Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My Thoughts on Food

I'm not perfect.
I'm not Paleo.
I'm not gluten-free.
I'm not low-carb.
I've never Whole9'ed.
I've never done a 21 Day Sugar Detox.
Shoot, I don't think I eat 5 servings of vegetables and fruits every day.


What I am doing, is my best. What works for me. Highly restrictive diets do not work. They screw me all up mentally and I end up binging ... such a dirty, negative, unhealthy, guilty thing ... I'd rather carry around a few extra pounds of body fat if it meant I never had to deal with the mental beat down that happens after a binge or "cheat" ... the perfectionist in me has a hard time with guilt, with not "following the rules," with caving in when I should have stood strong.


Instead, after trying enough of these "Insert 30 Day Challenge Name Here" ... I've learned I will never follow any diet paradigm. Diets fail. They just do, because they're not sustainable. And the perfectionist in me (and a lot of other people), have a hard time living with that feeling of failure. I can't handle the guilt. The remorse. Even over something so stupid as a few Milano cookies on the weekend.


If someone tells me no, my whole being just screams YES. Call me a rebel, whatever. The second I tell myself that "food item" is off limits, it's all my mind thinks about.

Rather than live in a world of restriction, I want to live in a world of abundance.


Instead of telling myself foods are off limits, everything is a-okay. I also tell myself though, that food is fuel. Where eggs are premium fuel, a Milano cookie is a junky, unleaded fuel, full of fillers. Instead of a Milano cookie, I can have a few blocks of 70% dark chocolate. Instead of thinking about what I shouldn't have, I think about all of the fantastic things I can have: berries, dark chocolate, nut butters, etc.


It gets a little tricky for me when my will power starts to fail ... Will power can be strengthened, much like a muscle. But it fatigues easily. I am slowly training mine, but damn, the process is slow. But, I see that I've come a very long way. Habits I thought I could never give up are gone, habits I thought I could never pick up are now second nature ... (eating vegetables for breakfast!). It takes A LOT of falling off the wagon. And a lot of getting back up again.


In learning to exercise this will power muscle, I've learned that the language I use to talk to myself with can make or break me. If I see something I want, like a doughnut, but know I shouldn't indulge, instead of saying, "No Courtney, you can't have that," I say, "I am healthy. I am strong. I am fit. I don't want that doughnut, really." Fake it til you make it ... one day I'd like to be that person with an abominable will, like a monk. Where I could sit in a room surrounded by doughnuts and not even feel a muscle twitch.

One day. ;)


I'm happy that every day, I get a little bit stronger. Grateful that I live in a world of so much bounty, that food is even an issue. Grateful I have the choice. Grateful that I belong to a community where we fuel ourselves to get stronger. Food is friend, not foe. Grateful I'm going to bed full tonight. Grateful I have someone to cook and bake for. <3


Black bean brownies are the BOMB diggity!

1. Have you ever done a "30 Day Challenge" type of diet? How did it change you?
2. Are you following a certain type of diet now? Are there foods you're not allowed to have?

58 comments:

  1. I completely agree! I follow a vegan diet but only because I WANT to. And it's not a diet, trust me I let myself eat sweets ;) A whole foods based healthy lifestyle with exercise is just fine. No diet necessary.

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    1. May I ask what lead you down that path?

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    2. Sure! I decided to go vegan about 6 years ago right after my first year of college. I wanted to go vegetarian for a while and after reading up on it, and then reading the book"skinny bitch" because I was interested in veganism, I decided to go for it. I do it for the animals and for my health. I think it is a healthy lifestyle because you get tons of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (and protein!) and no saturated animal fats. I can see how it would be rough for some giving up meat and dairy but I never really enjoyed meat anyway and there are great dairy substitutes when you need your fix.

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  2. You inspire me! Just you being REAL! Love it!

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  3. These are the posts that fuel me. You. Are. Awesome.

