What Do You Mean I Can’t Eat Whatever I Want?

Aside from losing baby weight, and getting into shape, one of my secret hopes for regular exercise was that I would be able to eat whatever I wanted with no consequences.
I’m not the only one who’s had this fantasy, am I?
Ice cream before bed, chocolate whenever I felt like it, potato chips without guilt, or even just extra helpings at dinner, with all the fat burned right off from a good workout.
It may sound silly, but I really thought this was how it worked.
With all my hard work at Boot Camp, I knew my day was coming.
And it was going to be awesome.

Clearly I had no understanding of how nutrition worked.
Or at least how calories worked.
And, let me tell you,  it was a hard lesson to learn.

While I may not have known much about nutrition, I did know about food.
And despite my mention of ice cream and potato chips, I mostly ate good, healthy, nutritious food.
I never ate fast food.
Well, except maybe once a month or so at In and Out.
But the rest of them, never.
I cooked almost all our meals at home.
And those meals were not boxed Mac and Cheese, Hamburger Cheesy Skillets, or anything like that.
They were made from scratch, and with fresh ingredients.
We ate whole wheat bread.
I soaked my own beans and cooked them on the stove for hours.
I didn’t drink soda.
Or sports drinks.
I loved eating vegetables.
I went to the Farmer’s Market.
I shopped at Trader Joe’s.
Sometimes I even went to Whole Foods.
I had a salad almost every day, and there was no ranch dressing to be found in my fridge.
I didn’t drink beer, or cocktails, and only had an occasional glass of wine.
Like I said before, I knew something about good food.
In fact, I thought I was doing pretty awesome in the nutrition department.
Because, to me, eating nutritious food meant I was practicing good nutrition.


Well, mostly nutritious food.
I did have a few weaknesses.
Chocolate was a big one.
I had it every day.
I craved it every day.
All day long.
My gosh, I love chocolate!
And coffee.
That was my other vice.
I could drink coffee all day long too.
With breakfast, for an afternoon pickup, and then after dinner, because it just felt so nice to have an after dinner cup with my husband.
Besides, I needed to stay up and get stuff done after my kids were in bed.
I drank my coffee with cream and sugar.
Never the fake, coffee creamer laden with chemicals and high fructose corn syrup.
See, I was super healthy.
I didn’t really see that there was any problem with my nutrition.

But there was.
Because after 6 months of working out, seeing changes in my body, loosing inches, and getting into smaller sizes, I had reached a plateau.
Things weren’t changing anymore.
It was a little frustrating.
I knew I needed to do something, but didn’t really think my eating habits were the thing that needed changing.
Except for the chocolate issue, but all my working out was canceling that chocolate out, I was sure of it.
I thought I was doing a pretty good job with my nutrition.

One day Boot Camp trainer Timmie asked Boot Campers to post pictures of their lunches on Facebook.
I posted a picture of my beautiful salad, feeling pretty smug, because I was sure she’d be really impressed with how healthy and nutritious it was.
It was loaded with veggies: carrots, peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, some roasted potatoes, and bell peppers.
It had diced chicken breast for protein, and a little olive oil and vinegar for dressing.
It was pretty great.


This was Timmie’s comment: “That looks delicious. How many calories does it have?”
It was a healthy salad.
It wasn’t smothered in ranch, or covered in shredded cheddar cheese.
It didn’t even have olives in it.
Or bacon bits.
Why would you even count calories with a salad like that?
It was totally healthy.

And just like that, Timmie opened my eyes to nutrition, and the areas where I was lacking.
She pointed out that peas have a lot of sugar.
Oh right, that was why I liked them so much.
And so did carrots.
I mean, I knew that, but never considered that I should omit them from a salad , or at the very least have less of them.
And she pointed out that the size of a salad, even a healthy one, mattered.
Size matters.
Dang it!
My world was about to get rocked.

And that was really the crux of the matter for me.
I ate good food.
I just ate too much of it.
Timmie suggested I try keeping track of my calories every day.

Oh man.
I had never counted calories in my life.
I knew all about reading labels to look for ingredients that were not nutritious, or even to check the amount of fat something had.
But I had never measured out my portions, or checked to see how many calories I was consuming each day.
When I began to do the math, I was pretty shocked.
Like the day I learned a serving size of tortilla chips is 12 chips.
12 chips?
Who wants 12 chips?
I want half the bag.
In comparison, I saw an entire bag of asparagus had only 100 calories.
So much more bang for my buck, nutritionally, and calorically speaking.
Then I learned a serving size of ice cream is 1 cup.
Do you know how small a cup of ice cream is, and how much better a bowl of ice cream looks?
This new found knowledge wasn’t always fun.

But as per Timmie’s suggestions, I began to make small changes in my diet.
I began to measure out my snacks, 1/4 a cup of almonds instead of a big handful.
I stopped drinking lattes and had cappucinos instead, saving valuable calories.
I upped my water intake a lot, and added herbs and fruit to make it more appealing.
I measured the olive oil I used to cook my eggs in, rather than just pouring it in there until the bottom of the pan was covered.
Nothing was very drastic, and while I was learning a lot, I wondered if it was really making a difference.
At the end of the month, I had an evaluation with TImmie and discovered I had lost 4 pounds!
Those little changes, and being aware of how much food I was putting into my body really did make a difference.
It was a real eye opening moment for me.


I wish I could tell you that it’s been smooth sailing ever since then.
But my nutrition continues to be the part of my healthy life style that challenges me the most.
I happily work out every day.
In fact, if I could find the time, I would work out twice a day.
Exercise is something I love, and get a great amount of satisfaction from.
Making the best food choices every day is not something I love.
It is hard for me.
But I keep at it.
Because when I make poor food choices, I feel the effects right away.
My clothes don’t fit comfortably, my workout is more sluggish, and I find myself longing to get back to “normal”.
To me that is a sign that I am continually moving in the right direction.
And though I’ll still groan when I hear a trainer say “abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym”, I know they are right.
And so I’ll keep on trying to make those good food choices.
Even when it isn’t easy.
“Do the thing you think you cannot do.”

What do you struggle with in your mission to live a healthy life style?
I’d love to hear about it, and what you are doing to meet those challenges.
Let’s learn from one another and be inspired.
Keep on Living Fit!