Guest Post: HEAB on Listening to Your Body

by Gena on April 23, 2010

Hey guys!

Hope you’re all well. With any luck, I’ll be sitting on the beach by the time you read this post, allowing my ghoulish limbs to soak up some much needed sun.

Today’s guest blogger is, I daresay, a lady with whom most of you are fondly familiar. Heather — known to me as HEABs — is the cheery and compassionate voice behind Heather Eats Almond Butter, a blog that focuses on “balancing wholesome nutrition with sensible exercise.” I can think of very few people who embody that balanced motto better than Heather. Why? Well, part of it is her refusal to mortify her own body with a self-imposed regimen of rigorous fitness that doesn’t give her joy. Part of it is her unique ingenuity when it comes to making plant based foods that are both nourishing and decadent. Part of it is her enthusiasm for yoga. Part of it is the fact that she is also in the healthy fat fan club.

Most of it, though, is because Heather knows how to listen to her own body. Few capacities, I think, are more salient than this one when it comes to living a healthy life. I’ve said it before, and I shall say it until I’m blue in the face: there is no “diet plan” that suits all of us. Some of us do well with more protein, and less carbs; some of us need carbs in order to feel energized. Some of us feel our best eating nearly all raw foods; others need more cooked. Some of us (like my macrobiotic pals) can eat relatively low fat diets; others need fats in order to feel well. Some of us can eat fruit nearly all day, and feel our best; others are highly sensitive to fructose. There is no rule; there are only different bodies.

You guys pretty much know by now how I like to eat: tons of veggies, nuts, and seeds, most of ‘em raw; whole grains and beans, most of ‘em cooked; simple combinations of foods; lots of healthy fats; juices for energy; biggest meal at night; more savory than sweet. These are the general habits that tend to make me feel my best; they’re not necessarily for everyone, but they’ve always been just right for me. And in spite of the fact that Heather and I eat differently in many ways — namely, she’s omnivorous, and I’m vegan — we overlap in many ways, too. We both think fats are mui importante. We’re both veggie lovers. We both like to play with avocados and root veggies. And we both believe that exercise should be more pleasure than pain.

Most of all, Heather and I both believe that bodies are unique and varied, and that nutrition should be equally so. Welcome, Heather, to CR!!

♦♦♦♦♦♦

First off, many thank to Gena for allowing me to guest post here at Choosing Raw. I remember when Gena first emailed me about her new blog, and I’ve been a fan ever since. We don’t always eat the same foods, but I’ve always admired how Gena fuels her body, and she is such a talented and gifted writer. So, thanks again Gena for inviting me to guest post on  your amazing blog. I’m honored.

For those of you that don’t me, my name is Heather, and my blog is Heather Eats Almond Butter, or HEAB for short.  About two and a half years ago, I discovered food and fitness blogs, but I became frustrated when I could not find many written by women who had lost an extreme amount of weight through diet and exercise alone. Ten years ago, I lost 100+ pounds by changing my eating and fitness habits, and I decided to share my story with others through my blog. I wanted people to know that it is truly possible to lose a large amount of weight and keep it off and therefore, HEAB was born. :)

So, how does one lose weight? Well, You simply have to figure out what works for you. Guess what? There is no perfect diet out there. People often ask me if I’m ever going to write a book about my weight loss, but honestly, I would never want to say my way of eating is the only way to lose weight because what worked for me may not work for everyone. For example, many people lose weight when they incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their diet. Vegetables work for me, but fruit doesn’t. It’s too high in natural sugars and goes straight to my belly. Yes, I still eat it, but I limit my intake to 1 or 2 servings a day. Others believe you have to drastically cut your carb intake to lose weight. Nope, not for me, but I do have to watch what kind of carbs I eat. Complex carbs are fine: oats, sprouted grain breads, and root vegetables are no problem. However, hand me a piece of good old fashioned cake with ice-cream, and again, straight to the belly. The plan that worked for me and still does, includes plenty of fat along with some carbs and protein and little to no sugar. Fat makes up about 50% of my daily caloric intake, and since I eat meat and eggs, I never worry about getting enough protein. I eat carbs when I want them, but again, fat is my macronutrient of choice. So, that’s it. That’s what works for me, and I encourage all of you to find what works for you.

My only words of advice, and I know Gena will back me up on this is don’t skimp on the fat. So many of you continue to fear it but don’t! Our bodies need it to function. In fact, I did a little fat intake experiment of my own. Back in November, I decided to try a diet higher in protein. However, I made the mistake of constantly choosing lean proteins, think egg whites over whole eggs, and lean chicken breasts, etc. Look at my hands when I cut back on my fat intake…they were so cracked and dry.


After a couple of months, I decided the high lean protein thing wasn’t working for me, and went back to my usual way of eating. Check out my hands after adding more fat back into my diet…much better and no more dry cracked bleeding knuckles!


Again, our bodies need fat, and they will tell us when we’re not getting enough. I’m not saying that my way of eating will work for you, but I do encourage you all to listen to your body. What is it asking for? That is they key to losing the weight – giving our bodies just what they need and listening, listening, listening.

