Mirna’s story, Registered Holistic Nutritionist™, Realistic Foodie, Wifey
“Don’t try to be or look like anyone else… Just be the best version of YOURSELF inside out” – Mirna.
My story with food and nutrition started when I was 16. Although, the image of a perfect body that I got used to seeing in magazines was probably already brewing in there since I hit puberty at 11. That’s when I suddenly started to gain a bit of weight around my hips while some of my other classmates had what I saw as the “magazine perfect” bodies.
My first diet attempt came a few years later when I was accepted into a talent show at 16 (yes, not many people know about this…not even some of my closest friends and I’m not sharing the video 🙂 ).
It was not a secret that I wanted to lose weight and I remember one of the show staff telling me about this amazing diet where I could lose at least 1-2 kilos per week. All I had to do was limit or cut out carbs and eat zero or low fat foods…and dramatically decrease my calories, of course!
The result? I lost 15 pounds that month and it really showed! I felt amazing and more confident. Mind you, I didn’t have that much to lose in the first place. At 16 it wasn’t that hard and this first experience set this idea in my head that I could do this anytime I wanted to lose weight. I became obsessed with counting calories, low fat foods and what in my mind back then was healthy eating.
Throughout the years and all through university I was in a constant yo-yo cycle of +/-30 pounds. Eventually, it had an impact on more than just my weight- I suffered from iron deficiency, awful PMS symptoms, hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, extreme cravings and strep throat infections every 3-4 months.
I never even thought that any of my symptoms could be related to my diet, but in my mid-twenties I started educating myself, and making small changes to my lifestyle. My transformation started very slowly- going from no breakfast (because I used to save calories) which meant just a cup of coffee, to commercial cereal (yes, I’ve tried the Special K diet), to instant oats… I did start to experience some positive changes and this is what led me to discover nutrition and completely transform my career a few years later.
It was 2013, and my hubby and I moved to Toronto – Canada, from Dubai – UAE where I held a corporate position in HR. That’s when I made the decision that I will pursue my passion and I completed the Natural Nutrition program from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition (that’s how Jenni and I met, too!).
Years of my own struggles coupled with this newfound knowledge really opened my mind to not only the physical aspects of nutrition, but to the way we think about our bodies and treat our bodies every day. I’m sharing the 5 biggest lessons I learned along the way as well as my thoughts on what “healthy” means to me in hopes that it you will find your healthy too.
1) Nutrition advice is always changing.
Fat is bad, fat is good…
Don’t eat eggs, eggs are the healthiest source of protein…
BEWARE, the sugar in that slice of cake is killing you!
You get it, one day a food is bad, the next day it’s something that you shouldn’t live without. The truth is that there is so much we know about food and nutrition, and despite all the advances there’s so much more that we still don’t know. We also forget that each one of us is unique and our diets should be too!
But, it always seems to be about the headlines, the controversy, the next big thing, the magic solution.
We tend to overcomplicate something that is very simple.
What we do know:
- Drink water.
- Eat more whole, plant-based foods such as whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables.
- Eat less animal products, heavy refined and process foods.
- Enjoy some chocolate, have a glass of wine or slice of pizza if it makes you happy.
- Laugh more.
- Find an exercise you enjoy.
One donut, a slice of pizza or some French fries will not make or break good health. It’s the habits that you develop day in and day out that matter.
2) Size doesn’t matter!
Not your dress size, not your jeans size… Last year, I finally decided to part with all those clothes that were a couple of sizes too small (you know, the skinny jeans tucked in your closet in hopes that someday, MAYBE, you’ll be able to wear them again).
Why did I do that? Because, while I was feeling so much better physically, some part of me was still stuck on that number on the scale and fitting into those jeans I’d been holding on to for 6-7 years now. It felt GOOD.
It’s a mindset shift and this was one thing holding me back.
When you let go of the negative thoughts and accept yourself as the beautiful being that you are, you can finally break free and experience the true change that you desire in your life. It doesn’t mean giving up, it doesn’t mean not doing anything, it doesn’t mean failure…it simply means loving yourself and just being, YOU!
Bottom line: Give yourself some love, Be comfortable (that goes for high heels too, for me at least, for now 😉 )
3) Balance is everything. BUT, don’t make rules about it!
It’s funny because we talk about balance and moderation, but in most cases that includes rules of its own:
- 80/20 rule
- Eat healthy 5 days a week, eat/drink whatever you want on the weekend
- Don’t eat more than 1 ice cream per week
- Only eat pizza once a month
- You can eat chocolate, but stick to 1 chocolate square
- Don’t eat after 8:00pm
Those are rules and they keep you stuck in the diet mindset. If you break them, you have done something wrong and you somehow have to make it up to get back on track.
What will happen if you ate an entire bar of chocolate today? Probably nothing. Or, you may get bloated or break out. Naturally, you will learn how foods make you feel and you will have the power and choice to have them or not to have them, knowing the consequences.
When I started applying this to my own lifestyle, I finally felt free. I felt in control. I had the power and the choice and I gradually started focusing on the foods that made me feel good both physically and emotionally.
And, you’re not going to suddenly wake up one day and make all those changes. It’s not going to happen overnight. It took me years of small baby steps to get to where I am now and I’m not perfect. There are days where I overeat, have one too many glasses of wine or sit in my PJs all day without moving. It happens and I simply move on.
French fries, chocolate, burgers, pasta and cheese are all part of my diet. Do I have them all the time? No, but that is my choice because my body feels better when it’s balanced.
4) It’s ok to want to lose weight, ONLY if…
You may be thinking- this goes against everything you said above… Hmmm, not really!
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight so you:
- Can fully enjoy your morning jog.
- Feel less bloated, and experience less digestive issues.
- Feel more energized to be able to travel, explore, spend time with your little ones or truly enjoying your mornings.
That requires some effort, lifestyle and diet changes and in most cases, you will end up losing a few pounds.
The secret is to take baby steps and make those changes fit your lifestyle…to know the point where you feel happy, healthy and energized to do everything you love. And, that is very individual. I feel better now than when I was 10 pounds lighter.
5) Every day is the weekend. HELL, YEAH!
When you are restricting yourself, you may have “cheat” days or rules to eat whatever you want over the weekend and then be “good” during the week.
Who wants to wait a whole week for a slice of pizza? If you’re trying really hard not to eat something, it means you’re dieting and that may lead to a very unhealthy relationship with food and a constant binge/restrict cycle.
Allow yourself to enjoy a piece of cake whenever you feel like (there are many healthy & delicious recipes here). Enjoy it not because it’s the weekend, not because it’s someone’s birthday but because that’s what you want and feel like at this moment in time…without thinking about calories, weight gain or the amount of exercise you need to burn it off.
Being healthy and feeling good means being able to enjoy your life, travelling and being out with family and friends without obsessing about every single ingredient on your plate.
There’s so much nutrition information out there… so much of what we should be doing, what we should be eating or avoiding… but today, I just want you to silence the noise and just simply focus on YOU!
What do you feel like? What do you want? What makes you happy? What makes you smile? Give yourself permission to enjoy it without the rules and without the guilt!
And, let me know what steps you will be taking today towards your “healthy” in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
In love, health & kindness,