For a long time a struggled to figure out how to live a balanced life and eat foods I enjoyed while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle and reaching my physique goals. If you have not done so, please check out my ‘About Me’ page to get a little insight into my background!
After losing 25 pounds for a competition, restricting my food choices, experiencing anxiety around food, and gaining all the weight back that I had worked so hard to lose, how did I finally figure it out? Today, I’m going to share some of the things I learned along my long journey.
- Restricting my food increased my anxiety around food, and lead me to experience binge-like behavior. I wouldn’t say I was a binge-eater because binge eating disorder is now a classified eating disorder that requires specific behaviors in order to be diagnosed. However, I did have binge-like behaviors. I would eat large amounts of food when I wasn’t hungry. I had uncontrollable cravings. I would sometimes hide what I was eating because I was afraid of what someone would say. I struggled with this because I was restricting my food so much. I thought in order to reach my goals, I had to eat “clean.” I meal prepped every single week. I lived my life out of tupperware. Although I was able to maintain this lifestyle for 4 months while prepping for a bodybuilding competition, I was not able to maintain it once my prep was over. Restricting my food was not the answer. Living out of tupperware was not the answer. Sure, I lost weight temporarily, but at what cost?
- It’s not a matter of lack of motivation and/or discipline: I think competing left me with a sense of arrogance. I thought I was more disciplined than everyone. I thought I had better self control. I truly believed I was on a pedestal because I was “more motivated” than people around me?? Well that completely back-fired when I gained all my weight back that I had lost while prepping, didn’t it? I found out that motivation is temporary. You will not wake up every day extremely motivated to go to the gym and eat healthy. It takes practicing discipline over and over until it becomes habit. If I only went to the gym when I was “motivated,” I would probably get there once a week. The reason I get there 5 days a week is because it’s literally just part of my routine. I know at some point during the day I’m going to get it done. It’s like washing my face and brushing my teeth..even when I’m super tired and don’t want to do it, I roll my eyes, suck it up, and just do it. I promise it’s not because I’m “more disciplined,” I’ve just practiced it over and over and over again and it has become a habit. This also goes for eating too. I touched on this in my recent Facebook video…
- Pick a meal to keep nutritionally dense. I am a breakfast eater. I wake up hungry every single morning. I try to keep my breakfast nutritionally dense every morning so that it keeps me full and I start my day off feeling really good. I have a protein source (usually eggs), a whole grain (usually Ezekiel bread or sometimes oatmeal), some sort of fruit, and plenty of water. This meals has protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fiber. A balanced breakfast has become an everyday habit for me. If you don’t eat breakfast, then pick a different meal to keep consistently nutritionally dense. This doesn’t mean you have to eat the same food every day, but pick one of your meals that you know is going to contain fruits and vegetables, protein (chicken, fish, eggs, tofu, lean beef), fats (like oil, avocado, or nuts), and fiber (from vegetables, whole grains, fruit, or beans).
- Sometimes you just gotta suck it up and tell yourself ‘no.’ If I gave into every single craving I had every single day, I honestly might be living off half baked Ben & Jerry’s pints. It’s good to listen to your body and feed your cravings sometimes, but I think there are times you just have to say to yourself “ok, you know what, I’m going to skip out on fries tonight and get a side of roasted vegetables.” You don’t have to deprive yourself and give up junk for the rest of your life; but if you want to improve your health, then make some healthy swaps when you can. You don’t have to go on a diet, and you don’t have to limit yourself to 1000 calories a day. It’s about making smart decisions. Just because eating a bag of potato chips sounds really good, doesn’t mean you HAVE to do it. However, at the end of the day, sometimes you just need a dang pizza and THAT’S OKAY TOO. It’s okay to have cravings, or eat food just because you feel like it. Just be smart and have healthy options on hand for when your craving is just your hunger and you need something quick.
- Just start: You don’t need a gym membership, fancy Nike shoes, Lululemon workout pants, and $300 to spend at Whole Foods every week to start improving your health and reaching your goals. Start where you are right now. Start walking everyday (unless you’re in Ohio because oh my, it’s cold). If you need some at-home workout ideas please let me know!! Start trying to make healthy swaps. Start experimenting with your current habits and see what changes you can make. You will never get anywhere if you don’t just start.
- Beef (also contains fat)
- Eggs (egg yolk contains fat)
- Fish (tuna, tilapia, salmon, etc.)
- Cottage Cheese
- Greek Yogurt
- Cheese (also contains fat)
- All Oils
- avocado (Also contains carbohydrates)
- Ice cream/baked goods/most ‘junk’ food (also contains carbohydrates)
- Any grains
- Milk (also contains protein and fat)