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In lieu of a healthy recipe this week, I thought I’d share something that is perhaps more valuable in the long run.  Let me provide you with a little bit of backstory:

For those of you who know me personally, you know how much I LOVE food.  It is my weakness.  And, not only do I love food, but I love food that is bad for you.

We’re talking cake, french fries, donuts, candy, and more. Mmmmm.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t always eat these foods, but I have been fortunate enough to have a pretty fast metabolism most of my life, so I never really noticed (or cared to notice) the effect that eating these bad foods had on my body.  Even as my weight started to fluctuate during college, I still didn’t give much credence to my diet.  I have always loved exercising, so I’d just ramp up my cardio when I noticed a few pounds packing on and soon enough they’d melt away.

But, this method got increasingly harder to maintain as each year passed.  I found myself packing on more than a few pounds and they got harder and harder to melt away no matter how intensely I exercised. So, a few years ago, I decided it was time to look a little closer at the way that I ate.

It wasn’t pretty.

Although I was eating some really good foods that were really good for me, I was still indulging in those foods that I love when I felt like I deserved them. (read: I was rewarding myself for working hard with things like brownies and cookies) And, let me tell you, that just doesn’t work when you exercise 5 times a week and indulge at an equal rate.

I was also eating out a lot.  Which means that I was eating food that perhaps seemed to be a healthy choice when, in reality, there were calories hidden in every crevice that I had no idea about.

So, over the course of several months, I took some baby steps to clean up my food life. And, that’s where I’ll pick up today.  I’ve learned quite a few lessons surrounding my love of food, so I share them because they have helped me become an all around healthier version of myself!

Lesson 1: Exercise is not to be rewarded with food. This was a BIG one for me to learn. I’ve always loved exercising, but I used to justify eating whatever I wanted with the fact that I’d burned x number of calories that day. Unfortunately, that’s just not the way it works.  Not to say that you can’t ever indulge, but now a days, I limit myself to a righteous dessert only once a week or so.

Lesson 2: If you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it. And this doesn’t just go for sweets. This goes for ALL meals. If it’s not in the house, then I can’t eat it. (i.e., those cookies, potato chips, soft drinks that are all so tempting!) I honestly don’t buy anything that could be considered snacky. The closest thing I have are granola bars and they’re mostly just for packed lunches. So, when I’m craving something sweet, salty, or fried, my options are limited. I usually just end up making popcorn on the stove with very little oil and very little butter. (honest disclaimer: I have TONS of snack options at work, and I do occasionally indulge, which just helps to remind me that I certainly don’t need to be buying this stuff for my home)

meal planningLesson 3: Eat at home and plan, plan, plan your meals. I swear I lost 5 pounds after getting married simply because I was making dinner 5 or 6 nights a week and not eating all of the hidden calories of restaurant food.  So, if I’ve planned all of our meals and already purchased the groceries for them, I just can’t justify going out to eat no matter how much I don’t want to cook! Bonus tip: If, for some reason, you’ve made it to dinnertime without a plan, you’ll be able to whip up something healthy in a jiff if you’re already mastered lesson two. This happened just last night in the Weaver home as evidenced below!quick dinner

Lesson 4: I try to buy organic/natural whenever I can. The closer a food can be to its natural state, the better it will be for you. Not to say that organic cookies are healthy, but the sugar found in them in certainly a lot easier for your body to process than high fructose corn syrup. The chemicals, preservatives, etc. that come in our food truly mess with the chemical processes our bodies are designed to go through. So, if you can buy pasta that’s made of organic whole grains, do it!

Finally, and this is something I always TRY to do: drink LOTS of water! Water is essential to proper body function and will help you feel full so that you’re not tempted to eat those things that you shouldn’t. Oh, and finally, finally, take baby steps. It’s taken me 2+ years to get to a point where I feel like I’m consistently making good decisions about what I eat. Eating well is definitely a lifestyle choice, and perhaps one that will require a big lifestyle change. So, remember that consistency, not perfection, is key. May your journey be a long a fruitful one (no pun intended)!

Nourish and Be Nourished::