Take a seat, little one
Last week, I was talking to one of our athletes about my history of eating…
(Or not eating)
And my compensatory exercise behaviour as a teen.
He asked me what health and fitness advice I would give to my younger self.
This really got me thinking.
I actually didn’t have a solid answer and fumbled with it a bit.
So, I went to the drawing board and gave it some real thought.
Here is what I came up with…
#1. Eat foods that you love and make you feel good
When I was learning to get back into normal eating, I would eat popcorn at the movies.
Well, I don’t actually like popcorn,
I just ate it because I thought it was normal.
Now, I take my baby carrots to the theatre.
I like eating carrots,
They make me feel good.
Popcorn doesn’t make me feel good.
Conversely, I love Jeanne’s cake…and it makes me feel good,
So, I eat that too.
Just enjoy food that you love,
And listen to your hunger and fullness cues.
#2. Don’t get caught up in always doing traditional exercise in a gym, activity can come in a variety of forms
Don’t get me wrong, I love being in the gym,
But that’s all I thought I should be doing,
And I missed out on opportunities to engage with others,
To reduce stress and anxiety,
And just have fun.
Don’t forget the value that being outside can have on your physical, mental and emotional self,
The value of playing pick-up with your friends,
Or the value of just grabbing your skateboard and going for a rip.
Do things that you love with people that you want to be around.
#3. Go to the gym 3-4 times per week to lift and get strong
As a teen, going for the odd walk,
And skateboarding should take care of your cardio.
Go to the gym to get strong and to get better for other activities.
Don’t go to the gym to burn Calories.
#4. Nutrient timing probably doesn’t matter
After I got out of the hospital and I started to try to gain some weight back,
There was a bunch of research coming out about nutrient timing.
Basically, it was suggesting that you had a 45-minute window after exercise to take in a 1:3 protein: carb bolus in the form of liquid nutrition.
And if you didn’t take advantage of that window,
Your gains would be bucked.
Plus, before and in your workout,
You needed to take in a 1:4 protein to carb ratio to maximize your gains.
So, here I am measuring out these amounts exactly,
Drinking my intra-workout drink
and then rushing to the change-room after my workout to drink my post-workout shake.
Well, we since learned that this doesn’t really matter.
And although there is a window of heightened sensitivity to carbs and protein after a workout, it may last for hours.
Also, a lot of what you need is dependent on what you ate before the workout.
So, if you eat a solid protein-carb meal before the workout,
your protein timing is not so dire afterward.
Basically, if you have a meal consisting of carbs and protein 1-2 hours before working out,
And a meal consisting of carbs and protein 1-2 hours after a work-out,
Your bases should be covered.
#5. Learn to manage stress
As you may have guessed,
I was pretty worked up about a lot of things.
I worried about exams,
I worried about assignments,
I worried about how I looked,
I worried about hockey games,
I worried about how much I was eating,
And it all ate away at me.
if I would have known some stress management practices,
and the value of being out in nature,
I would have been way better off.
Plus, studying stoicism would have given me a better outlook about what I can control,
what I can’t,
And how to manage my feelings and emotions.
#6. Don’t miss out on stuff because you want to stick to your diet
There were several times when I would not go out with friends because I didn’t want to “mess up” my diet.
And eventually, people stopped asking me to go out because they know what the answer was going to be.
Use going out to eat as an opportunity to practice bouncing back,
And an opportunity to practice eating slowly and mindfully.
Tune into your body cues,
Put your fork down between bites,
Enjoy the company of your friends,
Then get back on track with your eating the next time you have a meal.
#7. Don’t quit hockey
Like we talked about above, learning to manage stress and anxiety would have been useful here.
I was good at hockey.
I liked to practice,
I just disliked the pressure of games.
I would think about the game all day and I wouldn’t be able to get anything done.
If I could have used some imagery techniques,
I would have probably played right through my high school years.
#8. Don’t quit skateboarding
Ugh, this one kills me.
I still to this day don’t know exactly why I quit skateboarding.
Again, I was good at it,
But more than that, I loved it.
It was my absolute favourite thing to do.
I thought about it a large portion of the day,
I had posters of skaters on my walls,
I would get up early to skateboard,
And I got completely absorbed in the activity when I did it.
One of the factors that led to me quitting may have been that I felt the need to have more time to study…
I wanted to get scholarships for university,
But I wish I would have understood that a balance of socialization and academics is more ideal than strictly academics.
I definitely lost some good friends over this.
#9. Sleep more
Sleep is pretty essential…
Especially for a growing person.
I would wake up at 4:30 am every day… as a teen!
There was likely no need for this.
I missed out on a whole host of benefits because of accumulated sleep debt in my teens.
Aiming for that elusive 7-9 hours is ideal,
And even going up to 8-10 hours per night may be necessary if you’re still growing.
#10. Don’t worry about counting Calories
Calorie counts of food can be off by up to 20%.
Plus, the absorption of Calories you do take in varies based on the type of food you eat,
The state of the good bacteria in your gut,
And how the food is cut, chopped or processed.
Instead, learn to eat according to hunger and fullness,
Or if that’s too difficult at the beginning,
use the hand-based portion guide:
1 fist = 1 serving of vegetables
1 palm = 1 serving of protein
1 cupped handful = 1 serving of carbohydrates
1 thumb = 1 serving of fat
In regards to Calorie expenditure – these estimates can be off by up to 20-30%.
So just chill out,
Do stuff that you love,
Eat according to your hunger and fullness,
And you’ll be fine.
Of course, hindsight is 20-20.
Looking back, it makes perfect sense that I should have done “X”
And I should have done “Y”,
But, maybe the choices I made as a younger person were a gift.
Maybe these choices gave me the awareness,
And ambition that makes me who I am today.
I think you can probably look back and give yourself some advice too,
But the things we go through make us who we are.
It’s all about what you do with it today.