Ever since college, I have been a “serial dieter;” cycling between being on and off diets for years without ever being able to truly attain and maintain a completely healthy lifestyle.
Sound familiar to you? Keep reading.
It all started my freshman year of college when the pressures of a new city, new school, new responsibilities, and playing on a Division I sports team got to me and I went to the one thing I could control: food. I restricted what I consumed so severely that by the end of my first year I was down to 95 pounds. I was scary skinny and weak.
My parents rushed me to a nutritionist that summer and I was able to get back on the right track. But the psychological aspect and obsession with food stuck around. I gained all the weight back and then some. I spent the remainder of college jumping between different types of diets trying to get to a “healthy” normal.
After college I found CrossFit and the Paleo diet (fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, no dairy and no grains), which worked well, but without fail I would be sure to have my “cheat” meals each week. These consisted of “going big” on things like pizza, beer, ice cream, chips and salsa, cheeseburgers, etc. etc.; things that I would instantly regret eating and then feel miserable the entire next day as my body tried to recover from the carnage.
For the next ten years, this was my normal. I would occasionally totally fall off the paleo wagon for weeks and then promise to start “eating clean” on a random Monday. I would be super strict for a month at a time (I loved an occasional Whole 30 challenge), and then on the 31st day binge on the most unhealthy, greasy, sugary food I could find.
I thought I was “healthy.” But really, I wasn’t. Most of the time I was good about being on a “diet” and then every weekend I would have a day or two of total nutritional debauchery. Although my weight was stagnant, I couldn’t seem to lean out or lose the last of the baby weight I had gained from my second child. I didn’t have much energy and didn’t feel particularly great.
Then, I signed up for my Precision Nutrition Certification Course. A major part of this class consisted of learning the “science of nutrition”: reviewing the biology and chemistry behind EXACTLY how our bodies work and how all our systems are connected. I was blown away by how incredible our bodies are and how everything is woven together so intricately to perform such complicated tasks and keep us functioning. The lengthy list of everything our GI tracts do alone is amazing. For the first time in my life, I understood how my body works, which led me to finally grasp why I need to provide the very best nutrients to my systems so that I can truly thrive.
Best of all, by the end of my course, I FINALLY internalized that I really WANT to eat whole, minimally processed foods that provide me with best sources of energy possible. Why? Because these foods provide more nutrients, more value, more nourishment, and more quality. Ideally, our food should enhance our health and make our bodies run better.
Do I still have an occasional piece of pizza or cheeseburger and fries? Yes! Do I enjoy a glass of wine from time to time? Absolutely. But I make sure to always have a big salad full of colorful vegetables and plenty of water to wash it down because that is what my body is truly craving.
No longer do I consume myself with “cheat” meals or starting a new “diet” if I have an off meal. My mindset is that nutrition is a continuum of striving to be a little bit better and living a healthy lifestyle, not an all or nothing approach. If I want to eat something that is not the best source of nutrients, I ask myself, do I really WANT to eat this, or does it just sound good right now? More often than not, I don’t really want to eat that large piece of cheesecake or bowl of potato chips, and I choose something that is more nutrient dense.
Can you guess what happened when I finally got “weight loss” and “leaning out” off my mind and focused instead on the nutritional value in the foods I eat?
I lost weight AND leaned out. But that was an added bonus, NOT the goal. I now feel better than ever and for the first time in a very long time, have a very healthy relationship with food.
Are you ready to take control of the foods you eat and gain a healthy relationship with nutrition? We can help! Schedule your free intro below!
About the Author
Karen Hazelton is Precision Nutrition Level One Certified and a Healthy Steps Nutrition Coach. Her sports background is in tennis, and through hard work and dedication she earned a Division One tennis scholarship to University of Northern Colorado. An important component of her training was developing strength in the weight room. Being physically strong and having a good foundation of metabolic conditioning was essential to playing her best on the court. After earning a degree in mathematics, she moved back to her hometown of Tucson and became a high school math teacher.
Karen loved her work as a teacher, but after taking time out of the classroom to raise her two young kids, she realized how she missed coaching and working with athletes. That led her to obtain her training and nutrition certifications. She loves to see members use fitness and nutrition to become stronger, happier, and healthier versions of themselves.