Ordering at a restaurant:
What I used to do: Order a big ass sweet tea or margarita, split an appetizer with Joel, devour whatever free chips or rolls were offered before the meal, order whatever looked or sounded good on the menu (without any thought to calories or portion sizes), finish with dessert. Feel like a stuffed turkey. Have to eat some TUMS afterward because of the killer heartburn.
What I do now: Order water, skip the appetizer (or if Joel wants one I allow myself a couple of bites), order the healthiest thing I can find on the menu (or something within my calorie range), skip dessert (and cry a little.. not really..), stop eating before I’m full, leave feeling satisfied.
I can’t lie. Eating at restaurants isn’t as much fun now.The menu had become a list of foods I can’t eat. But it made me realize how much I would gorge myself before. It made me realize how much I would use the excuse of ‘socialization’ or ‘getting out of the house’ just to eat like crap. Bonus: the check is usually a lot smaller now.
Going to the movies:
What I used to do: Order a large Sprite or Dr. Pepper, a pretzel with cheese, a box of Sour Patch Kids (I miss you!), and usually steal a few bites of Joel’s nachos or pickle or hot dog.
What I do now: Walk in, smell the popcorn, stay strong while my mouth is watering, skip the concession stand all together. Sometimes I’ll get a bottle of water, but I usually don’t. Sometimes I still eat Joel’s nachos.
I would usually have most of what I ordered eaten by the time the movie even started. It’s been a big change to not have anything to munch on before the movie starts. My hands get antsy. But now I just get on my phone so that I can pass the time, and when the previews/movie actually starts, I don’t even think about food anymore. For me, this is sort of the same thing as going out to eat. It’s not as much fun, but it’s been an eye opener. Plus, there’s the whole saving money thing too. I think before I would also go see movies I didn’t really even want to see that much, just because I knew that meant I was going to be having snacks.
Going grocery shopping:
What I used to do: Go on an empty stomach, walk by the drink cooler and grab a Snapple or lemonade to sip on while I shop (this is encouraged by my grocery store, by the way), peruse the aisles grabbing whatever I wanted, filling my basket up with lots and lots of processed junk, and a few healthy things here and there. Almost always grabbed a half gallon of ice cream to stock in the fridge (I used to eat a bowl everyday after work as a snack…), come home a graze on the new snacks I just bought as I put away groceries.
What I do now: Go after I’ve eaten a sensible meal, sometimes get a water from the cooler to sip on, go shopping with a plan (sometimes written down…sometimes not), shop primarily from the perimeter of the grocery store (where the fresher, less processed foods are), check labels, avoid the ice cream aisle like the plague, come home and food prep without grazing. Okay, I still graze, but it’s grapes, not Doritos.
I look at the grocery store in a completely different way now. I used to HATE grocery shopping, and now I really like to go. I would always shop before with a lot of guilt. In the back my mind I knew that the things I was filling my cart with weren’t good for me, but I would buy them anyway. This is going to sound a little nuts, but I have sort of a ‘trick’ to keep me in check. Whenever I’m not sure about buying an item (because I know it might not be the healthiest), I imagine that Jillian Michaels is going to be my cashier… I just picture her swiping my bag of BBQ potato chips and going “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?”…And then I put it back and go get carrots instead… Hey, whatever works right???
Out with friends:
What I used to do: Order a margarita, eat whatever I wanted (or whatever my friends order), feel like everyone was judging my food choices.
What I do now: Order water, choose what I eat wisely, bask in the complements. Okay, just kidding, but a few of my friends have commented that they can tell I have lost weight and that feels a whole hell of a lot better than thinking that everyone thinks I’m a fatty and should put the cheeseburger down.
This is still really difficult for me. I’ve begun to notice that when I eat with my friends (as opposed to by myself or with Joel), I tend to go a bit crazy. It’s like all my will power goes out the window. I think it’s because I feel like I’m missing out on something. For example, last week I went to see a movie with my friends. Here in Texas we have movie theaters that have full bars and serve food. So we decided we would just eat at the movies. I was a little bit nervous about it because the menu isn’t exactly ‘healthy’. They ordered beer so I decided to treat myself to a skinny cocktail (and only had one). I wasn’t planning on having an appetizer, but then my friends ordered chips and queso. I literally felt my palms start to sweat because I knew I was going to eat some. I tried to only eat a few chips, but then a few turned into about 20. Thankfully, between the three of us, the appetizer was gone pretty quickly and there were no free refills. Then it came time to order dinner and I felt like I was on a bad food roll so I abandoned my plan to get something healthier and ended up ordering some delicious sandwich concoction with french fries. My only saving grace what that I had water after my cocktail and actually stopped eating after I was full. I pushed my plate away because I knew I would just sit there and pick at my fries. I felt really guilty after that meal and to be honest, the food wasn’t really worth it. This was a real learning moment for me. I didn’t go over my calorie limit (at least that I could estimate), and I didn’t have a gain on the scale afterward. But I felt out of control. I felt like I had stepped back into my old habits and I didn’t like it.
