While I have really enjoyed the fitness aspect of getting healthy, seeing my progress and accomplishments, I must say that the food part is a daily WWIII.
As I stated, I am a food addict. Yes, an addict, like a crack head! Like someone addicted to a drug must have their hit or they go crazy, I too must have my hit (at least that’s what my body tries to tell me). Please understand, I am no doctor or scientist and I have never taken an illicit drug, so I am only speaking from my limited understanding. I can’t tell you if it’s just my emotions or if there is an actual chemical imbalance going on. All I can say is that the urge or the draw to eat poorly is ridiculously strong in me. I KNOW what I should eat, but eating something high in fat, salt, or sugar just feels so good and calming to me, even if it is only for a short time. And oftentimes, it’s a snowball effect, and things get out of control quickly, sometimes for weeks at a time.
Here is my problem. The actual drug addict does not need his drug of choice to live. He may need to be weaned off that drug slowly so that addiction does not kill him, but generally speaking, an addict can be weaned from the drug and never take it again and be just fine. A food addict cannot give up food. We humans, as you know, must have food to live. I have to eat something, and I have to make a decision of what I am going to eat several times a day, every day, for the rest of my life. I am not saying I have it as bad as an actual drug addict (my withdrawal is certainly not as painful), but I feel I can relate to one. I have to constantly see my drug and make a good decision. This has made getting healthy incredibly difficult.
Which leads me to what people want to know, what did I eat to lose 100 lbs.? It’s actually pretty simple. I ate about 1200 calories a day. The trick was that I ate the exact same food basically every single day. I wasn’t actually writing down what I was eating and counting up calories for every meal (that process is such a hassle). I figured out a breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner that amounted to about 1200 calories a day and ate those exact meals every single day. Here is what I started with:
Breakfast – 375 total calories
Half of a whole wheat bagel – 135 calories
Peanut Butter (1tbsp) – 100 calories
Banana (small) – 60 calories
Skim Milk (1 cup) – 80 calories
Lunch – 424 total calories
Skinless Chicken Leg Quarter (about 3.5 ounces) – 138 calories
Canned vegetable – 120 calories
Sourdough Square Bread (1 slice, toasted) – 130 calories
Pat of butter – 36 calories
Snack – 140 total calories
Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso – 140 calories
Dinner – 260 total calories
Bag of Popcorn – 260 calories (Boy Scout Popcorn, http://tinyurl.com/8o8tys3)
Day Total – 1206 calories (give or take, based on actual serving sizes)
This worked really well for me. I was never hungry until it was about time to eat again, and I got to eat things I thought tasted pretty good. We would make the lunch once or twice a week so I didn’t have to prepare something complicated every day. We just packed a bunch in plastic containers in the fridge and I would grab one when I needed it. This plan did allow for flexibility. If I wanted to eat dessert or whatever I would just adjust my meals accordingly. Change was rare; for the most part I really stuck to the plan.
I followed this plan for a while and lost a lot of weight. At some point, I decided that I could do better. I thought I needed the food to be healthier. I just thought I could do something with a little more balance. This is what I eat now:
Homemade Broccoli Chicken Alfredo- 240 calories (Sauce Recipe, used sparingly, allrecipes.com: http://tinyurl.com/9xtvtr8)
3 M&M’s- 9 calories (I eat these slowly and savor them!)
I eat that meal every three hours like clockwork. Generally, we make about 20 servings at a time, paying very close attention to serving sizes, and store them in plastic containers in the fridge. I don’t have to count calories all day and I don’t eat within about 2 hours of going to bed. If I eat out somewhere I pull the restaurant’s nutrition information up on my phone and find something that’s about 250 calories. I also only drink Vitamin Water Zero. It has no calories and it’s sweetened naturally with Stevia (you get used to the taste; I actually love it now!).
I also don’t plan a cheat day anymore. I would just gorge myself on that day, feel terrible after, and gain several pounds back. It’s so not worth it. I just cheat every now and then, when it seems appropriate, like at a birthday party. Sometimes I will treat myself to a good meal, like a burger, when I feel like I’ve been doing really well.
By the way, I generally don’t eat the calories I burn when I run. Meaning, I don’t say, “Hey, I burned 800 calories running today, so I can go eat 3 slices of pizza”! I hear a lot of people saying they do that and I think they are just crazy. They are just cheating themselves and canceling out their hard work. I will, however, do it on days when I treat myself. I generally won’t cheat unless I have run for that day. 99% of the time, when I say I ate 1200 calories, I ate 1200 calories. I didn’t eat 2000 and ran off 800. If you are just maintaining your weight, eating your burned calories is a brilliant idea. For those trying to lose weight, it makes no sense.
When I changed my plan the weight began to just fall off! The more balanced meal really kept my metabolism working all day long. When I started my plan, initially, I did feel hungry, and even had a headache the first couple of days (withdrawal?). My body soon adjusted and I felt fantastic. Eating healthy and running regularly enabled me to lose 100 lbs. The keys for me were sticking with it long enough for my body to adjust, which took several weeks before I saw significant, consistent weight loss and paying close attention to actual serving sizes (we used a food scale).
The sad part is that I am still an addict. I still fall off the wagon more often than I would like to confess. I still battle with food on a constant basis every day. And that is the kicker….I AM A FOOD ADDICT AND I LOST 100LBS!!! I got through it. I did it and am still doing it! I may always have this turbulent relationship with food, but I made the decision that food will not own me and food will not decide who I am going to be. And addiction isn’t always bad; I’m addicted to running now, too!
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