Step One: Change Mindset
*Donna's wellness column appears monthly in her little town's newspaper, the Country Gazette.
I overheard a woman telling another that her tight-fitting jeans were a sign it was time to start dieting again. She hated diets.
Who wants to be told what to eat? The minute I tell myself I CAN’T have something, I want it a hundred times more. No, a bazillion times more. It becomes all I think about until I can have it and if I don’t get it, there is potential sulking. My inner toddler controls my cravings.
It’s always been like that for me and I suspect for many others, but I figured there must be a better way.
What had to change in me first, though, was my mind- the voice inside my head that told me living a healthful lifestyle would be so dull and tasteless, I might as well shack up with a few hundred cats and call it a life. What was the point in living if there were no potato chips and Duncan Hines brownies?
But I gave it a shot. I bought a cookbook that focused on healthier eating. Then another. I made recipes using real-live food and not stuff that lasted for a couple years in my pantry. You know what? They tasted good. Some of them real good. So I kept doing it.
Soon I was learning that chia seeds are not only for growing grass heads and zucchini can actually be eaten raw. Who knew? I started making green smoothies and juices and found that I craved those more than chocolate on most days.
Clearly, the world was coming to an end.
Only it wasn’t.
What happened was my taste buds changed. I craved fewer of the foods I once did and more of the real stuff. My skin cleared, my back pain and asthma eventually went away, and I found I had energy to do things I never could before, like run races and bike long distances.
Do I never want potato chips or cookies? I wish I could say yes, but my inner toddler still wins that battle now and then. We are wired for instant pleasure. While I never keep those things in my house, I happily partake if I am out and these things find themselves sitting on a plate in front of me.
Do I feel guilty? No way. What’s the point of food guilt? We either change or don’t, but guilt is a waste of energy, if you ask me. I pay attention to how I feel and make a mental note. When meeting a brownie at a party again, I ask myself if the immediate oh-my-gosh-where-have-you-been-all-my-life is worth tomorrow’s bloat. Sometimes it is; sometimes not.
And that’s it. There’s no dieting. There’s no sacrifice or denial. I eat the way I do now- with lots of vegetables and beans and nuts and seeds and dark chocolate- because it makes me feel great and allows me to do things I never could before. I eat this way because I taste food like I never have before.
I live a healthful lifestyle because I want to. And I don’t have even one cat.