My journey with food, like many people, has been exactly that – a journey!
Ever since I can remember I have loved creamy pastas and chocolate bars. I can remember from a very young age asking my mom to make me my favourite “Pasta with butter and Parmesan cheese“. I would eat that dish whenever I could and always requested it when we would go out to eat! As I got older this love of food started to take a toll on my health as I gained weight and lived an unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle.
I started dieting when I was 12. Little did I know this would lead me into a diet-binge cycle that never left me feeling good. Like many people I would lose weight through dieting and then quickly gain it all back when the diet ended.
I finally got close to my goal weight in 2011. I was extremely focused on the numbers and being a certain size. As I approached my goal weight, like many people, my mindset changed. I felt thin (which I equated, like so many people do, with being healthy and happy) so I stopped “watching” what I was eating and the weight slowly crept back on as I indulged in all of my cravings I had deprived myself of.
|2011 – at my “goal” weight
Ohhhhh, France !
Let’s just say there was no hope left for the “diet” as I went to live in France for a year. Ohhhhhh, France! The land of everything delicious – Cheese, cream, butter, wine, charcuterie, and more cheese! During this time I also met my amazing boyfriend and fell head over heals in love! We indulged together in the delicious chocolate and heavy beers of the North of France. By the end of my exchange I had gained almost all of my weight back. Also, I also was not active at all. I remember trying to go for a run once in France with my boyfriend (my only workout in the entire 9 months I think!). I was out of breath after a couple minutes and could not keep up with him – let’s just say I had to walk back as he ran. Being out of shape bothered me but I was hopelessly in love, happy and well, a little bit rounder let’s say !
|Towards the end of my exchange, laughing with my boyfriend!
|In Vienna with great friends! After months of indulging in French cooking!
Before and After?
I hesitated to put before and after photos of myself up because I do not like the fact that thinness is often equated with happiness and representing the pinnacle of health whereas fatness is also equated with depression, laziness and everything that is bad.
My journey with food, my weight and health have always revolved around trying to fit into this thin ideal. Every time I dieted I focused all my efforts on eating as little as I could to get the numbers on the scale down and then once I would approach my “goal”, I would start eating all the foods I deprived myself of for months and would quickly gain it all back! This is because dieting is deprivation, dieting is no way to live a healthy and happy life. Hardly eating, living off of cabbage soup and grapefruits is no way to live in my opinion!
|Christmas 2012, celebrating with some close friends!
|Around Christmas of 2012 in France – before I started making healthy changes!
The Change of Heart
In January 2013 this all changed for me, I started to make healthy changes in my life that did not include deprivation or dieting. I did not want to live my entire life caught in this diet-binge cycle that was causing a big toll on my health. I will be perfectly candid, I did want to lose weight and I was disappointed with myself that after all my hard work I was back to where I started. But I sought change now not just on the scale but from the inside-out. I wanted to become healthier, have more energy and be more active as well!
This does not mean that I did not change my diet as in my way of eating. I 100% changed my diet. I joined Weight Watchers as a support system and guidance in healthy eating. I liked WW because they focus on making healthy choices that make you feel good. I liked that their program was based off of eating nutritious and filling foods! I LOVED that I could eat as many fruits and veggies that I wanted! I mean, could I really ever “go hungry” if I could eat all the yummy veggies and fruit I like?
This program was the beginning of my changed approach to food. I no longer reached for the pasta over the broccoli. I started experimenting with cooking and baking – two things that have always been a true passion of mine I started to make meals that were tasty, filling and left me feeling great (not bloated and heavy!) I no longer depended on cream and butter when cooking but rather fragrant herbs and other delicious add-ins that bring out the lovely tastes in food!
|At the beginning of summer 2013 – after making healthy changes in my life!
Bring on the Activity!
In addition to this, I started practicing yoga and meditation. I started becoming more active in my day to day life. It all happened in baby steps. For example, when the weather started to warm up I would quickly walk to class over taking the bus. I ensured that I was active a little bit everyday. In the spring, I started running and have never seen so many changes in myself and my body. I started achieving feats that I never thought were possible (Read more about that here!)
|In Belgium, after completing my first 8k race!
I now continue to seek foods that are good for my health and give me lots of energy! Living a wholesome, healthy lifestyle took on a total new meaning for me that was nowhere near my past sentiments towards dieting! This past summer I started experimenting with plant-based meals and vegetarian cooking. Since making this change, losing 65 pounds, and growing a heck of a lot stronger, I have never had so much energy and felt so great about how I feel!
According to society, I have reached my “after” but my “after” has led me into a whole new chapter where I seek to continue to make healthy choices and changes in my life that help me to become more attuned with myself and the world around me!
|Summer 2013 in Turkey – feeling healthy and fit!