Disclaimer- I am not a dietician, doctor or therapist. This is my personal story
Note: This is a repost, it has been edited and updated. It has been two years since I began my journey to health. I have maintained my weight, eating habits and exercise routine.
The other part to getting healthy is diet. Which means food. Because this aspect of the whole thing is far more complex I am going to divide it up into two parts. The first part will be how I ate while I was losing weight and how I eat today. In part two I will touch on the more mental aspect of my relationship with food.
Food is necessary. That goes without saying. We need it to live. It gives us the energy we need to live our lives. Much of it tastes good, in fact too good. I love sugar. I love eating. Which was the problem. I needed an attitude adjustment, to understand that food has a purpose besides pleasure.
This is another area where I thought I would need money. Again I was proved wrong. While it can sometimes cost more to buy healthier food, it is possible on a limited budget. I did not follow any commercial diet plan. What follows is the diet that worked for me.
First, I utilized a free app to help me keep track of my calorie intake, My Fitness Pal. This was so helpful in staying within my calorie goals. It also helps to calculate how much you burn off with your exercise program. I learned a lot about portion sizes and how much I should actually be eating. This was huge for me. How many times had I gulped down a bottle of soda with out realizing that it was meant for two people and not one?! Too many to count.
I stopped eating after 7pm ( when I could help it). This allowed food to digest properly before I would go to sleep. Also I was just a little bit hungry. Not because I was starving myself. I was learning how to eat for the body I wanted. Learning what was in front of me was enough.
Drastically eliminating the amount of sugar in diet helped tremendously. The only sugar in my diet was from fruits and vegetables I ate. Do not ask me how I did not eat desert. This alone was a miracle and I am not exaggerating on this. There were some nights I would sit there craving something and chewing ice with gum really helped me get through those times. When watermelon season came around, I chopped a whole watermelon and put it in the freezer (seriously, it becomes like an Italian ice!). I used to obsess about desert, having something ( usually chocolate) in the house. Over time I have reintroduced other goodies such as frozen yogurt or cookies. I try not to have both in the house at the same time. This is something that helps me to stay on track.
This way of eating is a permanent change and not temporary. I needed to let go of bad habits
( more on that in the next post) to do this.
While I was losing weight, I was taking in 1500 calories a day and with my workouts burning much of that off. Just as with the workouts, I surprised myself by not giving in to temptation. It was not until my birthday in March that anything sweet touched my lips. Let me tell you, when I was eating my birthday cake I was in ecstasy in devouring the icing! But it was enough. I did not take the cake home with me as I usually would. I did not go out trolling for a sugar fix. This was truly from God.
The only thing I was drinking during this time was water and lots of it. I became obsessed with staying hydrated. It still is the only thing I tend to drink during the day, except for my daily cup of coffee. I may not add sugar to my coffee but that I could not cut out. I also discovered lemon flavored Vitamin Water, which I would also freeze and drink as a treat. I like cold, sweet things, can you tell?
Breakfast is usually oatmeal and over time I added things to it like a sliced banana, almonds or dried fruit. While I was in the midst of the weight loss I would have a mid morning snack. I tended to want to eat more in morning since my workouts would be later in the day. Lunch always included a yogurt or a salad or a half a sandwich. Something full of vitamins that would give me plenty of energy.
Dinner was a smaller, smarter portion of what my sister had cooked. I used smaller plates, carefully measuring out my portion. The benefit of working out so late and then eating is burning up all those calories.
It helped me to eat the same things day in and out. To not have those foods that I would be tempted to eat. It was over a year before I ever set foot down the cake mix aisle in the grocery store. Even looking at a package of low-fat cookies is a danger zone for me.
Cleaning out the cupboards and fridge of anything that can derail any attempt is key. This can be hard because so much of what we buy is stuff we enjoy and have spent a lot of money on it. I also don’t have a husband or children to think of either, so that made it easier for me too.
It means saying no to food offered during social and work situations. This is why planning ahead is so important. The times I did not plan well lead to not so great decisions. Another benefit to planning ahead is saving money. Carrying around a healthy alternative for that afternoon snack or bringing lunch to work.
The best part about pulling back so much from sugar? It was learning how wonderful so many things taste. I never realized how sweet carrots were and this has become my favorite thing to eat. The day I added peanut butter to my diet was such a happy day! I indulge in sweets but I’m careful to not keep it in my house. I just know I can not have it too accessible. More on this in the next post.
I understand better how to eat and that food is not just a source of pleasure but fuel. For those times that I plan to indulge, I work out harder.
It helped too that those around me were conscience of my new food choices and encouraging in their own ways. Again, you can not do this alone and having some one alongside you or cheering you on is so helpful!
What changes have you made to get away from bad unhealthy habits? Disclaimer I am not a dietician, doctor or therapist- this is my personal story.