When you grow up, you take responsibility for what you do in life. Reaping, sowing and all that. Catch yourself if you make excuses at this age, it's not your color. If you say you "don't have time to..." but you're all caught up on the newest shows on Netflix, you just don't "make time" for whatever you're trying to get out of. That's cool, just own it.
And since you've been feeding yourself for decades, it's time to take responsibility for that too. If you eat sugar and donuts and yum yums and then skip meals to save calories for Wine Time, there should be no surprises as to why you're sleepy and chubby. Just own it.
I've been cooking professionally most of my career and I've been asking, Where Did That Come From? about ingredients for about 20. So what have I learned? A lot. Have I figured it all out? Absolutely not.
So here's where I am 20 years in. Former chef, recent farmer, organic, female, peri-menopausal. Human. I've been coming back from a pretty long journey of bottomed out health which is why I do what I do now cuz there is a lot of conflicting info and even less help from conventional doctors. So here's what I've learned.
1. Paleo is good until it isn't. If you can stick to a vegetable based with meat on the side just a teeny bit like once a month, I'm talking, just vegetarian basically with some lean beef once in a while, do it. Grass fed, organic. No grocery store chicken. Seriously. And you're gonna need veg carbs for your mind. But if you are only bacon and steak and coconut oil and bullet proof coffee and KETO crazy with the pizza crust made out of pork rinds because at least it has no CARBS, you are going to hit a WALL. An inflammation wall of low energy and high cholesterol and hypo thyroid and Hashimoto's and and and. Oh and did I mention weight gain?
That always gets attention. No one cares about their health until they get fat on a diet, get bloated from too much exercise, get dehydrated and headachey from restricting salt and their mood goes to shit because they have no carbohydrates in their system. Yes, you will have no appetite on a KETO diet and you may lose weight if you are just starting. Or if you're in your 20s/30s. But things happen to us as we age. And some outliers out there may have it all worked out, but the mortals among us and I can only speak to hormonally challenged women here---men, if you want to lose weight, lay off the booze, sugar, late meals and move your ass. You'll be down 20 by next Wednesday.
But women over 40, whoooo. yea. It takes a LONG time to lose and keep it off. Allow me to repeat. KEEP IT OFF. And when you're over 50, you should be more concerned with keeping your brain firing and throwing rocks at the Alzheimer's monster, not trying to fit into a wedding dress. You'll not give a hoot if you're a size 8 and you can't find your purse/car/keys/checkbook. My goals are Mental Sharpness, sleep for restoration to fuel mental sharpness and mood regulation. Then, yes, how do I look (at my size and genetic bone structure) Just eat right and move your ass too. Mostly plants. Bread and ice cream will make it all harder.
*But this is not to promote high carby sugar crap diets. Nope. Just that meat somehow doesn't work anymore for women after 45. This is about Intuitive Eating. Listen.
2. Every single hot old lady you see is a vegan. And you may not even know that she's 80 because she doesn't look it. But every vibrant, clear eyed, glowy, yoga body, walk everywhere beam of light woman out there is not eating slabs of meat every night. We're not talking the junky vegans who eat potato chips and drink coffee all day, no, the Goddess down the road. Go ahead, ask next time you see a stunner in the Whole Foods.
3. Dairy free alternatives have a ton of sugar and chemicals. Just have a teaspoon of organic half and half in your coffee. But lay off the dairy. And "non dairy" is a whole other set of problems. Eat some pineapple if you need sweet.
4. And coffee. Hmmmm. I've always been so up in the air about this. Not all coffee is the same, we know this, but how different. It has a fair amount of mycotoxins, and I experiment with brands sometimes and leave grounds to ferment and liquid to ferment on the counter a few days...things GROW in there. Like sea monkeys. I'm not sure it's all it's cracked up to be, but no one is going to come out with that because it's like a 10zillion dollar industry. I've probably got a Starbucks spy on my trail right now for typing this. Give it a rest and see how it goes. I'm a fan of cycling in and out of things. Don't build up a tolerance.
