The “D” Word

Diet… yuck, what an ugly word. It’s enough to make most people cringe at the mere thought of the dry turkey breast and tasteless spinach that’s in store them. That’s what I always thought when I heard that pesky word. Why would I want to deprive myself of all the yummy food that awaits me? I don’t need to be skinny, I have my betty crocker oatmeal pies to comfort me. Yeah, that thought worked for a while, but there was always the tiny voice in the back of my head saying “Do you really need this? I don’t think you’ll feel so hot if you scarf down this 10 piece chicken nugget meal with large fries and a shake.” It usually only lasted a split second before I could shut her up with a bite of delicious nuggety goodness. I always figured that because I exercised so rigorously (between volleyball and soccer practice I was getting 2-3 hours of intense exercise a day) I could just eat whatever the hell I wanted with no consequence. That was true to some extent, I mean, I was never morbidly obese or anything, but I wouldn’t say that I was ever comfortable with my body size. I am 5’9″ and at my heaviest point I was 170 pounds and counting. It was during this time when I just avoided scales all together. “It’s just a number” I told myself, “It doesn’t mean anything or have any direct culmination to how great you are.” This was true to some extent because I am a great person and I do have many redeemable qualities that I value in myself that have nothing to do with my jean size, but I was heading down a nasty road where the moments where I would think to myself “Wow, I look great today” were far and few between, but even worse, the times where I would think “And I feel great too” were even farther. I would become upset with myself for not being the skinny size 2 on the cover of Seventeen, then I would turn to cheesecake for comfort. It was a vicious cycle, but as long as I had my food to comfort me it would continue. It wasn’t until I was voted homecoming queen halfway through my senior year that I started to get my act together. I was in part frightened at the thought of the entire school community watching me, the pictures that would be taken, the white dress that would be so unforgiving, but there was also a side of me that was thrilled at an opportunity to try and accomplish the healthier lifestyle that I secretly craved. I found the perfect dress, but it ran about two sizes smaller than what I wore at the time (It was a 6, I wore an 8-10.) I remember the thing would barely zip up, so with that goal in mind I set out on my healthy eating expedition. After 2 months of clean eating that included lots of fruits, veggies, lean meats, and whole grains I was surprised at the results. I was able to fit in my dress with a little room to spare. It felt great to set a goal and accomplish it, I ended up losing 15 pounds.

After homecoming I became more lax on my dieting because I really just wanted to enjoy the rest of my senior year with out stressing out about the scale. I have a serious love for food and sometimes I can go overboard. I just need to know what I should and should not indulge on. For example a bar of my favorite dark chocolate would be a great treat once every few weeks, but those stale goldfish in the back of the pantry are probably a no-no. The thing that I really am trying to get my bearings on is portion control. It is hard to know when to stop sometimes. I get satiated pretty quickly when I eat, but I have a bad habit of just going back for seconds, and thirds because the food is so yummy that I can’t stop myself. The number one rule I use when I eat out (especially around dinner time) is chew Chew CHEW. Chewing your food is such a simple yet overlooked process. Sometimes I am so used to just scarfing down my meals that I forget that meals are meant to be pleasurable as well as healthy sustenance for your body.

As happy as I was to drop the weight, being on a diet was kind of a downer. I don’t regret swapping out the chili cheese fries for the grapefruit, but day after day of bland oatmeal, dry salads, and tasteless chicken really put me in a funk. I thought the only way I could be healthy was if I ate this “bird food” all day, everyday. I started getting into really bad habits where I would eat strictly healthy all day, then I would come home after sports practice and become a ravenous maniac. I would eat anything I could get my hands on, as well as dinner, then dessert. At the end of the night I felt so disgusted with myself, but I would just end up doing it the next night anyway. This “diet” thing definitely didn’t work for me, I hated feeling so restricted and sooner or later I would end up giving in to my appetite.

So here I am, still in search of a healthy lifestyle. One that I can stick to, not just for a few weeks, or a few months, but for ever. I don’t want to count calories and I don’t want to eat cabbage soup for weeks on end. I just want to find what works best for my body, mind, and spirit. And if that lets me kick this last 15 pounds in the ass, well, you won’t hear me complaining. My best friend just turned me on to being vegan, but you can read more about that here.

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