I am not on a diet. Earlier this month I made a conscience decision to eat healthier and make better food choices while also attempting to exercise 3-4 days a week. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.
You see, I have steadily been gaining weight for the past two years. Long gone are the days where I would walk around in tiny booty shorts while scarfing down In-N-Out as fast as I could and yet never gaining a pound and instead came a slow and steady 30+ lb weight gain. It’s not obvious. Looking at me I look like the average American girl with maybe a little extra water weight here and there. But naked, stark naked, I felt like a whale, and the subconscious thoughts started affecting my confidence in other places of my life. I would start to second guess myself when picking clothes off a rack, wondering if my normal Medium would fit around my expanding chest area. My jeans started to feel tighter and tighter, even after wearing them a few times from the wash. My standard outfit started to consist of yoga pants and big tops meant to cover my pudgy stomach and yet it only drove me to eat more and more.
The problem wasn’t that I didn’t know how to lose the weight. I wasn’t one of those people who thought there was an easy fix and I could just shed the pounds and be back to my goal weight within a few weeks of monotonously moving back and fourth on the elliptical machine. I knew it required a totally mind., body overhaul, and yet with a fluctuating career, another campaign, and relationship drama I was never in a place where getting my body back on track was a top priority. I complained constantly to my boyfriend; who by the way was blessed with a road-runner fast metabolism, a 6 pack, and a love for the gym that borderline obsessive, that I was getting fat and I couldn’t stop it. In an attempt to be helpful he’d comment on the things that we ate (mostly pizza, pasta, and bread) and would hammer that it was “easy to lose the weight if I just went to the gym.” I, of course, did not find this helpful and would push back even harder sighting stress, combined with a time and money shortage as my main reasons for lounging around the house watching Dexter on Netflix all afternoon. And most of it was true, on again off again campaigning supplemented with waitressing made it impossible to get my body on a regulated routine. The hot yoga his mom got me into was amazing but at $20 a class was almost an impossible financial situation for me, and I was exhausted from being on my feet day in and day out so cardio was out of the question. The more he pressed for me to get in shape the more I resented him, and even more so myself for not caring if I ever got back to my size 4 cheerleader body I had in high school. I was always a yo-yoer, losing and gaining throughout college but by the end of last year I was at my heaviest and I was done.
Finally I started a new job and my routine began to level out. My 8 – 5 desk job kept me sedentary throughout the day but I began to increase my water intake, drinking a gallon of water starting when I woke up well into the evening. I joined a gym that was right across the street from my apartment so that I never had an excuse for not making it over and supplemented my weekday cardio with weekend hot yoga (that with a steady job I could afford if I budgeted right) so that I was always burning something in some form. But it wasn’t just all about the workouts. I eat breakfast everyday with an AM snack, a healthy lunch, a PM snack and a healthy proportioned dinner. I’m not a zealot, but small changes in my choices make it so I have more energy throughout the day to do what I need to do. My snacks are mostly fruit, applesauce, or yogurt. My lunch choices haven’t changed much but salads have taken the place of pizza slices and deli soups. If I eat sandwiches their wheat bread and always small in size and salads are plentiful for lunch and dinner. Cooking at home has been easier than I thought with chicken and seafood dishes dominating what once was Chipotle burritos and microwave mac & cheese.
I probably sound like a snob but honestly, it’s not even that serious. Every once in a while I splurge and share pizza with someone, have a few beers, even sip nonchalantly on a milkshake my boss brought back from lunch, hell- just last night when I was in the most typical of irritable moods I downed a bacon cheese burger with fries without even a second thought. But I’ve loosened the term “diet” in my mind to mean “food aware”. Guilt leads to pressure and pressure leads to gaining weight back, and I am not down for that. Sometimes I still don’t feel like going to the gym, and on those day I reason with myself, never forcing myself to go if I am really tired or burned out from a hard workout the day before. After 3 weeks I feel good but I know that a change this big will take time and a bikini ready body won’t be visible until bikini season this summer (if I keep it up!). As cliche as it sounds I’m accepting my body in all it’s glory slowly but surely. Granted it’s not Lena Dunham level of acceptance but I mean, honestly, who is that fucking comfortable being naked?! That’s just ridiculous.
Whatever you do, don’t call it a diet.