My diets have always included eating healthy and exercising. And then sliding back into my old way of eating.
How many times have I started over? No clue. I lost count when I had to use fingers and toes to count. The last time “I started over,” I remember thinking, “why bother,” because I was just going to quit at some point again. Thank goodness I did start again.
Only in the last three or four years have I have focused on overhauling my diet AND my way of thinking.
I’ve cleaned up my diet and started over and tried different things so many times, it’s almost laughable. I’ve tried Medifast, surgery, weight watchers and more.
My diet alterations look different now than in the past. Now, my changes are much simpler.
There are a few reasons
1. I keep the basics the same, even when I veer off course. I’m very diligent about keeping up with eating protein. I have protein with every single meal.
2. I always have healthy carbs on hand. Brown rice, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, beans.
3. Sugar. That’s my Achilles heel. Sugar. Lots and lots of sugar.
So, when I have to fix my diet, really, what it translates to, is the need to cut out sweets. Not salty snacks. Not chips. Sweets. Cookies, ice cream, cake, brownies, candy, etc. I struggle to have any self control when it comes to sweets. Although I believe anything in moderation is okay, it’s so much more complicated to follow through with that thought process. It’s hard for me to stop once I start. Easy idea, challenging to follow through though.
When it’s time to reign in my out of control eating, it’s not complicated, but it’s difficult.
I go back to the basics and eat at specific times of the day (every 3 hours) and eliminate sweets. I go back to the routines I set forth in losing weight. Once I feel like I have my foundation back (usually a couple of weeks), I allow myself to enjoy a sweet treat ONCE IN AWHILE. I eliminate certain treats altogether because my brain and mouth lose all communication skills when there’s cake, cupcakes or brownies involved. It’s game over if I have any of these when I’m trying to return to good eating habits.
I’m still learning how to make healthy choices when I can’t follow my set routines. It’s a learning process and when I notice that I have veered off course, I regain control. Having spent so much of my life developing bad eating habits, I’m still creating good habits. When life gets chaotic, I find myself slipping into bad habits and sometimes it takes a while to notice how far I’ve veered.
I’ve started over so many times, it’s a bit ridiculous. Honestly. I might hold the record. Until I finally had an epiphany, my ‘ah-ha’ moment.
Here’s the thing, I don’t call my way of eating a ‘diet’ in the traditional sense of a diet. I don’t phrase things in terms of “I need to lose set pounds by a specific date.” That entails something being temporary and that there’s an end date. I use the word ‘diet’ in a broader sense, such as “my diet consists of…” It’s a way of eating. I really have to adjust my thinking to realize that this is a life long way of eating and that I can have what I want…once in awhile. Not daily, and not a LOT.
This is Forever
The biggest lesson I learned once I reached goal weight was that my journey wasn’t over. It continues. Indefinitely. Forever. If I don’t continue to follow the habits that got me to this weight, the scale will start climbing.
Chips are one of them. Chips are a mindless eat. Ironically, I can give or take them, but if they’re in my house and the bag is open, I’ll eat them without even realizing it. I will eat the whole bag and I only wish I was exaggerating. I can NOT have chips in my house. My solution is to buy the box of small variety bag of chips at Costco for my kids. Yes, it might cost a bit more, but it is a sacrifice I’m willing to make. I want to make sure I don’t push my eating concerns on to my kids. If they take chips a couple times a week in their lunch, that’s okay. That’s moderation. I can allow myself a small bag of chips on occasion. But, leave me with a big bag, it’ll be gone that day if not the next day. No can do.
Know Your Limits
There are food that I need to be very careful with. Sugar is my weakness. Sweets are my happy place. I lost 130 pounds and retained every tiny bit of my gargantuan sweet tooth. I am a bit bitter that I didn’t become one of those weird people who taste sweets after a long time and say “eh, it doesn’t taste as good anymore…” ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? I WIIIISH that happened to me. It didn’t. Sweets taste just as divine as when I was over 300 pounds. The jealousy is real, folks.
Can I keep sweets in my house? Yes. It is a hesitant yes, but yes. I rarely bake anymore, I did have to give up most of my baking. But, right now, there are leftover chocolate covered almonds, chocolate covered pretzles, gummy bears, and a couple of candy bars from our recent camping trip. I am well aware that I can’t start eating them or there is no stopping. I’m aware of my weakness, so I avoid them. If I start eating them, I CRAVE more, want more and it’s a mental battle to not go back to the pantry. BUT, I can have a variety pack of bite size candy in my house because I can eat one and be good to go. As a matter of fact these are GREAT for me and when I’m meeting my macros, I can actually build in eating one of these every day.
If we go out to eat, I give myself freedom to order dessert under a couple conditions:
1. I am not gorged from dinner.
2. It sounds really good.
I won’t order dessert just because we’ve gone out, but I do give myself permission if it sounds good. If something from somewhere else sounds good, I’ll go grab my dessert somewhere else.
I love sweets and if I completely eliminated them from my way of eating, I would end up feeling resentful, angry and then cheating at some point. Although I am LEARNING to have sweets in moderation, I often fail. But, when I need to clean up my eating, I know the first thing I need to tackle and often it is the only thing. Sugar.
One might argue that it would be easier to eliminate sweets because this is more like yo-yo dieting. I disagree. Sweets are something I truly enjoy and in the long run, once I learn to eat them in moderation, I won’t have an unhealthy addiction to junk food. And I will learn by trial and error. I will make mistakes and as long as I learn from them and adjust my mindset and my food intake accordingly, it is okay.
My long winded point is that I’m still constantly trying to overhaul my mindset. I feel like I’ve been brainwashed that sweets are bad, sugar is evil. For me, it’s not. I have to learn to respect it and have it in moderation and when it does get out of hand, I regroup and go back to the way of eating that led me to success.
This is a long term, permanent way of living. That’s what I haven’t committed to Paleo, Keto, or any other lifestyle that requires full elimination of certain food groups. For me, I’ll always feel like I’m on a diet and I don’t want that feeling. I want to be free from any food shackles.
I realize that my way of thinking contradicts what many people believe, and that’s okay. Because, at the end of the day, I have to find what works for me. And that’s what I want to encourage everyone else – do what works for YOU. Take tips from one person, some tricks from another, hints and suggestions from a third and create a way of living YOU can live with.