The “Cheat Meal”

Another week, another 2 pounds down. Feeling strong!

One thing to keep in mind about Weight Watchers or healthy eating in general, is that it’s not so much a temporary fix. I know people like quick fixes to lose weight fast, but sustainable weight loss requires a lifetime of choices.

This weekend, I went to the beach with family and had an indulgent meal followed by an ice cream. I don’t eat that way every day, but once a week makes a big difference in my perspective.

Eating real food with few fake or shady ingredients is important, but if you enjoy something, it should never be off limits. You just have to learn how to eat them in moderation. Easier said then done, but do something long enough, it does become habit.

Just like I need a rest day once a week, I also need a meal or two where I’m not counting calories or points, or wondering the ratio between carbs, proteins, and fats. Sometimes that meal turns into a week of meals, but know it’s never too late to return to healthier ways. Being super restrictive leads to resentment, which blocks success.

I don’t know if we should label anything the “cheat meal” because ice cream for me is just as important to my diet as baby spinach. I eat a lot more baby spinach per week, but it keeps me determined and successful. Referring to something as cheating provides further negative connotation to food, which our society does not need. We need to stop shaming people based on their habits, but try to promote better habits. Eating, for me at least, is an enjoyable part of life, whether it’s breakfast in the middle of a hectic morning or Thanksgiving dinner. I enjoy it now more than I did when I was obese and eating a lot more. Part of that is I’ve come to like cooking, but another part of it is coming to accept the fact that we need food to live.

I’m not a proponent of many diets, fasts, or cleanses (although different things work for different people). Learning to eat real food most of the time just has better lasting effects and makes you feel better inside, which is most important.

Keep being you!

reset eating

If you are a fan of eating, like I am, then following a balanced diet can be difficult. Fall starts us out with tons of tempting treats, which is followed up with winter (when we’re covered up) and we greet the holidays with abandon. Spring might make us feel as though we should rein in the eating a bit, but the days get warmer and ice cream (although a valid year-long treat) seems that much more appealing.

I think the stress of my move has revealed itself most in my eating, and unfortunately, I’m not one of those people who “just can’t eat” when they’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious. I’ve not gone completely off the wagon, but there are definitely things I need to cut back on.

Here’s how I hit refresh.

No, I’m not a fan of the juice cleanse or other crash diets, although I will up my water and tea intake (exnay on the honey). I don’t love the idea of tracking every calorie for the rest of my life, but I when I feel as though I’ve been consistently overeating for too long, I’ll download a free app and force myself to pay more attention to what I’m putting into my mouth because, much like at Target, the little things add up.

While I do not believe in completely cutting things out, such as essential nutrients found in fats and carbs, I do try to make a solid return to eating as clean and fresh as possible. I’m good about eating my fruits and veggies, but I’ll include even more in the form of soups, salads, or stir frys for lunches. I’ll make sure that my snacks are planned and packed in advance: hard-boiled eggs with a piece of fruit, trail mixes, peanut butter toast, hummus or almond butter with carrots and celery sticks, yogurt and berries with walnuts are all go to faves.

But mostly, it means not dipping a hand into the candy bowl at work or giving into every craving for chocolate. The more you eat sugar, the more you want sugar. I do indulge my voracious sweet tooth on the regular, but I try to make a real effort to eat a treat mindfully, slowly, and with a lot of appreciation so I can enjoy it and not feel as though I need more.

In the beginning of my weight loss journey- FIVE years ago, FIVE – I got a lot of leeway on the eating front because I hadn’t been working out and the addition of exercise to my life was astronomical. Obviously I changed my eating habits for the better, but exercise will only get me so far with weight loss these days and as I grow older, my metabolism will also be less forgiving.

Although, of note, I believe my exercise routine helped kick my cold in three days while others around me suffered for weeks. Just sayin’.

