My Journey from the Cookie Monster Diet to Weight Watchers to Being Practically Paleo
I love food. It's that simple. I always have and I always will. For better or for worse, food has always been a defining element of my life. I'm not claiming that food "runs" my life per say - it's not like I'm some sort of social leper who's only friends are the bacon (lots of bacon) and wine in her kitchen - but I'm also not saying that I don't get irrationally excited about my next meal about two meals ahead of time...feel me?
Anyways - sorry, I got distracted...I was thinking about tomorrow's lunch - I would in no way consider myself a picky eater. I've tried it all. And I've probably loved it all. But in recent years, having gone through four years as a Davidson College student and Division I field hockey player, I did my fair share of indulging. Arguably - no, definitely - too much indulging. While I loved eating what I ate, the way my body reacted to the Student Union pancakes, late night quesadillas and keg beer was a major buzz kill. I tried dieting and following the "healthy" government-regulated food pyramid guidelines, but none of it was sustainable for me. Especially not as a 21-year-old college athlete who had the appetite of the Cookie Monster and who wanted to indulge in every single "social event" (aka beer- and liquor-driven party) as her schedule would allow. Don't judge - if you're not currently, you were in college once too. I see you daydreaming about "the good old days".
I graduated with a smile on my face though. I had my fun and I regretted nothing. But at that point it was time for a change, and, for me, it started with my health. Still under the misguided conception that weight loss would effortlessly be accompanied by things like cutting calories, eliminating high fat foods, eating whole grains and exercising more, I embarked on the journey of Weight Watchers. And to give credit where credit is due, Weight Watchers was effective for me in terms of weight loss - I lost 25+ pounds. I drastically reduced portions and exercised every single day; however, I still felt sluggish, tired and stressed. Tracking every single thing I put in my mouth became exhausting and obsessive. The point at which my boyfriend, Landon, pointed out to me that I could hardly sit through dinner without pulling out my phone and tracking each bite of salad I ate was eye opening. It made me realize I needed to make a change. Again.
Cue my girl Cristina Gillespie, health guru and fitness trainer. Cristina went through her own personal transformation driven by real food and overall clean eating. Through her experience, she founded 28toLife - a program designed to help others who seek not only a dietary change, but who are also looking to create a sustainable lifestyle. As she puts it, she aims to help people "break free of the prison" of calorie counting and stressful dieting all together. She encourages "freedom with real food" - and boy, do I feel free!
Cristina's program - which only takes 28 days - really lit a fire under my ass from a health perspective, directly allowing me to make healthier choices that make me feel confident, alive and limitless. She helped me transform my body in a satisfying way that exceeds the number on the scale. What I noticed more so than weight loss was the way my body began to change. Clothes started fitting me differently and I just started to feel leaner and stronger than ever before. Kickstarted by 28toLife, I now follow a predominantly paleo/primal lifestyle. I say "predominantly" because I am only human. While I no longer crave the grains and sugars of the SAD (Standard American Diet) - I believe that indulgences keep us sane. If I want a craft beer and a slice of pizza from time to time, I guiltlessly enjoy myself. Everyone is different in their paleo:SAD ratio. For me, I'm about 90/10...and for that 10%, I am shameless and guilt-free!
The most beautiful part of my current relationship with food is that there is no guilt and there are no restrictions. I eat until I'm full and I haven't tracked a single calorie since I made my first bacon-wrapped steak and avocado salad. That's right - BRING ON THE FAT!
I'd also like to set forth a disclaimer that I am by no means a paleo "expert." In fact, I'm still a newbie. I still learn something new every day - but I'm happy that you are willing to endure this journey with me (even if you're not paleo and are just interested in the DELICIOUS recipes I will post on a weekly basis)! Stay tuned.