My name is Serena Sabala, I am a plant based nutrition coach, wellness coach and cofounder of Whole Shift Wellness (www.wholeshiftwellness.com).
I’ve been an advocate of plant based eating for many years because of the incredible results I got first hand since making the shift in 2014 (effortless weight loss, improved digestion, increased energy levels, better hair and skin, the list goes on!); since then I’ve continued to explore the subject more in depth, learning from the greatest authorities in plant based eating, and I have helped many people make a partial or full shift and achieve incredible results beyond their wildest dreams. In the past few months however, I started feeling a little unsettled and dissatisfied with myself: not so much like I was going backwards but more like I was stagnating and no longer progressing.
Since the day of my own plant based shift in 2014 (I remember it, clear as day!), my progression had been dramatic and continuous. Sure, I’d have a few ups and downs (generally in tune with the most popular food related holidays!) but overall, things kept getting better and better the more I learned about how to fuel (and train) my body to get optimum results: I kept getting leaner, fitter and more energetic as the years went by. Until it all stopped!
This summer for the first time since 2014 I felt like I’d reached a plateau and nothing new was happening any longer. I’d already upped my workout routine and frankly, I didn’t see how I could squeeze in any more training without risking injuries due to lack of rest (I do 30 minutes HIIT session 4 times a week and 60-90 minutes hot yoga classes 4 times a week). My eating was the best it had ever been: 100% plant based, low fat, no processed foods and although I was eating out once or twice a week, it was still always 100% vegan food. I really didn’t want to cut out ALL treats and occasional celebration meals from my diet: in my younger years, I have suffered from an eating disorder that has taught me WAY too much about what NOT to do to be happy and healthy and I certainly didn’t want to cross that bridge again. Still though, I wanted to boost things up and achieve newer and greater results: as a wellness coach, my goal is to inspire people to achieve the greatest level of health and wellbeing possible for them at any given time so I always want to practice what I preach and feel my best.
That’s when I thought about intermitted fasting.
I had already tried 3-days juice cleanses three or four times in my life so I wasn’t completely foreign to the concept. I am a BIG fan of Plenish and addicted to their almond milk (organic, no nasty ingredients and, oh my, the best cappuccino froth EVER!) so when I learnt about their 5:2 diets I knew that was just what I was looking for. Some concerns definitely popped into my mind when I decided to try it out for 4 weeks: the main one definitely was whether by juicing two days a week, I would feel so hungry and deprived that I would end up eating more in the other 5 days to make up for it, therefore annulling any possible result. Like I mentioned, I am all too familiar with the starvation/binge cycle from my days of disordered eating.
Thankfully, not only that didn’t happen but quite the opposite did: I realized something that has since had profound positive effects on my eating habits and has allowed me not only to maintain the results of the 4 weeks but actually improve even further since: I was still often eating more than my body needed or wanted! Sure, I was eating all the right stuff, for the most part, and was doing great at limiting processed and fatty foods however I was still unconsciously eating larger portions than I needed.
I realized I had this subtle sabotaging thought in the back of my mind, especially when preparing my evening meal: “since I eat a low fat plant based diet, I MUST eat a lot of food to get enough nutrients!”.
“it’s not just about what we eat, it’s also about how we eat”
I don’t believe in measuring or weighing food but rather being in tune with the body’s signals of satisfaction and satiety however I realized I was not always tuning in with those signals myself! In fear of not getting enough nutrients, I would often push past my body’s natural state of satiation and cross the border into feeling stuffed.
This was a pretty big realization that came to me the day after the first “juice only” day, when all of a sudden what was once my usual size dinner felt like a bit too much food. So I repeated to myself what I often tell my clients: it’s not just about what we eat, it’s also about how we eat!
Since then I feel lighter and although I don’t believe in weighing myself, I can see and feel the differences in my body: my clothes feel a little different and I can see some further definition around the “critical” areas of stomach and thighs. Most importantly, I don’t finish my meals feeling overstuffed and uncomfortable any longer. Happy days! The journey to your happiest and healthiest self is ever expanding and evolving and I know I will never stop learning through my own experience and through helping people along their own journeys so thank you Plenish for the latest discovery and for a happier, healthier me!
“as a wellness coach, my goal is to inspire people to achieve the greatest level of health and wellbeing possible for them”
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