Mindset Nutrition POW WOW's- The Body Series invites people to share their personal journeys with food, mind and body. By Sharing, we help others heal.
NICOLE ROBINSON (My Sister!!) and Owner of CrossFit Margaret River, Western Australia.
These photos are both taken in Thailand one in 2009 during the height of my partying and the other in 2017 since opening CrossFit Margaret River. Yes I had started CrossFit in this period and starting getting my diet in order, but the biggest change was where I was at mentally!In 2009 I was:
• Drinking my body weight in alcohol each weekend
• Riding my bike occasionally as exercise
• Skipping meals and binging on junk
• Living by a bunch of nutrition rules I’d made up myself
• I was constantly getting tonsillitis and other infections
• I was working jobs which allowed me 4 hours sleep between
• I was managing my stress by ignoring it or using alcohol and partying
• I ignored or at the very least did not understand my feelings
• I was living in another country.
Here are the things I learnt over the last 8 years.
Whether we know it or not, we have placed a certain amount of expectations on ourselves and our relationships. I should have a better job, I should be a better mother, friend, partner, my family should buy me a Christmas present, my friends should always respond to my Facebook messages. Whatever it is, it is a choice to place that expectation on that relationship or situation and when the things you expect to happen don’t, you're the one that feels disappointed. In my previous working life, this always used to keep me stuck in fear and I see this all the time with people and physical results. I’ve been doing CrossFit for 3 months where is my 6 pack?
These pictures above were 8 years apart and A LOT of personal development. Results take TIME, PATIENCE, CONSISTENCY and the willingness to go deeper than what food you are eating. Stop placing such unrealistic expectations on yourself and you will feel the freedom to grow in time.
I could never commit to anything long term. Sure I had my stints of doing OZ style Aerobics, walking, pole dancing, Les Mills, running club, bike riding. None of them managed to keep me personally engaged long term. I would drop off for weeks, months at a time if work, study, life was busier. The reality was I wasn’t making exercise a priority, but that’s because I didn’t love it and was doing it for the wrong reasons. I was operating out of fear. Holding onto marketing promises that I’d get that bikini body in 6 weeks. I worked out for fear that I’d get fat, or worse fatter if I didn’t. Now I operate based on Love. Love for the way it cleared my mind, love for how strong and energetic it made me feel. Love for what my body could achieve.
PERFORMANCE & CROSSFIT COMMUNITY
Joining CrossFit gave me a totally new perspective of exercise. I was going there to see what I could achieve. There were no mirrors, there were coaches guiding you, it was measurable and scalable. I was using my brain to learn and master new skills and I inherited an awesome bunch of new friends and broader CrossFit community. I felt like I’d found somewhere I belonged. I was lifting weights consistently for the first time in my life and hitting new personal bests. I was addicted! I NEVER had the feeling of ughh gym time, can’t be bothered and always happily went to class. FIND SOMETHING YOU LOVE TO DO! I also believe that when you achieve something physically that you didn’t think you could, you suddenly start to believe in yourself across the board and what you are truly capable of. Never would I have imagined I’d be running my own gym 8 years ago or walking on my hands and doing ring muscle ups.
I THOUGHT I DIDN'T HAVE A CHOICE OR WAS NOT IN CONTROL
In the past I would feel like I had no control over what I would eat day to day, because I was so easily persuaded and never wanted to be difficult. I would eat whatever my housemates, partner, family was eating, even if I didn't feel like it was the right choice for me. I would get really disheartened and feel like a victim when my eating patterns started to slip because I would just go along with whatever everyone else offered me or wanted to eat to be social or easy going. You are in control and you have the right to say no. This goes for anything that you don’t want to do, going to a party you don’t want to attend, having another drink, eating a block of chocolate after dinner.
-Control is a good and bad thing - A lot of the time when I felt powerless in my behaviour was when I was playing a victim and not taking control of the situation.
