I Say "Indulge".

On the first snowy Sunday in Chicago I hopped the northbound Metra to go see my Mom. Once I got off the train she called me and suggested it would be fun to get hot cocoa at the french cafe in her neighborhood. "Okay!", I thought. It was cold out, I hadn't had much personal time with my Mom in a long while, and cozying up around some hot cocoa sounded ideal.

My mom is a spiritual mentor, yoga instructor and owner of Live It Yoga. A true inspiration to me in many ways, I enjoy sitting and chatting with her about life, yoga, the body, the mind, and the ways in which people choose to live. This particular conversation we had, on the first snowy Sunday, is what brought up my beliefs on food, nutrition and our mind's involvement in these things.

As a trainer and instructor of many physical disciplines, I am often asked for nutritional advice. While I am not a certified nutritionist, I often share some of my personal thoughts with clients and friends. Personally, I aim to eat clean, primal, high frequency foods. My diet consists mostly of vegetables, fruits, quinoa, fish and meat. Yes I eat fish. And yes I eat meat. I eat what I call, "mindful meat". I like to know where my meat comes from and how the animals are treated. My diet also consists of hot cocoa (well at least on that first snowy Sunday), cookies and goat cheese. Yes, I enjoy cookies, chocolate, and dairy from time to time. 

I believe we all deserve to feel good. (I mean, scroll down and look at the bottom of my this page.) This applies to the food we choose to put in our bodies. I eat to feel good. And to be honest, sometimes it feels amazing to share hot cocoa with my Mom on the first snowy Sunday, or eat my favorite cookie on Christmas Eve, or put creamy goat cheese in my favorite pear salad on a hot summer day. This makes me feel good. Do I do this every day? Or even every week? No. But sometimes it just feels good to indulge. 

I am Joanna. I am a health and fitness professional. And I believe in indulging. 

Now, would going to McDonalds for a super-sized french fry because I'm starving and had a long day make me feel good? Maybe for about 2 seconds (the time it would take me to eat one french fry). But once I finished that super-sized fry, I would most likely feel worse. This would not enhance my day, energy or mood. In fact, I would personal feel greasy and probably still hungry! I know these are white potatos fried in canola oil and goodness knows what else, and I know I would be eating them out of some sort of emotional or mental desperation. None of that is uplifting to me. So in that case, I do not believe I should indulge.

People have come to me highly stressed out that they are not losing weight. They say they are working out well and eating well. I have been brought through very specific details on what is being eaten, how much, how often, how many calories were consumed, how a best friend's birthday party was spent hungry with a headache due to "being good" and not eating a single thing that was offered because it doesn't "follow the diet", etc. etc. etc. Whew! Sounds exhausting. Seems very stressful.

Stress is a key component in gaining and retaining weight. It a prime component of staying stagnent, both mentally and physically, no matter how many other things are being done "right". If we continue to stress over our diet, nearly becoming neurotic, we are actually doing more harm then help. We are then the one in our own way. 

So my philosphy is find foods the fuel you and make you feel even more alive. Find balance in your diet. Eat clean. No need for over processed foods. If you feel off, assess: what have you eaten today? But also allow yourself to indulge. Allow yourself to enjoy your life, the people you have chosen to be in it, and your own personal freedom to choose. 

Life is an incredibly exciting journey if you allow it to be. Don't waste it away stressing about how you can't eat this and you're not allowed to eat that. If you have set a weight or performance goal, do your research, reach out to a professional and find the best nutritional path for you. But allow yourself to breathe and enjoy the path. Enjoy the journey. Enjoy your life.

Indulge in Life.



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