It’s not called a diet, it’s called eating well

 

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My six-taste bowl: Quinoa, chickpeas, sweet potato, broccoli, kale, red pepper, and avocado, tossed with an almond-ginger sauce. 

I’m only a few days into eating a primarily plant-based diet, but I’m already feeling better and seeing results.

I generally have eaten pretty healthy in the past few years. I like fruits and vegetables and make it a point to eat those every day. I like to eat well because I like to be active, and I can’t fuel my body on garbage. But my main challenges have been:

  • Simply eating too much, especially now that I’m not logging lots of miles like I was prior to the marathon in October.
  • Still lacking willpower to walk away from the sweet treats — totally my weakness! I would never eat chips or fries again in my life if it meant I could still eat cookies.
  • Drinking too much alcohol.

These have been my challenges for about three years. In 2014, I wasn’t happy with my eating habits or my body and made some major changes. I was able to keep this up mostly through 2016. But since then, I’ve struggled.

I’ve made half-hearted attempts to rediscover that good place I was in a few years ago. But nothing ever stuck and I’d quickly be back to my old habits (or more accurately, not even wanting to change).

But a couple of weeks ago, something happened. It was definitely an internal/mind change. I kind of just lost my taste for junk. I craved freshness. That’s what I wanted to put into my body. Whereas I hadn’t cut back on alcohol because I simply liked it, in the past couple of weeks the thought of drinking kind of turned my stomach.

I credit the change to a few things:

  • Making yoga and meditation a daily routine. I wake up and immediately begin my practice. Sometimes it’s only 15 minutes, sometimes it’s an hour. I’ve been sustaining this for about a month.
  • Disliking how my body feels when I’m not kind toward it. A morning practice is difficult and challenging when if the night before I drank and ate garbage. I got tired of feeling that way.
  • Letting go of psychic baggage.

Just in the past few days, I’ve noticed that I’m sleeping better and have lost weight. And the new diet is highly satisfying and filling! This is a HUGE change for me. As a pitta, I’m often ravenous and counting the hours until the next meal. I have never missed and meal and have never forgotten to eat! But something like the six-taste bowl pictured above sustains me for hours. This has been the biggest surprise of this new routine.

This is not a diet or a miracle fix. This is a way of life. I have never participated in any fad diet, because I know the key is being able to sustain the way you eat. I don’t anticipate a problem incorporating more vegetables and less meat and dairy into my diet.

At this moment, I’m not saying that I won’t ever eat meat or dairy or sugar again, or that I’ll never have another sip of alcohol. I resist strict rules. Even if the rules are good for me, my instinct is to break them just because they’re rules! I’m also a slow learner and like to dip my toe in the water before going all in. For example, I did several 5Ks and 10Ks before doing a marathon. I did sprint triathlons before moving on to Olympic-distance triathlons. Unlike someone I know, who signed up for a full Ironman triathlon without knowing how to swim!

So I’m considering this a primarily plant-based diet, with some exceptions. I think the key to making something work for you is to tailor it to your needs and lifestyle. Make it individual for you. What works for someone else may not work for you.

What dietary successes have you encountered?

Adding some veggies to the mix!

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Photo Credit: morroelsie Flickr via Compfight cc

I joined a Facebook group with a few friends in March for a “10-day veggie challenge.” I like vegetables, but I like fruit more. While I eat fruit every day, I might go a day or two each week without eating any vegetables.

In the 10-day challenge, we committed to eating four servings of vegetables a day. At the end of each day we’d check in. It also was a great way to share tips, ideas, and recipes.

I normally don’t join group efforts. Health and exercise have always been a fairly solitary venture for me. I’m not one to run with others. Occasionally I’ll cycle with others but most of my cycling also is solo. Exercise is a way for me to recharge and think through my day.

But I came to enjoy the veggie group! Each day I was thinking about my check-in and that helped me eat more servings of vegetables than I normally would. I didn’t want to be the one who every day said she was falling short. I did fall short on many days, but I was happy when I consumed my four servings.

Here’s what helped me:

  • Liquid vegetables. I like V-8 so I had plenty of that on hand. I also found a “healthy greens” V-8 which isn’t too bad.
  • Buying my favorite vegetables. Duh, I guess. But I had been getting lazy about this and hardly buying vegetables anymore, especially in the winter. Each week I stocked up on carrots, sweet potatoes, and green and red peppers.
  • Steam-in-the-bag vegetables. So easy and quick! I prefer to roast my veggies in the oven but that takes some planning. I like popping veggies in the microwave for 5 minutes and then they’re ready to eat.
  • Seasoning. I’ve discovered Trader Joe’s “Everyday Seasoning.” I prefer to butter my vegetables, but with the seasoning I don’t miss it.

The challenge has been over for a couple of weeks, but I have now formed a habit of incorporating more vegetables into my diet. This was my first experiencing of joining a healthy living “support group” and I would definitely do it again.

Now if I can get my other bad habits under control…

Early 40s, and my body freaked out

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Flickr photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/b10lm/

In early 2017, I went to the doctor because I had gained approximately 10 pounds in two months.

This had never happened to me before. I’ve always been able to maintain a steady weight with nothing more than a 2-3 pound fluctuation here and there. I was still running — not a ton, not in training for anything — but physically active nonetheless. I didn’t think I had changed my eating habits radically, though I had become a little more sloppy about portion sizes and not carefully watching my added-sugar intake. But still, that didn’t seem to explain 10 pounds in two months.

I requested a thyroid test and while my doctor thought certainly that could be a cause, she thought my age was more than likely the culprit. I was 42. She told me that bodies change, metabolism changes, and it’s all part of getting older.

I was supposed to accept that? It’s just part of getting older? She made it seem like I didn’t have any control over the situation. I wonder how many other women are told this? Could this explain in part our obesity problem in the U.S.? If your doctor tells you “that’s just how it is,” how many people are accepting that?

It’s been a little over a year and I’ve been on a journey to regain my fitness and get my body back to a place where I feel comfortable in it. I know my body and I know what it’s capable of, and that’s what I’m striving for.

It’s been a learning process. I have no doubt that my age has shifted my body and its processes. I used to be able to eat almost anything I wanted to and not gain any weight. In the past year, I’ve learned I have to really pay attention to portion sizes and added sugar.

Last summer was a struggle for me as I realized this was not going to be easy. In the past if I had gained 4-5 pounds over time, I could change my eating habits and get back to my ideal weight pretty quickly. That was not happening at all through the summer, and summer is my time to hit the physical activity hard with running, cycling, and swimming. I was exercising A LOT and paying attention to what I ate. I managed to lose about 8 pounds between February and September 2017 but I was still a few pounds away from my ideal weight.

Now a little more than a year has passed and I’ve lost 13 pounds. I’m still 4-5 pounds above what I consider my ideal “fighting” weight. This is the weight where I feel the best. Note that I said “feel,” not “look.” At an ideal weight I run better, I cycle better, I swim better, I do yoga better, etc.

I will be blogging occasionally about this journey and what I’ve done to turn things around. In short, I’ve put a lot of time into it and have had to change the way I eat. While I don’t feel I’m depriving myself of my favorite things, it is hard to change from being able to eat anything to having to carefully watch what I eat.

Also in short: If you are struggling with this very thing, know that you are in control. Don’t let anyone tell you “that’s just how it is.” If you are ready to make a commitment to feel better, you can do it.