My mom is an amazing cook and growing up those foods were always available to me. I had a severe food addiction. About 5 years ago, I decided that I wanted to start lifting weights and I have been addicted to it ever since. Some people find it strange that two of my biggest passions in life are food and exercise but it’s because it’s a huge misconception that you can’t love them both. A little while ago, I found myself in a conversation where I was asked, “how can you eat 3 pieces of pizza and not feel guilty? Don’t you feel like that ruins your workouts? Makes you bloated or ups the number on the scale?” First of all, I eat more than 3 pieces of pizza, second of all, no I don’t feel like it’s damaging to my progress and third, I don’t own a scale. So how do you develop a healthy relationship with food and your body? How do you see changes in your body while simultaneously enjoying what you eat? Here are 6 HEALTHY ways to get it done.
DECIDE THAT NOTHING IS OFF LIMITS
What? Nothing is off limits? Yes, you read that correctly. When I first started trying to lose weight and build muscle I was under the impression that I should have fewer calories and as few carbs as humanly possible. I couldn’t have desserts, pasta, bread or other sweets. I stuck to salads, which I loathe, and eggs which…I mean Costco muffins are better but whatever. I turned down treats at birthday parties, fairs, holidays and more. I ordered what I knew I didn’t want at restaurants knowing that there was something else I would love. I noticed some changes in my physical appearance which was great. I was losing weight so what was the problem? It was unsustainable. I would never be able to forever give up all of the foods that I loved. Eventually, because I was sick of not having the things that I loved, I gave up and went right back to eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. You need sustainability. Allow yourself to have your favorites, eat the things that make you happy. When you go out, select meals that you know you’ll enjoy, don’t always pay for something you have to begrudgingly eat.
CHANGE YOUR VOCABULARY
The words that you choose to use when talking about food and your eating habits make a big difference. Stop saying “cheat meal.” The impression that the word cheat leaves behind is negative in pretty much every scenario. Cheating on a test, on a partner, in a race or game etc. It implies that you have done something wrong, something that you shouldn’t have done. So what happens when we apply that to food that we intake? It tells our brains that we have done something wrong. Instead choose to use words and phrases like reward, or balance in all things. The word that I choose to use is indulge. The other word that can be harmful to your progress simply by using it is “restrict or restrictive.” You do not have a restrictive diet. You are not restricting what you eat, you are merely postponing what you are craving for the time that you have set aside for indulgence. By no longer telling yourself that you are restricting yourself you remove the idea that you can’t have things that you want because they are bad. You teach your brain that everything is healthy in moderation.
FIND BALANCE BASED ON YOUR SELF CONTROL
My mom has a small treat every day. She eats a small brownie, a small scoop of ice cream or half of a cinnamon roll. However, small, portions and “half of” do not exist for me. Once I have a bite I need more. This does not mean that I hate what I eat, it just means that even though I would rather make enchiladas tonight with 6 cups of cheese, instead I’m making chicken and rice. The weekend though friends, the weekend is where it’s at. Saturday and Sunday I eat what I want. My mom’s method works for her because if she does the whole weekend she has a hard time not indulging again on Monday. Mine works for me because I don’t have to eat half of a cookie and then longingly stare at it and then go to bed and dream about it until the next night when I can eat the other half. Decide what kind of self-control you have and then allow yourself to indulge because it’s not cheating to eat things that make you happy. This is what makes the balance between food and exercise sustainable and will allow you to still make progress.
CARBS AREN’T BAD, FAT ISN’T BAD
All of my life carbs were a big fat NO. You couldn’t avoid them all together but you should restrict them at all costs. Oh, and if limiting your carbs wasn’t terrible you also should avoid buttering the rolls you shouldn’t be eating, putting cheese on anything, which is a joke because I think it belongs on everything and anything fried should be pushed aside. Here’s the good news, a healthy food intake includes each of these elements. HOORAY FOR CHEESE AND PASTA! To help me in this process I started counting MACRO’s which certainly isn’t necessary but it helped me to understand how to balance my body’s intake of fats, proteins, and carbs. Today, I’m having Reese’s Puffs for lunch because I need more carbs…I’m living the dream life. It’s amazing when you realize that food is good for your body. FOOD. Not just broccoli and carrots with a side of dried kale chips and some chicken. FOOD. Every body is different and there are all kinds of theories on what kind of balance is best that you can research. Ultimately a higher intake of protein and then balancing your fats and carbs consistently will yield results.
SO YOU INDULGED ON THE “WRONG DAY.” MOVE ON
So it’s Tuesday and you said you weren’t going to indulge until Saturday but today sucked and you ended it with some ice cream. Move on. You didn’t do anything wrong. You didn’t ruin your progress. Stop dwelling on it and seeing it as a mistake and move forward because tomorrow is a new day.
DON’T ALLOW PHYSICAL HEALTH TO RUIN YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Postponing your indulgences is hard. There are going to be times that you want something but need to tell yourself to stay strong. I’ve gone to bed early on more occasions then I can count because I knew that the longer I was awake the higher the chance of me consuming a tray of brownies. Let’s go back to the conversation about the pizza. How do I eat 3, definitely more, pieces of pizza and go to bed feeling okay with myself? Because telling myself that I can’t have pizza doesn’t work for me mentally. Conversely, there will be some that will eat 3 pieces of pizza and stress about how it affected all of their hard work and not feel like it was worth it, this is also harmful to your mental health. Sometimes finding the balance between exercise, food and overall health can cause us to do crazy things. We restrict our eating too unhealthy levels. We haven’t enjoyed anything that we’ve eaten today so we allow food to consume our thoughts and can’t think of anything else. We workout beyond what is healthy for our bodies and push them to far. Please remain mentally healthy. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for opting out of that cake because you are working towards something that is important to you. On the flip side, don’t let anyone make you feel bad for having seconds of something that is delicious or thirds for that matter.
Food and fitness are not opposites but rather they complement each other in the best of ways. Many times I’ve found myself in situations where someone who knows my passion for fitness will say something like “Oh no, don’t give Chelsie a brownie she won’t eat it.” Meanwhile, I’m over here with my hand out waiting for them to give me one. I’ve had people apologize to me for feeding my children mac and cheese for lunch because I wouldn’t feed them that, except…..hold on, let me take a picture….
When we go out of town we watch the Food Network and Man VS. Food for that area to see where we’re going to be eating. Like, look at these chicken sandwiches? Am I going to skip out on these? Never. In fact, if you are ever in LA going to Bruxie will be one of the best choices you ever make.
Going on a date? I can usually be found asking where he wants to eat for dinner as we’re eating breakfast. Guys, love your food, love your body. Do not allow the idea that if you want to get in shape and love fitness that you need to give up those hole in the wall places that you order from every Friday night. Balance, balance and more balance, that’s what it’s all about. Now go to Crumbl and get a cookie before I eat them all, they can seriously just take all of my money.