I’m not on a fucking diet.
I think you know where I am going with this. If you ask someone if they’re on a diet, the growingly response tends to be ,”No, it’s a lifestyle change”. I am jumping on this bandwagon.
Attending university, working, extra-curricula shenanigans have took up my life for a long long time and as a result, I have been feeling quite unfit for a while. I would walk up a flight of stairs, ok let’s be honest more like three or four stairs, and I would be huffing and puffing. I’d walk up a small hill or run to cross the road and I’d be working up a sweat. It was getting to the point where even though physically I wasn’t fat, I felt obese. I wanted to change.
Now, this has only been going on for a month so I am not going to claim to be a guru on this, but rather am here to share with you my experiences on this.
So where was I? Yeah, I wanted to change. I decided to join the gym because I don’t like running on the streets and I feel more motivated at a gym. Now, if you know me, I usually am at either end of a spectrum. For example, when I am lazy – I will be in bed all day everyday but if I am not lazy I will be the most pro active, hyper, nothing-can-stop me person. Another example is this, if I am going to eat healthy – I am going to go all the way otherwise I am going to be eating crap. There’s no middle ground for me. This means when it comes to the gym, and especially running, I went all out. So much so that I ended up getting a lot of blisters and calluses on my feet – ouch! This just motivated me more – I bought some Nike shoes (the most expensive ones there were, another good example of me going to extreme) and started going to the gym more often. I find that running is the only thing that does it for me as oppose to cycling or cross-training, just because I feel like I am working harder when running. Unfortunately, I am an over pronator, I don’t know to which extent but it must be freaking extreme because every single time that I run, I get calluses on my toe and plantar fasciitis. The conclusion being I have very bad foot mechanics, which I should probably get looked at by a podiatrist. Until then, I have decided to keep running because I find it keeps me motivated and on track. Bad move? Probably.
As well as joining the gym, I decided to change up what I eat. I have never been a breakfast person and “changing my lifestyle” means adopting to having the most important meal of the day. I have also been trying some super foods and other healthier alternatives and want to share my thoughts on a few foods/tricks that I have tried.
Maca powder aka The Devil
The Incas discovered this hundreds of years ago and have used it for medicinal purposes. It is a root of a vegetable that looks almost like a turnip, which is ground up and sold in powder form. It has minerals and vitamins which include calcium, mineral magnesium, iron, Vitamin C, B1, B2, B6 and B12 (These are all just numbers to me but supposedly good, so just nod your head). The powder is said to give you that boost you require during the day, kind of like caffeine but without the side effects, as well as improve your capacity against stress.
Sounds amazing right?! As a result, I bought a 500g packet of organic maca powder to try it out. They said it had a slight nutty flavour, they lied!! It has a whole lot of nutty flavour, so much so that no amount of milk, bananas or anything else you put in your smoothie can disguise it. Flavour aside, I do feel quite energetic on the days I have it, I don’t tend to have a drop in concentration later on in the day as I did with coffee.
I would recommend that you have a week on maca powder and a week off maca powder. This is because your body will become immune to it and you’ll have to up your dosage otherwise – something you do not want to do!! Even though it doesn’t taste amazing, I can live with it because it’s benefits are really good and I can toughen up.
Quinoa, pronouced keen-wah
I am always cautious about things that get labelled super foods as it’s word that is being thrown around quite often these days, on foods that aren’t as super as they’re made out to be. However, I had been hearing good things about Quinoa for several months from a few different people, giving me reason to try it.
Quinoa also originates from the Incas, damn they were onto a lot of things!
What you need to know about Quinoa in a few bullet points:
– Gluten Free, it looks like a grain but is actually a seed
– High in protein, it provides all 9 essential amino acids
– It needs to be washed because it’s surface has a bitter taste to it
– It only requires 10-15 minutes to cook
– High in Magnesium to target those migraines
– High in Potassium making it a great after-workout snack because it will help pump blood to the muscles and prevent cramping
– Low in calories and carbs – score for the gym junkies!
I have been using quinoa in salads alongside chicken and leafy greens for lunches. You can also have it for dinner with plenty of recipes incorporating it. I have recently stumbled upon quinoa as a breakfast food – quinoa porridge anyone? Soak quinoa overnight in warm water and one tablespoon of live culture (yoghurt) to allow the nutrients to be activated. In the morning, mix it up with some almond milk, honey, cardamon, bananas and you’re all set!
I’ve only had one experience with buckwheat – and that is enough. Buckwheat is great for those who are gluten free, its also low in saturated fat (bad fat) and low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It’s a good source of fiber, magnesium and manganese.
I decided to make some buckwheat flour pancakes. My mum warned me that I won’t like them. It turns out we have been having buckwheat in the Indian society for a long time,especially during the fasting days. They tasted horrible. It wasn’t my cooking skills either (which have improved!). I had to mask the taste with a lot of kiwifruit, banana and honey before I could down them all down. That will be the last time I will be having any buckwheat. Good for me or not, it is not touching my mouth ever again.
I have smoothies quite often and decided to substitute my milk (not skim milk because that stuff is diluted milk at a higher price) for a non-dairy alternative.
Almond milk has no cholesterol and is often recommended to lower blood sugar levels and treat constipation. It is also said to be tastier than soy or rice milk ( I beg to differ, I think soy milk tops almond milk by a small fraction).
Almond milk in smoothies is quite heavenly. However, I made the mistake of having it with my cereal and I had to throw it away. It tastes like cardboard. My advice is when it comes to using almond milk in your diet once in a while, use it in smoothies or pancakes or something you cook that can mask the flavour.
I have been having juice for as long as I can remember. It was always just carrot juice and then my mum started to add apple to it. In recent times, I have started experimenting with it more and adding greens and other vegetables and fruits to it.
Juice helps you absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables and fruits because it helps to pre-digest them for your body. I would recommend that you drink your juice as soon you make it as it tends to lose the nutrients quiet quickly, unless you want to vacuum pump and store it.
As well as vegetables and fruits you can add spirulina powder, chia seeds, maca powder, protein powder to your juices. I prefer to stick with no additives to it. Here are a few of my favourite juice blends:
– Apple, Carrot, Celery, Orange and Kale
– Carrot, Ginger, Apple and Orange
– Celery, Carrot, Spinach and Apple
– Pure Celery Juice
– Pure Carrot Juice with some salt
I highly recommend that you invest in a juicer – it is one of the most essential kitchen gadgets!
Sometimes I don’t feel like a juice and a smoothie tends to fill me up more. Smoothie is a fast and effective way of getting the goodness you need. My favourite blend is Banana, Peanut butter and Almond Milk (or any milk really). I haven’t gotten into the berries yet but I imagine a strawberry smoothie would be quite delicious. When I am craving something sweeter, I whizz up a Mango smoothie!
I use a smoothie maker for my smoothies but I think a blender would do just fine!
No Sugary Drinks, Caffeine or Artificial Sweeteners
I don’t need to go into why these are bad for you because by now everyone who consumes them knows they’re terrible yet still is addicted to them.
I have laid off my precious coke zero (something I used to sip like water) as well as iced chocolate and all the other delicious drinks I devoured in.
I am coffee’s number one fan and laying off caffeine has been really hard for me but I am going strong! I do indulge in tea at times though – Chamomile, Green Tea, Earl Grey and Masala Tea – these I could not give up!
Those were just some of the additions to my new lifestyle that I have made. On top of that I have discovered some amazing foods like Salmon and Zucchini which I think I am quite addicted to now.
I hope to continue on this new lifestyle change because I feel fitter and hey it never hurts to lose a few pounds while you’re doing so!