First off, I have a confession to make: I am a food addict. I can never eat just one fruit snack, oreo, swiss roll, or Dorito, I have to eat them by the half-dozen (at least), and usually by the package (or 1/2 package if I am sharing with Mr. D). Or an entire pan of german pancakes (true story, as long as there's powdered sugar). From eating entire cartons of ice cream in middle school (and quickly re-purchasing new ones to replace the old so my parent's wouldn't know), I have always been a closet food addict. When I started running, coupled with my teenage metabolism, I got away with it for a few glorious years and no one knew any different.
Then I married a man a foot taller than I (AKA better metabolism luckyyy) and I would pretty much match what he ate. So I increased my workouts to sometimes two hours a day, six days a week and no one knew any different.
And then there was pregnancy. And I ate just as much and didn't work out, and BAM! 50 pounds later I officially had my own orbit and moons. Post-natal life was initially awesome (25 pound weightloss in 2 weeks? awesome! I love breast feeding!) but left me ravenous ALL THE TIME. Turns out it was mostly dehydration but of course you don't figure stuff like that out till after you're no longer burning an extra 300 calories a day.
Long story short, when I posted about my post baby body, I felt good about my 9 month progress and I figured that weight loss would just get easier and I would hit that magic number in no time. Well, I did (for about a day) and then started gaining again. By 18 months, I felt like something was amiss. I was putting in the work, at least a 60 minute workout, 5-6 days a week, I was strength training, cardioing, mixing up my workouts, doing everything I thought I could to lose that weight and the scale would only go in one direction...up.
What on earth was I doing wrong?
So I started logging my food on MyFitnessPal (not just once a month, but actually most days for a month) and I realized something... and "ah ha!" moment if you will. Not only was I consistently eating 3000-4500 calories a day (I wish I was kidding) but I was eating upwards of 150g of sugar A DAY (I should be eating around 30). But how could I possibly eat less?! I was hungry all the time (and not even pregnant!), I was tired all the time (which would cause me to eat more), and I was dumbfounded as to what to do about it. I went on a family trip to Utah and was so paranoid before leaving that everyone would think I was pregnant because of being a few pounds heavier than I was a year before.
After my Utah trip, I stumbled upon Bob Harper's Skinny Rules, and some of them really resonated with me.
Large glass of water before each meal? Easy enough.
Eat apples and berries every day? Awesome.
Get rid of those white potatoes? Gone.
Eat a real breakfast? You are preaching to the choir!
Of course there were some that I just thought, well that's a rediculous rule, never going to do that one, (no carbs after lunch?! Is he nuts?!) and I didn't think twice about some of the other rules till I bought the book two weeks later. I couldn't tell you why reading that book made all those rules make so much sense to me. As I continued to add rules to my life (there are only 20), and logging my food (Tyra wasn't lying!), I got VERY excited with the numbers I was seeing on the scale and overall the way that I felt. I felt good!
I remember feeling so devastated and discouraged at 18 months thinking that my goal to hit my pre-pregnancy weight before I got pregnant again was NEVER going to happen. That all the nay-sayers were right and it didn't matter how hard I worked I could never feel good about my body again.
|18 months v. 24 months pp|
|When I started the "Skinny Rules" vs. about one month later|
I eat real food!!! BUT. In realizing my food addiction, I had to cut some things out of my daily eating, like a sleeve of oreos or 10 packs of scooby snacks. But that's not a terrible thing as long as you are replacing it with LOTS of good food. I don't miss it daily, but I will still have it once or twice a week. I found out that like any addiciton, the less I had of it, the less I craved it and my taste palette could actually enjoy other things even better.
So, really long story short to all my friends who have asked about how I boosted my nutrition, I think my Skinny Rules went a little like this:
1. Read Bob Harper's Skinny Rules (NOT a diet but a lifestyle... you will see!!)
2. Glass of water before each meal and snack, not too difficult since that is usually the only drink we have around here (cheap and calorie free). Sure you will be going to the bathroom a little more frequently if you have an itty bitty bladder like me, but at least you won't polish off the whole package of swiss rolls (much harder to do with a lot of water in your stomach).
3. Eat protein at every meal (animal or plant or dairy)
4. Track my food. My Fitness Pal is a fantastic tool to help you see just how much of each nutrient you should be eating. One day a week I would usually take "off" of tracking my food, but overall it was the best tool (other than the rules) that I felt I had. The numbers don't lie.
5. Eat my vegetables (Bob has some wonderful recipes that incorporate seriously yummy food combinations).
6. Remember to have a couple of staples. I have a go-to "no brainer" for breakfast of stuff you know you almost always have around (almond butter on english muffin, fruit on the side), snacks (cottage cheese and cucumber or almonds and fruit, or guac with pretzel thins), lunch (egg scrambles or Bob's lentil soup), and dinner (tilapia and veggies on the grill). If my brain is ever in a rut, I use one of these that I know I love.
7. I couldn't go no-carb after lunch, but I try to have most of it earlier in the day. I have found that the more water, veggies, protein I eat, the easier this is. And since I have stopped eating at least two hours before bedtime ("going to bed hungry"), I don't feel sick when I go to bed like I used to.
8. I ALWAYS read food labels for portion size. And (as anal as it may sound) I measure out my portions. Those little baseball caps we use so much? One level cup.
9. I make my own food and eat 10 meals a week (usually more) at home. I found that in doing this, I enjoy my meals more (usually I only really spend a significant amount of time to prep food one or two nights a week) and I am less likely to eat a ton of unnecessary calories. Something that really irked me was a few weeks ago, in going out to eat I got a cobb salad (that I can usually make at home for around 400 calories) and it was over 2000 calories?!?! SO not worth it to me.
10. Plan one splurge meal a week? Well, I usually plan a few little ones throughout the week. I never deprive myself or make myself feel hungry, I think because I focus on all the things I can eat versus the stuff I shouldn't be eating.
So there you have it. It may be a little more costly and time consuming than living off of top ramen and oreos to buy and have a variety (I usually have at least 3 different fruits and veggies available at all times) of produce and protein in my home, but I and my family are eating better because of it, and can you really put a price on health?
I spent something like 18 months stuck at a weight I was not happy with (8-10 pounds over my goal) to how I am now, only two months later, only 2 pounds away from it and healthier, more energized and happier (with my eating) than I have ever been! And I still eat my favorite cream filled oreo donut... just not every day!