Healthy control behaviours for me include;
• Doing a big grocery shop every week so there is always something to eat for all my meals and snacks, preparing most of my meals.
• Doing an exercise I enjoy, when I choose to. Which means I choose to do it regularly and I rest if I choose to.
• Always having good snacks on hand.
• Eating a good balance of fats, protein and carbs in each meal
• Eating according to activity.
• Eating cake if I bloody well want to!
• Limiting my alcohol intake, which happened naturally. I was never a midweek drinker, more a binge drinker and I can’t handle the way it makes my body feel now. Plus it gives me anxiety the next day.
Un- healthy control behaviours for me:
• Taking photos of all the food I ate and posting them on my Instagram page
• Restricting food groups, going Paleo, avoiding fat, carbs & sugar.
• Making up dumb, unfounded nutrition rules I’d written for myself. Such as no hot chips during the week. No creamy pastas, no carbs after midday. This only lead to me binging or breaking my rules making me feel like a failure.
• Trying to maintain a super low calorie diet with calorie counting on My Fitness Pal
• Measuring & weighing my food for macro content. This works for some people but not for me, it was added stress to my day (although it was a good learning experiment)
• Not eating even when I was hungry.
• I mistook restriction for willpower.
• I placed my happiness on the scales or how clothing fit.
KNOW BARRIERS AND REMOVE THEM
I never used to have food in the house for breakfast, so I wouldn’t eat it. Then I’d do something like buy coffee & a muffin on the way to work. I had bad options for lunch nearby and did not take my lunch. I’d stay at work 10 minutes too long and miss my gym class, because I didn’t organise my time properly. Once I knew all the things that I was doing to put road blocks up to sabotage myself. It was easier to make small changes that made a big impact.
HEALTH WAS ALWAYS A PRIORITY
I’ve always feared becoming sick and my quality of life being affected. So I want to do what’s best for my health today and in the long term. The problem with that is “healthy” was constantly changing. Knowledge is power, but it was also distressing and exhausting, as the more I read or researched nutrition the more complicated it became and the more things I found to feel guilty about. I followed Paleo strictly for a year. When you find yourself eating a fake Hawaiian pizza made of eggs, ham, almond meal, tomato paste, pineapple and yeast cheese and still feel guilty about tomato paste, you’re not really enjoying life. You’re causing your body more harm from stress and anxiety than some real cheese and gluten dough is ever going to cause.I put my mental health first and that takes care of my physical health, as I’m in the right frame of mind to make healthy choices consistently. Part of that is allowing myself foods that aren’t considered healthy, chips, chocolate, cakes. Because food is social and delicious and you should never deprive your soul of such delights.
DO MORE, EAT LESS
This was what I subscribed to for years and it was a vicious, tiring cycle. If I ate what I thought was a bad food, or too much food or didn’t go to the gym. I felt terrible guilt. I was constantly focusing on all the bad things I was or wasn’t doing rather than the positive things I was doing. Even when I did go to the gym, I’d feel bad for not doing enough. Eventually the same things weren’t working anymore. So I’d ride further and eat less and less. Until I could no longer maintain that lifestyle or I thought I’d reached my goal weight and I’d stop exercising as much and eating more again, put weight back on and start again.
Now I subscribe to EAT MORE, BE MORE. A lot of people are trapped in the cycle of not feeding their bodies enough. Their poor bodies think they are starving. Now I make sure I eat enough carbs, protein and fat each meal to fuel my activity for the day and to support my bodies important daily functions such as breathing, digestion, operating my brain!
