I lost 100 pounds, have kept it off for years, and I can still eat whatever I want.
When I was chowing down on a piece of homemade key lime pie last week at small group, a woman asked me, “So, you really just eat whatever you want and you can keep the weight off?”
If I mention to anyone that I’m a health coach, I have become very quick to jump in and clarify before people start feeling all self-conscious about their food choices and telling me about the most recent fad diet they tried.
I am a very normal person who, yes, loves vegetables and lean proteins and whole grains, but also enjoys dessert and french fries as much as the next person!
I don’t diet.
Or count carbs or calories. I haven’t given up sugar. I don’t drink weight loss shakes or take any supplements.
And I really don’t ever have to tell myself no.
So, How Can I Eat Whatever I Want & Still Keep the Weight Off?
The secret to my success is that I have built a healthy life that I genuinely love living.
#1 – I eat the foods that I love without the side of guilt
I used to be so ashamed of my love for food. When I ate the foods I actually enjoyed, I felt terribly guilty about liking them. It’s what always drove me to sneak bites and binge eat in secret. I loved sweets and chips and chocolate, but I didn’t want anybody to know that. I would just plow through boxes of treats in the secret of my room or later on in life in my car or whenever nobody was watching.
I tried as hard as possible to eat the “good” foods in front of people (vegetables, fruit, lean meats) and only indulge in the “bad” foods when nobody else could see.
It’s a terrible mindset to punish yourself for enjoying food and it certainly doesn’t help you to lose weight! You are training yourself to believe that you not only need the consequence of guilt for enjoying food, but that healthy eating is a punishment.
Now that I have broken out of that cycle, I am just as vocal about my love of salted caramel as I am about my love of roasted carrots. I don’t sneak food anymore. That was a huge shift for me, but it took the shame out of eating.
#2 – My desires have changed
There is no arguing that my taste buds have changed. It’s not that my love for sweets has gone away, but I don’t really get intense cravings anymore (which was something that was pretty much a daily battle in the past).
While I used to crave french fries so badly that nothing else would satisfy me until I had them, now they are just a food that sounds good on occasion and even then I can usually take them or leave them. I used to always order fried food every time I went out to eat because it’s not something I make at home. Now, I’ll order fried food on occasion, but more often than not, it’s things like grilled salmon and roasted vegetables that sound better.
The intensity that used to dictate my food decisions is gone.
I truly believe that the two things that helped to change my taste buds most were eating more vegetables and drinking more water (without the artificial flavoring!).
More than just my taste buds changing, though, was my shift in priorities. Because I have eaten such a wide variety of food over the years, I’ve also paid attention to how it makes me feel.
I know that if I eat nothing but fried food and sweets for a day, I am not going to feel good. I can function just fine, but my energy tanks, I feel sluggish, my face breaks out, I don’t sleep as well, I lose my motivation to move and exercise, I get super thirsty, and I just don’t feel good.
I don’t drink coffee after noon because even though I love coffee, I love sleep more. Stuffing myself silly used to be a normal thing for me. I was just sure that I had to eat as many Nutty Bars as I could before they were gone (somehow I thought there might be a Little Debbie shortage in the world?). Now, I know that it is has actually been scientifically proven that treats don’t taste as good after the first few bites. In a choice between savoring deliciousness or binge eating moderately good tasting food and ending up feeling stuffed to the gills, I choose deliciousness.
I also know how good I feel when I eat tons of vegetables and start my day with a good amount of protein and eat well-balanced meals.
My desire to feel good outweighs my food cravings.
#3 – I live in the middle
I just love the concept of moderation. In all things, from eating to relationships, there are healthy boundaries within the extremes and that is where my life, my diet, and my workouts fall.
I don’t live at the gym or spend hours working out every day. I don’t live on green smoothies alone. I run a few miles a few times a week and sometimes throw some bodyweight exercises in to try to gain a little strength. I like a warm pretzel roll alongside my roasted vegetables and dijon chicken, thank you very much.
I have 4 huge canisters of dark chocolate sea salt caramels in my closet right now (a Christmas gift from my sister and brother-in-law), but because I don’t forbid foods, I don’t feel the need to plow through them. I eat them when I remember they are there and they sound good.
I’m not obsessive about eating or exercising, but they are still priorities of mine.
I just live in the middle.