You may have seen the word “Fit[ish]” referenced, with a definition of “semi-fit; kind of fit; someone who likes the idea of being fit but equally likes food.” When I first saw this posted on Facebook, I literally laughed out loud because that’s me! I’m a foodie. I love to eat all sorts of foods–healthy, not-so-healthy, desserts, fresh, processed, … whatever tastes good. My ultimate nutritional vice is pizza, and since I live in Chicago, several great stuffed or deep dish pizza options are within a 2-mile radius. Dangerous, very dangerous.
When I was in high school and college, I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I swear I’d actually lose weight from burning calories during digestion. Needless to say, it was awesome. But as I got older, started working at a job where I was sitting for most of the day, and reduced the amount of running and training I was doing, I slowly started to gain a bit of weight that I wasn’t happy about. While I knew I couldn’t realistically maintain the physique I had in college and that a 35-year-old body is simply different than one in its 20s, I wasn’t feeling healthy and knew something needed to change or I would continue to go down a road that I didn’t like.
As I mentioned in my last post, I feel at my best mentally, physically, and emotionally when I’m fit, so I needed to find a balance between maintaining my inner-foodie and eating well. Scott (who is almost as much a foodie as I am) and I actually both came to this realization, so it was easier to do this together. Of course, this was another case when it was handy to have a personal trainer as a husband who keeps up with the latest fitness and nutrition research. (Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to share stories of when it’s not so great to live with a personal trainer.) We knew something needed to change, and if you know Scott, he tends to go all-in when he goes after something–100% commitment.
Although we’re foodies, we didn’t eat junk all the time. We did enjoy healthy, fresh foods, but we weren’t eating enough of them. Or what we thought maybe was healthy actually turned out not to be. We also ate a lot of processed carbohydrates, like white pasta. I’m pretty sure we ate pasta for dinner 4 times per week, without adding protein. I don’t know how I wasn’t starving after an hour (or maybe I was). We started this better-eating journey by making small changes. For example, we switched from regular to brown rice pasta, started making eggs or protein & fruit shakes for breakfast instead of eating cereal, stopped drinking soda, cut out most processed foods, and started buying higher-quality foods, such as grass fed ground beef and organic foods. Although these foods are more expensive, we figure it’s an investment in our health that will hopefully make us live longer, quality lives.
Something small that made a big difference was that we started to read the ingredients on food labels. The fewer ingredients listed, the better, and we try to avoid artificial ingredients and things we can’t pronounce. High fructose corn syrup also became a swear word. We even started to make changes when choosing a dessert (yes, we still eat dessert). Instead of buying cookies that have an ingredients list like the one pictured here, we’ll choose chocolate chip cookies from Trader Joe’s, which contain much healthier ingredients. Or we’ll opt for some cherries and dark chocolate. Now when I get a craving, it’s often for healthy, fresh foods or desserts. It’s amazing how much my taste buds have changed!
There’s so much more I could say about the changes we’ve made, but the main thing to keep in mind is that this was a gradual process that took place over the course of a few years; it didn’t happen all at once, or we may have found it overwhelming and ourselves back to eating the way we used to. We aim to eat healthy about 90% of the time, which gives us room to indulge and have that stuffed pizza occasionally. We live this new lifestyle not just to help us be more fit, but to lead healthier lives that will hopefully benefit us (and our pocket book) when we’re older.