Can you have your cake and eat it, too?
Can you really live a life of healthy, mindful eating? Sure you can. Just be prepared to work for it! All day! Every day!
I went to a bridal shower this weekend for one of my cousins. As far as showers go, this one was mild when it came to the dietary pitfalls that are usually present at a luncheon.
There were of course creamy potato and macaroni salads, but a nice field greens salad full of veggies was also an option. The cold cut sandwiches came with dressings on the side. And the cookies were, mercifully, relegated to one small tray.
I'm not tempted by the creamy salads and passing up a cold-cut sandwich is not exactly a sacrifice, am I right? So, I loaded up my plate with the field greens salad, sprinkled a few drops of dressing on top and treated myself to one small, decadent chocolate cookie from the tray.
I was feeling pretty smug, knowing that I was strong-willed enough to stay true to my "don't deny yourself anything but watch your portion size" eating style (don't call it a diet!) that has helped me lose fifty pounds (thirty more to go!) since adopting it last October.
Just when I thought I was out of the woods.... BAM!
In swoops a bridesmaid with a tray full of chocolate cake.
"Here! Cake! Cake for everyone!"
No, thank you.
"No cake?! Come on! Have a piece of cake! It's just one piece! Tomorrow is another day!"
You would have thought I said "I hate puppies" or "Kittens just aren't that cute."
I've battled my weight my whole adult life.
And hearing the words, "You are going to die young if you don't start eating better and losing some weight" from my doctor was all it took to put me on the track to a healthy life.
Here's what I've learned on this journey: There's just something about a healthy eater that makes people uncomfortable. It didn't really matter to that woman that I wasn't eating cake. What she probably perceived was that I was going to judge everyone else for EATING the cake.
This of course, couldn't be further from the truth.
Worrying about what I put in my own mouth occupies so much of my thoughts that I truly have no brain cells left to worry about what anyone else is eating.
So, how do you stay true to a diet, weight loss goal or simply a desire to eat a more wholesome foods when you are faced with diet saboteurs?
As an amateur healthy-eating addict, here are my tips and observations:
- Don't fall into the "All or Nothing" trap. If you eat one cookie, that doesn't mean the whole day is shot. Eating one cookie can save you from the temptation to eat something even bigger and badder than the cookie (like a whole piece of cake.)
- Just because the person sitting next to you at the restaurant is eating a whole pizza, doesn't mean it's healthy for you to do that. Enough said.
- Some friends and family will question your sanity. They'll wonder why you suddenly woke up one day with a steely reserve to be thin that is akin to that of one of Karl Lagerfeld's runway models. Remind them that it's not that you want your ribs to show through your clothes, it's that you want to be healthy enough to live long enough to see Obama's daughters be elected to Congress.
- Your partner will either be all in or be like your friends/family. All in? Lucky you! (And me... thank you, Jason!) Not all in? Please see point above.
- Be prepared to talk about your appearance as you start losing weight. Put simply? Take the compliment when someone tells you "you look great." Say thank you and move on.
Remember, it's about being healthy and convincing yourself that skipping the cake is a healthy lifestyle choice, not an "oh, whoa is me, I'm on a diet" act of self-deprivation.
Also, remember that I am not a doctor or dietician. I am just a geek with a fetish for eyewear and a sweet, understanding fiancé who puts up with my rule that nothing we eat comes out of a box, package, vacuum sealed bag or carry-out container.
So, consult a professional before you embark on this journey too.
And, in the interest of full disclosure I have to admit something to you, dear readers ...
... I'm still thinking about that delicious piece of cake I passed up.
Life is, after all, a constant work in progress.
Sally Turkovich (twoday magazine's NEWEST contributor) is a policy analyst by training, an eyewear stylist by trade and an amateur healthy-living advocate by choice. Friend her on facebook and follow her blogs in the "Best of" section at Pittsburgh's CBS Local .