For a long time we’ve been near obsessed with calories and exercise. But we’ve tended to favor these in abundance at the expense of their foundations. Chances are, most of our health and fitness problems, and in that order, are because we’re nutrient not calorie deficient and likewise movement not exercise deficient.
You’re body is changing all the time. So you can’t just eat the same food you’ve always eaten, and likewise one food might be healthy for a sibling or spouse but not for you. We have to listen to our bodies and eat how we feel. Daily.
Similarly, a corrective exercise might look hard and a great achievement and have worked for a friend, or reps and sets of exercises might seem good for you because you’ve read about them, but they’re not specific to you. It’s why we probably need daily spotting when moving our bodies: some people hire a trainer, others use a mirror and self-limiting movement, naturally correcting, is a great technique for self training. That way we can listen to our bodies and move how you feel. Daily.
If you’ve been reading the blog, you’ll know that I’m currently pregnant. And that’s pretty much a miracle in itself considering my recent four-year survival from brain tumor and the resultant excess cerebral spinal fluid I experienced daily as a headache. This excess is inflammation that was previously surrounding my tennis ball sized tumor, a mix of hormones mostly cortisol based (and with approximately ten years in the making it’s no wonder it’s taken its sweet time to re-equalize): all the nutrients I eat have been going into healing my brain and making this inflammatory cortisol. So the mere fact that the cortisol cascade has been enough to descend below that to the lower priority sex hormones and to be fertile at the same time is pretty miraculous!
It’s also a funny story thinking of the ‘improbability’ of my conceiving. I thought I’d miscarried in September, and three pregnancy tests all two weeks apart after that were negative. As a result our NYC marathon plans we taken aback with the resultant fatigue I felt so we decided to go to Nicaragua, for a marathon of surfing instead! It was perfect weather and perfect waves. But when I got home I still didn’t feel right and it was 6 weeks since my last period so I went for a check up and low and behold we found the ‘problem’: I was 4.5 months pregnant!
Not only had I kept moving my body as I always have – running (albeit shorter durations), bouldering (v2/3 not v4/5 now with my belly in the way), surfing (ok, this is getting out of the question!), tennis, standup paddling, even snow shoeing to 9000feet at Christmas! It’s not that I’ve just started these things – I’ve been running most of my life and have done three NYC marathons; I’ve been bouldering for 15 or more years, and snow shoeing instead of skiing this year – but I’ve listened to how I’ve felt and napped if needed or eased off if I was tired.
I also had no morning sickness because I was healthy (I didn’t even know I was pregnant). Morning sickness is not inevitable, just ‘normal’. Nor did I or have I had any cravings which are really signs of nutrient deficiencies. Here are some great nutrient dense foods you can make yourself.
Which leads me to another thing I have noticed is that the whole ‘eating for two’ idea is not right for me. If you think about it, all my organs are now being pushed up under my ribs. I try to eat well, understanding too well that what I eat is becoming my son, but I just can’t eat a lot. Perhaps my husband is eating for two when he discovers my leftovers! A midwife suggested eating lots of smaller meals but having trained my body to love fat with all my brain healing as well as the blood sugar response of smaller meals and that lack of rest for my digestive system, I’ve had to really knuckle down in nutrient density. Here’s a downloadable PDF, which shows some of the nutrient-dense foods we should include in our diet on a regular basis (according to Dr. Weston A Price’s research) in a rough order from most nutrient dense at the top of the list to least. It covers the food most often easily accessible to use that is nutrient dense. It also means I can add lots of healthy fats and their benefits for me and my baby.
And the same goes for my increasing size and belly: I have to train to put on weight (currently over 20% of my starting weight) as well as balance my changing center of gravity. Or risk pain and discomfort.
These keys to health and fitness is relevant to everyone, pregnant or no: stop scrutinizing what’s wrong with your body and start noticing things that are right:
- Stop focusing on how to make your squat better; instead focus on how your squat makes you better.
- Stop focusing on how to eat healthy; instead how your food makes you feel more energy.
Symptoms are our bodies talking to us, messages it’s telling us that we can answer with food and movement needs daily; health and fitness are not just things to aim for one day.
- You’re not calorie-, but nutrient-deficient.
The goal is nutrient sufficiency. First eat what you need, then what you’d like if you’ve room. Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much, to quote Michael Pollan. Eat first what you need, heal your gut, digest well and get nutrient rich.
- You’re not exercise-, but movement-deficient.
The goal is movement efficiency. First move well, then move often; don’t just burn calories, get adaptable.