When I’m upset:
What I used to do: Tear through whatever junk was in my house. There’s a reason it’s called comfort food. I would sometimes even leave the house to go grab a snack (like a milk shake from Sonic or a cheeseburger from McDonalds).
What I do now: Take a deep breath, curse REALLY, REALLY loudly (I like this one), move my body, clean something (anybody else turn into a cleaning machine when they are mad?), call someone to talk about it, zone out on Pinterest, or just sit and deal with it.
I try to just sit there and let myself feel the irritation, anger, sadness, frustration, whatever. This can be really, really hard to do. But I find that if I just let myself be, the irritation subsides on it’s own after a while. Sometimes it’s five minutes, sometimes it’s a hour. It just depends on the situation, but no matter what, I’m not left with residual food guilt and avoid a never-ending cycle of feeling like crap.
When I’m happy:
What I used to do: EAT!! I’m mean I’m happy right? So why not celebrate? With a plate of pasta? And some candy? I deserve it right? Wrong.
What I do now: Celebrate! Without food.
Is it as much fun? Nope. You know why? Because it wasn’t about the celebration before. It was about the food. It was just an excuse. One of my favorite bloggers, Elle Noel, talks on her blog about how good she was at coming up with an excuse to ‘treat’ herself with food. I totally relate. I used every excuse in the book to eat. My birthday, someone else’s birthday, a holiday, a vacation day, relatives coming in from out of town, got a raise at work, get a good grade on a test, you name it, and I was ‘celebrating’ like no tomorrow. Now I still celebrate, but in other ways. I buy a magazine. A new bottle of nail polish. A new candle. Pick up fresh flowers for my house. Just not more ‘treating’ myself with food.
When I’m watching TV:
What I used to do: Eat, eat, eat. Eat things I did like. Eat things I didn’t even like that much but they were in front of me, so why not? Drink a soda or a sweet tea. Go get more to eat during commercial breaks.
What I do now: Keep a big glass of water next to me to sip on. Chew gum (because I have an oral fixation problem), get up and move around if there is a commercial I can’t fast forward through.
I also keep an exercise ball nearby to sit on and maybe do a crunch or two or a plank or some push-ups. I still have plenty of lazy days where I lounge around doing nothing but catching up on shows, but now I’m not stuffing my face while I do it.
When I’m bored at work:
What I used to do: Go into the break room and grab a soda, a salty snack, and a sweet snack. Eat them all in about ten minutes.
What I do now: Drink a crap load of water, chew gum, only grab some peanut butter crackers to eat if I am truly hungry and a I have the calories for it.
I used to think that all the crap food surrounding me at work was my worse enemy. I used to stare at all the snacks and think that if they would just go away my problem would be solved. And now, here I am, twenty pounds lighter, and the snacks are still there. Yes, they still tempt me sometimes. Yes, I have been known to grab a bag of Doritos during a weak moment, but that pile of junk doesn’t have the same power over me that it used to. I’m learning to recognize the difference between real hunger and a craving. A craving is for something specific and comes on quickly. It feels like a gnawing, desperate, I-need-it-now feeling. Real hunger comes on slowly and usually isn’t for a specific type of food (sweet, salty, etc). It’s a low empty feeling in the pit of your stomach and while you know that you need to eat, it can be delayed a bit without you feeling like you’re going to rip someone’s head off. Rosie over at The Londoner has an amazing post called The Anti-Diet that was a huge help for me in this department.
Overall, my new eating habits have impacted my life in ways I never expected. It took me writing out this post to realize how much my life has changed in the last few months, not just my body. I never realized how much of my life revolved around food and just how often I was shoving crap into my body out of sheer circumstance. My eating habits are NOWHERE near perfect. I still eat junk food (just no sweets, sodas, or sweet tea) and I still eat fast food, I still eat too many calories sometimes, and I still have moments where I say “Screw it!” and eat something that I’ve been craving (like a Whataburger Bacon-Egg-Cheese Taquito), but I do it so much more consciously now. No more mindless eating. No more using the excuse that it’s “not that bad” because I know how bad it really is. I was telling my friend the other day that it would be really hard for me to go back to eating the way that I used to, because now I have a pretty good idea of what I’d be doing to myself. Ignorance is truly bliss and old habits really do die hard. But they do die. Eventually.
This is what my face looks like when I image jumping into a giant pool filled with Sour Patch Kids and M&Ms. What? A girl can dream right??
Thanks for stopping by,