I can hang my hat

Hey everyone! How was your day?? Mine was bueno, but just turned into fantastic when I logged into my bloggy account and saw this post pop up.

Here’s what Emma G. had to say:

Deep Thoughts by Emma G.

This post changed my life. No, I’m not talking about Banana Soft Serve, though that one did change my life, but in a completely different way. I’m talking about Gina’s “secret”:

“You need to eat in order to lose weight. If you don’t need to lose weight, you need to eat to be healthy. EAT! Just don’t eat garbage.”

While I was losing weight, I had significantly cut back on my calories. At the same time, I had upped my exercise regimen to include at least an hour of cardio each day. This worked, at first, and then I hit a plateau and could not figure out how to get off of it. I, in all of my infinite wisdom, decided that less calories should be consumed and more exercise was needed. All the magazines say that you need to burn more than you take in to lose weight, and I whole-heartedly believed in this philosophy. I had previously been shooting for 1500 calories per day, which I was now cutting back to 1200-1300.

Thankfully, in April of 2009, I stumbled upon The Nutritionista blog, and, after some perusing, I realized that I was probably not eating enough, which was why my body had stopped responding to my increased exercise. At this point, I went back up to 1500 calories, and also started taking my weight lifting more seriously. As I read more food blogs, I realized that 1500 calories was still probably not quite enough for the amount of exercising I was doing, so I created a range, which started at 1500-1700 calories and moved up to 1600-1800 calories. I started to see a difference in how my body was responding – hel-lo muscles! – and I felt a lot better, in general.

But, I was still something of a slave to calories. If I ended the day at 1500 and I was stuffed, I thought, “Well, yeah, I’m really full, BUT I’ve only eating 1500 calories today, so I could still have some dessert.” OR, “I cannot believe I ate 1850 calories today. I’ll fun an extra mile or two on the elliptical tomorrow to make up for it.” Basically, I was paying obscene amounts of attention to the number of calories going in and neglecting to give any to the cues from my body, such as “I’m full” or “I’m hungry.”

August rolled in and Adam started reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. Now, when I would say, “Well, cottage cheese is good for you because it has a lot of protein for not a lot of calories,” he would respond with, “You’re making it all about ‘nutrition-ism,’ which we are trained to do. You don’t need to do that. Just eat FOOD, unprocessed food, and you’ll be fine.” He was learning so much and had such a good attitude from the book that I started reading it as well. (On another note, I have a terrible habit of starting a new book while reading another, which is why I am now concurrently reading this and Middlesex, neither of which gets enough of my time!) I told Adam that I wanted to learn to “eat intuitively,” or, as he and Michael Pollan point out, I wanted to “practice” what used to just be called “eating.” I began to try to listen to my body when I was full – though, not when I was hungry! – and stop eating.

This, again, was an improvement, but I still had the numbers going in the back of my head. Which, is not all that shocking, as I am a “numbers person,” and often think in numerical terms. Sometimes, I find myself subconsciously counting my steps as I walk. I am naturally pretty good at math, and even started college with Math as a minor (before I realized that, while I’m good at it, Linear Algebra and Advanced Calculus II bore the sh*t out of me!). In addition, I have Type 1 Diabetes and an insulin pump, which requires me to count the number of carbs I eat so that I can take the correct amount of insulin. Needless to say, counting calories came very easily to me.

Then, in mid-August, I stumbled upon this life-changing post. Gina explained to me exactly what was going on, why I had plateaued, and why I was so confused. I stopped counting calories and really started to tune in to my body. If I was hungry, I ate. If I wasn’t, I didn’t. If I felt up to a workout, I did it; if not, I didn’t. If I wanted a third apple for the day, I ate it – who cares if it’s my third apple of the day? It’s an apple! My body is much smarter than I give it credit for, and it knows what it wants and what it needs. Some times, it is hungry for cottage cheese; others, it wants veggies; and still others, it’s a bit of chocolate. And I’m starting to learn that if I just give it want it wants, it’s happy and will work the way that I want/need it to! And, it’s showing. I have forever struggled to lose the last layer of pudge around my mid-section (a result of insulin pump therapy), and had even begun to make my peace with it (it’s cute, right?) – but now, I’m actually starting to see my stomach tighten up. Adam keeps commenting about how “hard” my body is now.

