In high school I remember not wanting to eat breakfast because as soon as I ate I thought my stomach would look fat.
In college I remember going on the South Beach diet to get ready for Spring Break, but instead of following the diet, I made up my own version which consisted of cheese sticks, chicken and nuts. After almost passing out in my dorm hallway I thought this probably wasn’t the way to go, so I tried Slimfast, then the Special K diet.
After college, I began teaching group exercise classes and personal training and thought I had to “look the part” so I did the Fat Flush detox, tried South Beach again, used My Fitness Pal religiously and counted every calorie.
When I got a full-time job, I would meal prep for hours. I’d set all my meals up into their Tupperware containers and take the exact same foods with me to work every day.
Then I decided to start training for a Figure competition. My diet was laid out day by day and if I didn’t hit it 100% I’d get so down on myself I’d eat so much crap I’d make myself sick. On top of all that I had developed some seriously disordered eating habits, had horrible body image issues and had extremely low self-esteem AND gained 20 pounds.
The more I restricted myself and the harder and longer I pushed myself in the gym, the more weight I would gain.
The more I stressed about food and calories and grams of carbs and protein, the lower my self-esteem got.
I would lose and regain the same 15-20 pounds repeatedly.
I thought I just didn’t have the willpower to get it right and I would have to settle for hating how my body looked and feeling completely out of control around food.
Heavy stuff. I know. The good part is coming, I promise ;o)
How I Turned It Around
About a month before my 30th birthday I had a really honest conversation with myself. I was so sick and tired of the stress and overwhelm surrounding food, I was so annoyed with tracking and weighing everything out and I was so incredibly unhappy with my body. I was totally and completely fed up. So I decided it was time to stop.
I had to stop. I was miserable.
So here’s what I did: I deleted the apps, threw away the journals and eventually freed myself of thinking of food in good/bad categories.
I stopped worrying about if I was getting in enough protein, if I was eating all my veggies and if I was eating too much sugar.
I stopped worrying about getting to the gym six or seven times a week and stopped pulling doubles and triples all week.
I went from over-dieting and over-exercising to not giving one teensy eff.
I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it. I had pizza, cake, candy and other things on my former “bad foods” list and I had them guilt free.
It was kind of scary, but it also felt really good rebelling against my former restrictive self! When feeling of guilt crept in (because itdid from time to time) I’d have a little internal convo and politely tell myself to shut up 🙂
Over the course of about 9 months I lost 20 pounds and have kept it off ever since. It wasn’t without some struggle and it wasn’t without questioning myself sometimes but I knew I couldn’t go back to how I was living before. That just wasn’t an option.
I chose and practiced food freedom over restriction and I’ve never looked or felt better in my body than I do today.
Today, my diet isn’t loaded with junk food, but I do give myself a lot of freedom. I eat chocolate and candy with zero guilt, have some wine a couple nights a week, go out on weekends, eat pizza, you know, live life. I’m not looking for next meal plan to follow and I’m not telling myself that I’ll start over on Monday. I feel strong during my workouts, I eat what I want, when I want it and move on.
When I tell people my story, I’m usually hit with the “Ya but that won’t work for me. I’m ADDICTED to chocolate.” The guilt and the attachment that we have to our food rules is real and it’s all-consuming and it’s not that easy to change our minds.
I hear you. I told myself the same story for years. I thought changing my own food rules would take too long or I simply knew I’d fail and find myself in the same spot a couple weeks later.
Letting Go of Guilt
For some, this is the hardest part of fat loss. As I mentioned before, since we’re so used to restricting and eliminating our favorite foods when we’re dieting, it can be really hard to accept that no food is ever off limits- even during fat loss. You really can have whatever food want as long as you’re balancing it out over the course of the day while being mindful of portions and servings.
Let’s say you’re on target with your meals planned and packed for work. Then you remember they’re ordering pizza for lunch. You tell yourself “no I’m eating what I brought. Pizza is bad for me and I can’t have it because I need to lose this weight.” I can almost guarantee that you’ll be thinking about that pizza before, during and after lunch which will lead to feelings of deprivation and restriction, which will lead you to overeating something other than what you really wanted in the first place (pizza) OR going home and ordering a large pizza and finishing it before you even realize what’s happening
What if instead of being so restrictive we were a little more lenient? If you want the pizza, allow yourself to eat a slice or two and balance it out with some veggies and protein at your next meal. No harm done and you got to indulge a bit.
Approaching nutrition this way takes away the panic feeling of going “off plan” and it also takes away that sense of urgency to eat all the treats and start again tomorrow.
Easing up on the rules around nutrition helps us realize that we don’t have to feel the urgency to binge or overeat because the treats aren’t going anywhere. Any food you can imagine is more than likely at your local convenience store or can be delivered to you within an hour, so keep reminding yourself that there’s always more where that came from. You can always order a pizza or go grab some candy. When fat loss is the goal, we just have to balance it out like we did with the pizza above.
To be successful at weight loss, you need to expect that sometimes you’ll overeat and sometimes you’ll make less than ideal choices. It is 100% going to happen so you might as well be prepared for how you’re going to handle those situations.
But I know, it’s hard. Especially if you’re trying to go it alone. So let’s give it a try together. Download my FREE End Binge Eating Blueprint HERE!