Tag Archives for " intuitive eating "

November 28, 2023

Food freedom with Alana Van Der Sluys

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On episode 618 of the 40+ Fitness Podcast, we meet Alana Van Der Sluys and discuss her book Freedom with Food and Fitness.


Let's Say Hello

[00:02:33.730] – Allan

Hey, Ras, how are you doing up there?

[00:02:35.960] – Rachel

Good, Allan. How are you today?

[00:02:38.050] – Allan

I'm doing all you know, I okay. I live in Panama and it's beautiful. And, yes, I live on a Caribbean island that doesn't get hurricanes. And, yeah, that means I can wear shorts and tank tops every single day of the year. This is my work uniform. This is my day uniform. This is just kind of how I'm dressed most of the time. That's great. But I'm not going to say this is just a total paradise. Everything's great every single day. They're having a strike or a protest in the country. And the way they like to do them here is they like to block off roads and make everybody else's life as miserable as possible so that the government has to respond because everybody else is not living their full life. So they've had the country shut down now for a couple of weeks. A few weeks, wow. Which means probably if you paid attention about a year and a half ago, I guess that we had the kind of the same thing where I was talking about not having eggs, not having bread. Well we don't have eggs on the island, we don't have fuel on the island.

[00:03:49.290] – Allan

There's some pluses and minuses to cars not having gasoline, so there are fewer cars on the road. But at the same time it means that we don't have the things that we would normally have. And when it's available, typically it gets bumped up in price. So where a gallon of gasoline would normally be about $4 a gallon here in normal times it's anywhere from eight dollars to thirteen dollars. People are reselling it. So you walk up there with a jug and they'll sell you some gasoline. And so right now we're in this mode where some of our supplies are starting to kind of dwindle down a little bit. We've still got food, we've still got water, we've still got the things that we need to make it. But at points it just gets a little frustrating that you can't go to the grocery store and buy a dozen eggs. I eat a lot of eggs. It means I have to change my behavior, I have to change my eating. Which is kind of something we're going to get into today. But how are things up there?

[00:04:57.550] – Rachel

Good. Over the weekend I did something very different. I've never done this before. A friend asked me to pace during a half marathon and the pace group that we were leading was the 1235 minutes mile group. So we were pacing an entire half marathon at that pace, 1235 minutes. And I'm surprised. I've never paced, I've never run consistent like that for an entire half marathon. But we did and we were just about a minute and a few seconds faster than we should have been. But we were pretty close. I feel like a minute is pretty darn good for pretty good miles. So it was an interesting new experience. So it was a lot of fun.

[00:05:42.180] – Allan

Well, good for anybody that gets into running. If you join a run club or something like that, that's one of the benefits is sometimes they'll put together a structure like that to make you run. And even if you don't, finding a buddy or a friend that is a better runner than you and saying, okay, this is what we're going to run. I remember I was in Washington DC years and years and years ago and there was a guy that was working with us, he's a little freaking rabbit, but not kidding, but he goes out and says, well I'm going to run the ten K, you want to run it with me? And I'm like, sure. Now I basically outweighed this guy by a good 45 50 pounds, and I wasn't huge, I was like, 195. But he's a little bitty guy. And so he goes out there and says, well, what do you want to do? I says, yeah, I'll run it, but I said, I'm probably going to do it at about eight minute miles. He says, okay, I'll do that with you. And I'm like, okay, but I know you run a lot faster.

[00:06:42.780] – Allan

He's like, no, that's fine. Eight minute miles, I can do that. I'm like, okay, cool. So we go to line up, and if you line up for a race, realize that you get used to these, you know, that the faster runners want to be at the front and the slower runners need to be at the back. So you get into the practice of knowing your pace and for the type of race and knowing, okay, I need to be two thirds back or all the way back. This guy's just wanting to inch forward, inch forward, inch forward. I'm like, Dude, no. I said, I'm not going to get in front of faster runners. Eight minute miles. So the guy keeps inching forward and I watch him, and then he finally, he just leaves. He gets up right up in the very front, like, right at the start, and like a rabbit, he's out the gate. Of course I finished my race. I think I was 801. I think my actual time splits were 801 on average.

[00:07:30.810] – Rachel


[00:07:32.610] – Allan

I got passed by a blind guy, but I wasn't going to mess up my slip. But I get through, and the guy's there at this point, he's pretty much already cooled off and he's ready to do another one. I go through and he says, how was your race? I said, yeah, I did 801. He's like, okay, good. And I said, so what were yours? He said, about a 603, of course. Why did you even say you were going to try to do an eight when you knew you couldn't physically allow yourself to run that slow? And so again, I thought we would go and we'd pace and we'd run together, and we weren't going to. So one of the advantages again, of getting involved with a run club or having a run buddy that's running the same pace as you is that then you can help each other stay accountable and involved and engage and keep your pace so you don't overdo it.

[00:08:27.490] – Rachel

You could practice those faster paces when you're chasing somebody. I like to have a rabbit, too.

[00:08:33.570] – Allan

I wasn't going to chase a 603 rabbit maybe when I was in the army for 2 miles. That would have been a fine rabbit to chase, but ten K I know. Wasn't going to do it, but anyway, awesome. Oh, good. So you enjoyed the pacing?

[00:08:53.390] – Rachel

It was it was a neat experience, yeah.

[00:08:56.410] – Allan

Cool. All right, well, are you ready to talk about food and freedom?

[00:09:01.350] – Rachel



[00:09:44.170] – Allan

Alana, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

[00:09:47.770] – Alana

Hi, Allan. How are you?

[00:09:49.770] – Allan

I'm doing very well, thank you. Your book, it has three of my favorite words in it freedom, Food and Fitness. The name of the book is Freedom with Food and Fitness. And so really kind of a good conversation to have right now because I think particularly now, we just finished Thanksgiving. And so this is the season of eating. This is the season of, if you will, gluttony and also internal abuse because we eat things and then we get mad at ourselves or feel guilty or feel shame. We have these feelings about food and fitness that we just carry with us in a very uncomfortable way as we go through this whole season.

[00:10:36.490] – Alana

Absolutely. And it's also the season of unsustainable weight loss. It's the season of crash diets and beating ourselves up.

