Wellness: Changes In Diet
Sundance & Co.
Wellness: Changes in Diet
I'm just going to start by saying this blog post is hard for me to write, especially because I am no expert on the topic of diet and nutrition. When I committed myself to living a healthier lifestyle I realized that changing my diet would be a huge factor if I wanted to see and feel the results. I also committed myself to making gradual changes that would stick. Now that I am about to begin month four of this wellness journey, I feel confident about the changes I have made and been able to stick to.
Let me also preface this by saying that my original goal was never to lose weight. I just wanted to be healthier and feel better about myself. However, I knew that in order to do that I needed to make some changes and fuel my body with better foods.
The gradual change
To be honest, I really didn't know how or where to start. So, like any woman would do, I turned to Pinterest and started a board that I titled "Healthy Meals." I scoured Pinterest for healthy recipes with no clear direction in mind. If the picture looked good and the recipe seemed easy, I pinned it. The first "healthy" meal I remember making was a light & creamy chicken tortellini soup. So healthy, I know.
The initial meals I pinned weren't going to have me dropping ten pounds or anything crazy. They were just healthier alternatives to foods I knew I liked, and at the time, that was good enough for me because the change was gradual enough for me to stick to it. Each week I looked through my Pinterest board to choose what I would make that week. I planned my grocery list around those meals and strictly stuck to my list at the store.
Kicking my sweet tooth and changing my snacking habits proved to be the most challenging. I would eat half a pint of Ben & Jerry's Half Baked nightly if I could. Trading in my ice cream for snacks like celery and peanut butter just plain sucked at first, but after about a week of struggling through it my cravings for sweets decreased and I started to look forward to my healthier snacks.
I started eating better in January, but it wasn't until almost the end of February that I really got it. I don't even remember now how this revelation came about, but one day I realized that the reason I had never seen real results when "eating healthy" had a lot to do with my affinity for carbs.
I don't believe in diets that cut out one macronutrient, however, my friend's keto diet got me thinking. I was eating healthy (or so I thought), but I never once considered the amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins I was eating.
I googled what my macros should be and found a macro calculator that took into consideration my height, weight, age, and goals. Then, I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app and adjusted my macros to meet what the calculator suggested. I went about my normal eating habits and tracked my food intake throughout the day. Before 3 p.m. I found myself having a total meltdown because I didn't have enough carbohydrates left to put honey in my tea or eat peanut butter with my celery.
A meltdown over peanut butter may be a bit dramatic, but it was a major revelation. I was consuming entirely too many carbs every single day. I justified my heavy carb intake by saying I needed carbs for energy, when in fact, my carb intake was actually making me feel sluggish. I also realized that I wasn't eating nearly enough protein.
Again, the transition to eating a more balanced diet was not easy. I mean, I LOVE carbs. Love love love carbs. And for the first week, it seemed like everything I wanted to eat contained mostly carbs. In that first week, I definitely learned a lot about nutrition. I think I learned more in one week than the entire semester I actually took nutrition, ironically enough.
I started eating more cheese, eggs, and veggies as snacks, as well as other low carb foods. Making these changes can be SO HARD. Which is why I firmly believe in a planned cheat meal, or hell, even an entire cheat day if you feel so inclined. Because if you try to cut out the bad foods you love cold turkey, all I can say is good luck.
What I'm doing now
I had a really hard time sticking to my balanced diet during my week-long internship with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo followed by spring break. In the past, falling back to unhealthy eating habits would have completely ended my progress. However, this time I established a solid foundation of healthy habits and by the end of those two weeks I was actually craving my balanced diet again!
Now I am still striving daily to meet those macro goals and to achieve a more balanced diet by limiting my carb intake and increasing my protein. I am in no way on a "low-carb diet", my carb intake just was astronomical prior to the revelation.
I try to incorporate fruits in my breakfast and include a large helping of vegetables every night with dinner. I still look for new inspiration on Pinterest and have a "Healthy Meals Made & Loved" board. However, I've found myself going for simpler meals, like a chicken breast and asparagus, that can be thrown together without much preparation and ready fast.
Earlier I mentioned that losing weight was never the goal, however, these improved eating habits mixed with regular exercise have allowed me to lose 7 pounds since my back injury in December! I'm finally seeing progress, and in turn feel, better about myself.
Like I said in the beginning, I'm definitely not a professional or expert in any sense of the matter. So you can take what I say with a grain of salt if you want! This is just what is working for me at this point in time.