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Five Years Ago, I Used to Eat Chinese Food and Plenty of Ice Cream

Ginger Vieira has lived with Type 1 diabetes and Celiac for 11+ years. She holds 14 national, drug-tested powerlifting records and the Vermont State Bench Press record. Today, she is a cognitive health & chronic illness life coach at Living-in-Progress.

Five years ago, the way I ate and the way I exercised and the way I felt about my health was tremendously different. In many ways, I was a much different person. Not only did I purposefully and regularly eat gluten even though I had been diagnosed with Celiac disease, I ate a variety of things I would never voluntarily eat today. I knowingly would overeat when I was upset about something or was really stressed out. I gladly drank liquor and beer at parties during college. I ate pizza, ate Chinese food, ate candy and junk whenever I felt like it.

Don't get me wrong, underneath was the basics of good nutrition, but the overall concept of filling my body only with good, wholesome foods was not something I gave much thought to. And the transition from where I was then to where I am today was a very gradual change.

Five years ago, if you said to me, "You need to eat organic food, exercise every day, avoid all gluten, remove all fake sugars from your diet and quit drinking coffee," I would've laughed! I could never handle making that many changes at one time! Besides, I also wouldn't have

been able to learnabout why it was important to make all those changes all at one time...nor would I have cared!

But those changes happened gradually as I filled my brain with more knowledge. When the science was right in front of me, it was impossible to ignore, and impossible not to change!

During the summer of 2007, I just got really fed up. I didn't feel healthy or happy, so I took matters into my own hands and started going to yoga and working out with weights almost every day. This led quickly to changing the way I ate. With just the basic nutrition knowledge, I began eating mostly oatmeal, yogurt, nuts, chicken and salads, with a once-a-week treat of chocolate, ice cream or candy. I lost 10 pounds over the course of 2 months without really even trying to.

When school began that fall, I fell off my wagon a bit, and started gaining some of the weight back because of a less strict diet and less time made for exercise, so I hired a personal trainer. I made exercise a true priority in my life. Just as I always make time to brush my teeth and eat lunch, I made time for exercise.

I quickly learned from my trainer that exercise was only half the equation. I learned that the way I ate would affect my muscle growth, my muscle recovery after workouts, the way my body would burn fat for fuel, and my overall metabolism. That's when I really started paying more attention to the simple things of how many calories I was eating and how much of it was fat, protein or carbohydrates.

I started to educate myself more of good carbs and bad carbs. Good fats and bad fats. Why protein is so important and how to get it in the best forms I could. I researched and experimented with low-carb dieting, powerlifting dieting and how to use carbohydrates to fuel my metabolism instead of only thinking of them as the enemy to my blood sugar!

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