The “F” word – My relationship with FOOD

Leigh Chmilar Healthy Food

I’ve always been physically active – as a kid I played on multiple sports teams, while participating in swimming lessons and any other activity my parents could put me in to keep me out of trouble. So staying active hasn’t really been a challenge for me, and yet I didn’t LOVE my body.

I loved that I was strong, and (pretty) fast, which made me a decent basketball player, and that’s pretty much all I cared about. But yet, I was unhappy with how clothes fit, how I looked at certain angles, etc. I never considered myself overweight (and neither did other people) – I actually told myself that I had a larger frame, that I was built to always be above 130 lbs (I fluctuated between 137 – 145 lbs), that muscle weighed more than fat, so I was just more muscular than girls that were “skinnier” than I. My favorite excuse that I had (and many others have) was that I must have a slow metabolism.

I told myself…that muscle weighed more than fat, and that’s why I’d never be skinny

Ladies, does this sound familiar? So, a few years ago, I decided to try a “diet”. Actually I tried a few, both were similar – but not sustainable for me, as I had to give everything “bad” up. So I would lose weight, but end up gaining most of the weight back when I tried to do it long-term. I wasn’t looking for a quick fix, but more of a new “FOOD” lifestyle. I wanted to do something sustainable that could keep me feeling good about myself, but not making me calorie-obsessive. I was interested to see what I could do for my body if I just put my mind to it and really putting in a solid effort.

I decided to get in contact with a dear friend named Jennifer Powter (who happens to be a Certified Exercise Physiologist), and also happens to work for an incredible company (Fit Metabolism) that helps people achieve permanent weight loss by scientifically calculating their metabolism (the amount of calories your body burns in a day without doing any activity), and then creating a nutrition template (NOT a diet) for them that can help them achieve their goals. This was my science experiment. I exercised a LOT, and had tried diets before, which is why I was doubtful that I would see change. I worked out HARD 5-6 days per week, and a few days there were two workouts in one day. I teach group fitness part time, so I was actually leading the classes – I didn’t have time for my own training at the time.

The results of my metabolic assessment astounded me! My metabolism was quite high actually – a whopping 1500 calories/day, with a really high efficiency, due to how active I was. What did this mean for me though? Why wasn’t I losing weight if my body was efficient and not broken?

The answer: I was simply eating too much, and eating too much of the wrong foods. BOOM. That landed hard.

I was simply eating too much…and the wrong foods too often

The plan created for me was extremely flexible. It meant that based on the amount I exercised, I could still have the things I loved, like wine, cheese and those little things we all need to stay sane. I just shouldn’t have them every day, and make sure I was eating healthy the rest of the time. Okay, I could do that. So in four weeks, I dropped 12 lbs. I was blown away! I had never in my life remembered being under 130 lbs. At least since I started weighing myself. I dropped a whole pant/dress size, and loved the way I looked, and most importantly, the way I felt. So now, I’m still maintaining a healthy weight below 130 lbs, and I don’t feel restricted in any way. The amazing thing I did not expect was that my performance in sports, my fitness instructing, and overall energy levels have increased.

Alright so here’s essentially what I did:

1. Portion Sizes! I make sure I stick to the proper portion sizes for my size and metabolism. I’m very conscious about how much food I’m putting on my plate and ensuring I’m not overdoing portions. If you’re a small person – you need LESS food!
2. Eat more foods that are less dense. This means eat stuff that will keep you full, that won’t load you up with calories! Vegetables: lots and lots of ‘em! I basically try to avoid trail mix and granolas because they are not satisfying in small quantities, so I would tend to eat too much of them.
3. Drink more water! I know everyone says that, but it’s so critical to your health and performance. Sugary drinks and juices are liquid calories that don’t fill you up, provide your body with unnecessary chemicals that your body needs to filter, and will sabotage any weight loss goals you may have.

Now that I see how important nutrition plays into health and fitness, I have become so passionate about sharing this with people. I am in the process of becoming a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, so that I can help people with their quarrels with food. After all – we need food, it isn’t going anywhere and it shouldn’t be challenging or stressful! We should be able to enjoy it, and still have the healthy bodies we work so hard for!

Photo by Sean Williams (Seanings Photography)

Photo by Sean Williams (Seanings Photography)

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