That’s not to say that it’s super-easy. I still have days when I overdo it and days when I feel guilty about the damn apple, but I’m getting there. And it certainly helps that I am not only looking better, I feel better too! While I was counting calories, I constantly felt restricted and deprived, even when I was eating a decent amount of food. Having a “daily allowance” takes a toll on me psychologically – I’ve never been one to conform to any ideals of what I’m supposed to do with my life or how I’m supposed to look, so it makes sense that trying to fit my eating habits into a calorie window was not going to work for me. And, when I eat when I’m hungry, I’m much, MUCH, less likely to overeat when I’m already full – I never feel deprived, so there is never any reason to overindulge. Plus, I have infinitely more energy – my workouts are fun and motivating instead of grueling, painful, and exhausting.

This has been on my mind because I was reading the new Self magazine at the gym the other day. I love Self, and I especially love reading it while I’m running on the elliptical – for me, it provides motivation, inspiration, and entertainment, all in one neat publication focused around a favorite topic of mine: health. However, I came across one small article that said something about calorie counting, and suggested that some women may need to cut back to 1200 – 1400 calories per day in order to lose weight. That number triggered a negative response in me, as it just seems so damn low! And I couldn’t help but think, “They just don’t know the secret! Someone just needs to tell them!”

Which is what I’m doing – I want to spread the word: YOU CAN EAT!! In fact, YOU NEED TO EAT!! Do it!! You’ll feel better, I promise.

The only other thing I want to note is that, while calorie counting no longer works for me, I know that it works for some people. And, it certainly helped me to understand just how much I had been eating when I first started making changes. So, I revert back to the “blog world mantra” – do what works for you. Calorie counting no longer works for me, so I’m stopping; but if you like it and it works and you aren’t abusing it, by all means, listen to your own body!

In closing, I’m going to leave you with quotes from the two people who had the biggest impact on my current eating habits:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” ~ Michael Pollan

“[T]he main point of what I’m trying to say is EAT. Eat often. Eat until you’re perfectly content and eat well. Your energy levels, tummy and jeans size will thank you.” ~ The Fitnessista

Thank you, Gina!

Wow. I can’t even explain to you guys how happy this makes me and how much it really truly means. Every time that one of you says that you’re embracing healthy foods after restriction, removed your shackles from being a gym slave, or simply choosing whole foods over processed junk, I can’t help but be overwhelmed with warm fuzzies.

This, my friends, is why I started the blog. To share with people that I’ve totally been there. I know what it’s like to not know what’s healthy and what isn’t, to be afraid of the gym,to be confused on how to work out, to be tricked into thinking I need 1/3 of the fuel I really do, count every calorie or minute of cardio, to feel like it’s not enough, damage my metabolism, and slowly get everything back to order. Whatever your situation is, changes are that I’ve possibly been in your shoes. I love to share the things I had to learn the hard way, and watch all of you become healthier, happier and free to live the life YOU’RE supposed to- not what someone else is telling you to do. If there’s one thing to take away from the blog, it’s my embrace eating philosophy. Don’t worry about calories, worry about the the quality of the food you’re putting into your body. If it’s going to be consumed the way nature created it, feast out!

It’s funny that this all should happen tonight, because at work I was thinking about the fact that I’m eating quite a lot more than I have in a long time. I can’t even remember the last time I ate this much food on a regular basis! The thing is, it’s all organic, healthy and living food, bounding with nutrients. Even though I’m eating more, I’m eating well, supporting my activity level and feel amazing. It’s just funny to think that the “old Gina” would have been freaking out about the fats, calories and sugars (gasp!!! agave?!?) that I’ve been eating. My jeans fit the exact same way they did before, so that says quite a lot about quality of food and how it affects the body.

*Sigh* Things like this just make me feel like I can hang my hat 😉 Thank you Emma G. for an incredible post and a beautiful tribute to the importance of healthy feasting 😀


All that being said, onto today’s school re-cap!

We made a mole sauce to go with our tamales. Mine did not taste anything remarkably similar to a mole sauce, but the color was spot-on 😉


Next was a lovely salsa with jicama, orange tomato (!), cilantro and lime juice (which I added some garlic, sea salt, pepper, and Gina spice to)


Also a guacamole with mashed cado, red onion, cilantro, cayenne, sea salt, lime juice and pepper)


And plated up our tamales with mole sauce, raw sour cream, guacamole and salsa


I actually didn’t eat mine. The filling for the tamales that I made came out pretty nast –I skipped out on the nuts and made it veggie-based as a failed experiment- and I just couldn’t do it. I think I have an aversion to raw Mexican food. Since I grew up eating the “real” stuff, it’s hard for me to eat a raw version that will never taste like my mom’s, nana’s or aunt’s, no matter how hard it tries!

