
Personally I don’t crave meat AT ALL, so I don’t eat it. Depriving yourself of something usually makes you crave it more so consume what you crave, just in moderation.
After all the strict regimes and rules I’m doing my best to heal naturally with nutrition and supplements which involves a lot of Google research. Rather than pounding my body and doing Insanity every morning I’ve been focusing on strength moves and circuits (you can read my go to routine here).
After all the healthy lifestyle changes and efforts it would be pointless going to the doctors and taking a pill to fix the problems so the power of plants (in pill popping form) have been helping tremendously.
Everyday I take Zinc, 94% of the population are deficient in zinc and the number one cause is over exercise, which I’m guilty of. Taking a probiotic to heal the gut and aid digestion can also help heal a number of issues so I take one of these at breakfast and one at dinner. Maca has been raved about for it’s energy boosting powers and hormone balancing properties so I take one in the morning to give me an extra boost for the day ahead. Vitamin B12 is something every vegetarian and vegan are recommended to take as animals that eat dirt and grass get vitamin B12 therefore meat eaters get some too.
I don’t plan on supplementing long term but I am seeing a difference to my energy levels and healing progress with some little extra help from these power house pills.
What do you do to keep fit and healthy?
Little Lottie. xo