This week I decided to try something new. I’m down another 1.2 lbs over last week (WOOP WOOP!), and I wanna keep that trend going as strongly as possible, but since I’m already exercising regularly, there’s only one other change I could make…my diet.
I’ve long considered the word “diet” to be one of the most offensive four-letter words in existence. It triggers my flight reflex and makes me want to run screaming in the other direction. I’ve had looooots of experience with dieting, some of which I’ve mentioned before—no sugar, tracking meals, counting calories, HCG (500 calories per day while taking these little droplet things), Nutrisystem—and all of them have left me miserable. See, my problem is that as soon as I’m on a formal diet, I obsess about every. single. morsel. that goes in my mouth, from the biggest salad to the teensiest bite of cheesecake. I’ve been on diets where sweets were very much off-limits, but I caved and put some kind of dessert in my mouth, chewed a few times, and then, out of fear and a huge sense of failure, spit it back out into the trash. I don’t know about you, but to me that’s pretty freaking unhealthy, and it’s left me with a lingering fear of that one little word.
The trouble is, “diet” didn’t used to have the dual meaning it has today. The version of it I dread, the one that refers to special restrictions or eliminations or what have you for the sake of losing weight, is newer when compared to the original meaning. A diet, traditionally, is simply what we habitually eat. It’s not a temporary thing, it doesn’t have rules, and you can’t fail at it. It’s literally just whatever you regularly stuff your face with. It’s part of your lifestyle. And when I think about it like that, it’s a little less intimidating.
It’s with all of this in mind that I chose my personal dietary changes. I wanted something that could be a learning experience, that I could sustain, and that didn’t tell me that I can’t do or have certain things, but that could still help me get my priorities in order when it comes to what I’m nourishing dis body with every day. (I mean, I’m sure my previous habit of eating three cheese sticks and a quarter jar of peanut butter every day was super balanced, but it doesn’t hurt to try something new, right?) What I knew right from the gate is that anything I chose to do was gonna be followed with the 80/20 rule—I’ll be diligent 80% of the time, especially in the beginning when I’m trying to create a new habit, but the other 20% will be flexible, allowing room for little indulgences and occasional off-the-grid days where I don’t track and just enjoy (like when hubs and I go to our all-time fave seafood restaurant next week and load up on crab soup, warm biscuits with apricot butter, and stay for dessert afterwards since it’ll be the last time we go before he heads to school next month). I know myself. I know what works for me and what doesn’t, and I know that for any dietary changes to become habitual they need to be realistic. I’m not going on a diet, I’m changing my diet, and there are monumental differences between those two.
So what did I choose? Well, a lot of the workouts I’ve been doing are part of the Beachbody on Demand (BOD) service (it’s like $10/month for unlimited streaming, 100% worth it if you’re self-motivated enough to work out at home…or if you’re a SAHM and that’s the only chance you have to get in regular workouts). They sell a lot of supplements and protein powders and such too, none of which I’ve tried, but the thing that intrigued me was these portion-control containers that are part of their 21 Day Fix program. I found a set of very similar ones on Amazon for $7.55 (free shipping and free returns if I didn’t like them), and since I already subscribe to BOD, I was able to get all the other program materials online. The idea is that you use these colored containers to portion out food. Based on your caloric needs (which they have a formula for), you’ll have X number containers each day for six different categories: green (veggies), purple (fruit), red (protein), yellow (carbs), blue (healthy fats), and orange (seeds/dressings). They’re essentially measuring cups. Rather than store food in them, you just use them as a measuring device to portion out whatever you’re putting on your plate or into your larger meal-storage containers (and once you’ve been doing it for a while, I’m sure eyeballing becomes significantly easier). There’s also a section for oils/nut butters but you just use a teaspoon for that (and you bet your sweet butt I’ve already stood in front of an open jar of peanut butter with a teaspoon, making sure I get my fill). And I don’t have to worry about forgetting how many of everything I’ve eaten because, of course, there’s an app for that!
I was concerned at first because I thought it was gonna feel too much like counting calories did back in the My Fitness Pal days, but it’s soooo much easier. I don’t need to look up the exact brand and enter measurements and all that junk, I just go in to the app, select my meal, and say “1 green, 1 red, 1/2 yellow.” Boom. Done. My favorite major difference here is that, rather than just counting calories, the containers help teach you to balance macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat). Counting calories works for a lot of people, but I would much rather know that I’m eating balanced meals at the same time—and whole foods. That’s a big one. You can count calories but have granola bars and Lean Cuisines and all these “diet” foods that aren’t truly that healthy or nutritious, but right now I have categories I’m trying to fill, and that encourages me to choose real food. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see just how much I’m still eating every day, and that I haven’t felt starvy or deprived at all, which makes me believe this is something that really could become a permanent change.
Today is Day 3 and I’ve done fairly well so far. I’m not being super strict with some parts (like their suggestion to use chicken breasts—I’ll stick with juicy thighs, TYVM, and I still have my glorious and oh-so-necessary cup of coffee in the morning with flavored creamer), but again this is where I have to do what works for me. Anything I’m super stringent and restrictive about won’t last, so I’m being realistic while still making huge strides in how I eat. 80/20, ‘member? I ‘member.
I’ll weigh in again next Monday and report on how my first full week went, and that will also mark the end of my first full month of the strength training program (Hammer & Chisel) I’ve been doing, so keep an eye out for progress pics! I’m down 2.8 lbs since I started it, so maybe I can drop one more from that before the week is done!
Have a lovely end of September, I’ll see ya next month!