I’ll be the first one to put my hand up and say I feel like I’ve spent a lot of my life struggling against my body. Having a naturally stockier build, or ‘sausage body’ as I like to lovingly call it, I definitely went through a chubby phase in my tween years.
Struggling to lose weight & feel good
It’s a classic story a lot of people can probably relate to, men and women alike. Working through puberty, wanting to look good and feel attractive, all while being bombarded by all sorts of confusing, conflicting and media-hyped messages about fitness and nutrition. I remember always being told that if I exercised enough, I could eat whatever I want. However, being a bookish kid, I usually didn’t exercise much, but still wanted to eat tasty snacks. So I would feel guilty about food and always be trying to “eat less and exercise more”.
How guilt-inducing, frustrating and exhausting is the Eat Less & Exercise More approach?!
All too many people, myself included, find that that whole thing only ends with disappointment and hating your body even more. It’s high time for a better strategy.
Surprise: you’re an animal!
Here’s a thought: last time you went to the zoo and you were looking at those chimps and gorillas, did it strike you how similar they are to us? How despite all our fancy clothes and perfumed soap, we’re really just animals too?
Animals don’t sit around stressing about whether they ate too many bugs or leaves, they just know what’s right for them to eat, and how much, and they just go on enjoying life with a fit, muscular, healthy body. Shouldn’t we feel that way too? Wouldn’t that be incredibly liberating?
If we look at ourselves as the ‘humanimals’ that we are, living in our habitat, we can gain insight into what our genes are programmed to thrive on, and understand why we may seek out or crave certain foods. From that basis of simple knowledge, we can move forward eating and enjoying food care-free, while having that fit, healthy, happy body.
Understanding the ‘humanimal’ mind
You’re going to be so relieved after you read this. There is a solid scientific reason you crave, dream about, and feel drawn to all those tasty sugary naughty junky foods. Your brain is literally programmed to be able to pick them out of a crowd.
The reason is that we’ve evolved very little since we were hunter-gatherers, living off of the land and what we were lucky or clever enough to find/kill that day. Therefore if we were scanning the landscape and there is a calorie-rich food source visible (let’s say some nice sugary berries) our eyes snap right to it and we feel alarms in our brain like “FOOD! RIGHT THERE! OMG FOOD! EAT! EEEEEAT.” This is because in general the hunter-gatherer approach would be to eat more when food is available, since we don’t know if it will be available tomorrow.
Well, your brain has precious little, if anything, different from that hunting-gathering ancestor of yours. So you get precisely those same EATRIGHTNOW signals when you slap eyes on an ooey-gooey grilled cheese sandwich, or a picture of a chocolate cake. (I started drooling typing that, wow. There’s the animal brain for ya!)
Cravings are not a bad thing
We’ve been taught and guilted into feeling like whenever we crave a food, we are naughty naughty bad and we should just quell that down and control ourselves. If we give in to cravings we will just be fat and ugly forever.
Newsflash: those cravings are literally programmed into your DNA. They are your body telling you what it needs right now.
But, this message comes with a very important caveat. These days, our body’s signals can be a liiiiiittle bit confused, what with our modern flashy environment and unnatural foods and chemicals and distractions, etc. So, your body may be telling you that you “need to eat 2 burgers and an ice cream after yes definitely the ice cream”, however there is a lot at play there.
You also may crave more food after you’ve just eaten because the food may not have been very nourishing, or you may be needing water. Therefore your body sends signals to eat more because it is seeking more water or nutrients.
It doesn’t know how to tell you “I need vitamin C!” or “Feed me some omega 3’s!”, all it can say is “eat!” and hope that it can get some of what it needs from there.
Our ancient brains are overwhelmed in this modern world
Studies show that historically food would definitely not have been constantly available, and we would have been a lot more programmed to be able to survive off of fat stores. We would be easily able to switch to burning our body fat to get us through a few days of not finding much food.
The problem is nowadays we have food available constantly. Our monkey brains are programmed to pick out high-carb, sugary foods to be able to survive and get energy fast, but now we’re literally surrounded by those foods, at arm’s reach, ALL the time. And our monkey brains still want them just as bad.
Foods high in carbs and sugars convert to fat the fastest when we eat them. They are a quick easy source of energy and our bodies just love to store them away for later use. That includes a sweet potato or whole-grain cereal just as much as a cupcake or chocolate bar.
Because these foods burn the fastest, they often leave us in the lurch. We swing from “Mmm yummy i’m full that was delicious” to “OMG I am HANGRY, FEED ME NOW”, waaaay too fast.
The thing is, once you understand WHY you have cravings and get hungry way too often, it’s so easy to re-program your approach to work WITH your genes and that crazy monkey brain.
It doesn’t need to be complicated. The monkey brain is simple, and we can have it in our palm in no time. How to get there you ask? It’s all about breaking the sugar/carb addiction, and choosing more nourishing foods.
How to keep your monkey brain happy, not hangry
- Eat more fat – Yes, fat! Avocados, salmon, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, full-fat milk, full-fat greek yogurt, quality cheese, eggs. It’s aaaaall good baby!
- Eat good quality protein – Organically raised, happy, free-range animals and fish. Dairy and eggs from the same.
- Get good sleep – Those hunger signals we were talking about before get just sooo much more confused when you are tired. The energy has to come from somewhere, and if you’re not rested, you’re going to be mighty tempted to get it from a chocolate chip muffin.
- Use a proven plan – I love programs like the 21 Day Sugar Detox, which is wildly popular and gets rave reviews left right and center. It’s a fast and well-tested way to press the reset button and learn how to work WITH those genes instead of against them.
- Lose the body shame! – Once you understand what you’re genetically programmed to want, you realize it’s not your fault. Using a simple program like the 21DSD teaches you to be confident in the right food choices, enjoy eating, and get on with living life! Enough said!
I hope you’ve enjoyed these guidelines on how to make your genes work for you.
If you want a well-engineered plan to take away all the mind-sweat and give you an excellent kickstart, more info on the 21 Day Sugar Detox can be found by clicking the image below! Cheers!