The Perfect Size – does not exist

A segment on the channel 7 program Sunday Night once again brought up the debate on Mothers having to lose their baby weight fast once giving birth. This one resonates with me personally at the moment having given birth to my third child only 7 weeks ago.  And as a personal trainer and nutritionist myself I still find this a completely frustrating topic.

There is no doubt immense pressure on mothers to get back to that “perfect” body to fit into society and be accepted.  You just need to read the latest Women’s Weekly article or celebrity social media post to see how quickly so and so got her beach body back for the next role and everyone is praising them.  However, we never talk about the amazing thing many women’s bodies have been given the absolute privilege to do and that is to create a human being.  To the fellow Mum’s out there, when was the last time you looked in the mirror and instead of maybe shaming yourself did you actually look at yourself and say “Far out this body made that miracle”.  I still look at my children, and obviously more recently my third child and can’t get over the fact that my body made her, I provided her food and shelter for 9 months and now I am incredibly lucky to have 3 adorable children (ha not always adorable, can drive insane) in my world.  Sure, as a fitness trainer I also think about how I will get back into the exercise regime for my health and the health of my children as I want them to understand that healthy living is a lifestyle choice and not a chore.

But before I do that I also understand that everyone is different and there is not one perfect body that fits all.  After having my first child I will admit it was a lot easier to get my pre-baby body back.    However, I had 1 child which meant I had time to run our business in between naps and exercise with her in the pram and when hubby got home I would get out for some “me” time and go for that run.  I would be lying too if I didn’t If I didn’t admit to feeling the pressure of getting back into shape being a fitness trainer.  My clients didn’t put this pressure on me but society did.  It made me think my clients would judge me if I didn’t head back to work looking fit and healthy, perhaps head elsewhere if I didn’t look like I had it all together after having a baby.   However, second time around I forgot all of this and it became harder to get back into the regime, hubby worked more, my children never slept and life got a whole lot foggier! Third time around, I expect it will be even harder but when I am ready I will up my regime, set a goal and give my self time to achieve that goal, not an unrealistic time frame and I will not measure it by the number on the scales.  I won’t let anyone this time make me feel I have a time limit on these things.

As new mums and mums of many children, we also need support.  First time mums definitely need this to understand what the hell they got themselves into but mums of many children need this support too! And as Mums we don’t need to be shaming each other and comparing ourselves when it comes to health and fitness, to other mums.  Everyone else leads very different lives too, some many have more support than others which leads to less time for “YOU” which can really impact your road to getting back on track.  I do find it hard to follow some of the mum forums that I do asking “how do I lose this baby weight?” “what diet worked for you” and the lists of names and programs that appear are endless.  Funnily enough when you offer practical sustainable advice it is not as well received as that “QUICK FIX”.

We need to remember that to feel comfortable in our own skin again after having a baby takes time, patience and acceptance.  Your body will always be different to what it once was but with some commitment (whatever that looks like in between sleepless nights, unsettled days and tantrums) YOU WILL GET THERE!!! But you also need to enjoy life, enjoy the little humans you’ve created, ask for help and accept that you will get there it will just take time.

 

 

Carbs are not the ENEMY!!!

Over the years I think the media has beaten up carbohydrates leaving us all ‘carbophobics’! They have portrayed carbohydrates as the main culprit of our obesity epidemic never backing up their hype with scientific fact and demonstrating whether they really are the bad guy!

Well my aim today is to prove to you that carbohydrates aren’t as bad as they have been wrapped up to be and they are definitely not the enemy, in fact we need them to provide us with energy on a daily basis.

 

Why are carbohydrates important?

They are crucial for the body to be absorbing a healthy and well-balanced diet. Carbohydrates provide the body the main source of fuel it requires for many vital organs to function such as the brain, central nervous system and kidneys1.  For this fuel source to move through the body to the cells the digestive system must break down these carbohydrate foods into simple sugars (mainly glucose) and these sugars are then carried to each cell via the blood stream. When inside a cell the glucose will be ‘burned’ alongside oxygen to produce energy.  Any excess glucose is stored within the muscle tissue and liver and will supplement blood sugar levels if they drop between meals or during physical activity2.