[00:10:44.480] – Allan

It's both because we think, okay, well, I did something bad, I have to fix it. And we kind of get drawn into this whole world, and I'm in the fitness and health space myself, so I see it every single day of just the mental gymnastics, if you will, that I see people go through to try to figure out why it isn't working for them. Like someone will actually say, I saw this post today was I'm not eating the food. I'm basically staying within my numbers. I'm doing this, I'm doing that, but my weight is not going down. What can I do? And then you have the calories in, calories out, for lack of a better word, Nazis that come out and basically say, oh, well, you're obviously overeating, or, oh, you're obviously not moving enough. You should just do more movement and you should just eat less. And they're telling you in the post, I am doing everything I possibly can and I'm failing, and all you're saying is just do it more. It's a really hard message to just sit back and say, this is happening every day. Thousands of conversations over and over and over, and we don't seem to be learning the lesson.

[00:12:11.050] – Alana

No, we don't. And that's because the diet and weight loss industry is a multibillion dollar industry that has made a huge profit on our insecurities. It's just we feel like we're the ones who have failed and that we fail over and over again. But the thing is, we're not getting the correct information about how to actually feed our bodies and how to actually move our bodies, for us to be at our peak. And by peak, I don't mean that we're all ready to go do a fitness or a bikini competition. I mean feeling good in our bodies and not having nutrition and fitness be something that feels so punishing and so difficult. It shouldn't be hard. It shouldn't be hard at all. And that's why I'm an intuitive eating coach. It's in the title. It's being intuitive, listening to your own body instead of all of these rules and these conflicting messages, and every diet to do something different. And then we have misinformation, like calories in, calories out. Yes, from a physiological standpoint, but that's also not the entire picture. That's not everything.

[00:13:20.270] – Allan

Yeah, so there was this I don't know if you know who. I guess his last name is Gillette, or maybe his first name, but he was the comedian. He and his partner would do this magic show, comedy show thing, and he had gotten kind of obese, and he's working Vegas, and he'd gotten kind of obese, and then he lost 100 pounds. And he lost 100 pounds just eating potatoes. He literally just ate potatoes, and he lost 100 pounds. And so now, basically, people are saying, well, if I just eat potatoes, I'll lose the weight like he did, and I'll keep it off. He's a pretty smart guy. What he understood with eating potatoes was that, okay, yeah, this is somewhat of a fad. But for him it was. If I force myself to just eat potatoes, I know I'm going to get tired of potatoes, and then I won't eat as much again. I don't prescribe to that. But it worked for him. And so there's this fad diet that comes out, and it says, hey, just eat potatoes, and you could lose 100 pounds. And then he gets interviewed on all the shows, and it's more publicity for people to say, okay, yeah, I'm going to look at this potato only diet.

[00:14:36.630] – Allan

Why is it that these fad diets, they blow up, they get really huge because, again, there's a success story there. Why do they fail? Because they worked for him. Why aren't they working for me?

[00:14:52.110] – Alana

It could be a variety of reasons. Number one, I find it hard to believe all he ate was potatoes because there's definitely a nutritional deficit, if that's what he's doing. There's no healthy fat for his brain function. There's no protein for muscle development. I don't recommend this at all, and I know you don't as well. I think these fad diets get airtime because they're so outlandish and novel, and people also want the quick fix. They want the sensationalized results. They want 100 pounds. No one wants to hear that someone lost ten pounds over the course of eight weeks doing things reasonably and sustainably. They want really quick, really flashy, really novel. And to your point, before I say why it didn't work, it might not work for somebody else. To your point about why it did work for him. There is an element of something that we talk about in intuitive eating called habituation. So it's when you have the same stimulus over and over and over again, eventually your response to that stimulus decreases. So the example would be he eats potatoes, potatoes, potatoes. Eventually he'sick of potatoes. He doesn't want potatoes anymore. So what we do in intuitive eating is if you have a fear food, let's say you're fearful of cheesecake.

[00:16:15.630] – Alana

It's high calorie and sugar and fat, and you think it's going to make you gain weight, so you always try to avoid it, but that ends up with you inevitably binging an entire cheesecake. You want it so much. So we go through the process of habituation, and I tell clients, have a little bit of cheesecake every single day for a month. And you will notice the pull for the cheesecake on day one is a lot more intense than the pull for the cheesecake on day 30 because you've been having it over and over and over again. And people, they're like, how can that be? I'll want cheesecake forever. I love cheesecake. It's my favorite. So I tell them, think about are you married, Alan?

[00:16:50.390] – Allan

I am.

[00:16:51.730] – Alana

Okay, so first time you said you loved your partner, there were probably butterflies, and everyone was so excited, and it was so novel and wonderful. And now that you've been together for however many years, it's like they say they love you and you're like, yeah, I love you too, and you probably mean it still, right? I've been with my husband for ten years, and I still mean it. I still love him. But it doesn't have that same butterfly inducing, exciting feeling, at least not in the same intensity as it did the first time versus ten years in that's habituation. Why? It's not going to work for somebody else. Variety of reasons. I mean, people eat emotionally. People want to eat different things when they're emotional. Your body's going to crave what it needs nutritionally. That's why intuitive eating is actually a healthful practice. Your body's going to tell you you're going to crave steak when you need iron, things like that. So for you to force yourself to eat one kind of food with one nutritional profile, your body's going to crave other things. And once you allow yourself to go off the potato diet, you're going to binge those things because you've been restricting them for so long.

[00:18:00.170] – Allan

I call it the purple elephant, and it's like, don't think of a purple elephant. And it's like, what's in your head right now? It's like the thing you weren't supposed to think about. And we do that to ourselves exactly every time we start thinking about, well, I'm on this thing and this diet, and therefore I can't have these things, that's all you think about. I remember when I tried paleo. Okay. And Paleo works great for me. My body responds very well to the Paleo style of eating, but there are foods on that list that I would typically want in volumes like bread and beer and stuff like that. I remember having a dream about bread when I went into that because my brain was just so wired on bread. That was a top of thought thing. And I was like, okay, I know I don't need bread. I know I don't really want bread. But what am I telling myself when I tell myself I can't have something? The rebel side of my brain is like, well, I'm going to make you think about this every single day of your life until you eat bread.

