he world of nutrition is a complicated one. Head to the Health and Wellbeing section at your local Chapters and you’ll see what I mean. There are literally walls of books telling us what to eat, what not to eat, how to cook it, and when to eat it. This would all be well and good… except that they all seem to contradict each other in varying ways. So how are we expected to make it through this life with a healthy approach if the so-called professionals can’t even agree?
I pride myself in being able to read nutrition advice with an objective eye. I gather what I have learned from past resources and make my own judgments on what is truth and what is fad. Are all of my ideas surrounding health accurate? Probably not. Nutritional information is so vast, how could I possible know it all? But, I don’t feel too bad about it, considering that even world-class scientists haven’t got it all figured out yet. It is an ever-growing body of knowledge. That’s part of what I love about the industry. Things never get old.
However, as confident as I am in my own journey, if I’m not careful, I too can find myself feeling muddled by over exposure to information. I start to give in to the confidently worded, persuasive writing offered up by some health guru, meditating on a beach in California. I begin to question what I know to be true or effective. Although questioning your awareness and constantly building upon what you already know is an important part of learning, it isn’t always necessary, depending on your information source.
A few days ago I posted the intimate details of my digestive journey thus far (there probably should have been a TMI alert or two in there somewhere. Oh well). If you recall, I mentioned that my naturopath was sending me for candida and parasite screening.
Well, the scan has been completed and my report card has been written.
Last week, I headed into the referred clinic to complete an Electrodermal Screening. Basically, this is a non-invasive screening done through stimulating an acupuncture point on the skin using pressure and medal rods. It’s a little difficult to explain if you’ve never experienced it, and it might sound kind of hocus pocus, but I have to say—I’m a believer. There are many people (even those in my own life) who choose skepticism when it comes to this kind of testing. And that’s fine too. But when you experience chronic digestive problems, I think you eventually arrive at a place where you’re ready to explore any plausible explanation—particularly when the dots begin to connect. The testing device used is licensed by Health Canada which I feel, in and of itself, offers a certain level of credibility. That being said, if you are unsure of this testing method, a blood test is always the way to go. So I recommend that route if you want a second opinion on your scan results, or if you know you will never truly be able to trust in the screening process. While searching up various reviews on the web, I came across a quote offered by a medical practitioner in reference to electrodermal screening. She said, "If you look online for references to electrodermal screening you'll find all kinds of naysayers, good and bad. But I think the utility of any test, the reliability of it, depends on how it's used and how the results are interpreted.” Touché, doc. So with that, pick your side, and let’s move on.
The doctor completing my screen was a 65-year-old Australian man named William. Let’s call him Dr. Will, because I think that’s classier. This guy really took his job seriously. Throughout the entire process, I felt that he was deeply invested in understanding my gut health, which I appreciated. His clinic itself left a little to be desired. He was in desperate need of an office manager, as there were piles of folders and paper in every corner. He also seemed to have an odd obsession with cat figurines. I could tell he wasn’t interested in putting on a show for anyone. Dr. Will was all about the results. I actually had to hold back fits of laughter on several occasions throughout the appointment. Not because he was funny in a “ha ha” kind of way, but because the excitement he exuded for his practice came through at every point during my screening. I found it comical that my digestive problems could elicit so much enthusiasm from a complete stranger. More on Dr. Will later.
Protein. It’s difficult to consult any piece of nutrition literature without reading about the importance of it. Well, there’s a reason for that: protein is really important.
What is it?
When speaking in terms of food, protein is one of the three macronutrients that we consume through our diet (its two counterparts being carbohydrates and fats). If you’re looking for a more scientific explanation, proteins in the human body are made up of complex chemical compounds called amino acids. There are two categories of amino acids in the body: essential and non-essential. Our bodies are unable to make essential amino acids, and therefore, we need to consume them through our diet. Protein plays many important roles within the body, but let’s talk about it from a nutrition standpoint (otherwise, we could be here all day).
Why is it important?
Most women I talk to have similar goals when it comes to changing their bodies: they want to lose fat and look ‘fit.’ It is important to realize that looking fit tends to come from building or maintaining lean muscle mass. There’s a stereotype often associated with the so-called ‘gym rats’. You know the picture I’m talking about: the one with a 250lb body builder drinking a watery chocolate drink from his shaker bottle. As much as this visual may make you roll your eyes a bit, there’s something to be said about it. When we complete a hard workout, we put our muscles through the ringer and tear them down. In order to prevent a loss of lean muscle (that lovely material that gives us the nice toned look), it’s important to feed them with protein so they are able to repair and rebuild themselves.
Growing up, eating was always pretty easy-breezy for me. I didn’t suffer from any digestive issues and could basically eat whatever I wanted without experiencing any complications. Because I had an interest in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, as a general rule of thumb, I worked to sustain a ‘healthy’ and ‘balanced’ diet throughout my young adulthood. But, overall, I didn’t need to worry about any negative repercussions, digestively speaking.
Well, I guess I should have knocked on wood or something, because about a year and a half ago, that all changed.
In September of 2013 I began to experience chronic symptoms of digestive discomfort. Every day, around 2 or 3pm, my stomach would become extremely bloated and crampy. This discomfort was generally accompanied by excessive gas (for the sake of transparency, I felt it was necessary to include that). This would last until I went to bed at night, but I would usually wake feeling like my normal self again. My symptoms persisted for several months. And I mean persisted. Every single day, like clockwork. I always described it as my stomach being angry with me. I was stumped as to why this was happening. Nothing significant had changed in my diet, or my life.