SLEEP, REST DAYS & STRESS
If you don’t manage these, it doesn’t matter what you eat or do. I sleep at least 8 hours every night and always have one to two days per week where I don’t train, or I just walk my dog. I also take naps whenever I feel like it. Without rest your body doesn’t get a chance to change and repair your muscles which causes your body more stress. All your hard work, doesn’t translate to results as easily. Stress affects your body on so many levels. There was a period of time where I was so stressed out, planning my business, weighing and measuring all my food, planning my wedding and working full time that I was losing A LOT of hair. The condition actually stopped once I quit my job, the wedding was over and I had started my business. Plus I never did get those results I was working so hard for in the gym and my diet. When I got to Margs, I stopped stressing and measuring and the results fell into place. I know we can’t always remove the things in life that are stressful, but acknowledge what is presenting you with stress and try to manage it in other ways such as meditation, exercise, getting in nature.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
We all have an inner coach and an inner critic. Listen to your inner coach and ignore that jerk, the critic. They are only there to leave you feeling fearful and inadequate.Listen to your body, I’m tired, I’m sore, I’m hungry, I’m stressed, I’m feeling sick. Then follow your bodies’ instructions. Trust it! Too many people ignore their hunger as boredom. If you’ve been walking around all day in the office, picking up kids all day, doing the grocery shopping and your body says “Hey, how about a snack?”. Give it what it asks for.Alternatively, listen to your feelings. Are your feelings telling you are hungry? When really you feel lonely, inadequate, stressed or anxious. If so, stop ignoring those feelings and do something. This is what I mean by going deeper than what foods are healthy for me and going to the gym 6 days a week. Ask yourself am I truly happy, what can I do to feel more satisfied with my life. See a counsellor, keep a journal, and talk to a friend, allow yourself to feel the feels and process your feelings. Don’t ignore your them!
My whole controlled and disordered eating phase started the exact moment I got an I Phone. I remember spending hours just scrolling through Instagram and copying recipes to cook and following Paleo, raw, whole food advocates and then creating my own Paleo food account. Which just put me in a position where I was accountable, but I also had to uphold this image.I’m not an expert in nutrition and neither are a lot of other health gurus online. I’m just sharing my story. So try not to get caught up in comparing yourself to the shiny images that they present on their Instagram feeds. Know which accounts make you feel good and which don’t. Then unfollow them.
SELF LOVE & ACCEPTANCE
Our bodies especially woman are always in a state of change. My body looks different from breakfast to dinner time, let alone monthly. Even when you do reach the goal weight or whatever expectation you’ve placed on yourself, are you going to actually be happier. Most goals are actually aimed at being happier in the end. Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy now and if later on your pants are smaller, great, but you will already be happy.Self-love seems to be a hard concept for people to grasp, as if accepting your body now even if you perceive yourself as being overweight or imperfect is promoting obesity or preventing progression. The best way to describe this is like having a pet. If you love that pet, you’re going to shower it in love and care the best you can. If you love your body, you’ll treat it as well as that pet and do the things that will make you feel happy and well and loved.The goal posts are constantly moving for women. Once it was cool to look like Kate Moss, now we all have to look like Kim Kardashian. Now you may have a body unlike either of them, so just focus on loving what your body has to offer, what it can do, what you like about it, how well it functions.I listed 9 reasons, today that I exercise before body image. I can honestly say I do not fear foods anymore and I accept and love my body the way it is. I eat to fuel my body, I eat when I’m hungry. I eat soul and nourishing foods. I don’t restrict. I don’t do guilt. I train when I’m feeling it, I rest when I am not. This is also a reflection on where I am in life right now as I’m happy, I’m not stressed and I’m secure. But I do believe that even if things went pair shaped I have enough self-love and acceptance to stay in the zone.
I listed 9 reasons, today that I exercise before body image. I can honestly say I do not fear foods anymore and I accept and love my body the way it is. I eat to fuel my body, I eat when I’m hungry. I eat soul and nourishing foods. I don’t restrict. I don’t do guilt. I train when I’m feeling it, I rest when I am not. This is also a reflection on where I am in life right now as I’m happy, I’m not stressed and I’m secure. But I do believe that even if things went pair shaped I have enough self-love and acceptance to stay in the zone.
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