The question I was asked after confessing to my coach that I just don’t know what to eat anymore.
“How do you feel?”
How do I feel — do you mean like hunger-wise or mood? I said.
“Both,” he said.
To which I responded, I feel great right now but my stomach is about to growl and I’m not going to be able to eat lunch for another 2 hours.
See, lately I’ve been struggling with what to eat, so I asked him for advice. But first I needed to explain a bit of my history…
Teens and 20s: Pretty typical American diet. I had no energy. I ate a lot. I mean, a LOT. Large portions. Lots of fast food — unless I wasn’t because I discovered some new restrictive diet. Then I’d starve myself in hopes of dropping 25 pounds overnight but for “some reason” I kept gaining more and more weight.
Early 30s: Weight loss success on Weight Watchers. Started out watching portions and counting calories (points). Learned to eat “healthier” because I’d get more bang for my buck. Maintained weight loss mostly by reducing calories.
Late 30s (I have 9 more months people!): MUCH more active. Weight train regularly and intensely. Run when I can. Compete athletically when I can and actually enjoy moving. However, unsure of how to eat now. Feel stuck in old “calorie reduction” mindset yet know I need to eat more like an athlete.
I really feel like I’m doing something wrong in the diet department. Not so much for fat loss or to sculpt a physique but to help me feel better and, well, perform better at the gym — I love it!
But last night my stomach was growling an hour after dinner. There are days I’m starving when I get home from the gym and days I feel like eating nothing for hours. Sometimes I’m falling asleep at my desk and other days I literally can’t sit still for more than 5 minutes I have so much energy.
Of course some of this can be influenced by other variables but I can’t help but think it’s partially diet related.
Because I STILL catch myself thinking like a dieter!
Exhibit 1: I told coach I gave up my post-workout recovery shake because I just didn’t see the need for an extra 200 calories when I was going to eat breakfast with the kids within the hour.
Exhibit 2: I fight myself every night not to snack even though I’m hungry because I feel like I should have eaten enough already. So I’m ignoring my body cues in fear I’ll consume too many calories.
Exhibit 3: I STILL have the tomorrow-I’ll-be-perfect thoughts! STILL, like tomorrow all my food choices will just fall into place. For Pete’s sake I wrote a whole book advising against this mentality!
I really feel like this is the last hurdle for me to get over with my weight-loss transformation. I already eat a variety of healthy foods because I want to. I succesfully dropped the scale as any measure of success. And I work out because I now I. LOVE. It!
None of those changes has been overnight for sure. Each one of those things took time and patience and practice. And they happened almost independently of each other. I treated each almost as a journey in and of itself.
Now this last journey is all about shutting down the diet portion of my brain completely.
I know what you’re thinking — No! I’m not going to start ordering in pizza and gorging on bottomless baskets of cheese fries.
This isn’t about binging or going backward or even eating foods that are “off limit.” I’ve mastered the whole moderation thing pretty well and I actually enjoy eating healthy now!
No, the last hurdle is actually about silencing that whisper in my head that tells me no matter what, eating less is always the right choice.
I’ve noticed that whisper getting slightly louder and I realized this always happens when I get a little stressed and overwhelmed. The same emotions that used to lead to overeating and binging now attempt to remind me that I’m still that chubby girl who so desperately wants to lose weight.
And how do I lose weight? I eat less.
And what happens when I eat less but continue to workout intensely? I get weak, tired, cranky, dizzy and hungry.
And what kind of food choices does someone make who’s weak, tired, cranky, dizzy and hungry? Not so good ones.
And what does a recovering serial dieter do to themselves when they make not so good food choices? They start the cycle of tomorrow-I’ll-be-perfect!
And there you have it — if any of that made sense to anyone other than me! — the long explanation of why I don’t know what to eat anymore!
So when I asked coach what I should be eating and he responded with:
“How do you feel?”
It was exactly what I needed to hear. Lately, I’ve been ignoring how I feel and simply falling back on old habits that no longer suit me.
By the way, his recommendation was a handful of nuts to hold me over until lunch, which worked perfectly! Here’s how the rest of the day turned out, food-wise:
I brought some homemade broth with brown rice, chicken and the leftover pork from Sunday. It was really the only thing I had in the fridge.
I rushed home from work for a conference call before lunch and snacked on some pistachios.
Lunch was sushi with The Husband again. It was my idea. We haven’t had much time to spend together so I asked him if he wanted to go.
Dinner was a store bough rotisserie chicken with a side of broccoli and cauliflower. The family had some errands to run so we were in a rush.
While writing this I had a bit of greek yogurt with some vanilla extract, cocoa nibs and a touch of maple syrup mixed in because I was hungry!
Now I’m not.
Funny how that works.