Our diet should consist of approximately 45-60% of carbohydrates (protein, fats and discretionary foods otherwise known as ‘sometimes food’ make up the remainder) but the key is to choosing the ‘right’ carbohydrates to form our diet.

 What types of carbohydrates are there?

Simple Carbohydrates – (the ones to have less of – they do play there role in the appropriate environment)

These are refined sugars that have little nutritional value. They are digested by the body more quickly leaving you feeling less satisfied. These are great ‘pick me ups’ or when a quick surge of energy is required so great source before exercise.

It is recommended that a small amount of these foods are consumed. Examples of simple carbohydrates are white bread, crackers, cakes, muffins, sugar, white rice, lollies, soft drinks, biscuits, honey, fruit juice.

Complex Carbohydrates – (the good carbs)

These sugars are more complex and rich with fibre, vitamins and minerals and take longer to digest making you feel fuller for longer. They also play a significant role in producing long term energy.

Examples of these are bananas, oats, beans and lentils, wholegrain breads, whole wheat pasta, barley, brown rice, polenta, rye bread3.

You may hear the use of words such as low GI and high GI foods when referring to the above types of carbs. We will go into this in further detail in next week’s info sheet.

 

Carbohydrates and its link with weight gain

An unfair tag has been put on carbohydrates over the years with carbohydrates being linked to weight gain when in fact weight gain is a result of consuming more calories than energy exerted which could be a result of any other energy sources such as protein, fat and alcohol.

An interesting survey in the UK found that one in ten women constantly felt bad consuming carbs, one quarter tried to avoid them during the week so they could eat more over the weekend and that they are twice as likely than men to feel guilty about eating carbohydrates even though they are less likely to be overweight.  And no shock that it found that most people were unaware of how many they should be consuming each day, again this comes back to my argument that we need to be better educated about the right foods than simply being told what to do4.

 

It really comes down to the choices you make when it comes to food. The unfortunate thing about carbohydrates is some can be just too good that they are easy to over-eat, especially those highly processed, like white flour and pasta. So again it comes down to your choices and ensuring you make the right ones. As previously outlined, carbs help you concentrate, they are fabulous brain food, you just need to control your portion sizes and make good quality carbohydrate choices.

If we refer back to the Australian Guide to healthy eating – to be healthy our diet should at least consist of 6 serves of grains, 5 serves of vegetables (6 for men), 2 serves of fruit, 2 ½ serves of lean meat (3 for men) and 2 1/2 serves of yoghurt etc. – based on a male and female 19-50 years.  See here for alternate age groups   Looking at these food groups a lot are linked with the carbohydrate family and now if the science didn’t prove that this was something to take note of to live long healthy lives then I am sure it wouldn’t be endorsed by all of us health professionals now would it5? J

The low down on Low Carbohydrate diets

Very low carbohydrate diets result in the dieter eating lower calories per day and reliant on protein and fat to get them throughout the day with less than 100g of carbohydates contributing to the daily intake. This dieter is unlikely to be meeting their daily nutritional needs containing less fruit and vegetables, less fibre and more saturated fat foods.

As a result the dieter may lose weight because of the restriction in calories and energy (usually this loss is due to loss in water) but in turn the body starts to use the glycogen the body has stored in the liver and muscles to replace what it isn’t getting from carbohydrates in the diet. When these stores have been exhausted the body starts eating away at the fat but not in a good way. This leads to the body developing ketones (as a result of not enough carbs in the body to produce the sugar it needs) which make the body acidic which may lead to metabolic changes within the body.  As a result you may start to feel nauseas, dizzy, lethargic, constipated, and dehydrated with a loss of appetite.1

The long term effects are continuing to be researched but these may include weight gain because when you resume a normal diet you will rebuild some muscle tone, regain water and therefore weight appears rapidly, bowel problems due to the pressure the body has been put under, dieting problems, kidney problems and osteoporosis due to the excretion of calcium from the bones.1

 Best time to eat carbohydrates?

