When I first decided that I needed to lose weight, I thought that I could outwork a bad diet. I figured if I went all out in the gym, I could still eat the same way that I always had but still do enough work to lose what I wanted to lose and everything would work out. Wishful thinking thy name was 25 year old Danno. Then, when I would finally decide to try eating a little bit healthier, I would screw up once and say to myself “Well that was fun while it lasted, now pass the tots!”
To say that I have a complicated relationship with food would be an understatement. My first inclination when eating out is to find the greasiest burger on the menu and go to town. Brunch burgers, bacon cheese burgers, lamb burgers, and even the very rare veggie burger, I have yet to meet a burger I didn’t like. Do not get me started on gourmet mac and cheese. I love delicious food and for the longest time, I never stopped to consider calories when picking what to eat. But, then I made the decision to eat healthier, go to the gym, and lose some weight. Problem solved right? Eating healthier is the one sure fire way to fix your complicated and probably toxic relationship with food right? Well…not exactly.
Here’s the problem with trying to quit eating your stable of go-to food options; you’re always going to be tempted to backslide and down an entire sleeve of Chip’s Ahoy chocolate chip cookies. Rewiring your brain to not crave those old crutches is easy to say but incredibly hard to do in practice. It’s probably one of the biggest contributing factors when it came to all the times I tried changing my diet before. Part of the reason why I went back to the sweets and eating entire family sized bags of Cool Ranch Doritos in a day was the allure of it being “bad” for you while tasting amazing. That’s the downside to completely vilifying all of the foods you used to eat, the temptation to slip back into old habits becomes more tantalizing. So the question has become for me, instead of relying on fad diets and wide ranging restrictions on the what/where/when I can eat, how can I build a diet that respects the journey I’ve walked and where I want to go? How do I make the new dietary lifestyle sustainable in the long term?
These are the questions that I am going to take a long look at in the coming weeks and attempt to develop a balance between reaching the goals I have laid out in front of me (reaching 180 pounds, increasing overall strength for Mudders/Spartans, and surviving the Philly Full Marathon jump immediately to mind) while changing the way I approach cheat meals and how I have conversations with myself if/when I wind up slipping along the way. The most important step going forward for me will be how I have that internal conversation with myself. It cannot be the same endless cycle of “start cooking good, healthy meals, forget it one day, fall off the wagon and then punish and berate myself for falling off the wagon.” It is an unsustainable toxic relationship and one that is completely within my power to change. It only takes recognizing it as it happens and being mindful of how I treat myself when mistakes happen.