On this page you will find information about how to live a healthy lifestyle. I don’t want to say I’m the final word on all health concerns, but I do know quite a bit of information on health.
Enzymes in your cells break down the nutrients in the foods you eat so the body can use them. Your body needs a lot of nutrients, so young people need to eat a lot of foods to get those nutrients. I used to think I would gain weight if I ate 2,000 calories a day. Turns out I maintain my weight eating even more than that – about 2,100 calories per day. Furthermore, if I wasn’t still so darn stubborn, my knowledgeable dietician informs me I could totally eat even more than I do now on some days and I wouldn’t gain weight. Think about it: if it’s your brother’s birthday (today, September 19th) and there’s cake in the house, you might eat a piece of cake, even though it’s a few calories more than the small snack – or nothing – you would have had after dinner otherwise. Do you gain weight from eating that extra 200, 300, 500 calories? No! Just like you don’t lose weight if you don’t eat a piece of cake, or don’t have a snack after dinner. The body works the same way in terms of losing weight as it does in terms of gaining weight – it’s not conspiring against you to make you gain weight.
Your body doesn’t need to have the exact same number of calories every day to maintain the same weight. People eat a totally different amount from day to day naturally, just depending on how much their body is telling them to eat. Your body gets hungry to tell you you need nutrients. Once you have consumed enough nutrients, your body activates its “shut-off switch”, making you feel full. This way, people consume what they need, and no more. All you have to do is listen to your body, and eat what you need. This is also why it’s unhealthy to fast, or not eat for long periods of time: when you finally do allow yourself to eat, your body’s “shut-off switch” is disabled and you’re likely to end up eating more than you need, because your primal instincts are telling your body you will be starving again soon, this may be the last burst of food for a long time. Back in the caveman days, you’d need to store some fat for the next period of starvation, so you’d eat a ton of mammoth meat and store the extra as fat. Modernly, we civilized humans don’t need to gorge ourselves, because luckily (in most parts of the world) there’s no chance we’ll soon be starving and need that extra fat stored on our bodies. So we can do what the cavemen did when mammoths were plentiful, just as food is plentiful in our time: we eat at regular intervals – every 4 or 4 and a half hours at least. This is how humans were meant to eat, and eating like this will keep your “shut-off switch” working properly, to make sure you eat just enough.
You would need to 3,5oo calories above what your body needs in order to function to gain one pound. This means that, to gain a pound in one day, you’d need to eat 2,000 + 3,500 = 5,500 calories in a day! That’s just gross; you’d have to be trying to gain weight. A common question is, “Don’t the little bits extra I might eat, day by day, accumulate into 3,500 over a period of time?” The answer to this question is no, if you eat a few extra calories every once in a while your body easily absorbs it.
I should also mention that people who are very active because they’re involved in sports, or do a lot of exercise daily, these people need to eat even more than 2,000 calories a day. That’s why the “Daily Values” on cereal boxes and stuff always say the percent daily values vary from person to person depending on their daily calorie needs. Some people need more nutrients per day because of their active lifestyle, but everyone needs quite a lot. Even if you aren’t active or involved in sports, you burn calories just by going through all your daily processes, and you need more calories than some may think. I used to watch my friends at school eating donuts, cupcakes, sandwiches, all the “forbidden foods” I wasn’t allowing myself to eat, and I used to wonder how these people ate so much without gaining weight. Now, I can eat all of those things, and they can totally fit into my daily meal plan. I know I won’t gain weight from eating delicious food, but I will gain the energy I need to do things I love, like socializing, nail art, and working on my blog.
Diet and Eating
A lot of girls, especially in high school, think they have to go on crazy fad diets and deprive themselves to lose weight or to stay slender. I used to be one of those girls, and I would go online and research ways to lose weight fast. Many of the websites I found told me to eat a ridiculously little amount, for two weeks or so, and that if I did this I would magically lose weight. A general rule regarding any piece of eating advice you see online or hear from friends, etcetera, that seems radical, drastic or torturous: IGNORE IT!!!!! These painful, radical dieting ideas are unhealthy, inaccurate… and unnecessary.
To prove just how wrong all these starvation – supporting websites and diets are, let me give you an example of my daily meals.