[00:19:14.670] – Allan

And so I think there's that aspect of this whole thing of when we do that. So with a lot of my clients, I'll actually tell them, I'll be like, well, I want a pop or soda or whatever you call it, wherever you are. And I'll be like, well, you're a grown ass woman. Have a soft drink. But at the same time recognize that you're making a choice as an adult. You're not a kid, you're an adult. You have a smart part of your brain that can look at it and say, why am I doing this? What's my emotional state? Why do I feel like I need this? Versus because we know we're not getting any nutritional value from that soft drink that our body actually needs. We may be craving it. So the question is back down and say, okay, is this an emotional thing? Am I trying to get through a stressor? Am I using this in a different way than I would use food? We're going to talk about that in a minute. But it's kind of that whole concept of, okay, is this really helping me? And I think that's where a lot of these fad diets kind of come in, is like, okay, is this going to give me what I need?

[00:20:19.430] – Allan

Is this diet really going to me and nourish me and make me feel whole, or am I going to be miserable until I'm done?

[00:20:28.970] – Alana

Right? I think that last sentence that you just said is something that I want listeners to take away is, do you want to be miserable the whole time? Because whatever diet you choose to be on or no diet at all, your food regimen, if you will, you have to be doing that for the rest of your life in order to maintain whatever results you're looking for. So if you're on Keto, congratulations. You have to be on Keto probably for the rest of your life in order to maintain the results that you have right now. Because if you go back to old eating habits, you're going to gain the weight back.

[00:21:02.020] – Allan

I think that's the key. I do think that's a key. I do want to state that, because I do think you can temporarily go on a sprint and you can temporarily do something, but it's the going all the way back to who you were and not recognizing that. Wait, when I eat whole food and I feed myself and I let myself get full and I'm mindful of what I'm eating, when I do these intuitive eating things, I'm suddenly satiated. I'm full, I'm comfortable. I like this. Don't go back to eating the way you ate before. When you get back to you think you got to a goal or you feel better about it, there's no real reason to go back if you feel really good eating the way you're eating. And I think that's the disconnect when we use the word diet. Diet actually the word, you know, this basically means the way you eat. It was never intended to be used as a specialized concept of temporary eating. And I think that's where a lot of people lose it. But you could sit there and say, I know beer does not really help me.

[00:22:06.120] – Allan

If I'm a little bit overweight or feeling uncomfortable with myself or my energy levels are low, I know that's not going to serve me as a grown man. I can make the decision, I'm going to have a couple of beers with my buddies and I'm going to be okay with that. But at the same time, I also know if I go periods of time without drinking beer, I feel better, my energy is level better, I sleep better, my stress levels are better, everything's better. And so I think that's the kind of the disconnect when we use that term diet, and particularly the fad diets because they tend to exclude a lot of things that we really need.

[00:22:40.130] – Alana

Absolutely. And I would say if somebody is going on a certain diet and then going back to their original way of eating, they've put a Band Aid on a bullet wound. They haven't addressed the mental and emotional issues that are causing them to have a broken relationship to food in the first place. And that's what I deal a lot with my clients about, is what are the thoughts that you're having that are creating these emotions that are causing you to binge eat in front of the pantry? We have to address that emotional pain or lack of stress management or emotional management or trauma or whatever it might be, because it's never just about the food ever. It's always about some sort of underlying issue that you're not addressing and using the food as a mask or using exercise or lack thereof as a mask. So you have to really get down to the nitty gritty and do the deeper work.

[00:23:39.590] – Allan

One of the things you got into here that I thought was, I think this is key, we're going to say the term intuitive eating, and immediately I think people are going to be like, well, wait a minute, I already overeat, I already binge. I already do these things. How can I trust myself. And diet culture tells us you can't. You have to eat a certain way, you have to do a certain thing, because you can't be trusted with cheesecake.

[00:24:12.690] – Alana

Right? It's all about relearning how to listen to your body's cues. So we're all born as intuitive eaters. When we were children, we ate when we were hungry, we stopped when we were full. I have a three year old son and I see him leaving half a cupcake on a plate, and any one of us who's been through diet culture would be like, oh, my God, I would have ate that thing in one bite. It's like my cheat day to have a cupcake. But for him, it's just like, I don't really care because he knows he can have it whenever he wants. And that's really the beauty, the magic. And the thing about intuitive eating that I don't think people fully understand until they've been going through the process is you actually crave those junk foods, quote, unquote, less, once you become an intuitive eater, because it becomes more about, what can I add in to my diet that's going to make me feel good? Instead of, what do I have to take away because I'm on this diet? But it's, what can I add in? Can I add in more water? Can I add in more veggies and fiber and protein?

[00:25:15.790] – Alana

And listen, I love pizza just as much as the next person, but one of the things I ask myself before I sit down to eat a meal is, how am I going to feel after I eat this? And if I eat one slice of pizza, I'll probably be fine. I would try to pair it with, like, a salad with grilled chicken or something to kind of round out that meal. But I know if I sit down and eat two, three slices of pizza, I am not going to feel good. I'm not going to feel good in my body. I'm going to feel bloated and sluggish. So it's asking that question, how am I going to feel? But the other thing that we need to do to start learning to listen to and trust our bodies is honing in on those body cues. Do you actually know the signs of hunger? Aside from a growling stomach, which is really late stage hunger? Can you pick up those nuanced cues? Do you actually know when you're full or do you, when you have a cheat day, just plow right through that fullness queue because you think it's your only day, you can have that food.

[00:26:18.970] – Alana

When we use external tools like calorie counters and the scale and what people say we can and cannot eat, we can't listen to what our bodies actually do need, and it's different for everybody. So learning to listen to those body cues, I think is super important, combined with this question of how do I want to feel in my body after I eat this thing that takes a.

[00:26:45.270] – Allan

Ton of self awareness and it takes a lot of patience. I'm a huge fan of Journaling. Not necessarily that you're going to sit down and write down everything you ate. You can write down all the calories and all the macros and do the math. And now you basically have this huge accounting system like General Motors. You're spending hours trying to figure out all this stuff and stay within ranges and numbers and all that. And I just think that's not the way human being was meant to eat. I don't think we were walking through the forest saying, OOH, blueberries. I think I'll walk past those because too many carbs. I don't think that was even a thought. It was like, oh, blueberries, I'm going to eat all the blueberries because I know they're not going to be here in three weeks, but we eat all the blueberries. And then now guess what? We're back to hunting and foraging, eating roots and other things that we would just eat. But I think you're onto something. You talked about something there that I think is really kind of a big part of this is we have to be aware of what our body's telling us.

[00:27:44.280] – Allan

And too often we're not even listening.

[00:27:49.830] – Alana

That's right. We're listening to what other people are saying we should be doing. We're listening to the quote unquote experts.

[00:27:57.590] – Allan

Yeah. And then sometimes we're not listening to anything. I don't know how many times I've had a conversation with a client and they would say, I had a nice meal, I felt good, and then my kids were done. And so I ate everything that was on their plates that they didn't eat, like your three year old. It's like they would throw down the half a cupcake because, well, it's there not even thinking how that feels, whether they were already full, why were they doing it. And usually it's just this is easier, this is quick. I'll feel good, I'll enjoy it. And they're just not having that conversation. So how does someone go about that? How do I go about saying, okay, look, I need to be in the moment, I need to be aware, I need to be mindful.

[00:28:42.790] – Alana

It's really just a practice. It's really just learning to stop in the moment when you're about to do an action and just think to yourself, is this going to serve me? And if it's not, maybe choosing something different. But I think you're right in terms of we go through our day a lot, almost like zombies are almost on this autopilot where we do things where we don't even question why we're still doing them. So I think that's part of it. And I also think we're trying to always numb out, especially in today's society, there's so much on social media and so much that we're consuming that we use it because we don't want to feel our actual feelings. We're using. TV and food and drinking and drugs and gambling and porn and all of these things to try to not feel our feelings. And I have a lot of clients that emotionally eat because they don't want to feel whatever it is. So part of my work with my clients is thought work is cognitive behavioral therapy. Again, as I said before, it's what are the thoughts that are going on in your head and what emotions are those causing and what outcomes or actions are you taking as a result of those emotions?

[00:30:00.490] – Alana

Like, are you grabbing that cup and eating it because you need the dopamine hit because something went bad at work today that you don't want to process in the form of journaling or with a therapist or whatever? Are you just stuffing it down with food? That's one of the principles of intuitive eating, is coping with emotions, with kindness. And that's something that we don't do very often because we weren't socialized to a lot of us were told when we were younger to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and don't cry and don't be a sissy. And the negative emotions mean that something has gone wrong. But there are ways to process emotions so that they complete the stress cycle and they do dissipate so that you don't need food to cope with those emotions.

[00:30:45.480] – Allan

Yeah, I was at dinner last night with some folks at a friend's house and someone had made a pumpkin soup and so this woman brought it up and she said, are there carrots in this? And the woman that she asked didn't hear, so she just went on and started eating the soup. And then she came back later and said, yes, there's carrots in this. And someone says, well, do you have a problem with carrots? She's like, I don't like carrots. And they said, well, you don't like carrots? She says, no, because I remember as a child sitting at the table for a long, long time with carrots in front of me, and my parents would not let me go to bed until I ate the carrots. And so this woman had a relationship with carrots that I was glad she was aware of it, but she had pretty much decided that she would never eat carrots willingly, although she did eat the soup because I guess it was delicious. So there was that. But there was a relationship there that she was aware of, and I was glad that she was aware of it. I wasn't in the conversation, I was just the fly on the wall listening.

[00:31:55.520] – Allan

But it was just that understanding that there's more to food than just the calories and the macros and everything else. We have memories, we have traumas, we have all these things that have gone on in our lives that tell us how to eat. They're not telling us what our body needs.

[00:32:16.010] – Alana

Absolutely. That story just reminded me of a client who she had anorexia for 20 years, and in the year that she worked with me, she actually finally was able to move over into the category of in recovery. She made so much progress with me, and I'm so proud of her. But she had this story in her head that she was safer when she was thinner. She was in a safer body. She felt safer. And I had to ask her one day, I said, have you ever thought about the validity of that story today for you? Because today for you, your anorexia has nearly killed you. Is this really safe for you anymore? And she was like, wow, I never really thought of it that way. I think sometimes we have these stories that we make up to make sense of what's happened in our lives, and we hold on to those stories and repeat those stories over and over again over the years. They begin to sound like facts, and we don't even challenge them after a while. But you might be holding on to a story about yourself or about food from 2030 years ago that doesn't really apply anymore.

[00:33:22.380] – Alana

And you really have to challenge those thoughts and ask yourself if you're willing to let go of some of the stories that you've been holding on to or challenge them the way a lawyer would challenge somebody else in court. Hold up the facts of that story.

[00:33:39.510] – Allan

Yeah. Now you brought up something in the book that it's a topic that I've known about and I've thought about because I don't want to push someone to think that they need to be perfect. I'm a big fan of just progress. Just do something a little better. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it's orthorexia and this is basically kind of the other side of the coin of just not giving a damn about your health and your fitness. This is like maybe caring a little too much. Can you talk about that a little bit?

[00:34:16.130] – Alana

Yeah, that's where I was. And orthorexia as you said, it's an obsession with, quote unquote, clean eating and having a real anxiety and fear around foods that are deemed unhealthy or junk foods. And when I was in my twenty s, that was one of the things that I most certainly had. I was never diagnosed with it, and it's not in the DSM Five for diagnosable eating disorders as of yet. I know they're working on that. But I think sometimes when we want to reach a goal weight, when we want to be as healthy as possible, especially since our culture has become so obsessed with wellness, it could become an obsession. And for me, I've always been a perfectionist and in certain ways a maladaptive perfectionist. And I in my 20s, was seeking perfection through being a certain goal weight, and I wanted my body to look a certain way. But I think kind of going back to our conversation of calories and calories out. It's not that simple. I wanted six pack ABS, and that's very difficult for someone with my genetics. That's just not how our bodies are shaped. And we gain weight in our middles first in my family.

