The Best Tool For Overall Health

Sophia McDermott Drysdale

Coach

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Bodybuilding, Nutrition, Women's Fitness

It is tough to figure out exactly what and how much to eat when you embark on a workout or weight loss plan. There is so much conflicting information online and so many different diets around. Having a good idea of what makes up the food we eat and how much energy these foods contain is essential, and I think everyone should know the basics.

 

I believe basic food education should be covered in schools and would significantly help in health and weight management. Having said that, what I want to focus on in this article are all the athletes and fitness enthusiasts who already know the basics. They know a potato is mostly a carb. They know an egg contains protein and fat. They know white bread is made from refined flour and that an apple has about 25 grams of carbs.

 

 

Many people who come my way are already athletes with this basic knowledge but who train and workout every day but still can’t lose weight and they don’t necessarily feel good. More often than not these athletes are sticking religiously to their apps and other methods of calibrating, counting and recording every single calorie they consume and doing what these apps tell them. So why are they still struggling with their weight and why do they feel like crap?

 

The Dangers of Fixating On a Number

Assuming that we know the basics for good overall education about what we put into our bodies, I find that meticulously counting calories can be very destructive. Counting calories provides a tool for people with disordered eating to limit their calories by skimping on meals or to gorge themselves and then hit the gym later in an attempt to burn it off and balance the scales again, so to speak.

 

Counting calories can promote disordered eating behaviors such as food denial, gorging, and overexercising—all of which are very detrimental to the body and puts it in a continually stressed state.

 

Another negative factor of being fixated on numbers means that the overall mindset is more likely about the calories and not about what is healthy. Decisions are more likely to be made on whether to eat that cake based on how many calories it has rather than if that food is actually beneficial from a nutritional or health perspective. I know this first hand.

 

Growing up as a gymnast and feeling pressured to be thin, my focus around food initially was about calories. Many of my food choices as an athlete were based on how many calories there were rather than if that food was beneficial to my body and if it would help my performance.

 

With this mindset, I often chose food that wasn’t the best for me and figured I could just "work it off" at the gym. But the bottom line was that I didn’t feel good and that was because I wasn’t listening to my body.

 

Listening to your body can give you a huge Aadvantage.

I did not count calories to prepare for this show. Instead, I listened to my body.

 

Tune In to Your Body

Our bodies are the most amazing machines and they are constantly telling us what they need. We are laced with this intricate array of nerves throughout our bodies and with a constant feedback loop system that sends information back and forth to tell us all about our inside world, our outside world, and what we need in order to maintain homeostasis. The body is finely tuned and it works super hard to maintain a constant equilibrium.

 

The problem is that we have become so disconnected in this day and age that we don’t actually listen to our bodies—instead, we rely on technology. Rather than our hunger being a cue that we need to eat, or bloating to be a sign that that particular food might not agree with us, we check in with our calorie counter and eat the 300 calories because that is what it says to do, whether our body needs it, wants it, or not.

 

 

It's Not Just About Macros

There is a lot more to weight loss and overall health than just counting calories and sticking to a set of macros. I look at it like baking a cake.

 

Firstly, all the right ingredients need to be used, and this includes food that works best for you based on how you feel, not just what macros it contains based on an app.

 

Secondly, all the ingredients, including the food that is right for you and your body, needs to be used in the correct amounts in order to make the perfect cake.

 

The macros and calorie content of food is just part of the ingredients. There are also other parts of the ingredients that make up that perfect recipe for health and weight loss. This includes our state of mind, stress levels, and our sleep and wake cycles. The human body is so finely tuned and everything affects everything else.

 

For optimal results, we need to be able to tune in to our bodies or we will forever be disconnected. Are you hungry? Are you not hungry but eating anyway because there is food in front of you? Are you stressed, anxious, and nervous and don’t feel like eating? Does certain food bloat you? Does this meal give you good energy? Do you feel better with a couple more hours of sleep? These are questions that we should be asking ourselves constantly, yet most of us just go about our days accepting how we feel without actually stopping to ask why.

 

Personally, after being on this health and fitness journey for decades, I now make choices based on health and how I feel because I am so tuned in to what my body needs. My focus is on nourishing my body, mind, and soul for overall health.

 

I stop eating when I am full. I eat when I need to. I rest when I need to. I move when I need to. I breathe and meditate daily to reduce stress. I work daily on staying positive and as a result, I have never been leaner, more energetic, or healthier.

 

Listening to Your Body Is the Best Tool

There is no doubt that for optimal health getting educated about food is essential. There are some great apps to use as tools to help learn the basics but don’t get caught up in the numbers.

 

For optimal health, we need to go to a deeper level that encompasses so much more than just macros. Listen to your body because that is the best tool of all and if you tune in, you’ll have a much more successful health, fitness, and weight loss journey.

 

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