Let’s be honest here your body doesn’t know what time it is!It’s not when you eat but what you eat that counts. Eat more calories than you burn and you’ll get fatter. But late snacking can push your calorie intake over the edge. It’s best to have regular mealtimes so you can keep track and having 10-12 hours without food supports hunger so you start the day with a healthy breakfast. Eating just before you go to bed can hamper sleep patterns in that it messes with your insulin. I’d suggest you don’t eat for two to three hours before bed.

 Athletes and carbohydrate needs.

Carbohydrate availability will determine how well an athlete performs and why sport nutrition guidelines highly recommend intake pre, during and post exercise. The amount an athlete consumes will depend on the stage of competition, an individual’s body mass (BM) and perhaps their individual situation. The following table summarises the recommendations upon which this review is based.6

We will discuss this further in eating before and after exercise blog but to give you an indication of the recommended guidelines are – see below.

Carbohydrate Needs.

Situation

Recommended Carbohydrate Daily Intake

Sedentary – low-intensity training

 

3-5 g/kg BM

Daily refuelling needs for training <60-90 minutes p/day or low intensity exercise

5-7g/ kg BM

Daily refuelling for training > 90-120 minutes p/day

7-10 g/kg BM

Daily refuelling for an extreme exercise program 6-8 hours p/day

10-12+ g/kg BM

Carbohydrate loading for endurance/ultra- endurance events

7-10 g/kg BM

Pre event meal (1-4 hours pre competition)

1-4 g/kg BM

 

Carbohydrate intake during training and competition events greater than 1 hour

1 g/min or 30-60g/hr

Rapid recovery after training or multi-day competition, especially when less than 8h until next session

1-1.5 g/kg BM for every hour in the early stages of recovery after exercise, contributing to a total intake of 7-10 g/kg BM over 24 hours

 Athletes and Carbohydrate loading

Is defined as the changes to training and nutrition that will increase muscle glycogen stores prior to an endurance event.  

An athlete will load up on carbohydrates (7-12g/kg body weight) while tapering exercise over 1-4 days prior to an endurance event to ensure the muscle glycogen is being stored appropriately.

This type of diet will only benefit those engaging in 90 minutes or longer high intensity exercise such as marathon runners, cycling, triathlon (long distance) etc.7

For an example of a high carbohydrate diet or more information – click here

What about carbohydrates for those with an intolerance?

Something that can be very difficult for the athlete with coeliac disease or equivalent as most of the products on the market have gluten or some type of allergy friendly ingredient. A great summary here by the Australian Institute of Sport for athletes with nutritional issues.7

Funnily enough an analysis in the Amercian Journal of Medical Association has hit the nail on the head.  It has found that it doesn’t matter what diet you are following in fact it is more about being able to follow a healthy eating plan long term and that is what the Wall2Wall Fitness Nutrition Overhaul program is all about!

 Tips for eating carbohydrates wisely:

  • Breakfast cereals should contain oats, barley or bran
  • Breads should be grain or soy based
  • Consume a wide variety of fruit and vegetables
  • Enjoy a wide variety of complex carbohydrates and limit the simple ones
  • Portion sizes are the key
  • Don’t eat high calorie foods just before heading to bed, make sure you have about 2-3 hours between meal and bed times.

Back to Basics – Kick starting your nutrition plan

I strongly believe for you to have a successful nutritional plan and lead a healthy lifestyle you firstly need to ensure you are equipped with the correct information and have strategies in place to implement what is hopefully a successful plan to adhere to.

