Last month, I completed the 4-week Slim with Tina online Kickstarter course and read her book by the same title. You might remember when I started, my goals weren’t about weight loss or dress sizes, but about adopting a healthier lifestyle. So how did it go? Thanks to Tina’s program I started yoga again, was out and running in the snow, whipping up delicious new meals for my family, spending less time fretting over meal planning and generally feeling better inside and out. I didn’t weigh myself or take measurements at the start, but I have noticed a difference in the way my clothes fit and a new energy and positive opinion of myself (that’s not based on size or comparing myself to others). I also kept a food diary that really opened up my eyes to emotional eating habits (like sneaking a biscuit just to spite my naughty children). Here are the top things I picked up from the course that have stuck now that the programme is completed.
1. Drink more water. Yep, we all know this. I’m terrible at this for some reason. Honestly, it has been so cold in the house and the water out of our tap is cold enough to give you brain freeze. So I’m not really into that. Tina suggested that I leave a jug water out to get to room temperature–simple and genius idea! Also, herbal teas count (not caffeinated black tea though) and I’ve found ginger tea to be my new favourite thing to warm up with.
2. Cut down on sugar (especially hidden sugar). I started the course thinking I had a pretty healthy, homemade diet, and I did except for all the things I ate off the books. You know, little nibbles here and there that you kind of forget you are actually eating. A lot of these things tended to be processed and contained more sugar than I assumed. And of course coming out of the Christmas season there were a lot of treats like cakes, cookies and chocolate in the house as well. I’ve replaced all sugary treats with fruit, occasionally make healthy treats (like these) and do keep good dark chocolate on hand for when the craving really strikes (a little nibble of Green & Blacks Fair Trade Dark 85% Cacao bar is so good, I couldn’t go back to a substandard chocolate bar anyway!) I also read the labels much more carefully and know exactly what I am getting in my diet. Beware of low fat items because they are often loaded with sugar!
3. Cut down on refined white flour. I have been reading a lot about gluten and benefits of a gluten-free diet, as well as articles that say it’s not really a big deal unless you have an actual intolerance or allergy. I’m still trying to figure out where I stand, but in an effort to rid processed food sugar, so goes a lot of white flour. It has been fun trying out replacements that really do add interesting texture and flavour to meals. We’ve added buckwheat semolina, quinoa, brown rice, and wholemeal pasta to our diet and have been experimenting with cooking and baking with ground almonds, buckwheat, spelt, wholewheat, rice flour and other gluten free alternatives. It’s fun to try new things and we really haven’t missed the sliced white pan.
4. Get outside and move more. I’m definitely a winter-phobic. Despite my 8 years in Boston and 6 years in Dublin, I’m a South Texan girl at heart and feel totally out of place when the temperature drops below short-shorts and flip-flops weather (which is all the time in Ireland, what am I doing here!?) I’ve also never been a terribly sporty person. So when I say I went running in the snow, it’s a big freaking deal. Once I started eating healthier, I had an energy boost and the confidence to start running again. After a really stressful day of toddler wrangling, I would usually look for comfort in cake, but now I find going for a run or walk much more therapeutic.
5. Be kind to myself and others. Tina’s book is really great at illuminating some of the cultural traps we fall into that perpetuate a disordered relationship with food. We don’t treat our bodies with the respect they deserve and can be very cruel to ourselves when looking in the mirror. I’m trying to avoid allowing negative comments to float around my brain, whether they be about me or snarky celebrity gossip. It doesn’t do anyone any good to tear people down. The more positive I feel about myself, the more I want to eat healthy food because I realise I deserve good health, not just a sugar rush.
6. Bulk up meals with green veg, not starch. This kind of goes along with cutting down on processed white flour. I realised so much of my meals where carbs or startch that was easy to prepare and fill up on. Now I fill my plate with as much green veg as possible and have a little of everything else too. I find that when I prioritise the veg, my portion sizes also go down. I feel just as satisfied (maybe more so because I’m putting the effort into much more flavourful meals) but a lot less full of bad stuff. Instead of eating pretty pathetic and bland ham sandwiches for lunch, I’m eating salad of baby spinach, avacado, tomatoes, peppers and nuts. I’ve also swapped uninspiring breakfast cereal for wholemilk yogurt, homemade museli and fresh fruit. It’s a lot tastier than malted wheat squares!
7. Have fun with food and enjoy nourishing my body! One thing I liked about Tina’s approach is that it isn’t guilt inducing in the least. It’s about learning to love food and learning what food is meant to do for your body. I think calorie counting and points can make you feel like you’re giving up something in order to loose weight or that healthy eating is a chore.The boys and I had fun in the first few weeks looking for new fruits to try making treats with ingredients I’d never heard of. Luckily healthy living is pretty trendy right now so there’s lots of resources and great recipes out there. I feel good about the direction my family is taking and excited about the health benefits we’ll reap, so any short lived enjoyment I might have gotten from a bag of crisps is suddenly gone. Junk food does taste like junk now and I find myself seeking craving healthier options. The kids are also getting really into learning about healthy food.
I definitely recommend the programme for anyone looking to make a lifestlye change. The book and course cover the same material, so if you are not able to join the online course or want to get started right away, I highly recommend the Slim with Tina book. It gives very clear, simple explanations of why we need to eat a balanced diet and how our body uses the different food we eat. I’ve always wanted to learn more about nutrition, but found that many things I read were for people with a scientific background and I got lost in the terminology. Finally I feel like I have an understanding of what’s happening inside my body and why I am choosing the food I eat. There are a lot of great recipes for every meal that are very easy to follow and delicious!
The Slim with Tina Kickstarter Course is conducted through a private Facebook group. To be honest, I’m not crazy about FB groups because it can be easy to miss a post or to come to a conversation long after it has ended. But I did find the group support aspect really helpful. It keeps you honest and allows you to ask questions directly about cooking with different ingredients or to share successful recipes, as well as clear up confusion about nutrition. Tina shared sections of her book, inspirational quotes and tips, recipes and gave us prompts for discussion or personal reflection. You don’t need to read the book to be on the course, but I think it helps to reinforce what the group chats are about. It’s also a good reference once the online course is completed.
If you’re interested in joining the next course, it starts March 24 and costs €49. It would be a great way to spring clean your lifestyle and get ready for sunnier days!