by Lauren Messervey
Well, we've made it. Six weeks of Nutrition for Performers has come to an end. I honestly didn't think I would have the strength to pull through. Who knew that giving yourself the gift of a healthy lifestyle would be so hard? (Jokes, it's actually not hard at all).
Before we take a look back on the magic, Gillian took us through a tour of fats. I don't know about you, but I've been raised my entire existence to think that fats are an awful thing. Truth be told, that's not really true (and I'm hoping the world is starting to see that). In fact, fats are essential to a healthy, happy body.
Aside from being vital for absorbing fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, healthy fats will do wondrous things such as protect your vital organs from trauma (read: invasive tissue damage), provide insulation for your body, are essential for the brain and nervous system, and help you feel full. A great example of a good fat is avocado. I was super proud that I knew that before class.
Of course, the misconception lies in the trans fat terribleness. These chemically made fats are the things you never want in your system. That awful but delicious frosted donut that tastes so good going down, but is just so bad as it swirls around in your system. I went through my memory of all the times when I was craving something fatty and went for fries, instead of that avocado. Too much saturated fat from animal sources isn't great for you either. (Side note: coconut oil could be your potential saviour).
Next on the agenda: skin health. This is something that I have always been super passionate about, and not so surprisingly, what you put in your body will have an impact on how it appears on the outside. Skin is actually one of the biggest problem areas where medical attention is sought and can be an indication of things such as allergies, infections and environmental damage. Add in a terrible diet and you have a perfect storm for problem skin. Even acne can be an indication of poor digestion or food intolerance.
Since caring for the skin starts from the inside out, you can adjust your diet for a healthier outer glow (something that is important to all performers, not exempting myself). Removing dairy and grains may be helpful for some, as well as staying away from those awful trans fats. Another culprit is my beloved sugar, but as Gillian says, “what you eat today, you wear tomorrow,” I realize that cutting out sugars may be a really good end goal.
Finally, every performer's favourite topic came up: anti-aging. Obviously, no one is going to be able to turn Father Time away, but it's a pretty big deal to at least try to do a few things that will keep a healthy appearance (let's face it, we're all at least a little vain). Eating foods rich in nourishing oils such as olive, avocado and omega 3s, eating plenty of antioxidants (read: fruits and vegetables) are key. It also doesn't hurt to use coconut, rosehip, jojoba or almond oil on the skin. And, as everyone always says, drink PLENTY of water.
We took a moment at the end of the class to talk about our goals; how did everyone do? Did I cut out sugar? Did I do everything that I intended and become the best, healthiest being I could? Well, no. But something magical DID happen. Without even noticing that I was doing it, I started making better choices. Instead of cupcakes, I go for sliced apple topped with natural peanut butter. Instead of a cola, I'll try an organic soda or kombucha. I'm no longer downing a syrupy chai latte every day. I marvel over how subtle it's been. Isn't it funny that we always had the power to be better and that the changes happen, piece by piece, without us even knowing?
It helps to have a good guide. It's not easy going through a healthy living journey, and it's undeniable that it's been very helpful having Gillian at the helm. Ultimately, she's been the catalyst for the change in all of us. It's nice to have that guidance when the battle to pick up old habits is waging.
I leave the course feeling very satisfied. I'm a little better at taking care of myself. A little wiser and confident too. And maybe (just maybe), in time, I'll be able to drop sugar once and for all.
After completing a course like Gillian's, the most important thing you learn is this: nothing is impossible when you simply prioritize taking care of yourself.
Lauren Messervey is a writer, blogger and yoga instructor in Toronto, Canada. Her articles have been featured in Huffington Post and The Beaverton. She is also a regular guest host on Taggart and Torrens podcast. Twitter @LaurenMesservey