Until very recently, I had an adversarial, unhealthy relationship with food. I used it to reward (and punish) myself. I’ve binged, I’ve purged, I’ve restricted, I’ve given up – you name it, I’ve done it.
And I thought I was this big genius when it came to dieting – I knew every rule of every diet out there.
I was the epitome of the “information-action” gap – I had all the knowledge socked away in my brain, but I sucked at putting that knowledge into daily, consistent action in my life.
About 4 years ago, I made some radical changes in my nutrition when Deb and I got together and it made a big difference. I dropped bunch of weight initially and then got stuck – and then started inching upwards again.
However, for the first time in my life, I felt more in control of my intake. I wasn’t binging late at night anymore, I wasn’t restricting to compensate for the binges. And I was active (which was a first).
So, fast-forward to April of this year. I decided to train for this triathlon thing out of the blue after reading an article in Fitness magazine. Sure, triathlon, I’m gonna do THAT. So I trained and I raced and I fell in love.
But I discovered that I was not fueling my body correctly. After my first sprint tri, I met with a Wellness Coach because I felt like at the volume I was training and the supposed number of calories I was burning, I SHOULD be losing weight, but I wasn’t.
She took a look at my food logs and my exercise journals and her eyes got big and she told me I was not eating nearly ENOUGH. WHAT????
She suggested that I raise my daily calories from 1,300-1,500/day to 2,200-2,500/day.
That scared the hell out of me. “Uhm, I’m GAINING weight. How is eating MORE supposed to help me release the grease?”
It’s funny how we cling to illusions – how we take pieces of information that we have gathered and hold them as truth and refuse the give them up – even when they are producing the exact opposite of the desired result! Well, that’s how I was with weight loss.
My TRUTH was that you had to eat less to weigh less, period.
However, I was striving to be coachable, so I took a leap of faith. I started eating more – quite a bit more (~2,200 calories per day – I am 5’5″, 48 years old, and weighed ~156 lbs. at this time).
I kept exercising and training.
I switched up my supplementation a bit (mostly by adding B-Complex and BCAA supplements).
And my weight started to go down – slowly, but down.
Then, at the end of August I saw a video about preservatives in food, chemicals in processed foods, and artificial sweeteners that really freaked me out. I showed the video to Deb and it freaked her out too. We made a decision to clean up our diet.
Now, I believe we already ate better that 90% of the population, but I still put Truvia in my coffee and tea and we ate plenty of processed foods. But just like that, we stopped.
And guess what happened?
I lost 12 pounds in 3 months once we started eating clean!! All of a sudden I could see all these muscles in my arms, back, and abs as the fat began to melt away. My performance in my training improved greatly! It was awesome!!!
Sorry, this post got longer than I intended.
So, how do I eat? It’s pretty simple.
- 6 meals per day
- 1st meal of the day is a meal replacement shake
- Last meal of the day is a protein shake
- I eat lots of fruits and vegetables throughout the day
- I limit carbs (not eliminate, but limit) after 3pm
- I eat meat, but mostly chicken and fish (red meat once in a while, but not even weekly – more like monthly)
- If I eat a processed food it may not have more than 5 ingredients and I have to be able to pronounce them all
- I have eliminated sugar, wheat, and dairy from my diet 6 out of 7 days per week (this was hard because I LOVE bread and cheese)
- One day each week (usually Saturday) we have a “Free Day” where the rules go out the window and I eat what I want (usually includes chocolate and/or bacon). The Free Day is not all day food binge, but a day when I can have a couple of treats that I might be missing or craving.
- I drink half my body weight in water each day, plus 20% to account for workouts and 20% to compensate for climate (I live in Florida and even in December, it’s hot here), so ~ 112 oz per day.
This is a good strategy for me – I do not feel deprived, I have more energy, sleep better, think better, have more endurance, and perform better than I perhaps EVER have. And for the first time in my life, I feel like I am eating to live, rather than living to eat. I view the food I eat as a source of fuel for my engine and that the higher the octane in, the better I will perform – good stuff in, good stuff out… garbage in, garbage out.
Just eating clean, real food – who knew?
Sometimes there is a lot to be gained (lost) by throwing your long held truths to the wind and trying a new approach.