(Everyday breakfast: 1/3 granola, 1/3 Rice Krispies, 1/3 fruit with 2% milk)
I was talking to Mom yesterday as she happened to be catching up on old posts and she suggested that I do a series of healthy recipes to kick off the new year. I told her, that, whether or not she noticed, unless it’s dessert, I typically don’t make unhealthy food because, that’s just not generally how I eat. I have a few gut busters, but generally, it’s pretty clean eating on THB. Also, I explained to her that, unlike back in the 1980’s when fat was public enemy #1, what is healthy to one person is not healthy to another these days. We’ve got gluten-free, high protein, paleo, whole 30, Atkins (is that a thing?), South Beach (is that still a thing?), the DACA diet, the blood type diet…in any case, I told her that I’d be crazy to engage in a ‘what is healthy diet?’ debate in these crazy times.
The next morning, I woke up to another message from a follower asking how I manage to not weigh 600 pounds cooking all the delicious food the way that I do. I decided that it was time to explain myself, and for that, I must admit that I truly live the ‘everything in moderation’ lifestyle. The anti-diet, if you will, and it took me about 31 years of restrictive eating and overexercising to get here. And, because I have some recipes in the fridge that I made but still need to photograph, you’re going to have to wait on those and listen to me ramble here today.
Let me clarify that I am not perfect. I am far from a hard body, and my nice legs are the only thing on which I can claim genetics. Otherwise, I have a lovely little disorder called PCOS- and all the wonderful low thyroid, high cholesterol, hormone soup that comes with that. I medicate and I go on with life. However, since I’ve managed to stay in relatively the same size clothes since I lost my post-college weight back in 2005, in my own mind, I’ve somehow figured out what works for me. And I’m decided to spell out the top ten things I’ve learned about diets, anti-diets, moderation, and being healthy. If you care. If not, I’ll be back with my Somethings this weekend.
Ditch the scale.
I know that this does not work for everyone, and that little number might just be what you use to keep you on track. I get it. But let me tell you a story.
Back in high school, I took too much of a medicine that my body didn’t like and I went into liver failure. Back then, I did weigh myself every day, and let me tell you how ecstatic I was to get down to my lowest adult weight ever: 136. Now, I’m 5’8 and according to “the standard,” that meant that me, in liver failure, was 5 pounds away from what should be my target weight. That’s not cool, and as I got better, I realized that that number on the scale was never, ever going to say what I wanted it to say, so…I just don’t look. Maybe ignorance is bliss, but I know that when my clothes start to feel a little snug, it’s time to make a tweak or two, and I don’t’ need a scale to tell me that. It’s a mental thing, one that has worked.
2. Eat real food.
Wouldn’t you rather have one really good cookie instead of like, 5 really meh cardboard low fat cookies? Or one small scoop of the real deal ice cream over a whole pint of something posing as ice cream? Yeah, so would I. If I’m going to eat it, it’s going to be the exact thing that I want. No substitutes, because trying to avoid eating the thing that you really want to eat is no good and you’ll likely just end up eating more.
Also, I mostly stay away from processed foods (yes, I mean pop, too!). They’re full of all sorts of ingredients that cannot be deciphered or pronounced by this girl with a master’s in science. Real foods are the best foods. Just ask…the rest of the world.
3. It’s just food.
So simple, it’s just food! But this little mind check comes from Lettuce. I’ve always been a member of the clean plate club because, according to Mom and Dad, “there are poor children in Africa” and therefore, you need to eat the last bit of rice on your plate because…they can’t? As an adult, their logic I’ve decided is clearly faulty, but the gist of this is that you don’t need to eat everything on your plate if you are full because…it’s just food. There will be more. And hey, we’re not in France, and doggie bags are okay, so pack up what you can’t finish now and eat it later. Eat until you’re full, and don’t force yourself to eat any more than that. Your body knows best.