Now, before I go, and in honor of Gena’s high raw vegan lifestyle, I’ll leave you with a picture of my favorite raw dessert, my wedding cake…


My body does not like white flour and sugar, and so I try to stay away from it whenever I can. For my wedding, I thought, why feed my guests something that I never even eat? So, I didn’t. We had a local raw chef make this cake, and everyone agreed it tasted amazing. It consisted of layers of fresh fruit, pressed dried fruit, and cashew cream frosting. The outside was decorated with slivered almonds and edible flowers. 100% HEAB, 100% perfect.

Please don’t hesitate to email me at heather(at)heathereatsalmondbutter.com if you have any questions. Again, I started blogging to share my story and to help others, and I’m always just an email away. Thanks again Gena, and I hope you’re having a blast in Florida!

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Shawna @ Balancing Me April 23, 2010 at 8:03 am

Wow! The photos of your hands are an incredible visual as to why fats are so important to our diets.

Loved this post!

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Dori April 23, 2010 at 8:06 am

Wow I never knew about your wedding cake, Heather!! That sounds like the most delicious cake! I’m craving some of that right now.

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Veronica @ LifeWithNature April 23, 2010 at 8:13 am

Great post Heather. It,s always inspiring to see someone who found her own way. I especially like your open mind about what can work for someone and what doesn’t for others. The fact that you speak about your own experience also adds as lot! I take it as an inspiration for my own writing. Right now, my blog is more about tips, tricks and facts about nutrition and green living. It’s written in a more general, less personal way, but after havind read your post, I think I could incorporate a bit more of me in it.

Thanks a lot for the inspiration!

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Jessica April 23, 2010 at 8:38 am

I love the beauty of seeing somebody finding their own way. It can be hard just to figure out just what that is in your head let alone forge your own path when other people can sometimes push and pull you in different directions (or, “pressure”). But you come up with your own solution and stick to it and suddenly you are inspiring other people! Thanks for the inspiration.

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Heather Eats Almond Butter April 23, 2010 at 8:57 am

Gena,
Your kind words have me glowing right now. Thanks again for inviting me to guest post. It was truly an honor. :)

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Evan Thomas April 23, 2010 at 9:07 am

I love this post! It’s so easy to lose yourself, especially when you’re broadcasting yourself over the internet. But HEAB truly knows herself. And that cake–to die for!

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Lindsey @ Sound Eats April 23, 2010 at 9:16 am

Amen, amen, amen!!! I feel like all I have been “preaching” lately is to just find what works for you, and to RESPECT everyone’s diets, because they are personal choices reflecting personal needs.

I was a vegan for 7 months, ending three weeks ago. When I went vegan, I thought it was best for my body. It wasn’t. I became energy deprived, lethargic and gained 15 lbs throughout it. As soon as I started introducing animal proteins again, my body immediately started losing weight and gaining energy. I lost 4 lbs in the first week, which was mind-blowing for someone like me who had been eating as “perfectly” as I could and exercising intensely, struggling to even maintain weight half the time! What I’ve learned is that, for me and my body, apparently I’m sensitive to carbohydrates, even plant-based proteins which tend to have more carbohydrates than animal-based proteins. For some reason, it makes a really big difference in my body.

Unfortunately, I have been attacked for my decision. That’s why I have been “preaching” we all need to respect each others’ diets. While animal protein does work for me, dairy doesn’t. Vegan doesn’t. So what? I know ultra-marathoners who are vegan – great for them! It’s all a personal choice and I truly believe our diets can’t find balance until we let go of the “shoulds” and simply listen to what our bodies crave.

Thanks for the fabulous guest post, HEAB, and thanks for posting it, Gena! Enjoy FL, wish I wasn’t so far north of Ft. Lauderdale! :)

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Lauren April 23, 2010 at 9:36 am

Great post! Beautiful cake HEABs. It is so gorgeous!

(And recently, I cut back (unknowingly) on my fat intake (mainly olive oil). My hands got so dry!! It is amazing how the body tells you it needs something… all the more reason to enjoy delicious, and healthy fats!).

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Katie April 23, 2010 at 9:47 am

Great post! I’m a longtime fan of both Choosing Raw and HEAB, and I love seeing the two converge. And that wedding cake. Sweet lordy.

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Meg April 23, 2010 at 10:03 am

I love this, fats are amazing and healing. I don’t know how I’d feel without all my nut butters! Certainly not happy ;)

Thanks Heather and Gena – you’re both rockstars and I love your blogs so much!

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Annie D. April 23, 2010 at 10:12 am

Two of my favorite girls in one bloggie!!! :o)

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Rachel April 23, 2010 at 10:18 am

I love this post! I think a huge obstacle in the weight loss world is that people think diet is “one size fits all” and it’s not. All you need is to listen to your body and find your true fit.

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Kenzie (Healthy Purpose) April 23, 2010 at 11:06 am

Thanks for the motivational read. It gets hard finding exactly what works for your own body. But I appreciate your story. The wedding cake is gorgeous!

