It seems like a lifetime ago, but there was a time when these were some of my favorite foods:
- buffalo chicken calzones with extra blue cheese
- Burger King crispy chicken sandwich with Oreo pie
- Papa John’s pizza with garlic sauce
- Wendy’s Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger
- Pizza Hut breadsticks
- TGIFriday’s chicken tenders with honey mustard
- Panera Bread’s I.C. Caramel
And though there are lots more, those are the ones that immediately come to mind when I think back to my eating habits at the end of high school/first couple years of college. In high school, I could get away with it because as a three sport athlete, I was burning crazy amounts of calories through daily practices. But once I got to college and hung up my sporting equipment without changing my eating habits, I think we can all figure out what happened shortly thereafter.
The scale ballooned up to just shy of 200 lbs over the course of two years.
As a former athlete, I was appalled, disgusted, ashamed, and in denial over the fact that I’d allowed myself to fall so far from the shape I was once in. After some hemming and hawing, I decided to join Weight Watchers with a friend, and over the course of the summer before senior year of college, I dropped 15 lbs. As anyone who has dieted can tell you, I assumed that once I had dropped those pounds, they were gone for good! So I began to loosen up my restrictive eating habits, allowed myself to skip some workouts, and resumed drinking as a college student is wont to do. Any guesses what happened?
The scale shot right back up, this time to 205 lbs. I was furious with myself, and immediately rejoined Weight Watchers. I’ll spare you the details, but I lost roughly 20 lbs this time around, and continued to yo-yo from 185-195 for the better part of a year. I actually met my now husband when I was around 195, a fact that to this day astonishes me. I felt so physically uncomfortable that I’m surprised I was able to let my best self shine through, but that’s just what happens when you meet your person. They see you for who you truly are, and not the number on the scale.
Over the next few years, instead of “being on a diet” or “being off a diet”, I simply began to gradually change my overall diet. Don’t get it twisted — I still adore Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos, fries, ice cream (of the coconut milk variety), cookies, and all that good stuff…but I don’t eat them on the reg. And slowly but surely, I’ve watched as my cravings have shifted. Have you ever shaken your head at someone who tells you that they crave a salad? I’m here to tell you that it’s totally possible. Throughout this process, I’ve managed to shed close to 50 lbs and maintain it for almost 3 years.
Once you become acutely aware of how you feel when you eat certain foods, you’re able to listen to your body and give it the food that it so desperately wants. If you’re stuffing yourself full of junk food 3 meals a day, then you’re flooding your body with salt, sugar, and fat…the (not so) terrific trio that royally screws with your bod.
During my time as a Weight Watchers member, I got into the habit of rewarding myself with crap food when I weighed in and was down from the previous week. Can we pause to think about how screwed up that is? After eating healthily and working out consistently and seeing the scale go down, I “rewarded” myself with food that I knew would make me feel like crap, and would make me continue to crave more crap. WHY!? Because years and years and years of dieting have completely, totally, and utterly f’ed our shit up. We’ve been conditioned to feel that we’ve earned the right to eat junk food after being “so good” during the week. NEWSFLASH: THIS IS A REALLY MESSED UP WAY TO THINK!
So what is my “normal” these days? For the past few years, it’s honestly been pretty darn boring 90% of the time.
Breakfast is a smoothie, oatmeal, or avocado toast. Lunch is usually a salad, some leftovers, a sandwich, or another smoothie if I’m feeling super lazy, and dinner is a macro bowl or a recipe from Isa Does It. I snack on fruits and vegetables and salsa and hummus and peanut butter (and sometimes Doritos because letsbehonest they taste amazing), I drink wine a couple nights a week, I’ll have some chocolate or some ice cream if I’m in the mood for it.
Gone are the days of feeling like I need to reign it in after I have a treat, gone is the guilt of eating something “off plan”, and gone is my rabid obsession to workout in order to compensate for something that I ate. But also gone are the days of eating pizza at 2AM, waking up and eating a bagel, drinking during the day, and washing it down with a hamburger and fries for dinner. Because while all of those things can be classified as fun or delicious, at the end of the day you’re doing yourself, your body, and your health absolutely no favors by treating your body like a garbage can.
If you want to see lasting change, it’s time to eliminate the “all or nothing” mentality, where you’re either on a strict diet or on a see food diet (if I see food, I’m gonna eat it).