5. Booze. It's a trap. All of it. Drop it. For your mental health, your brain, your wallet, your liver. I'm always surprised how people will roll out their no corn, no wheat, no carbs, please take the cheese off my organic only free range tofu/chicken salad please---who think that not drinking booze is anti social--- hahahahahaha. No, telling people you get diarrhea from poblanos is anti-social. No one cares. Plus you can always drive. No hangovers, no DUI, no worries. Just order a club soda and get over yourself.
5b. Smoking. Seriously. It's 2017. Don't feed the beast.
6. Bread. Eat it. That's right. Eat it. But here's the catch. You have to make it. Or move to France. Because then it has 3 ingredients, organic/Euro flour, water, salt (natural yeast sourdough making is easier than you think...more on that in a later post) or a little packaged yeast to start. If you live in LA or something and organic breads are on every corner, go for it. But most of us have to bake. Plus it's fun. Just do it.
7. Intermittent Fasting. Meh. Whatever, sure. Just eat dinner earlier, you're not The Rock or Hugh Jackman. If you are hungry in the morning, eat. If not, wait until 9 or 10 and then make that the big meal (no oaty carby first meals, you'll crash out) and then have something at 2pm so you don't have that mid day fall out from Sandwich Land. Fruit, smoothie, green drink and then 5-6pm eat a giant salad or a potato or a giant squash or some marinated beans and artichokes and go for a walk. Hormonal swings and are not keen on meal skipping. Blood sugar regulation is key. There's a reason they call it Skinny Bitch.
8. Exercise. Yes. Walking, yoga, dog play, soccer with your grandkids, parking on the other side of the grocery store, always taking the stairs, dancing, walking after dinner, swimming. Getting up from your desk or TV or driving every hour and stretching. Yes, yes, yes. Hardcore cardio unless it makes your heart sing, pull back. Most women have adrenal fatigue at a certain age. It's not a joke. And those who think it is, we'll just get you fitted with some concrete boots and have you try to get through your daily chores with those. Heavy overheating cardio makes it worse. ANY stress (and that is stress) makes that cortisol wheel spin. When I got a meditative practice, did yoga every day even for 15 min and stopped "working out" I lost the belly fat. Worth a try. I still need to decompress, I just don't do it with a kick boxing attitude. Although that is pretty fun once in a while. We're all different. so if you've been hitting the stair master in some lame stinky gym for 10 years and haven't lost an ounce, give it a rest and do the exact opposite.
9. Cold therapy. Hot therapy. Infrared sauna (or a red brooder lamp for the DIY set) focused on parts of your body you want to work on...gut, liver, thyroid. Helps me a lot. Part of a good detox regime. Which we should all have from environmental exposure if nothing else. Cold therapy, can be as simple as a cold shower for 3 minutes. It kicks in the epinephrine and really sets the day right, added bennies of closing pores and breast lifting. If you've got bank, try cryotherapy---or a cold plunge pool. I got a 10ft round blow up pool at wallymart for $50. Yard work, overheating, just get in there and float. Changes the whole mood. Good science and info from The Ice Man.
10. Supplements. I could have bought a CAR with the number of supplements I have on my kitchen counter. I'm ambivalent. Minerals and vitamins are better coming from food---herbs are helpful for sure in giving a boost. Sourcing matters. It's not a quick fix. But keeping up on your B6 is no jokes for headaches and mood swings. This is a whole other tome sized post. But I will say that sometimes you have to STOP EVERYTHING and trust that your body will right itself if you stop throwing weird crap down the drain. Even "natural" crap. A great place to start is Julia Ross book The Mood Cure.
Love your self where you are now. Seriously, look at everything you do each day and accomplish and really all of us...life is hard. Even if you're famous and rich and gorgeous. And especially if you're not. Be grateful for what you have. Not for what you don't. Don't be afraid of food. Imagine if you didn't have the overwhelming choice you have now. And when you go to grab something, ask yourself...hey, wait a minute. Who's eating this right now. Is it me? Or the Gremlin within. Cuz I'm not doing that anymore. You can choose to march forward right now if you want, with less baggage. Just set it down and keep walking. Tell a new story. Your choice.