Alexa Schirm proves that health can be simple and delicious.
She received her bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Iowa State University and since then has been on a mission to spread the word about honest, realistic and most importantly delicious lifestyle changes. She is a firm believer that real health can be exciting, delicious and fun, and definitely not as complex as we make it. As a mom of three girls, she knows all about making healthy choices on the go and incorporating health into all areas of life. Her mission is helping people to create a new health-style through habit formation and real food. To use health as a means of living rather than living for health..
You are big on having a healthy mindset, what are some of the negative mindsets people have, and how do they shift to a more healthy mindset?
The negative mindset that people have is coming from a place of ‘lack’. People comes to this place of wanting to diet, or wanting to get healthy from a place of ‘I am not enough’, like there’s something that needs fixing, and in their fixing then they can live their life.
Whoever says, ‘I can’t be happy until I reach my goal weight, or I can’t be healthy until I do X, Y, and Z, theirs is the hardest mindset to overcome.
Those wanting to lose weight but come from a ‘fix it’ mindset, even when they get to their goal weight in healthy ways, will only end up at nothing. It’s not doing much for them. It’s kind of like they’re lost even if they hit their goal.
When it comes to eating, fix it mindset leads to restriction, deprivation, to counting calories, very unrealistic practices. It can come from a mindset of ‘I have to fix myself’, so I eat well.
In a ‘feed it’ mindset, however, they’re coming from a disposition of eating what makes them ‘feel good’. It changes the entire mindset and makes it more enticing to continue because there’s not the feeling of deprivation.
What a lot of people need to be taught is they should come from abundance! The more we’re filled up on good things the less likely we are to “need” to fix things.
You will observe that working out is much more effective when people actually move their body because it made them feel better.
The key is to work with my body and listen to the signal that it’s providing. Whether it’s signaling exhaustion. hunger, tiredness, use those as means to formulate what would fill my body up, what could help it, rather than what could fix it.
We created this post from our interview with Alexa Schirm on Dirobi Health Show. Listen to it here!
You claim that the “when” of eating matters more than the “what,” please elaborate.
The entire mindset of how we view things and our environment is really changing the hormonal flow in our body, changing the way our brain chemistry works.
Eating in the right time and the right place can change the entire hormonal flow of how our body breaks that down, absorbs it, and uses it, or not.
We’ve come to this notion that we can just eat whatever we want, as long as we’re careful about what we eat. The hormonal flow in our body really doesn’t work that way.
For example, we release melatonin at night to help us reach deep sleep. But melatonin has only released in the absence of insulin, which insulin is released with food. If we’re eating too late into the night, we’re not going to release the melatonin and therefore we’re not going to reach as much deep sleep as we need. Deep sleep resets our hormones every single night and helps cleanse our body. And if people are going to lose weight, it’s going to happen at night. The longer we allow our body at night in fasted state, the more our body can heal.
Do not worry as much about what you’re eating as long as you’re eating within a feeding window. Feeding window is during the day when your body needs energy and it’s a shorter window of time. That’s basically either 8 to 12 hour window in which you consume all of your food.
The 12 hour eating window is good for starters. This eating window will have breakfast at 7am, and be fully finished eating by 7pm. No bedtime snack and no midnight snack. What people will notice when eating all their calories within the eating window is that they’re sleeping better, they have more energy, they’re healing, they’re recovering from workouts or just recovering from illness.
Some men can go longer, like eight, six hour windows. Women can do the 8 to 10 hour range which is really good, hormonally speaking. There’s a hormonal benefit to women to extend their window a little bit. So men and women are very different in the way that our hormones work. But when we look at hormones, males tend to run on a 24 hour cycle, 365 days a year. In general men can do really great at shorter fasting or longer fasting windows, it’s simply because their hormones are static. They’re basically the same every single day.
When a man picks up a diet or a program, the success rate for a man over a woman is exponential. They tend to drop weight more easily, and build muscle than a woman could.
Women, on the other hand, needs an increase in calories as their body prepares to cycle. This takes a lot of work for the body and therefore a woman will often become more sluggish, increase her cravings, be more hungry, more exhausted, and have a harder time working out.
One of the biggest detriments to women is that they don’t feed into their cycle enough, and lack of carbohydrates at certain points in the cycle is extremely detrimental to the hormonal flow. And if we start to mess that up, we kind of mess up all the hormones in the body. Hormonal imbalance in the body can start in little ways like having more cramping, PMs, acne, exhaustion, adrenal fatigue, to bigger things like endometriosis, autoimmune conditions, and thyroid problems.