[00:35:32.190] – Alana

And I could have the six pack, I would have to get my body fat very low. I would have to eat very regimented whey. And for me to have a goal like that would mean to have a very real fear of anything that would not allow me to reach that goal. But it got to a point, obviously, when I developed an eating disorder, where I had to say, is this goal really worth it? Is eating this clean all the time really worth it? And the answer was no for me. And I actually just spoke with, I don't know if you know her, Marie Wald. She's the host of the Make Bank podcast. And she used to be a competitive bikini person. And she was saying that she had no social life when she was prepping. She felt, like, horrible all of the time in her body. And then when she was done prepping and done competing and she would eat, quote unquote, normally again in between shows, she would gain all this weight and feel so bad about her body. And I've heard similar stories like that before. I read a book called oh, gosh, madeline Moon's book, the Confessions of a Fitness Model, I think it was called.

[00:36:47.640] – Alana

Same Story. She would compete in these bikini competitions, and it was just this mental and physical struggle to reach peak perfection. But was it perfection? Is the question that's what I posed in the book as well is. I think the chapter is called The Dangers of the Perfect Body or The Myth of the Perfect Body.

[00:37:06.020] – Allan

Yeah. And I think that gets a little weird, if you will, or OD when we get over 40. And because a lot of us, I think, guys more maybe than women, we still think of ourselves like our 20 year old self. It's like, I want to go out and do the things I did when I was in my twenty s. I feel like I should be able to do those things. I think I should look like I did when I was in my 20s, when I had the six pack and had the things going on. And what I've come to realize is that my body right now won't hold on to that much muscle mass. And therefore, from a BMI perspective, or whatever you want to call it, I'm never going to be 29 again. I can be very fit. I can be very strong. I can do everything that I want to do, but I'm not going to get down to the 31 inch waist again. It's probably just not going to happen. But that's me being real with myself and understanding my physical limitations and also just understanding my lifestyle of, well, I still want to be able to go out with my friends and do stuff.

[00:38:10.860] – Allan

And if I'm going to have these detours, if you will, I'm going to go do these things. To me, I don't want the guilt. I don't want the shame of saying, well, okay, I don't have the 31 inch waist. I'll be happy with 34 and still going out and having fun with my friends.

[00:38:27.250] – Alana

Right. It's that balance of the perfect body. But what would you lose if you tried to gain that perfect body? Because it takes so much work and effort and mental and physical anguish that it's not worth it for me. And I think that's a question that the answer to, which is different for everybody, I suppose. But you can absolutely be healthy and not look the same way that you did when you were in your in high school and society glorifies the young. But we're all going to get older. Our bodies are all going to change. Women are going to go through menopause and the whole host of body changes that come along with that. And it's something to be appreciated and respected and embraced at the same time, that you could still be eating mostly nutrients, dense foods and moving your body most days and drinking your water and sleeping and managing your stress. You can be healthy without looking like the 20 something model. And that's something that I addressed in my TEDx Talk, is this fallacy and this very one dimensional view of what health is supposed to look like.

[00:39:37.690] – Allan

Yeah, and I've gone through that with my clients, too. It's like you don't have to look like a CrossFit athlete to be fit if your level of fitness is just I want to be an awesome grandfather, and when we go to the zoo, I want to be able to keep up with the grandkids. And if they want to go get in the park and roll around on the ground, I want to be able to do that, too. And so it's that kind of mentality of, okay, what do I need to be able to do? And I still see that. Like, there was a post on Facebook today. Again, a lot going on on Facebook today, I guess, but the guy was posting, what can you do? This is a 40 plus fitness level thing, as most of us were. All of us are in our older. He's like, what can you do? And so you've got people. Well, I can run a six minute mile. I'm 52 years old. And of the guys like, Well, I can. And I'm like, well, I can do everything I want to do. And he didn't like that answer, because I wasn't bragging about what I could do.

[00:40:36.880] – Allan

I was just saying if I want to be able to do it, I train around the things. I train my strength, my mobility, my stamina, my balance to be able to be the person I want to be. And beyond that, if I have a little bit more strength than I need, well, great. If I have a little bit more stamina than I need, great. But I know I can go anywhere I want to go. I can do anything I want to do. Can I do what I did when I was in the military in my twenty s? No, probably not. But I can still do a lot that I enjoy doing, and I can do everything that I need to do. And so to me, that's enough. And I think it's that line of saying, what's enough? Physically, health wise? All of it? Yeah.

[00:41:19.050] – Alana

What's enough for women especially, it's challenging not only what is health, because I ask my clients a series of questions toward the beginning of my program. Is healthy being physically afraid of a brownie? Or is healthy not having a piece of your son or daughter's birthday cake because you're too afraid of it? Is it really healthy to spend every single day at the gym without giving yourself a rest day? So not only questioning what health actually is, authentic health versus diet culture's version of health, but also what is your definition of beauty, what is your definition of worth? Because we tend to inflate all of those things together. Fitness equals health, equals worthiness equals beauty. And that is what society has served us up and that's what we've been socialized to believe. But as autonomous human beings, like you said to your client, you're a big girl. You can have the beer or the bread or whatever you want. We are allowed to subscribe to this version of health and beauty and worthiness if we want to, or we can choose to opt out. And if you opt out, yes, of course you have to contend with the fact you still live in a thin obsessed society, but you get to write those rules.

[00:42:36.900] – Alana

You get to write those rules in a way that allows you to do all the things you want to do, as you said, and also still feel good in your body.

[00:42:43.160] – Allan

Yeah. And you're not subjecting your children or grandchildren to this level of anxiety about a piece of cake or a brownie. They're seeing you live a happy, healthy life. And that's what we want. We're not going to break the diet culture paradigm. We could do it for ourselves, but we can also do it for people around us by being the example of the person who's not anxious about, oh, well, they've got this, I can't eat that, I won't eat that kind of thing.

