A few days ago, I talked about how things are for me now that I’m 55. My body has gone through so many changes over the last several years. I’ve talked about the weight gain, hot flashes and night sweats. Another thing that I haven’t talked about is my change in diet.
For many years, I ate a vegan diet with the occasional eggs and dairy. Over the last couple of years, I added more eggs because my workouts involved more strength training and I felt that my body needed more protein than what I was eating. I know that there are many weightlifters and athletes who are able to get enough protein eating a vegan diet, but this just wasn’t for me. I felt like I was getting much more muscle gain and strength eating a well-balanced, healthy vegetarian diet. Both my body and mind were in a much happier place.
Recently, my body was craving fish. In all of the years that I haven’t eaten meat, I had never craved any kind of meat at all. I thought perhaps my body just needed omegas and I tried supplementing and adding hemp seeds and chia seeds to my diet to increase my omega-3 levels. However, after a lot of soul-searching and research and realizing that because my body was aging and changing, it’s nutritional needs were probably changing as well. So now, on occasion, I will eat a piece of fish, usually salmon. We recently went on vacation at a location that is famous for its fresh seafood, and instead of trying to figure out what I could eat on a vegetarian diet, I decided to eat fresh fish. Now that we’re home again, I’m back to eating a vegetarian diet, but will probably still eat the occasional piece of fish.
I don’t want to get into a debate with anyone about this; in fact, I hesitated to even talk about this because I didn’t want to hear the backlash from fellow vegans/vegetarians or the “I told you so” from my meat-eating friends. Everyone is different; what works for some people may not work for others and while a vegan diet worked for me just fine for a long time, I needed to be willing to make some changes based on my own personal needs.
It could be that eventually I’ll go back to eating vegan. The majority of the meals I eat are, in fact, vegan. However, I also have to be aware of my body and its nutritional needs and so eating eggs, a small amount of cheese, and the occasional fish seems to satisfy whatever it is my body wants.
As I said before, I thought about not even talking about this and just quietly go about eating, but I’ve always tried to be honest and transparent about my workouts and diet; it’s why I originally started this blog, and so I thought it was important that I talk about this. It was agonizing to get to this point; I had to sort through a lot of guilt and self-doubt, but I finally realized that this is my body and my life and if I offend someone or lose followers of this blog, so be it. I can’t worry about what others think about it.
That being said, here is what I shoot for every day with my diet:
- 4-6 servings of vegetables
- 2 servings of fruits
- 4 servings of healthy, lean protein (tofu, tempeh, beans, eggs, Shakeology, fish)
- 1 serving of healthy fats (nuts, non-dairy yogurt, or avocado)
- 2-3 servings of healthy carbs (brown rice, oats, potatoes, sweet potatoes)
- 80 oz of water
When I eat like this, I feel good with lots of energy and I also sleep better at night.
There is no one-diet-fits-all. Listen to your body; what makes you feel good? Some people feel their best eating plant-based, some people feel their best when they cut out carbs. You have to do what’s right for you.
The most important thing is to eat in a healthy way that is going to be sustainable for you and that you’re able to stay consistent with. In addition to eating from my list above, if I keep my portions in check, I find that I can stay at a healthy weight and that I can power through my workouts with no issues.
In other news, I pushed myself way too hard last week with advanced-level workouts that I had no business doing three months post-surgery. I pulled a muscle in my leg and haven’t worked out in several days because I didn’t listen to my body. Today it’s feeling better, so I hope to gradually ease back into exercise in a couple of days.
2021 has been such a weird year for me; it started out great, but I’ve had some challenges lately. However, if I’m careful with my workouts and with my nutrition, I think I should be able to finish out the year with flying colors!
May your glass always be full,