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Chalene Johnson, a motivational speaker and health expert stated that what we portrayed for women as healthy is actually severely unhealthy. For a woman to even show any amount of abdominal, they would have to be about 18% body fat or a little bit less. Women technically aren’t having a healthy hormonal cycle until they are about at 20% body fat.
There is also a higher propensity of mental health problems when a woman drops too much body fat. Besides, women are naturally supposed to carry more body fat. That’s because they can also carry a baby, and healthily at that. Now right after menstruating, women tend to basically have more testosterone flowing. They can work out harder, they tend to have more energy. Their fasted window can be a lot longer, and they tend to eat less.
There’s an app called ‘flow’ app., that tell you where you are in your cycle, with food recommendations, or best exercise practices. Download it here.
You see, based on these reasons that health has to look different for a woman than it does for a man.
Talk to us about the environment of eating and why that matters?
How we eat, whether that be when or why we’re eating it, might be the environment in which we eat, greatly affects our body.
If we eat in times of stress, our body is not going to break down the food, while probably absorb most of it and then store it. Times of stress mean conserve, whether energy, food or fat. We don’t want these things to happen.
When we start to focus on food, there’s this whole emotional component to that. Like we put this thought in people’s head that if they can’t have it, then that’s all they want. But if we just focus on the eating window, there’s no emotional ties to that. And yet it comes with so many benefits that people don’t even recognize that it makes health so much easier, like it’s just the intended purpose of the body.
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In your work you reference creating “nourishing health rhythms that last.” First of all, what is a “nourishing health rhythm” and how do we make it last?
A rhythm is not about fixing, but it’s about how we can nourish ourselves or how we can fill our self up. The goal is not just to abruptly change our life, but it’s how we fit things into our life that we enjoy and make us feel good.
Health is not something that we do, but who we are. And the only way to make it who we are is that it has to be a part of our natural life rhythm.
Like the chaos of the morning is not a healthy time for us to try and shovel food in our mouth. Even if we eat a healthy breakfast but just doing it on the fly, it may cause us bloating and indigestion, and that won’t make us feel good. That isn’t nourishing.
What we can do is take a few deep breaths, sit down and enjoy the foods that we prepared. It’s not necessarily focusing on the food, but it’s focusing on the environment in which we eat it. That can be a nourishing pattern for our selves.
As a mother how do you make sure your kids are raised with healthy nutritional habits?
I think the biggest thing is that we can lead by example. If they don’t see a healthy diet or healthy lifestyle portrayed to them, they don’t know how to do it themselves. Start to put the effort into yourself first because they are watching that. They are seeing that and that is going to be their greatest source of education. However to some people who didn’t start their health journey with kids that are now older, this is harder to do.
Gluten has gotta be one of the hardest things for kids to give up, especially if they have a true gluten sensitivity. As a mother, we must control what we can control at home. Let’s be in charge of what to buy at the grocery store. But at meal time give them a lot of options. Let them be involved in what they eat. Try to focus on providing safe meals for them that are healthy.
But on the other hand, don’t try to control their outside environment. The worst thing that we could do for them is to control them to a point where they have no freedom. Have them really learn on their own what makes their body feel good and what doesn’t. Talk to them about doing more of what makes their bodies feel good. To me it’s less about controlling and more about just talking to them about it. I think what we don’t teach our kids enough is the body awareness or body signals and what they’re body’s telling them. And kid’s signals are on fire, they have them all the time.
As to their food, there’s always a convenient and healthy options. As convenient yet healthy as a precooked meat where you just have to warm it up in a pan, and voila, they are ready to eat. Like in Iowa, we are big on meat and potatoes. And we get our meat from Wallace farms. It’s like a grass fed meat company that ship anywhere in the country. They have amazing precooked or raw meat of all kinds. They’re pretty awesome and the kids love them.
In essence, when it comes to healthy nutritional habits of our kids, come up with solutions rather than restriction and avoidance that’s so damaging to the kids.
In nutrition we’re constantly learning. Be willing to constantly make simple shifts in our everyday life because it’s all seasonal based.Look at our everyday life and think what is going to make you feel good today, what can you add to make it even better, and just keep doing that and just continuously shift as a season shifts.
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