[00:43:14.430] – Alana

Yeah. And that's definitely something. As a mom to all of your female clients over 40, we can say one thing to our children, but they always pay attention to how we act. And I have a lot of clients, I ask them about their family history and I say, well, did your parents ever put you on a diet when you were younger? And I would say a good half of them say, no, they didn't put me on a diet, but they were so hard. Like, my mom was so harsh on herself. Or my mom always used to go to Weight Watchers meetings, or she would eat something for dinner that was different than the rest of the family, or she would always pinch the fat on her arms or whatever. And when we see those things, it's generational. Eating disorders are generational. When we see those things when we're children, it's, well, I want to be like Mommy, and Mommy doesn't seem to like her body unless it looks this way, and that's what makes her feel like a good girl. So that must mean that that would make me a good girl if I was thin, too.

[00:44:17.480] – Alana

And that's how it starts.

[00:44:19.290] – Allan

Yeah. Now, this transition, if you will, to where you're starting to trust yourself, you're starting to do these things. It's not just something you pick up and you say, okay, well, Alana was right. I'm on the podcast. I'm going to start intuitive eating. It's not an easy thing. This is an intense internal piece of work. In the book, you included about, I think, 15 tips that will make the transition a little easier and a little bit more sustainable. Can you share a couple of your favorite? I have a favorite that I'll talk about in a minute, but what are some of your favorite tips that you have in the book for this transition?

[00:45:03.950] – Alana

I'm all about practicality, and you read the book, so, you know, these tips are just like, really things that you can implement the day that you read them. I'm not here to wax poetic to anybody because it sounds great, but then you're like, how do I actually implement this? So my favorite first step is always to just get rid of the scale and delete your calorie counting app, like MyFitness pal. Because if you're using external tools to determine how much or little you should be eating, you cannot actually honor any hunger and fullness cues that you're getting in your body. So that is, like, step number one. And I will say again, as somebody who would weigh herself every single day before anything else, before even a sip of water, I was so scared to not step on a scale one day and not know how much or little I could eat that day, because that's how I would determine it. But it's always scarier before you do it. The day I actually decided to not step on the scale, it was actually a relief. It was a breath of fresh air, and anxiety is fear of the future.

[00:46:08.970] – Alana

So once it was already happening, it wasn't that scary anymore. It just was. So I would definitely say that. The other tip I really enjoy, and I think it's actually a couple of different strategies in the book that fall under this umbrella, but this idea of meal planning, not in the rigid way that diet culture tells us. Like, whatever you meal prep, you have to have because it's in your macros or whatever, it's just taking an hour or two every Sunday or whatever day you have off and prepping a couple of options for breakfast and lunch or something. You don't even have to do dinner and do a couple of snacks, but just having some pre prepped, nutritiously, dense food readily available at the go. Because I think we get in the habit of eating on the go, going to the drive through, waiting till we're starving, that we don't have time to make the food. So we just gobble up whatever prepackaged garbage is available to us, instead of saying, oh, I made these yogurt parfaits for snacks. Like, they're right here. I can just grab one if I'm really hungry. So meal prepping as a flexible, gentle way to ensure that you have nutrient dense, balanced meals available to you, I think is super key.

[00:47:24.500] – Alana

And I have a ton of tricks in the book about how to meal prep so that it doesn't take 6 hours, it should take an hour to max. And I have some strategies for that.

[00:47:36.290] – Allan

My favorite was your tip number six, transition tip number six, which was freeze leftovers or fresh foods for later. And the way you put it together, there's two things that you went through. One was, okay, so someone gives you this big, huge brownie and, you know, okay, I like the brownies. I think you talked about it having brownie and fudge and chocolate chip and a whole lot of other stuff in there. And you love it, you want it, but, you know, okay, it's not in my best interest to eat all of it at one sitting, which I'd probably do if I just left it on the counter. And I keep looking at it every time I walk by it, but you cut it up into bites or pieces or whatever, and then you freeze the rest of it. And so it's like any night you want, you can go in there and say, I'd like a little bit of that, and you have a little bit of it. You feel the satiation of, oh, that was really good, but you're not eating the whole thing. And similar to what we talked about earlier, like with the potato thing, it's like because it's there, you now don't have this scarcity mindset.

[00:48:39.410] – Allan

It's like, oh, I always have something sweet, something savory, something I like, and it's put aside for when I need it, for when I want it. And so I don't have to feel like I have to eat it all because I know it's not going anywhere. It's my freezer, and it's going to be there. So it's there. So I think that ties in that the other side of it was I was thinking. I used to go out and I'd bring food home from the restaurant and it's like, okay, I'll eat that for lunch the next morning. And then I'd find myself at lunchtime and I'm like, well, I just had that last night, and that's just not fulfilling right now. It's not what I want. Yes, I could force myself to eat it. It's still good food, but it's like, yeah, if I just took it home, packaged it up, put it in the freezer, then I give myself the option to say yes or no to that particular thing, and I don't feel like I'm tied to it. Like, the clean your plate mindset that we were passed on when we were kids is like, if I want it, I'll have it, but I'll have it when I want it versus the other way around.

[00:49:47.930] – Alana

Exactly. And you put that so well. And I love the freezer hack, too, because as you kind of hinted at, it takes away that Last supper mentality, like, oh, I have to have it all now because for me, I don't waste food. I have a problem with wasting food, and for me, it would be partially, oh, I have to eat them all now because they're going to go stale and that's going to be a waste. But if you put it in the freezer, it doesn't happen, they don't get stale. So it's this way to take the pressure off and to not have that Last supper mentality.

[00:50:20.690] – Allan

Yeah. And so, like, tonight, my wife's going out with friends, they're going to have a slumber party. So I don't know if a 55 year old woman can actually go on a slumber party, but that's what they're doing. And so every time she leaves town, it's like, well, this is the time for me to cook what I want without worrying about what she wants. So it's almost always liver and onions for me because that's one of my I love liver and onions. No one else on the earth? Well, there's a couple of us, but most people don't. My wife doesn't. She says she loves smelling it, but she has no way she's going to eat it. So I'll cook it. And then what I found is sometimes I'll put it in the fridge, and then the next day, I don't really want it. And I hate again like you. I don't want to waste it, and I don't want it to go bad. But I have to admit, sometimes I just can't make myself eat it. But the idea of tonight, I cook it, I have it, and then the rest of it I put in the freezer, and then that's there for me.

[00:51:12.710] – Allan

Whenever I kind of want my fix, it's there. So I like that tip and I'm definitely going to follow it.

[00:51:20.650] – Alana

I love that. Thank you.

[00:51:22.650] – Allan

Alana. I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well.

[00:51:34.110] – Alana

Always approach nutrition from a Place of abundance. So what can you add in to your diet that's going to leave you feeling good? Is it prioritizing more protein? Is it throwing in healthy fats, fiber, water? I say journal. Journaling, I'm with you. I think when we get down about our bodies, sometimes having a gratitude journal about what we are grateful for and happy about in our lives can help pull the focus away from our bodies as this esthetic thing that we have to make perfect. So coming from a Place of Abundance, journaling and I would say emotional management. Emotional management and thought management, learning how to really listen to the voices that you hear in your head, learning how to challenge the validity of them and purposefully choosing whether you want to release them or keep them. If there's something that's serving you, great.

[00:52:39.460] – Allan

Thank you. If someone wanted to learn more about you and your book Freedom with Food and Fitness, where would you like for me to send them?

[00:52:49.270] – Alana

They can go to my website, freedomwithfoodandfitness.com. They can visit me on Instagram at freedomwithfoodandfitness. And the book came out just about two weeks ago now, so it's available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or wherever you get your books.

[00:53:05.210] – Allan

Thank you. You can go to 40 Plusfitnesspodcast.com 6118 and I'll be sure to have the links there. Alana, thank you for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

[00:53:16.430] – Alana

Thank you, Allan. This is awesome.

Post Show/Recap

[00:53:20.030] – Allan

Welcome back, Ras.

[00:53:21.890] – Rachel

Hey, Allan. I love the concept of intuitive eating. I feel like I'm a pretty good intuitive eater myself now, but certainly that is not something that comes easy. I mean, we have so many rules in our life about when we should be eating. And we're know if you have kids like when I had kids, I kind of got stuck eating what they were eating. So I didn't really have the autonomy to choose because I certainly wasn't going to prepare multiple different meals. But it's not easy to be that intuitive.

[00:53:52.980] – Allan

Yeah, it's not. When you do it, then basically what you do is you turn on all these automatic switches and our bodies, our minds, everything around us was wired for that. We were wired to have regular, consistent, almost everything. And then we could focus intently on what was different because typically what was different was dangerous. So we wander out into a field and we're used to seeing this field look a certain way and act a certain way. And suddenly we get out there and things are not that way. We realize something's in the field that wasn't there yesterday and it's changed things. So certain animals are no longer there. It looks different, it feels different. Our bodies are wired to feel that, to sense that, to not like that. And so when we look at food, we kind of get into ruts. We kind of get into things we like that comfort. We like that thing. And so there's a lot of structure without the intention behind it.

[00:54:59.650] – Rachel


[00:55:00.460] – Allan

And so what we're saying here is, again, I think it's great when you can get to the intuitive part, because then you're just walking around the forest and into the field and doing the things that you do on a daily basis, and it feels good and it feels normal. But to get there, we've got to do some mental training. We've got to get ourselves to a point where we're eating the right way and we're feeling it. We're taking the time, and we're doing these things. And that typically, in my opinion, takes some rules. So you can't just jump into and say, well, I'm going to do this intuitive eating thing. At some level, you got to say, well, what does that mean for me? What am I going to eat that's going to make me feel good? Is that going to be consistent? Does that fit my lifestyle? And so many times people will say, well, this is what I'm going to do. I'm only going to eat this food. I'm only going to eat it this often. And that's where this whole concept, which kind of got into the whole keto thing, is like, once you start keto, you always have to do keto.

[00:56:04.330] – Allan

Well, that's not entirely true for a lot of people. It is, though. I mean, for a lot of people, they go onto keto, they lose weight, they go off of keto, they go right back to the way they ate before they went into keto, and now they're not. Now, I happen to do it in a very unusual way because I talked to a nutritionist that was very heavy into food, actual food, not all the bars and all this. So it was a paleo style that I started eating. Now, the foods I gravitated to meats and vegetables, well, they put me into ketosis because I don't know how much spinach you have to eat to get out of ketosis, but I don't want to know because I've eaten a lot of spinach and not gotten out of ketosis. And so I can't even imagine how much I would have to eat of a leafy green before I would go out of ketosis. So for me, I just happened to be eating a lot of leafy greens and a lot of protein, usually in the form of beef, chicken, or pork and eggs. And I went into ketosis, and it was great for me.

[00:57:18.170] – Allan

It worked very well for me. Now it does not work for me all the time, and there were times it did not work, and then I got out of it. And so what I would say is intuitive eating is understanding with the environment that you have, what's the best that you can do with what you've got. Then when you get into it, you realize that you don't need the three or. Four servings that they bring you when you're sitting down at dinner.

[00:57:41.640] – Rachel


[00:57:42.290] – Allan

And the concept, the rule you had, the rule you had was eat everything on your plate.

[00:57:47.260] – Rachel

Oh, yeah, that's how I grew up.

[00:57:48.870] – Allan

Okay, we did. But when you walk into a restaurant and they're basically handing you four meals right? Okay. No, that rule is no longer valid. So find rules that serve you, get rid of rules that don't, and then try to make the rules. Just become a natural way that you approach things. That's intuitive. It's intuitive. When I walk in, I look at a plate and I say, oh, my God, that's four servings of pasta. It's three servings of protein, and it's four servings of pasta. And I can look at it the plate, and know that's what I'm looking at. I mean, it took two waiters to carry it to my table. You just look at it? No, this is a lot more food than I need. So I eat it slow. I focus on the protein and the vegetables. I have a little bit of the pasta because it's good, and then when I'm full, I stop.

[00:58:48.390] – Rachel

Well, that's right there is one of those cues that's important to pay attention to, is that feeling of being hungry versus the feeling of being full and.

[00:58:59.130] – Allan

Not being afraid of either, right?

[00:59:01.500] – Rachel

Yeah, for sure.

[00:59:02.580] – Allan

Some people are terrified when they're hungry. It's like, oh my God, I'm out of food, I'm going to die. Like, no, you live in a world of abundance. When you recognize that you live in a world of abundance, you can eat just about anytime you want to.