4. You’ve heard it before…80/20.
The unhealthy foods I love…man, I really love them. French fries, burgers, bread pudding, ice cream, cookies, brownies. I need them, for sanity’s sake. But I know that if I want those french fries tomorrow, I should probably not eat them today. It’s about looking at my food picture as a whole. It’s not even really about ‘good days’ and ‘bad days,’ but maybe instead of “hey, I’m having french fries for dinner, maybe I have something lighter for lunch.” Pick your poison and enjoy it without guilt, knowing that the rest of the time, you’re making pretty good choices.
5. Sharing is caring.
You know that awesome chocolate babka? I gave half of it away. Same with any batch of brownies I make. Or cookies. I split desserts and even, sometimes (sometimes), share my fries with the table. A lot of times I realize that I only want a taste, and there’s no reason to really eat more than that.
6. Move thy ass.
As for exercise, I’ve alway been active. I love sports and the competitive spirit that comes with them, and I think it’s safe to say that, for years, my friends would classify me as an over-exerciser. Two-a-days were the norm, and I’ve done it all. I was a cross-fitter, the 6 am spin class addict, half-marathoner, triathlete, extreme yogi. I put in my hours at the pool, and joined the Insanity train like everyone else. That is, until my knees busted and I could no longer long-distance run. And until my back, and then my shoulders were wrecked from too much yoga. And my hips from cross-fit. About a year and a half ago I started walking for exercise and, gasp! My clothes still fit. It seems that all that mattered is that I did something, and I realized that all of that insanity was not necessary. I cut back, and guess what, I feel all the better for it. These days I’ve been rocking the online exercise classes- Turbo Fire (a sort of kickboxing), currently. And this past summer I spent 6-8 hours a week on the tennis court. I felt as good as I’ve ever been, and I’m biding my time until the snow melts and I can lace up the tennis sneaks again. Bottom line- you don’t have to kill yourself, and if you make it fun, you’ll keep doing it. Also, you have to schedule it. Make it your time, make it a priority and suddenly you’ll find that it will make every other aspect of your life better. Don’t want to go at it alone? Grab a friend! I’m telling you that the only reason that I made it to three 5:45 AM spin classes a week for 7 years is because Nectarine was teaching them.
7. Make eating an occasion, but not the only type of occasion.
I love my friends because while they are all about food, they are not ALL about the food. My friends like to be active, so while hanging out with them does include good eats, it also involves volleyball, or tennis, or time on the lake, or playing trivia, or ice skating. You get the picture. #optoutside
8. Stop counting.
I did go through an extreme calorie counting phase until…I didn’t. After that, I couldn’t stand to count anything! Like the scale, all those apps may help you keep on track, but they never did for me. If anything, they made me more obsessed and frankly, crazy, about what I put in my mouth. For example, 1 apple on MyFitnessPal uses up a whole days’ worth of sugar. I mean, it’s not a bag of Sour Patch kids…it’s an apple! I mean, I just can’t. And not being obsessed with amounts of calories or carbs or how many points that all equals…well, it just became a whole lot easier and frees my mind up to be obsessed with something more important.
9. Use common sense.
Somehow along the way we forgot what our bodies need to do, and the fuel that it requires to do them. Undereating is just as bad as overeating. There is too much solid science and information out there for anyone to be ignorant about what is healthy and what is not. It really isn’t meant to be as complicated as we all make it out to be.
10. Don’t stress about it.
I realized that the most important part of all of this is to not stress or panic about your weight, because that makes it hard than it has to be. It took me more time than it should have to realize that one burger does not 10 extra pounds make. It’s just a burger. Calm down, and have some fruit, and it’ll be okay. Skipped a day or two at the gym? It’s okay, pick it up day three. You haven’t fallen off the metaphorical exercise bandwagon. Each day is a new day, and one Monday full of laziness and cookies does not mean that the rest of the week is blown, because a day is just one day, and your life will go on and you get a whole new clean one the next day.
I want to be clear that I am not giving advice. This is merely informational, and if you think all of it is crap, then well…that’s okay. I’m just telling you- this is me. I’ve got more good food, coming at you next week, so get ready to eat up!