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kelsey@snackingsquirrel.com April 23, 2010 at 11:39 am

HEAB is my girlspiration. LOVE HER!

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eatmovelove April 23, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Holy Cake! And again congrats on your acheivements HEAB. Different perspectives are good and interesting.

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Mimi (Damn the Freshman 15) April 23, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Ok, me wants that wedding cake!

Heather, you rock! I’m still trying to find out what works best for my body, and you are one of my inspirations. I’m starting to have a feeling that fat is my macronutrient of choice, too. I feel really empty when my meals don’t have a decent dose of nut butter/nuts/avocado/oil. Is that a clue?

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Heather Eats Almond Butter April 23, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Mimi,
Yes, a huge clue. Listen my friend. :)

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Maggie April 23, 2010 at 1:17 pm

I now know what I’m going to do for my wedding cake. Not raw, but it’s going to be a Maggie-fied creation. Heather you are awesome! Thanks for the sweet sweet guest post.

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Christie {Honoring Health} April 23, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Three cheers for the “eat lots of fat” fan club!!

Thanks for being a great inspiration, Heather!

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Lara (Thinspired) April 23, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Gena and Heather, I enjoyed this entire post so much. Gena, what a great introduction worthy of Heather’s wonderful post! Heather, I just love that your wedding cake was authentically you. Three cheers for fats!

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Diana (Soap & Chocolate) April 23, 2010 at 2:36 pm

HEAB is one worth admiring, no doubt.

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Annie@stronghealthyfit April 23, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Great post! I love both of your blogs. :-)

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Kristin (Cook, Bake and Nibble) April 23, 2010 at 2:49 pm

A raw wedding cake?!?! Amazing!

Great post, Heather! I am with you on the thought that eating is 100% personalized- it’s what works for YOU!

xo
K

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Noelle April 23, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Heather thank you for sharing your story and inspiring women. What are some of your tricks to conquer emotional eating? That to me seems to be the toughest challenge for most women I know, particularly during stressful periods.

Gena, thank you again for another inspirational and grounded post. Have a nice weekend.

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Heather Eats Almond Butter April 23, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Noelle,
I tend to turn away from food rather than towards it in stressful situations or when I’m upset. That being said, I do have some emotional attachments to food as most women probably do. If you find yourself wanting to overeat, my advice is to do something else you love instead. People always say go take a walk after dinner or call a friend, etc. That kind of stuff really never works for me. However, a nice pedicure and a trashy Hollywood magazine always seems to take my mind off anything. Again, find other activities that occupy your thoughts – activities you love. :)

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Ana April 23, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Very nice, as with all of Heather posts!! I really enjoy Heather’s blog!
And what I cool wedding cake, I love it, so pretty!
Ana

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Christine (The Raw Project) April 23, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Thank you so much for this great post. Listening it my body is something I’m constantly trying to improve in my journey and it’s not easy when there’s so much diet info out there.

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Melissa April 23, 2010 at 5:30 pm

What a great post! Thank you Heather for sharing your story and congrats on losing all that weight. You are an inspiration! I love how you truly listen to your body..fantastic:)

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Kelly April 23, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Heather, I love this post. Thank you for sharing. How would I go about finding a raw local wedding cake chef for my wedding?

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Heather Eats Almond Butter April 23, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Hey Kelly,
I happen to attend a raw foods workshop here in Nashville, and the instructor is the one that made my cake. Depends on where you live. If you’re in big city, inquire at your Whole Foods and ask if there are any raw chefs in the area. If living in a smaller city, ask at your local health food store or Google it. I think you might be surprised – raw foodists are everywhere. :)

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Kelly April 23, 2010 at 6:54 pm

I will do that~thanks. I live in Northern Virginia and we have a beautiful wholefoods 20 min. away. Thanks Heather! =)

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Katherine April 23, 2010 at 7:35 pm

I don’t know about the standing on one foot, but I’m good at having dry skin! (check out some vitamin E ointment for your knuckles!) Great post and advice. and great blog in general to Gena
Katherine

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lola April 23, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Your cake looks so yummy!!! :)
nice guest post! go HEab! :D

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) April 23, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Great post, Heather! Love that you are true to yourself and your dietary path, no matter what. And I remember the original hand pictures post. Since that time I eat more coconut oil, but I also slather it on my hands too :) And my hair.

Gena, enjoy your weekend and hope you get some much deserved R & R!

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Pure2RawTwins April 24, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Great post Heather, I really always enjoy reading your story, so inspiring. And yes there is no one fit all diet and yes good fats are good ; )

Gena soak up some sun for me ; )

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Bridget September 7, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Thanks for telling us that we should listen to our bodies and it will tell us what to eat. I recently purchased a juicer so that I can start back juicing more consistently. I notice that my body craves the fruit and veggie juices. It’s amazing how good I feel after drinking veggie juice.

I am going to work harder to be more consistent in applying this principal of listening to my body.

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