[00:59:15.730] – Rachel

Well, that's an interesting point too, Alan, because back many years ago when I worked in an office, I had to hurry up and get the kids fed, get something in my mouth before I took my daily commute to get to the office. And then when I got to the office, like everybody else, I had a pretty flexible time frame when I could have lunch. But basically you have lunch around eleven or twelve or thereabouts, and then when you get home, you got to get the kids fed. So you're eating around dinner time, or your time for dinner is what, five or 06:00 or something like that. And so you get into this rut of you're eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, but you're not thinking about whether you're hungry enough to eat that. Well, now, at this stage of my life, I can wake up in the morning and decide, well, I'm not really hungry today, so I'm going to put off breakfast until I am hungry. I'll do some chores or do my run and come back and eat when I'm hungry. But we're stuck in these ruts of these times of the day when we are just conditioned to be eating a meal and then not really feeling hungry at any particular time.

[01:00:22.440] – Rachel

And then because you're eating the meal, because it's dinner and it's in front of you and it's on your plate, you're finishing it whether you're feeling full or not. Those moments of being intuitive and being mindful and feeling the feelings about what you're eating is important, but it's not easy to get to that point.

[01:00:40.030] – Allan

No, it's not. Which is, again, why I think certain rules can be valuable. You can plate your dinner in the kitchen, so you're not dipping the spoon in to grab another serving of mashed potatoes and gravy. And so you just sit there and say you say, okay, I'm going to plate my food. This is the size of a plate that typically satiates me. I'm going to put two thirds of my plate is going to be protein, and one third of my plate is going to be protein, and two thirds will be vegetables. Okay. And maybe you want to have a starch, maybe you don't. Maybe you say, okay, I'm going to have a glass of wine with this. So there are certain rules that you're going to have, and those rules can be very helpful to keep you on track. But then there's just the point where you walk in and you're like, okay, I know my plate. I know my plate size. I know I'm usually feeling I feel pretty good when I eat that amount of food. I feel gross when I eat two or three of them on Thanksgiving, which is coming up, but it's just that whole thing of realizing or I guess it's just over.

[01:01:50.050] – Allan

I'm looking at the date this is going live. Thanksgiving is over. You're probably just now feeling good after five days of Thanksgiving and all the leftovers, but we do that, and then we don't take that information and say, okay, well, I don't want to feel that gross again, I'd like to find that point of what does a plate look like and what does it feel like. I went through precision nutrition, and that's basically how they teach portion sizes, is when you can understand the size of a portion, they usually do it relative to a body part. So your fist or your hand or something like that. And so it's just that recognizing how much food typically makes you feel satiated.

[01:02:33.830] – Rachel

Yeah, that's another mindset.

[01:02:36.850] – Allan

Slowing down and feeling it and enjoying the food is another part of this. But to start out with, you just make a rule. Okay, here's my plate. Yes. Their plate is a ten inch plate. My plate is an eight inch plate.

[01:02:50.630] – Rachel

That's a good .1.

[01:02:52.170] – Allan

Third of my plate is going to be protein, and two thirds is going to be vegetables. They may have a starch or something like that, and I may have a little bit of it, just almost like it's a condiment. Just a little spoonful on the side there that I'll enjoy. If I really love it, maybe that's the last thing I eat. So I'll eat the rest of it, and then that's the last thing. So I get it or I go ahead and just get out of the way, eat that little bit, and then go on with my plate. Whatever the rule is, however it works for you. But after that, once you get that into your system, it's not like you have to see the rule printed in front of you every day. And you have to say, okay, this is the rule. Because unfortunately, again, things are going to come up and those rules might be invalidated for periods of time. And then where are you? And so you want to be intuitive so that you can pivot and manage yourself. When those things aren't available, those rules are difficult to follow or impossible to follow.

[01:03:49.370] – Allan

But even then, I tell my clients like, okay, you're going on this business trip. Look up a couple restaurants in the area, look at what your schedule is going to be, and look at what makes, you know, one of my clients like, well, there's a Whole Foods. So in the morning I'd get up and I'd walk to the Whole Foods and I'd get something for breakfast. I didn't have a refrigerator in my room, which meant that I couldn't go do a shopping for the day and know that that food was going to be okay that evening. And I didn't want to walk over there in the evening based on the time I got off. So I'm eating a lot of crap that I wouldn't have eaten because I got stuck. And so is the whole point of, well, okay, can we manage around that? How do we manage around that? And maybe there is some situations where, okay, I'm just going to have to eat a little bit of crap for a few days, but I'm going to eat a big ass breakfast because I got control of that, and then I'll eat less of that in the evening because I know I don't need it.

[01:04:49.450] – Allan

And so it's just rules and intuitive, I think, when they're put together and managed properly are the way you're going to get through this and find your way, because there isn't a way, there's your way. And that's one of the things about this freedom part, is that you're not trying to be somebody else. You're not trying to live someone else's life, you're not trying to follow someone else's example. You're finding a way of eating that fits you, serves you. You're eating the foods that fit you and serve you, and you're doing it in a way that just feels more natural to you. And that typically is going to have to start with some rules until you figure all that out, and then it can become much more automatic.

[01:05:29.510] – Rachel

Yeah, that's absolutely perfect. Alan I just want to highlight, too, that, like you said, we were also different. You and I both found keto is our kind of preferred way of eating, but we don't eat it that way 100% of the time either. But someone else might enjoy the whole vegan vegetarian aspect. I hate when people feel attacked when they choose a way of eating and somebody is making fun of them for choosing that. You just need to find what works for you and be happy that you found your favorite way of eating. Certain foods agree with us. Certain foods don't. And I think that people just should experiment and find what really works for them.

[01:06:09.990] – Allan

I agree. All right, well, I'll talk to you next week.

[01:06:13.910] – Rachel

Great. Take care, Ellen.

[01:06:15.470] – Allan

You too.

[01:06:16.320] – Rachel

Thank you.

[01:06:17.230] – Allan

Bye bye.

[01:06:18.270] – Rachel


Music by Dave Gerhart


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