The only time that I would experience some relief was on the weekends. That was the first indicator that whatever was going on was agitated by stress. Now, I don’t mean the heavy stress that we experience from traumatic life events. I’m talking about the normal, every-day, work week kind of stress. I hadn’t moved schools, nor was I teaching a new grade. Everything was as it should be. If anything, my work life should have been more relaxing than it was the year prior!
My first thought was to try to sort this out on my own. I decided to eliminate all gluten and dairy from my diet--common causes of gut inflammation. Perhaps, for whatever reason, I had developed an intolerance of sorts. In about two weeks time, my symptoms had completely disappeared. I had done it! I felt like a normal person again. It was something I hadn’t experienced in months. It may not sound like much, but I was on cloud nine! I had forgotten what it felt like to make it through an entire day feeling well. Slowly, I started to reintroduce a limited amount of dairy (mostly yogurt), and found I could tolerate it just fine. So I pinpointed gluten as the culprit. Yes, I jumped on board with all those gluten-free hippies that annoy everyone so much. But whatever. I felt great and was ready to ride that wagon, front row, for the rest of my life if I had to.
The idea of writing a blog is, I admit, a daunting one. The first hurdle, in my opinion, is getting over the narcissistic nature of it all. “I think this” and “I believe that,” and “here’s what I ate today,” and “aren’t these workout leggings cute? And they don’t even fall down when I squat!” Who am I to say that my opinion matters or that anyone cares to hear it? The second hurdle: embracing authenticity and accepting vulnerability. Before even sourcing a web host for this blog of mine, I made a promise to myself: I would only acknowledge the desire to begin this project if I remained genuine throughout and vowed to be myself from beginning to end. With that, of course, comes the very real fear that you will be putting yourself out there for the world to see (and judge). Well, that is, if anyone gives a crap about what you have to say. However, after weighing the pros and cons of these worries, ultimately, the opportunity to embrace my passion that writing a blog presented was too enticing to pass up. So here I am, world: a self-proclaimed fitness and nutrition nut, ready to share my love of healthy living with the general public. Judge away.
My name is Lindsay. I live in downtown Toronto with my amazing fiancé (whom I’m sure you will hear more about later). I am an elementary school teacher by day, but fill much of my free time in the gym and by educating myself on health and nutrition. I often treat myself as my own guinea pig (Tim Ferriss styles, minus 1000). I enjoy testing various nutritional theories on myself, and watching my body respond (sometimes positively, sometimes not so much... and sometimes not at all). By July of 2015, I will be a Precision Nutrition Certified Nutrition Coach, and am looking forward to sharing my experiences of that journey throughout.
I have been active my entire life. I spent the majority of my childhood and adolescence in various arenas across the province as a competitive figure skater. The level of commitment required to be successful at such a sport, along with an inherent competitiveness (surely passed on by my dad), helped me to become the person I am today. After graduating university, I was thrust into an unknown world where skates were not required. My figure skating career had come to an end, and I was ok with that, but… now what? With so much free time, I needed a new hobby. I began to think very hard about what I enjoyed so much about the skating world and where my interests lay. Ultimately, it was the desire to be better. I always wanted to improve, no matter where I stood in the sport. That quality, I realized, was easily transferred into anything I decided to do in life. Although I had been working out in the gym for years, I didn’t truly understand what I was doing, or how to improve my performance (minus the odd tip I took from reading a Women’s Health magazine). I knew that staying active was important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and that I valued healthy living and the benefits it provided, but beyond that, I kept it quite simple.
Fast-forward six years, and I am on a personal health and fitness journey that I tackle with intension. I am hungry for knowledge, and always strive to be better than I was yesterday. Do I always succeed in this mission? Hell no. There are days when I go to bed thinking, “Well, I didn’t make it to the gym today,” or, “I told myself I would go for a run…” or, the ever-so-familiar, “I probably shouldn’t have eaten that.” But if I have learned anything over the past few years, it’s this: every day is a new day. If we let ourselves dwell on the things we have done or left undone, we will never find the ability to move forward. Make goals, create an action plan, and set out each day to achieve those goals. We will never be perfect, but we can always be better.
Now, I would like to preface this blog by stating that I am, by no means, an expert on anything. How’s that for a selling feature? My passion is, and will always be, to be a student of my craft. I love to learn and to apply these lessons to my own life. My friends and family know about this hobby of mine, and thus, often come to me for advice or with questions. I love to share what I have learned along the way. If I can help others adopt a healthy lifestyle, then I will. That is the primary goal of Eat. Move. Live. Sometimes I don’t have the answer, but I will always look for it from someone who does. This often sends me to one of the many health and fitness professionals that I follow and look to for knowledge and growth on a regular basis. I know that, throughout this project, I will be referring to many of them. There are some seriously skilled people out there in the world of healthy living, and I am excited to expose you to a handful of them. It is this community of talented professionals that help drive my desire to be the best me. They inspire me daily.
When I was completing my Master’s degree in Education, my very first professor provided me with feedback on an assignment that stuck: she told me that I needed to control my writing. Point taken. Therefore, I am going to wrap it up for today. I am excited to be on this creative journey and to share what I know/think I know/want to know about nutrition, fitness, and healthy living. Come along for the ride.