I don’t believe one plan will ever suit everyone. You can sign up for any weight loss program and be told what to eat but if you really don’t like it will you stick with it? Do you know why you are eating those foods? What calories you are consuming and how many and why? And if you have an intolerance to food, is the program catered for you or is it just aimed at the general population.

If you are equipped with the correct information I strongly believe you would be able to adapt this to your own lifestyle and nutritional needs and be more motivated to continue and reach your goals. This is why the W2W Nutritional Overhaul program is all about educating you and providing you with the right tools to form your own strategies so that this becomes a lifestyle choice and not a short term solution.

So today I am taking us back to the basics. Over my time as a health professional many of the same questions are asked because people just don’t know where to start. The following answers these questions and demonstrates how I would go about a week of nutritional planning in our household.

Where do I start when making a weekly food plan?
My shopping is on a Wednesday so thus why I write my plan out as below. I, like I have suggested to you, will look at old recipes I have used over time (obviously healthy options) or refer to links as I have provided.

I will ensure we have the right balance throughout the week – Fish, Chicken, Beef, Pork, Turkey/Kangaroo are some of the options I look towards (obviously this will vary if you are a meat eater or not and can be changed). I choose dishes that have a great amount of vegetable/salad options and if they don’t I will purchase extra vegetables/salad to change the recipe accordingly.

A week for us may look like the following, may look boring but it is delicious! I will also give all of these meals to Olivia and Nick.

Wednesday – Baked Fish with sweet potato chips and ¼ cup of Cous Cous
Thursday – Chicken stir fry with soy sauce and garlic and vegetables (these can be fresh or frozen) with ¼ cup of brown or basmati rice
Friday – Home-made Pizza with homemade meat balls, grilled vegetables, mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach. Base is olive oil and garlic with no dressing
Saturday – Tuna Mornay (a basic old favourite) with rice and curried tuna but I add veges on the side with this or salad
Sunday – Fresh Pasta with Napoli sauce (and I would add some of our frozen veges to this)
Monday – Kangaroo steak with baked sweet potato, carrot, capsicum, tomato and spinach
Tuesday – Turkey breast marinated in honey and soy with salad vegetables and ¼ cup of brown rice

I will buy meat in bulk and freeze the meat I won’t use for the next couple of days. I will also purchase more than the recipe so that I can make extra meals and freeze them for our lunches, removing take-away temptations.

To avoid wastage I buy frozen vegetables, grilled vegetables in a jar, corn/bean/beetroot canned vegetables (always a great option to throw into a salad or add extra vegetables to a meal) along with fresh varieties, I just ensure I use these first.

When I have done my shopping, I write this list up and pop it on our noticeboard at home so that I can see an outline of the week. Note: if I have put a meal on Wednesday it doesn’t mean we have to have it that day, but it provides us with options throughout the week and because life (like everyone’s) is busy and dinners can be late due to our hours, it removes the temptation of buying take-away meals on the way home.

What about breakfast and lunch?
Our breakfasts and lunches are pretty basic and less time consuming. I always make sure I have porridge, bread, eggs and one type of cereal (my choice is special K – but our family goes through phases) in the cupboard.

With breakfast if it is cereal/porridge I am having I always have it with a piece of fruit (easy way to get your fruit intake for the day) and if I need to add a bit of sugar, a little bit of honey works well. Condiments such as vegemite, peanut butter, honey are always easy options to add to your toast. Eggs are great for weekend meals when you feel like something a little more hearty – omelette, scrambled eggs/poached eggs with tomato and avocado (try it with vegemite on the toast and cut the avocado and tomato up like a salsa and drizzle with lemon and coriander – don’t knock it till you try it) are great ways to mix up your meals and avoid getting bored.

Lunches I may be a little more boring for people, rice cakes/corn thins and bread is stock standard in our household. As I am pregnant at the moment I avoid the night before meals due to listeria possibilities so these are given to Nick. So for me some lean meat, grilled veges or salad veges, and cheese satisfies my hunger. These are also easy options to have sitting at work, but night before meals also works wonders.