Eating can be stressful, especially if you aren’t feeling healthy or strong, but it’s also an enjoyable experience that should always be enjoyed. I find that when I’m overeating, I’m enjoying what I’m eating far less. It becomes a dirty little secret, makes me feel guilty and sick, which detracts from my confidence. Food and eating is not the enemy, but a return to moderation is always important and always possible.

The most important part of hitting the refresh button for me is finding a positive mindset. My body and mind are strongest together. If I feel bad about myself or have negative feelings towards my body, I tend to be crankier, more anxious, and unhappy. But by treating my body well even in the smallest ways, like wearing a ridiculous face mask, working through a particularly challenging workout routine, getting a pedicure, doing yoga, going for a walk, or just standing in the mirror and offering myself a genuine smile, I find I can face the day in a brighter way.

I got this reminder for a reason.

 

 

Get It, Girl

Something that keeps plaguing me is why we put so much stock into diets. Part of the reason why it took me so long to lose weight in the first place was because I didn’t want to commit to the harsh bitterness of what I believed a diet entailed. It never occurred to me that to lose weight, you need to commit to healthy eating on top of a healthy lifestyle.

 This does not mean that I limit myself, at all. In fact, I think I give into too many temptations sometimes. I’m only human and it’s called chocolate.

 After the dedication and commitment I put into these past two years, I know how to eat healthy, cook healthy, and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. I don’t regret any of it, and to be honest, I enjoy these foods more than the fried ones and not only because they make me feel stronger and happier.

 One thing I still need help on is the debilitating fear of going back to where I was a little more than two years ago. In some ways, with how far I’ve come physically and emotionally, those days seem so far away. Yet, when I meet new people who have no idea what I used to look like, it feels a little unsettling to a point where I can’t quite pinpoint that emotion.

 It’s not all the time and it’s usually sprung on me after weekends where I feel as though I’ve indulged too heavily, a little bloated, or I didn’t get my usual sweat going in my workout. Or because winter keeps me inside and stirring with my own mind for too long. Guilt is a terrible thing when combined with fear.

 When this sets in, I feel the panic rising in me like little bubbles exploding in my body to mind shouting, “fat, fat, FAT!” That’s the point where I start downloading a food tracking app, worrying excessively about calories and wondering if that apple I ate as a mid-morning snack will put me over the edge.

 I know.

 Back when I was on Weight Watchers and still living in a dorm, I think I had so much success because one, I was spending two hours a day at the gym because I had the time and motivation, and two, because I was eating a lot healthier. Yes, I was technically tracking but I also wasn’t so concerned about measuring every little morsel. I chose healthy foods, accepted what the servers gave me, and ate until my hunger signals said, “Enough!”

 When I left school, I got into the measuring thing a lot more. I didn’t need Weight Watchers anymore and I succeeded. But once I cut ties and relied on myself a bit more, panic and obsession infiltrated my conscious. Once again, I went back to tracking, taking the enjoyment and satisfaction out of meals and eating in general.

 This happened again. I’m a lot busier, have a lot more on mind, and feeling unsteady on my feet as I look forward to another future of change. This is an exciting time, but challenging, and that means, I start to worry more about what I can control. Food.

 After a stressful past two weeks, I deleted the apps. I put fear to the wind and am trying to get back to that happy place I was in May 2012 when I graduated and felt like the world was ready to be my playground.

 So if I could offer only one piece of advice about weight loss, it would be this: eat real, unprocessed foods that you put as much time as you can into preparing. Eat slow, enjoy, and let them nourish you. Don’t worry about calories because one serving of almonds might be more caloric and higher in fat than that 100 calorie pack of fake cookies, but deep down we all know what’s better for you.

 Diets won’t work because they’re never lasting. I can’t rely on anything but myself to be in a positive, healthy position. This is a battle and a mantra I will have to repeat to myself possibly until the day that I die. And it’s about time I trust my instincts. I lost close to 100 pounds and have maintained for almost two years. Even though it’s sometimes difficult because I’m no longer seeing those immediate results, I need to learn how to still feel them.

Sometimes, you just need a reminder.

Then:

Now: