I’m fairly sure, having lost 65+lbs of weight in about 18 months, that weight loss can be attributed to two things: great nutrition and exercise. I think the Pareto principles apply, such that success can be attributed to 80% nutrition and 20% exercise or thereabouts.
Having had a holiday recently where I was a little limited in terms of what I had access to, albeit remaining 100% gluten and dairy free, I was excited to get back to my normal habits. So look what I brought to work with me – it’s a lot of food and all so good!
- Smoothie – Beetroot, kale, coconut oil, banana, chia seeds, water
- Frittata – Chicken, onion, kale, brocolli, eggs
- Salad – Quinoa, egg, chicken, beetroot, tomato, avocado, balsamic vinegar and olive oil
- Gluten free crackers with lactose free cheese
- Hummous and carrot sticks
- Goat’s yoghurt with frozen berries and gluten free granola
It was a lot of food, but I knew that I had a tough PT session later that day and wanted to be fuelled for success. A key change that has facilitated my success is to start seeing food as fuel. Like a car, the body needs fuel to operate. You wouldn’t expect a car to run forever without topping up the fuel, and the body is the same. You also wouldn’t consider putting a car on a “fuel diet” and expecting it to keep performing. Same – so rather than be ashamed or scared or worried or guilty about the calories that I consumed – I view it as putting the right levels of the right types of fuel in my engine to make sure I’m firing on all cylinders when I need to be.
My relationship with food is now pretty healthy. I think there is a huge social and interpersonal aspect to food and eating, and there is a risk that reducing it just to fuel misses that point. Eating, with your family and friends, is a nice and healthy thing to do. But WHAT you eat doesn’t seem to affect the pleasantness of that process. I can eat a salad or a doughnut and the experience of sharing eating time with those close to me would be the same – except that the doughnut would not be good fuel and would make me ill, as I’m intolerant to gluten and dairy (as I only found out through the course of this journey, another positive outcome). So I choose the healthier choices. Food isn’t used, any more, as a treat or a reward. Anyway, what sort of treats can often make you feel guilty and are referred to as “naughty”? My treat from food is knowing that I’m putting high quality fuel to support and nurture my body. It doesn’t come from consuming sugar or bad fats or “naughty items”. People have commented on my willpower but really I don’t use any. Same as I don’t have to use willpower to decide not to smoke cigarettes or take drugs, I easily and actively choose to make the best choices of what I put in my mouth. Cakes/chocolate/crisps etc don’t “tempt me” because I know that they are not good for me and they are not a healthy thing to put in my body. I don’t want to put that stuff in my body thanks, my body works really hard for me and the least I can do is support it by giving it the best quality and most appropriate fuel I can.
Whilst I’ve lost a fairly large amount of weight, this hasn’t been what I would term a “diet”. I have learned to make good choices and I now make them naturally because I know how I feel when I don’t (and it’s not good!). In fact, when I look back at my experiences of WeightWatchers and Slimming World etc, I think they do more damage to one’s relationship with food by making you count points and putting chocolate as a “treat”. They make food a focus and this can easily become extreme. Anything extreme tends to be unhealthy and there is nothing more extreme than counting calories/points/etc for every morsel. My relationship with food now is so much healthier than it ever has been – I don’t have guilt, shame or fear about what I eat. I love food, I love cooking, I love eating and I do it all joyfully and freely knowing that I’m giving my body and mind what they need.