I’ve said this 100 times and I will say it 100 more: it all starts with a mindset.
In March of 2017 is when I officially decided to take responsibility for not only my health, but my life. I had been overweight almost my entire life and had attempted to lose weight before. These attempts mostly consisted of just restricting my calorie intake. Of course, this just lead me to being extremely hungry and end in binge eating. More often than not, I ended up gaining more weight than I started with. One of my more serious attempts led to me eating a strictly paleo diet. This worked well because I ate larger portions of meat and more veggies. The meat kept me satisfied for lengths of time so I wasn’t tempted to eat as much. I was able to lose about 30 lbs, however my mindset was not in the right place. I was too restrictive of myself and didn’t allow any treats which was not maintainable. The second I slipped up, I had this “to hell with it attitude” and binge ate again and abandoning the diet completely. Again, I ended up gaining it all back and then some. This time around I was determined for my weight loss to go differently.
March of 2017 I felt different. I KNEW I was going to reach my goal, so I was in no rush to get there. I wanted to take my time and find a way of eating that I felt like I could eat the rest of my life. My current eating habits consisted eating a lot of hibachi, alfredo pasta, and ice cream. Not to mention, I had HUGE portion sizes. I would eat entire tubs of ice cream in one sitting after I just ate a whole box of pasta. If I had to estimate, my average daily caloric intake was around 3500 calories. I knew I had a long way to go so I figured if I made small changes here and there, overtime it would add up. Simple enough, right?
I’ll admit, it was pretty simple once I had the right mindset. I first started by eating a healthy breakfast and allowing myself to eat whatever I wanted for lunch and dinner. After I got used to that, I would make a healthy lunch too. Before I knew it, I was eating a healthy breakfast, lunch, AND dinner. When looking back at where I started to where I made it to it seems like a monstrous task. However, when I broke it up into smaller and more manageable steps it was far easier than I thought.
Throughout the beginning of my process, I allowed myself to eat as many fruits and veggies as I wanted. I wanted to teach myself to be satisfied off of health foods, not that I needed to be deprived. I will say when I got the hang of eating fruits and veggies in all of my meals, I did start to limit my calories. But throughout this whole process I was strategic about what I ate. I chose nutrient rich, low calorie foods (aka veggies) over things that were more calorically dense (such as pastas). By making these choices, I was able to satisfy my hunger. The comments I always seem to receive is that “Oh I could never do that, I hate vegetables!” Uh hello!!! Me too!! I told you what I used to eat! BUT, when you make these small changes over time, your taste buds will change too! Throughout this whole process if I really really wanted a treat, I’d allow myself to have it. But it’s important to learn the balance between treating yourself and having the determination to achieve your goals. It was trial and error for me. There were times I was super restrictive and other times I was treating myself too much. I really just had to learn that balance.
So, as you may or may not know, I now eat a plant based diet. This was only a recent change though. Throughout the majority of my weight loss journey, I ate paleo based. When I started out, I had no idea I would end up eating plant based. Like I said before, I just wanted to make gradual changes that were easy to make and added up in the end. Switching to a paleo based diet wasn’t too drastic of a change for me to make. I wasn’t really a picky eater so eating veggies was a little easier for me than it is for others. Over time, I did grow to enjoy them more and more.
In June, my best friend encouraged me to do Whole 30 with her. Whole 30 is essentially the idea to eliminate common foods that people have intolerances to (gluten, dairy, sugar, etc.) for a full 30 days. After the 30 days are up, you can slowly reintroduce these foods back in to see what foods your body reacts negatively to (for more info go to whole30.com). I will say during this month I did see results. I lost a significant amount of weight. However, I would never do or recommend this type of eating ever again. It was so restrictive it started to restrict my mindset. I wasn’t eating enough calories. I had these periods of feeling really lightheaded and nauseous. I would be extremely thirsty. I once even fainted my blood sugar was so low. This mindset carried with me throughout the rest of the summer as well as the sickness. At the time, I didn’t understand what was going on. I went to the doctor and they said that everything looked normal to them. It wasn’t until months later I understood that it was my mindset that was really limiting and causing me to have issues.
Around September was when I started to bring balance back into my life. I didn’t allow food to control me anymore. I was able to allow myself treats. Admittedly, I would eat too much occasionally, but I was able to forgive myself and continue eating how I should. I can attribute this to September being my birthday month. Regardless, I was able to enjoy myself while still keeping my mindset in check.
Over time, I began to eat more and more veggies as the bulk of my meal. By January, I rarely ever ate meat. In the 2018, I can count on one hand the number of times I ate animal products. To be honest, my tastes just changed. Before, meat had been a major part of my meals and sometimes the saving grace that allowed me to eat the veggies with it. Now, I didn’t look forward to eating meat so I stopped buying it and eventually just stopped eating it all together. I already didn’t eat dairy as I was eating predominantly paleo based. Switching to a plant based diet just made sense for me. After I did my research and learning about all the benefits, I knew it was the right thing for me to do especially since I was already eating that way regardless.
One year later I was eating almost completely plant based and was 60 lbs down. If I look back to that March of 2017, I would have laughed if you told me I’d be where I am today. Losing weight is a monsterous task, specifically when you have a lot to lose. It would have been easy to get overwhelmed. However, I have found the key is taking small, maintainable steps. Don’t set out to start on X date and eat healthy from that point forward. That is extremely hard. Instead start right here, right now where you are. If you drink nothing but soda, start by limiting to maybe 2 a day. Soon you’ll get down to 1 a day, then 1 a week, 1 a month, then almost never! The same thing can be said with almost any habit. Start slow and take your time. The saying is true, slow and steady wins the race. I took 1 step every day for 365 days and I was able to come as far as to lose 60 lbs. I still have a way to go but I’ll make it there by taking one step at a time.