DO YOU REMEMBER…?
A time where you couldn’t possibly define your “relationship” with food?
The days as a kid when having meals was a chore? You had to sit down and eat your dinner so that you were allowed to rush off and watch TV or play with your toys?
How long it’s been since what you ate didn’t involve a mental debate with yourself?
I suspect most people will be familiar with the above, and, if you’re anything like me, you wish that you were just that little kid again – running around, eating what and when you were told to, and not giving it a second thought.
So, I suppose that in order for you to hopefully be able to relate to me, and any of my subsequent posts, I should give a little history of my “relationship” with food. (I mean, how ridiculous, that I feel like I need to do this! But alas…)
I would say that age 15/166 is probably when I first became aware of what you eat has an impact on how you look. I was raised in a household where we were allowed everything in moderation, crisps/chocolate/sweets etc were “treat foods”, and were earned, and we (my brother and I) had to eat our greens before we were allowed them. We knew that we had to be healthy and look after ourselves, but we also knew what yummy treats were and how they were not every day foods. So, I was never deprived of anything, but nor was I allowed to stuff myself with whatever I fancied. Boy, am I grateful for that!
What I noticed, is that those kids who grew up in homes were they were taught not to eat crap food ever, meant that once they were at friends houses, or old enough to decide for themselves, they overindulged.
Notwithstanding the above, I still have to admit that though my childhood (in my opinion) set me up with a perfectly healthy relationship with food, I managed to create my own issues, and in particular, through my university years.
Just a side point – to be discussed in greater detail in another post – but although it pains me to admit it, I think what I am about to explain is more relevant for girls than boys. And I purely say that from the experience of the difference between my brother and I, who has always eaten whatever he wants, and has maintained a good physique.
It is somewhat a rite of passage that most under-grads go a bit crazy with all the freedom they have. Pizza takeaways, sushi, junk food galore, all driven by the excess alcohol consumption that is somewhat inevitable. It wasn’t until my penultimate year of university (aged 20) that I caught a picture of myself and I looked like I had eaten my way through the years (Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, I put on maybe a stone – but as a small-ish girl, of 5″4, I noticeably carried it, and more importantly, felt like rubbish, from what I saw in the mirror, but also from how the food I ate made me feel).
I was/have always been a fairly slim girl. I had my puppy fat teenage years, but was mostly content with how I looked. Through the ages of 16-18, I concentrated on eating healthily but still had treats, just as I’d been raised to.
But, I feel as though everyone has “that photograph”, or “that moment”, that awakens them to their reality of how they look and feel and is the trigger for making a change. I remember vividly, I was living in Spain at the time (check out my post on Sevilla if you haven’t already), and decided enough was enough. I needed to get moving my body and return to eating the way I was raised to (essentially, cutting out the crap unless it was a treat, which was not necessary every day…).
So, I did just that. I started eating well (very well), and exercising 2/3 times a week. Slowly, I noticed some changes. I felt more vibrant and awake; my clothes fit better; my hair and skin looked shinier (like they had used to); and I liked what I was seeing in the mirror.
I reckon you can guess what happened next…
Yup, I took it to the extreme. My diet became entirely “clean”. I would schedule in one cheat meal per week, because that’s what I saw “famous people on Instagram do who had great physiques”. I would turn down food related plans with friends if it didn’t fit with my routine, or I’d eat beforehand. Cut a long story short, this lasted for a good year/year and a half, and then, inevitably, I indulged once, twice, and then all the weight came back on, because eating clean all the time is NOT SUSTAINABLE PEOPLE! (Check out my post on Macros and Nutrition for more on this!)
I suppose my one saving grace is that I’ve always been into fitness and exercise. I played tennis, netball and rounders at school, and have been an avid gym-goer since I passed my driving test and could take myself to the gym. For me, it was always a stress reliever, never something “I had to do”, and thankfully, I have never seen it as a form of punishing myself for what I may or may not have eaten. So continuing my exercise, I’m sure, helped me not to become a beach whale!
So, fast forward 2.5 years, and countless attempts to “eat clean” again, I decided to ignore everything I was reading online, and just focus on eating well, but not restricting myself, whilst continuing my training. After a few months, I treated myself to a personal trainer once a week, and I really enjoy having that weekly reminder and motivation to stay “on track**”; it keeps me accountable.
*I say “on-track” in quotes, because really, it’s a lifestyle, and doesn’t cut anything out or do anything special other than make sure I am exercising, and eating everything in moderation.
Anyway, it is now a little over a year since I started the above lifestyle change. I have never felt so confident and happy with my physical appearance, which is fantastic for me.
Putting that to one side for a moment though, mentally, I have never felt so content. Well, at least not since I was that 15-year old girl, on the cusp of heading into the dark, gloomy world of womanhood and all that that entails.
It’s only taken me 10 years to get to a place where I can eat well, indulge occasionally, and attempt to allow myself freedom in respect of what I eat.
Please take this thought away with you…
You have to cut yourself some slack.
Life is so up and down – we all start work, we don’t have as much free time to exercise; plan our meals; set routines. I mean, to an extent we can, and I praise and truly promote planning out what you can, because it helps avoid the “thinking too much about what we eat” process. But my point is that, sometimes things might pop up unexpectedly, and we have to put our plans on hold, e.g. a lunch meeting at work where you can’t choose what the food is, a late shift at work so you can’t hit the gym, or getting the flu and you just want to eat a big bowl of pasta!
Be flexible. Be honest with yourself. Be accountable.
All that matters is that you are consistent in making sure you live a well-rounded, balanced life, which is completely sustainable for you.
As long as you are healthy and move your body often, then why the hell not enjoy that piece of chocolate cake every now and then!
Trust me, I say all of this as much to remind myself, as to share with all of you!
As ever, any questions, comments or feedback, please comment below!
~The Hangry Lawyer, xoxo~