As someone who eats out frequently and has lost over 50 pounds since June of last year, I am often asked what my secret is to staying fit and maintaining my weight loss. To the outside world, it appears that I have mastered the impossible. My secrets are fairly simple:
- #1: There is no secret, its all about portion control. I eat what I want, just smaller portions.
- #2: It's about what I put in my body; low/no processed, made from scratch to control sodium levels, as close to organic as I can find, high protein foods. Do this by day and then you can (moderately)Treat Yo Self at night.
- #3: Take small bites and chew your food slowly. You want to enjoy what you're eating (you know, how you do at a fancy restaurant serving tiny portions), you'll eat until you're satisfied, instead of overeating and getting full.
- #4: This is less of a tip and more of an overall fact: I've injured myself on multiple occasions since the beginning of my weight loss journey, so I can barely workout... I've been maintaining my weight strictly through the food that I eat.
OK, now I'll be honest. I tell these lies to convince myself that I don't have a bad relationship with food. Don't get me wrong, all of these are vital parts of the weight loss process that have worked for me and that I highly recommend putting into practice. However, like before going in for weight loss surgery, you have to fix the core issue to maintain lasting results. And I know that my ability to eat (both in my home and at a restaurant) without worrying about the possibility of weight gain is almost non existent. From the moment I make the decision to go out to eat the stress ensues.
What should I eat for breakfast, should I even eat lunch...OK maybe a small salad to hold me over. Should I get a 3 course meal for dinner, or just do an appetizer and glass of wine? *Googles calories in a glass of wine*....OK maybe no wine. I finally order dinner, and tell myself it will be plenty. Server: Here is some bread and oil *internal scream*. Monday morning comes and I step on the scale...no weight gain.
Imagine doing this on a weekly basis; its a vicious cycle of treat yourself, but not too much because you don't want to gain weight. There are weeks where I treat myself (admittedly too much) and gain weight and that's when the self deprivation begins. I'm aware that it's not a healthy practice, and removing this information from my weight loss narrative as if it doesn't exist is dangerous to myself and the people I share it with.
For the first 3 months of my weight loss I stopped eating out completely. I slowly started to reintroduce restaurants back into my life, and made eating out a special occasion. Instead of going to a happy hour or solo dinner due to boredom, or as a chore to increase blog content, I would only go to celebrate an event in my life. This worked, my level of guilt was low and I maintained my weight loss. Then somehow I reverted back to my old habits and once again I'm in the cycle of worry and stress. It took a friend bluntly telling me that I had a problem to realize that I had to made a change.
I say all of this not to scare you away from having your own Treat Yo Self moments, or to tell you that eating out all the time is healthy. Like everything in life its about finding your own version of balance, and I can finally be honest with you and myself by saying that I haven't found it yet. What I have done is taken the steps to understand my triggers and find ways to enjoy the things I love while staying on the path to healthier living. I hope you will join on me on my journey and do the same.