So, I may have made some dieting mistakes along my way to this point. Not that this is a “ta-da” moment like I’m entirely happy with where I am right now, but it’s a work in progress. Thinking about grilled cheese and tater tots dunked in ranch dressing kinda makes me salivate, I’m not gonna lie. Before I started exercising I joined Weight Watchers. Now, I’m definitely not endorsing their program, but there are some things that I found helpful. Weekly weigh-ins in front of a stranger and food tracking were both key for me. This forced accountability since I obviously couldn’t do that for myself. The wacky thing with them is the whole point system. Since all points are equal as long as you stay within your point limits you’re good to go. Beer is the same as fruit, and we all know which one I would choose…
Anyway, I did that for a while and did lose weight, but as my exercise increased to fiend level, my weight loss stopped. I began to think of food in terms of time on the elliptical machine. “I could eat that, but it would take 45 minutes to burn it off”. I’ll be the first to say that’s an unhealthy way to think about food. The whole calories in/ calories out theory is garbage anyway. I would religiously track my calorie expenditure in the gym, so if I was burning roughly 800 calories in the gym and eating only 1000 calories per day why wasn’t I wasting away to nothing? Well, perhaps I was in the process of completely wrecking my metabolism.
Grossly under-eating and consuming convenience low calorie and fat free foods are two of the biggest mistakes I’ve made with my diet. 100 calorie snack packs and fat free yogurt are not your friend. It has taken months of work with a nutrition coach to (hopefully) undo some of the damage I’ve done. The big things I’ve learned are that healthy fats, protein, fresh fruit and veggies are your friend; and I was not even close to eating enough of them, particularly protein.
I continue to use food tracking because it keeps me honest, but also because I need it right now to tweak my diet for my current goals. I can understand that this may not be ideal for everyone and can become quite obsessive. It’s a matter of finding what works best for you, and that may be through trial and error.
My best nutrition advice would be to eat whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible, greatly limit alcohol intake (insert sad face), and remember that when you do indulge it’s not the end of the world or an excuse for self-sabotage. You can find more specific info on nutrition planning in Molly’s blog here and a great article by Jim here.