I recently shared on Facebook that my husband and I essentially split an entire pizza in one night. Yes, I ate my fair share of it, and guess what… No guilt! I’ve honestly been eating A LOT of fun food since he’s been home from a recent deployment. We’ve really been enjoying ourselves, to say the least. But again, I really don’t feel guilty about it. I eat normal or relatively healthy most chances that I get, but if the husband wants to go out for lunch one day, you better believe I’m not going to argue with him.
I really haven’t been surprised by my feelings towards food lately, as I’ve had this mindset for a while now. I have to admit that it has taken a while for me to get here mentally. Generally, when people start off on a health and fitness journey to lose fat, build muscle, and what not, they tend to really dive in and anything that might possibly hold them back (according to some lore they once heard) from reaching their goals will be shelved. Sometimes people even cut out all fruit and dairy, which seems insane to me unless you genuinely don’t like fruit or dairy, or they cause you discomfort.
Despite all this “fun” eating, I haven’t gained a pound.
Not a single pound.
My skinny jeans and workout clothes all fit exactly the same. Now, I haven’t exactly lost any weight either, but considering all the yummy foods and drinks I’ve been embibing in, that’s of no surprise. But it’s also not the goal right now.
So how did I get here? How have I become more physically and mentally stable with regards to dietary changes that at one time would have made me feel disgusting and bloated, along with making me feel guilty and undisciplined?
1. I built a ton of muscle. Okay, Jess. What the hell does that have to do with anything? Well, 1. I weigh a lot more, which means I can get away with eating a little more without negative repercussions. And 2. The large amount of muscle I carry has greatly improved my insulin sensitivity. In lieu of getting into the science of how this works, I’ll just get to the good stuff. Training hard allows your body to UTILIZE food better, rather than just allowing it to…cling…and become fat.
2. When I expect to eat a “fun” meal, I try to make it a priority to get in some challenging anaerobic activity. High volume weight lifting, sprints, and metabolic conditioning all improve insulin sensitivity. So while I may have been eating a lot of good food, I’ve also been putting it to good use by getting in some hard training sessions.
3. I have stopped viewing food as something I need to “burn off.” Notice how I said in tip #2 that I’ve been putting my food to “good use?” I like to view my food as an awesome, tasty fuel. I view it as something positive rather than a scary thing that causes me issues and makes me fat. Food doesn’t make you fat in itself. But if you take in more fuel than your body requires from day to day, you might eventually create some problems for yourself. So if you’re planning on indulging, prep your body for it by improving your insulin sensitivity and get your lift on! Or, on the back end, put that fuel you ingested the day before to work. That’s a much more positive mindset than “burning off sludge,” right?
4. I eat moderately all the time now. Life is just too short to cut out all the foods I love 100% of the time. I love a good burger… Pizza… Wine… Desserts… To me, life just isn’t worth living without them! But I also know how to keep it in check. I don’t eat those things every day, but they’re also never off-limits. Putting foods “off-limits” just makes you want it more, so when you finally take the opportunity to indulge in that slice of cake, it can be quite easy to say “eff it” and eat the entire cake instead! So rather than just indulging in an innocent piece of cake, you have overindulged and probably now feel guilty and extremely full…and utterly crappy. Now, if you allow yourself to have bits and bites of delicious things on a more regular basis, accidents like that are a lot less likely to happen. For example, I’m currently on the road and traveling. I’m having a great time visiting friends and family, but I haven’t really felt the desire to overindulge in anything because I honestly don’t have any cravings for anything! Why? Because I allow myself to eat delicious food all the time. AND I manage to stay lean while doing it because I never overdo it. It’s really a win-win situation.
Maybe the all-or-nothig approach works for some people, but for me it doesn’t. I like the more moderate approach to eating as it makes me feel satisfied and fulfilled. I never feel like I’m “missing out” on something amazing. This approach may not work the best if you’re trying to drop the last few pounds for a fitness photo shoot, but how often in our lives are we really preparing for something like that? For most of us, not often. I’m finding this approach to be much more sustainable than the all-or-nothing approach. Both my mind and body are happier this way. There are never any weight rebounds, there’s less bloating, my thoughts about my body are more positive, and there’s less stress about food. Plus, I just find it easier to stay lean this way.
So for those of you who have found the all-or-nothing approach to be too challenging, go easier on yourself and try putting these tips to use. If you do try them out, let me know how it goes for you! I know I can see myself living this way forever.