How to fill out a food diary?
How this has been filled out may depend on whether you are using an app or online program (see meal planning on the website for suggestions) or simply writing it in a diary of your own. To count calories (which is optional) it is best to use one of the online programs and have them do it for you. You can buy calorie books and enter the individual food and count it this way, it does become rather time consuming and I think this is a good way to STOP you from writing a food diary, which is what we definitely DON’T want you doing.

Ensure that when writing a food diary that you list the portion sizes because this could be where you are going wrong. Also remember to write any food you may have picked at while cooking meals or perhaps the leftovers of your children’s meals, again an easy one to forget about and what could be affecting your weight loss/management plan.

Breakfast
½ Cup of muesli with small cup of frozen berries, and ½ sliced medium banana, with ½ cup of milk
1 x green tea
Snack
1 x small apple
2 x tim tams
Lunch
4 x soy linseed corn thins with tuna, cheese and tomato
1 x 75g tub of nestle diet yoghurt (vanilla)
Snack
1 x 75g uncle tobys muesli bar (choc chip)
Dinner
200g pasta (roasted vegetable fresh pasta) and Napolitano sauce with 2 white dinner rolls with butter
2 x 125ml glass of Rose
Snack
150g of choc chip ice-cream
1 x waffle cone
Water intake
1 litre of water

How many calories should I be consuming each day?
The amount of energy you need each day to maintain your weight depends on your age, gender, height, weight and physical activity level. Your weight history can also influence your daily requirements.

Various weight management plans will indicate that females wanting to lose weight should aim for 1200-1500 calories and males 1800 calories per week. However, watching clients over the years this hasn’t worked for everyone and with that, they may have gained weight.

For any healthy diet, I would be recommending you use a nutritional calculator and a great one exists on the Eat for Health website that will take into account age, gender, physical activity etc. http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/eat-health-calculators
If after sticking with these numbers things are still not working for you, we will re-asses on an individual basis – so please contact me, don’t just give up!

What should I be consuming everyday and how much?
As I mentioned in the W2W Nutrition Overhaul guidelines before signing up, I recommend the best ‘diet’ to follow are The Australian Dietary Guidelines. These guidelines provide advice on simply eating for health and wellbeing and to be honest it was all I did to lose the weight after having Olivia and feeling myself again 
They’re called dietary guidelines because it’s your usual diet that influences your health. Based on the latest scientific evidence, they describe the best approach to eating for a long and healthy life (NHMRC website).
Along with the scientific evidence, these guidelines have taken into consideration individual preferences, intolerances, nutritional choices, and have provided you with a source of information to make healthy food choices. The guide also provides you with advice on how many serves of these food groups (assisting you with portion control) you need to consume everyday depending upon your age, gender, body size and physical activity levels. (NHMRC website)

Rather than me re-creating the same information, check the website out for more information on the following: keep these in mind when writing your plan this week.

References:
About the guidelines
http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/about-australian-dietary-guidelines

The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating – in graphic form
http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-guide-healthy-eating

Recommended serving sizes for an adult
http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/how-much-do-we-need-each-day/recommended-number-serves-adults

What is a serve?
http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/how-much-do-we-need-each-day/what-serve

Meal Plan/Food Ideas based on the guidelines (have also put one on our website)
Check out these food plans on the Eat for Health website. These are based on the genders average height/weight and light activity so some changes may need to be made on a case by case basis.

Women aged 19-50 http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/the_guidelines/adg_sample_meal_plan_women.pdf
Men aged 19-50 http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/the_guidelines/adg_sample_meal_plan_men.pdf

Has this helped you? Do you have more questions that need to be answered? Then email me at catherine@wall2wallfitness.com.au and I can add it to the weekly updates so this can be shared with everyone or topics/fact sheets on the website.

Stay Healthy
W2W