It feels strange to sit down to write this post, rounding out a full year of working towards a healthier version of myself. I wanted to make sure to chronicle this journey fully, and changing my eating habits was the biggest move I made towards my goals. I know many of you are working towards health + wellness goals too, and I love to connect more so that you can further understand who I am, behind the recipes.
New around here? Read some of my other posts on Health + Wellness:
- Living a Balanced Life: Doughnuts Included
- My changing workout routine: Treadmill Workout Playlist for Power Walking
- How I keep myself accountable: Fitbit Zip Review
- My Weight Loss Story, Part I: On Weight
- My Weight Loss Story Part, II: On Exercise
Where It Began
One year ago, I couldn’t run a mile without stopping. Yet fitness wasn’t my primary goal. What worried me more was that I couldn’t read my own hunger cues. I couldn’t tell if I was snacking to fill my belly or to respond to an emotion. I felt happy, and felt healthy, but I knew that there was room for improvement- and hearing my doctor echo those thoughts forced me to push into this journey.
As a food blogger, I’ve been sharing healthy recipes with all of you on this site – and those are the recipes that I ate everyday in my weight loss journey and now my weight maintenance journey. But looking back on my weight loss journey, I can see a clear shift in how I was thinking about health and nutrition in my everyday life.
I began working with a registered dietitian (RD), something I can’t recommend enough, who asked me to keep a food log for a week before coming up with her suggestions and recommendations. I ate like normal, logging everything- and noticing the calorie count is some foods that I hadn’t noticed before. Items I considered toppings for oatmeal or additions to my salads (things like dried fruit, chia seeds, nut butters) were calorie heavy in the portion sizes I was eating. Beyond that, she noted that my diet was very balanced and full of lean protein, carbohydrates, a variety of fruits and veggies, and a good amount of fat.
Considering my activity levels and diet preferences, my RD gave me a loose calorie goal and I proceeded to check in with her on a monthly basis. Portion size was really my focus. I enjoyed logging because it helped me meal plan and think about my day – and knowing the nutritional breakdown of some of my favorite recipes made it easy to know I was in balance. I could operate without having to look at the back of every package.
The Initial Weight Loss
The journaling, paired with a new focus on moving my body, worked. During those first 3 months, I lost around 10 pounds. It wasn’t all ideal though, having since learned far more about sustainable weight loss and nutrition.
I fell prey to some of the problems that I think many individuals do when food journaling – fad ideas and convenience products that felt helpful at the time. I used a protein powder filled with artificial ingredients because I thought it was helping curb my sweet cravings. I bought protein bars with questionable ingredients that kept me full for a small amount of calories. I tried low calorie items (yam noodles…) and low fat cheeses that I couldn’t stomach.
While I did come across some new products that I continue to use, I knew the majority of those additions were things I didn’t want to rely on it long term. This frustrated me, as I continued to do my homework about sustainable weight loss and engage with the healthy living community.
Finding What Worked For Me
Reevaluating after a few months, my RD helped me brainstorm what would be sustainable for me. I had always had the right components in my diet – a good balance of protein, fats, carbs, plenty of veggies and fruit.
But she urged me to take a harder look – could I squeeze another 2 cups of spinach into each salad? Could I reduce my whole wheat pasta serving by 1/2 cup and replace it with some beans, shredded chicken, or lentils to keep me full? Were there healthier convenience products that we could identify together to make life easy? Could I flavor more meals with spices and flavors that didn’t break the calorie bank?
Not until I took this outlook did I really begin to feel confident about this process and the changes I was making towards the healthier version of myself. It wasn’t rocket science, and over the course of the next 9 months, I lost another 10 pounds– slowly, but easily. I did my best to be conscious of my hunger cues and portion sizes, and I worked to add as many fruits and vegetables into my diet as possible. I finally began to feel satiated with the meals I was making and, once again, excited to cook.
Where I Stand
I suppose the hardest part is now – figuring out weight maintenance. In many ways, this won’t be as exciting as going down 2 pant sizes or having someone who hasn’t seen me in awhile notice I’m healthier. But this doesn’t change much about how I still go about my day- with a healthy outlook on balancing whole foods, tracking when I feel like I need it, and still eating dessert.
A big part of this process was realizing that my overeating came from boredom. I had time at work to dream up my next snack, to browse my favorite food blogs, or to nibble without focus while working. To change these habits, I kept myself accountable through tracking my food and checking in with the scale, but that was complemented by exercise, support from family and friends, and the motivation to rethink my status quo and reevaluate my balance.
In many ways, writing this has helped me to reconfirm my goals and look back on how far I have come. In the past year, I have lost over 20 pounds, and am at a healthy BMI and healthy body fat percentage categories for the first time instead of overweight.
Walking home from yoga // With my sister Lara (left) in Portugal
Now, my goals are more focused on strength, and on finding a new healthy balance. You can tell from my blog archives that my recipes have grown with me, and I know that they will continue to do so as I figure out what works for my body, what is easy to make, and how to make healthy delicious.
Thanks for reading.