I eat a breakfast of 700 – 800 calories. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day! In the breakfast shown above, I have a banana ready to be spread with Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter, a strawberry Greek yogurt with sliced fresh strawberries on top (fruit is important for breakfast), two scrambled eggs with Swiss and Cheddar cheese that I made myself (the eggs not the cheese 🙂 and a gluten free donut from Whole Foods (as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I love inserting dessert foods into breakfast!)
I have the whole thing with a glass of water. It’s always healthy to drink water with meals; it helps your cells process the sugars from the food and maintain homeostasis. Plus, water helps fuel your body and brain with nutrients.
My lunches are between 500 and 600 calories. I used to think lunch was just for wimps who couldn’t handle waiting all day to eat, but that isn’t true at all! You need to eat at midday to keep your blood sugar up so you can function. In this lunch, I have a grilled cheese sandwich I made myself, along with a serving of Special K cracker chips (which are actually quite good) and a handful of baby carrots.
I eat a variety of different things for dinner. Sometimes I have a vegetarian burrito (pictured above) from take-out Mexican restaurants such as Chipotle or Baja Fresh. I don’t get sour cream in my burritos, because I don’t really like the taste. Furthermore, it isn’t really healthy because it contains a high amount of trans fats. Instead, I have a spoon of guacamole in my burrito – guacamole does contain fat, but it’s the healthy type of fat: polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. These fats are good for you because they keep your skin glowing and all your hormonal processes happening properly. (Yes, hormones can really suck sometimes, but we need them to survive!) Other examples of things I might have for dinner include salads, veggie sandwiches, pasta, tofu, rice (ideally brown rice since it’s higher in fiber) and potatoes. My dinners are usually higher in vegetables and carbohydrates than protein, because carbs provide energy that is easy for the body to access and people generally need more of that than protein for long term energy. However, it is important to get some protein in every meal. I get most of my protein in the mornings with Greek yogurt.
Snacks and Desserts
Most experts agree that it is healthier to eat 4 to 6 smaller meals throughout the day, rather than just 3 big meals. I try to fit in some time to eat snacks about twice a day, though with my busy schedule lately it often doesn’t happen. Still, I don’t often fail to eat a dessert in the evenings. Sometimes I have two little frozen almondmilk sandwiches from So Delicious brand (above). They are actually quite good, though I don’t recommend the chocolate soy ice cream bars. For my other snacks throughout the day, I might have bananas, crackers, yogurt, sorbet, or some of my own baked items (which occasionally turn out well) just to name a few examples.
I used to think I needed to go out of my way to do exercise and burn calories: I’d wake up early and go running on weekends, which sucked. The truth is, this isn’t necessary at all! I now only go running once or twice a week, because I like running short distances (1-2 miles.) I also take walks of about a mile on weekends. In school, I take a yoga class, and also get a workout just from zipping around campus to all my classes during the passing periods. I don’t need to inject a crazy amount of exercise into my life in order to stay healthy and maintain my weight. I just do a comfortable amount of exercise. I don’t really try to stay active, it just happens because I want to go walk to the Promenade or because I’m in choir practice at my synagouge and we’re standing up as we sing. Even studying burns calories – really! You exercise just by living your life. So don’t worry about getting enough exercise or needing to burn calories.
As I am writing this, I still don’t really have the best mindset. In my opinion, the ideal mindset for a person to have is that their body is their temple, and they should keep it healthy. Also, the temple must not be profaned by speaking rudely about it: every time you say “I’m fat,” it’s like spraying ugly graffiti on the priceless walls and pillars of the temple. I’m not suggesting we should all worship ourselves or make burnt sacrifices in our mouths or something. I’m just saying not to be too hard on yourself, because everyone is beautiful. When I’m walking around at school every day, I see girls and boys and adult women and men of all different shapes, heights, body types, a rainbow of different colors and clothing styles. And I don’t personally see anyone ugly: everyone has something to recommend them. So why do I come home and look in the mirror and make a face because I’m not the perfect image of what I wish I was? Am I the only person in my whole school, the only person on Earth who is fat? No, I’m just seeing it that way because we all hold ourselves to different standards than we hold others. Ever woman gets distortions if she’s looking in the mirror and she hasn’t had the best day. I believe everyone who feels like they need to change their appearance should focus on changing their mindset first. It’s definitely easier said than done, but it’s something I’m working on. Anyone who thinks this could help them be happier and healthier is totally welcome to join me in my work.