I’m an active woman; I am a Hip Hop dance instructor, I take my dogs on long walks, I coach as well as play on a local volleyball team. Heck, I even ran a full marathon a few years ago. Yet, no matter how active I seemed to stay, each year a few extra pounds kept creeping on. The more these pounds started to bother me, the harder they became to lose. I blamed them on my metabolism. I was getting older and I’ve had a child. I also would tell myself, “You’re active, you’re doing everything you can do. It’s just the way it is.” It didn’t take long for it to become apparent that no amount of activities was going to balance the one topic I didn’t want to admit I had a problem with. Food.
I love food and my whole world was revolving around it. I was using food as a reward, a punishment, and a friend. If I was happy, I would go out to dinner to celebrate. If I was sad, I would cook some comfort food at home. If I got bored, I grabbed a bag of chip. If I was moody, bring on the chocolate! I could eat and eat and eat. I had an endless hunger that was controlling my life.
I knew I needed to change my eating habits, but the thought of giving up food or feeling hungry was not appealing to me. I also knew that a pill was not the answer or paying for any product for that matter. I wanted a healthier diet that would stop these extra pounds for good.
Trying to decide what diet to go on, or what foods to eliminate became more overwhelming that I was anticipating. Counting calories seemed simple enough, but I didn’t like the idea of a large banana racking up 150 calories while a diet coke was zero. How about low fat? Seems fair except my beloved avocado was bringing in 30 grams of fat while most candy is fat free? How about low carbs? Well I wasn’t about to give up grapes coming in at 27 grams of carbs per cup. Something wasn’t adding up. Why are there fruits and vegetables that I have to avoid to follow these diet trends?
Then it dawned on me. When was the last time a doctor told an overweight patient, “your problem is you’re eating too many fruits and vegetables”? Probably never.
I knew for me, limiting the amount of food my body required to keep up with my active life style was not going to work. First of all, I had no will power and secondly, I love to eat! So I simply started each day by eating as many fruits and vegetables as I possible could. Every other hour I would eat a piece of fruit or a serving of raw veggies. I started intentionally eating fruits and veggies, even when I was not hungry. For the first time in my life I actually found myself saying, “Do I really need to eat again, I just ate.”
I found that loading my body with as many fruits and vegetables during the day as I possibly could reduced my overall cravings and limited the amount of “bad” food that I would consume. I also stopped thinking of fruits and vegetables as food and started thinking of them as vitamin. I would tell myself, “Hey, it’s time for your vitamin C, grab and orange. Time for your vitamin A, get your carrots.”
When it came to dinner, I still ate with the family. However, I would fill half my plate with veggies, and take smaller portions of sides and the main course. I would make sure to eat all of my vegetables first before moving on to my side and main dish. Sometimes, I would actually be full and would not be able to finish my less healthy options on my plate. If I was in the moody to get seconds, I would allow myself, but I would only go back for more veggies or fruit.
For some people counting calories works. For others low carbs works. For the always hungry girl, filling my body up with as many fruits and vegetables as possible, regardless if they are high in calories, fat or carbs, was what finally kept me trim, healthy and happy.