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!

Love Letter to Exercise

It was the summer before my senior year of college and I had no idea what to pursue in my professional life, but I knew I did not want to present myself to the world in my current condition. I was obese, self-conscious, and overwhelmed. Rather than sink further into this black hole, I decided to pull myself out of it.

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After work, every afternoon, I put in 15 minutes on the clunky elliptical we had in the basement. I blasted music and endured it. As the days and weeks passed, I started putting on episodes of favorite shows, like Friends and Golden Girls, and worked until the end. It wasn’t long before I realized how much I enjoyed the effort, the slick sweat and short of breath feelings grew addictive.

I could go for an hour, playing with speeds and intensities. I was losing weight and I felt good about myself for the first time ever. I was in complete control, pushing my body to limits I thought I would forever detest. My body craved more. After my elliptical session, I would do sets of jumping jacks and started lifting the light weights we had lounging around. By the end of the summer, I was more determined than I had ever been in my life and I knew I would keep going once I was back in school.

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At my college, there were two gyms- one in the main building of campus and the other in the basement of a dorm. I loved both, they became safe spaces of comfort. Lifting weights awakened my body in new ways. I’d feel sore the next day, but it was a result of achievement rather than a painful deterrent. I had no knowledge about how to lift weights, no idea what exercise worked what muscle group, I just tried what I saw other people in the gym doing, or what I read about online.

In these days, I racked up one-two hours every day at the gym. It’s not what I recommend for everyone, nor something that is doable for busy people, but it was my saving grace. Gone was the anxious girl who ate her emotions. I found my strength.

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February of that year, I decided to tackle the treadmill. Growing up, I loved playing sports, but I hated to run. I started at 30 minutes, walking for 4 minutes and running for 1 minute in 5 minute increments. By Red Sox opening day that year, I took my runs to the outdoor track down the street and was running 3-4 miles at a time. I was a runner- and that is not something I offer lightly. To this day, I am not quick or smooth or a model of running perfection by any means, but I can run for miles and I will never forget what that means to the girl in the summer of 2011.

By graduation, approximately one year later, I was 100 pounds down, exercising six days a week and maintaining much healthier (and happier) eating habits. I was sad to be leaving school, but I was excited to see what the future held. That is not to say that I didn’t struggle after. I’m still confused as to what to do in my professional life in many ways, but that is the product of living.

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But this journey that I continue on, allowed me to be okay with putting myself out into the world, to experience and experiment. I tried several different jobs and trusted my instincts enough to walk away from something that wasn’t right for me. I studied to become a personal trainer and help others who struggle like me or just need a little guidance and push. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my dreams and listened to my heart when I knew it was time to come home to my family.

My life is not perfect. I am not perfect. I eat too much, I have a lazy exercise day or choose to gasp- take two days off from the gym sometimes- but mostly, I’ve maintained these healthy habits. Eating is a large part of losing weight and maintaining a healthy life, but exercise was my gateway. Without it, I would not have the strength to endure, two of my favorite words.

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Exercise is my time. No matter what, I will always have that hour in my day that I take for myself. It doesn’t have to be a full hour, it doesn’t have to be a perfect mixture of cardio and strength training, and it doesn’t always have to be crushing and exhausting.

Embrace the messiness of fitness- the sweat, the confusion, the pain, the results. It does wondrous things for the body, physically and mentally.

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Fridays = The Best Days

Happy Friday!

I know we shouldn’t live for the weekend, but Friday has long been my favorite day and I can’t help but feel happy when it arrives.

Let’s start it off by going back to Thursday, which wasn’t bad itself.

I woke up Thursday morning and enjoyed a classic breakfast sandwich of my own making before heading to the gym.

First, I weighed myself and realized I’m down 1.6 pounds!

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My workout included 40 minutes of arm and core exercises, as well as a treadmill run. I’m running “long” distance twice a week and once a week, I’m working on speeding up my mile. I’ll run one mile, then complete sprints.

A quick snack to refuel was this peanut butter toast and berries.

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After my morning shift, I came home and threw this delicious salad together. With a kale base, I threw in bell pepper, carrots, peanuts, tofu, and chicken with balsamic vinegar. So good!

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Dinner was leftovers during my night shift. Chicken with white sauce, spinach rice, and sautéed spinach and kale.

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