Instead, I grabbed a ton of spinach, topped it with the salsa, guacamole, and crumbled leftover blue corn tortilla chips from yesterday.


All mixed up:


It was pretty glorious 😀

Well it’s time for this girl to hit the hay. I’m taking the morning off from the gym and am working on a fun treadmill workout that I’ll post tomorrow.

Enjoy your night!


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  1. Jenn (eating bender) on September 23, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Wow! What a fantastic message from Emma G. Honestly, you should be so proud of yourself, Gina. Your message and your blog really are an inspiration and it’s no wonder that people admire and respect you! Plus, you are incredibly down to Earth and real 🙂 That always helps, too!!

    Love what you said about your aversion to raw Mexican. It’s so true that nothing can compare to the taste of the real thing. But if you ask me, I’d say from the pictures of your beautiful presentation, I would not be able to tell the difference 😉

    Hurray for eating and feeling your best. I could not be happier for you.

  2. glidingcalm on September 23, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Emma’s story is amazing!! Thanks for sharing it!!

    And I agree with Jenn- you should totally be proud of ourself because yoru blog truly is inspiring! You are a wonderful role model.

    Loving the beautiful eats as always!!

  3. Sarah @ The Foodie Diaries on September 23, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    I love Emma’s post! That ah-ha moment when we realize the importance of just EATING and eating well is seriously life-changing. Great post, it completely validated why I love blogging and love food!

  4. Laura (On the Threshold of Greatness) on September 23, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Love the message to EAT! Those of us who have struggled with our weight really need to hear this. Calories In v. Calories Out is not all there is to maintaining a healthy and fit bod.

    Even if the tamales were nast, they look really pretty! 🙂

  5. Taylor on September 23, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    after struggling with an eating disorder for several years now, (still trying to get to recovery), seeing posts like that are SUCH an inspiration and motivation. thank you so much for posting it!

  6. Emily on September 23, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    I loved the post on eating to lose weight. It really struck a cord with me as well and Emma’s story was great.

    All your food from today looks delicious, definitely makes me want to try out some raw food techniques.

  7. Veggie Booty on September 23, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    Hi Gina,

    Thank *you* so much for *your* beautiful post(s). You serve as such an inspiration because, well, you rock! I’m honored that you re-posted my post. You totally deserve the credit 😉

    Thank you!
    Emma G.

  8. Veggie Booty on September 24, 2009 at 12:02 am

    Also, thank you to those of you who said you liked my post in Gina’s comments! You ladies are too sweet 🙂

    And, Gina, I also hear you on the raw Mexican. I love that you made a fabulous salad in the tamales place! Yum!

  9. Annabananabomb on September 24, 2009 at 12:40 am

    Hey Gina,

    Keep hanging that hat! You’ve given me inspiration to mix up my weights routine. I was previously doing 2 pump classes a week, and after reading your weights 101 post I’m going to do weights three times a week working 1)chest, triceps, shoulders, abs 2) legs, glutes, abs 3) biceps, back, abs. I can spend less time at the gym, and do different kinds of exercises every week to make it interesting! I’ll keep you updated on how I go.

    Never underestimated the good influence you have on the blogosphere 🙂


  10. WholeBodyLove on September 24, 2009 at 1:52 am

    What a great message! You must know by now that you touch many more lives than the ones of the women who contact you. What an impact you have!

  11. Sarah (LovIN My Tummy) on September 24, 2009 at 3:08 am

    I’m so happy you got just a tiny bit of redemption for all the hard work and the GIFT that you give us each day that you blog! And yeah, I might just give up on that raw Mexican food if I were you 😉

  12. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) on September 24, 2009 at 3:20 am

    I am so happy for you Gina that you got that wonderful “fan mail” in your inbox. It’s words like that and the premise of it all that I’m sure, keep you going. Congrats to you for keeping your blog going, and to Emma G for finding her OWN path. That’s what I urge people to do…find your own path, cuz mine may not work for you, nor yours for me. It’s all about tweakin til you find it 🙂

  13. Jessica on September 24, 2009 at 3:24 am

    Gina!! Thank you thank you thank you for putting this post up on your blogg for all of us to seeee!!! I absolutely adore you and your lifestyle, and this post was exactly what I needed/wanted to hear! 😀 I already know a lot of this, I just wish other women (in college, high school, their 50’s, WHATEVA) could fully understand this concept as well! You don’t have to be a slave to the gym and you CAN eat to stay fit and healthy! 🙂

    Ps-that salad looks deliciousssss. i could probably eat that everyday!


  14. Shelby on September 24, 2009 at 5:59 am

    I NEED those tamales…and that salad. It looks so good, my mouth is watering!

  15. simpledaisy on September 24, 2009 at 6:16 am

    What a great post! It took me a long time to listen to my body and really be more aware of what I put into it!! I recently became vegan after being vegetarian for a long time and I still can’t believe how good I feel! I have had IBS for much of my adult life and I haven’t had one flare-up since going vegan!! I am thinking I am lactose intolerant! Amazing what can happen when you really take time eat real food and eat when you are hungry and stop when you’re not!
    Have a great day!

  16. Casey on September 24, 2009 at 6:21 am

    I’m normally a lurker (except when a macaroon contest rolls around!) but this post made me click off of my google reader and come on over to post a comment! Emma, you took the words right out of my mouth. Calorie counting and other dieting techniques taught me alot about how to eat well and balanced, but may have damaged mf more in the long run. Now I fear I’ve lost the ability to eat intuitively, but I’m trying and it’s slowly returning. I read the book Intuitive Eating. Which I thought might be useful to others with similar struggles. Thanks do much, Emma and Gina!

  17. Jessica @ How Sweet It Is on September 24, 2009 at 6:38 am

    How wonderful and inspirational! 🙂 So glad I have been following along. 🙂

  18. e. on September 24, 2009 at 7:50 am

    Awww, G, you deserve a nobel prize for that post! Honestly, those lady mags that say “1200 cals a day to lose weight!” should be burnt while we all dance around them hooting and then afterwards we can go eat something. Nutritious.

    I bought one of those body bugg thingies from Biggest Loser and was AMAZED at how many calories I burn not even when not working out. They’re not so good if you’re trying to break away from the numbers thing, but if you want to confirm that lady mags are full of poop, they’re wonderful. I lead a fairly sedentary cubicle life and I burn 1900-2000 cals a day. A 30 minute walk in the morning puts me at about 2200 cals by the end of the day. If I run, do a vigorous class, life weights, walk around the city, I can end up at 2500 and 2700 cals. And people wonder why women are cranky when they’re on diets! Sheesh!

  19. Pam on September 24, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Nice post Emma G. and Thank you Gina for creating your blog!

  20. Abby (Abby's VeGaN Eats) on September 24, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Oh my goodness, want to eat that salad NOW. Great post Emma. I can totally relate. I used to eat under 1000 calories a day (PSYCHO). Not only did I feel like absolute crap, I gained a ton of weight quickly after because my body was so deprived and I could not control my cravings any longer. EAT EAT EAT (healthy and in moderation). It is the only way to go!!

  21. rhodeygirl on September 24, 2009 at 8:26 am

    What a wonderful and inspiring piece. I find that calorie counting works for me as a way to “reign it in” for a few days after overindulging. It helps me get back on track and reminds my body of how much food it needs. I also find it to simply be the most effective way to lose weight (when combined with exercise of course).

    Anyway, I too fell into the less calories, more exercise problem. I am 5′ 7″ and weigh about 138-140 right now… but a couple of years ago I weighed like 25 lbs more (thank you college) and guess what? I was eating HALF THE AMOUNT I EAT NOW! Seriously! It was all junky stuff, but calorically speaking, MUCH less than I eat now. It is just so amazing how wholesome food, in the right amounts, really does regulate your body and make you the healthiest you.

  22. Mara @ What's For Dinner? on September 24, 2009 at 8:32 am

    I vividly remember that post in August… it was like, FINALLY, someone was saying what I needed to hear. Reason #3245 I heart you miss Gina 🙂 I love VeggieBooty’s post too, and will be reading HER blog now too!

  23. GirlonRaw on September 24, 2009 at 8:40 am

    You so deserve the credit Gina! You are such a wonderful inspiration to all of us, and continue to do so. Please don’t hang your hat yet :)))

  24. Leah @ Nutritionista on September 24, 2009 at 8:49 am

    I love this whole post! First of all, thanks to Emma for the shout out. Second of all, thanks to Gina for promoting healthy eating and a healthy body image!

  25. Katie on September 24, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Oh my, you have the best photos and posts!


  26. Tyler on September 24, 2009 at 10:27 am

    I read through some of them! I need a little oomph to get me through these last few weeks! I’m SO excited but SO overwhelmed at the same time. So may emotions running through me. I LOVED his post. It made me a little misty eyed! Hope you have a great Thursday! Thanks again!

  27. Caroline on September 24, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Hey Gina! Thanks for the reminder to eat and that it’s okay to only do what you can (with the post about comparing ourselves to other blogs the other day). I’m signed up to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon and loving the idea of having a training plan (starting in Nov!). Unfortunately I go through stages (about once a month) where I sleep really poorly for about a week, end up napping on my lunch breaks at work, and then feel really guilty skipping my afternoon run. It frustrates the hell out of me because I’m new to running and feel like I’m just being lazy because I can’t remember a time that I actually felt well rested. I need help reminding myself that if I’m tired, it’s okay to take an extra rest day and go to bed a little early. Thanks for the timely posts!

  28. KCB on September 24, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Thank you *so much* for sharing Emma G’s post. It was very encouraging and inspiring to a newbie such as myself. I’ve been trying to work my way through the thousands of blogs dedicated to “healthy living” for about a year now and it gets mighty overwhelming at times. I love reading posts like Emma G’s because I feel as if it helps point me in the right direction and this time it just reiterates why I’m such a fan of yours! I love that you’re sharing your experience/journey with others. For me personally, you’re a big motivator and inspiration. I feel as if all the other aspects of my life are beautiful and fulfilling but I just haven’t been able to “get comfortable” in my own skin when it comes to fitness and nutrition. I’ve read countless books, spoken to and hired numerous professionals and each time I’ve learned a thing or two, but nothing beats having a mentor and “guide” and fashioning a game plan after the successful experiences of others.

    Thanks again! 🙂 Karen

  29. Stephanie on September 24, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Thanks so much for this post! When I first started losing weight I counted calories and it worked for me, then I became a slave to them and was drifting to obsessive and an ED by just eating 700-800 calories a day! Thankfully I quickly realized this wasn’t working before it spiraled out of control and was able to stop counting calories and just eat things I know are good for me. I still struggle with not beating myself up for not working out one day or just doing 20 minutes of cardio or something, so I’m a work in progress. You have inspired me so much to eat more natural foods (working on this still…hard to give up my sun chips and diet coke:)!!haha) Thanks for this blog, it’s inspiring and I look forward to reading it everyday.

  30. Kelli on September 24, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Omg Gina! I love love love that post from August! I realized this morning that with my new job and new active lifestyle I have NOT been taking in enough calories! My post today is dedicated to you! thank you!!!

  31. natalie on September 24, 2009 at 11:57 am

    This was so great. I just wrote a post Yesterday about counting calories and how i am trying to figure out how to stop doing it. this post was so great and I really appreciate it.

  32. Leah on September 24, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Hey lady,
    This is really dumb of me. But I didn’t realize that you switched servers and I had your old website on my google reader and when there was never an updated post I started worrying about you! Anyways I now found your new bloggy home! I have been reading your blog for at least a year (except for the past few weeks) and I love it! So excited to start reading again. I just started my own blog. Check it out!

  33. Anna on September 24, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    I really loved that post, and I can absolutely relate. I am still learning about proper fuel for workouts, but before it has never occurred to me that exercising is so crucial to life’s balance and shouldn’t be used to compensate for WHAT we eat. Since reaching that epiphany, I definitely have a much sunnier perspective on life and healthy living, and I love the blog world for reminding me of that and keeping me inspired.

    Thanks for all you do, Gina!

  34. Samantha on September 24, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Wow…..that sums it up pretty much!! This made me want to cry when I first read it because it hit so close to home. You are doing a great service!!

  35. Jenna on September 24, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    great post gina! thanks for posting her story 🙂
    nice lookin salad for lunch you got there!

  36. Edna on September 24, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Wow what an eye opener all of this is. Funnily enough I have been thinking about this as I am reading so much that people eat and live their lives this way – I’m just so caught up in the calorie counting and eating a deficit… and I know what you are all saying is right, but its so hard to shake off what has been impressed onto me for all these years. I’m off to do some more research and make some changes. Thanks Gina! And Emma G. I’m off for a read!

  37. Emily (Healthy Fit Mama) on September 24, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    What a great post! I can totally relate to the calorie counting/obsessing! It’s still something that I’m working on.

  38. Tina on September 26, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    I LOVE tamales. My mom makes the most delicious ones. I’m so curious what raw ones would taste like.

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