Hi Hayley,

I'm 39, I love the outdoors and I love paddling, swimming, hiking, surfing, and I recently got into Barre which is amazing. I've also struggled with my weight since I hit about 35 because while I don't drink, I have quite the sweet tooth. I'm 5'11 and weigh 180 right now, and though I have a lot of muscle I'm bigger than I want to be. The kicker is that after experiencing some back pain recently I went in to see a doctor and I have a fractured bone (?!) in my spine that's allowing my lower vertebrae to move around in a way they're not supposed to. This is no fun, and it's going to severely limit my movement for the next couple of months at least. Not only am I a little freaked about not being able to play outside, I am really worried about gaining weight. I need a good food plan and I can't seem to sort the wheat from the chaff in terms of what's nonsense and what I really need to do to keep my weight down. I think I'll be able to keep walking and swimming, and I know I'll have PT to do (Pilates is recommended for helping my core stability in this situation), but I need some help with food, please. Any recommendations???


Sometimes when we ask a question, the answer is right there in our question, and we just need someone to point it out to us. Here it is: “I have a massive sweet tooth”. The more we eat sugar, the more we want it and the more we want it the more we eat it. It is like a drug, and like you, I am not safe from it. I have never been that person who could have anything sweet in the house because I would eat it all, and since I live alone I have no one to blame but myself.

Because you are so active, you have been able to outrun some of the effects that accompany a sugar addiction, but this injury you now have is going to make that slightly more challenging which means you need to rid your diet of anything that is has added sugar in it. Most food items that fit in this category are pretty self-explanatory, but there are some foods that you may not think of. Things like salad dressings, sauces (for marinades and on pastas), dried fruits, specialty coffees (don’t even think about indulging in a pumpkin spice latte this fall), fruit and vegetable juices (from concentrate and blended fresh), flavoured yoghurts and snack bars are all loaded with added sugars.

You don’t need a food plan, because food plans do not work. However, you do need to be aware of what you should be eating and what to avoid. Keep it simple and keep your diet balanced. What does that mean? Maybe one night you have pasta because you don’t have time to make it fresh from spaghetti squash, as is all the rage for gluten free eaters. But instead of loading your plate with white flour pasta, you opt for a quinoa version (or brown rice pasta) and make your sauce from scratch. Trust me, making a sauce from scratch is easy. Here is one that I make all the time. The cashews give it tons of protein and I spice it up with some chili flakes and throw in a few handfuls of spinach and arugula. 

Remove things that are tempting from your pantry and focus on getting three healthy meals a day that you have made yourself (please, stay away from anything premade from a food court or café). Fill your snack bag with snap peas, carrots and other chopped vegetables with a few tablespoons of hummus for dipping. Eat most of your fruit in the morning and make most of your later meals full of lean proteins and vegetables. This is going to seem like work at first and you will have to prepare your meals in advance, but it gets easy the more you commit.

Bottom line…eat real, healthy foods that you make yourself. Cut back your portion sizes, drink lots of water and stay away from the obvious bad choices. But don’t deprive yourself completely, and allow yourself some “treats” when it is appropriate. Remember, you can have all you want, just not all the time, so make sure you pick the right times to make the wrong choices.

And remember, send your own Smutty Fitness questions to me here.