    I've tried 30 day challenges, but agree with you. I just want to have EVERYTHING that I "can't" have. I love that I now look at food as fuel as well. It's much easier for me to say no to something knowing that it won't fuel me for a WOD in a few hours. I was offered a beautiful looking cupcake the other day at work. I asked where it's from, what flavor cake, what flavor icing, evaluated the pros and cons and then said "nah, no thanks." It wasn't something I was willy to splurge on. What a freedom that is!!!! I love it!!

    Thanks so much for these kind of posts! It's something that we all always need a small reminder of. :)

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    1. Your moment with the cupcake is TOTALLY awesome! I did that earlier with some chocolate a co-worker offered me. She told me where it was from, what percentage of chocolate, that it had hints of orange in it, but I knew I wanted one of my black bean brownies later in the evening, so after imagining I ate the chocolate, I passed. I felt great, too! Saying NO is really empowering!

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  4. After overcoming an eating disorder, I'm finally feeling in control of my eating lately rather than it controlling me. And with that comes freedom. You're right, diets don't work, for many reasons, and I can't imagine ever being on one or depriving myself like that again. I love whole foods and eating clean, but if I want sometime that's not-- I'll eat it anyway. Life's too short.

    Also, can I have your abs???

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    1. Good for you girl, I know that it's a tough battle to fight. If you ever need to chat, I'm here.

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  5. I did the Whole 30 challenge once, and it was a challenge. It stressed me out so much changing everything I ate. It took me forever to figure out how to plan what to eat because every where I turned it was like, I can't have this, or that. I even made my own mayo. By the end of the 30 days I was happy it was over b/c I felt like it took so much time out of my life planning. It made me not look forward to eating and that's not good.
    I did lose some body fat and I felt like I got more energy but the stress of it all was worse for me. Now, I don't eat many grains or beans but it's because I choose not to. I go and find some veggies or fruit instead. Every once in a while I'll have some bread, crackers, or sweets on a special occasion, but afterwards I don't beat myself up about it.
    I do think that these types of diets can work for those who need them because of food sensitivities or other health issues though.

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    1. I totally agree with you on your last statement: if someone has an illness or a severe food allergy, I should HOPE that they do something with their diet instead of medicate!

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  6. i did the Paleo 30 day challenge. it changed me for the better! i now want and crave healthy foods! i now just stay away from milk (i'm lactose intolerant and knew that before i tried paleo), and stay away from gluten "as much as possible". me and gluten just don't mix too well when i have a lot of it. it makes me lethargic, my face breaks out badly, and i physically just feel bad. paleo taught me how good i can feel eating clean non-processed foods, so now i just try to stick to that. 80%-90% healthy 20%-10% indulge :)

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    1. Good for you! I stay away from most lactose, but still eat Fage and Siggi's greek yogurt without too much of an issue. ;)

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  7. Diets are for the birds. My "diet" is I can eat everything, but in moderation. I don't like chocolate, so that is never a problem. When I'm really craving something junky, I'll eat three or four bites then move on. Make myself busy. And 9 times out of 10, the craving is gone after about 15 minutes. And when I do eat the whole doughnut, I don't sweat it.

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    1. YOU DON'T LIKE CHOCOLATE?!

      HOW is that possible?! I am almost jealous. Because that crap is ALWAYS on my mind. Ahhhh ...

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  8. I don't believe I have ever commented before. But just wondering. You look fantastic so whaterver you are doing obviously works. IMO you have the perfect balance of muscle/tone. Do you mind saying your height and weight. I can't believe you carry any "extra lbs" as you have such great definition.

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    1. Hey Dawn. I'd say I'm a pretty healthy girl. Not thin, not bony, but not porky, either. Healthy. That's my favorite word to describe my thighs and butt; healthy! I'm 5'2 and weigh 125, I fluctuate a pound or two up or down from that. :)

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  9. I did the whole life challenge in the fall. While it does work, I (like you) found it horrifically restrictive. I think it's pretty awesome that man was able to cultivate dairy products and use wheat in new ways such that cake was invented. I'm not paleo or anything anymore (was a vegetarian for 12 years). By doing the WLC I did learn to look more for artificial ingredients in things so I could avoid them and I eat LESS dairy and pasta and more meat. A great asset in the area I live is a local food farm share. Each week I get a delivery of locally grown/raised/made products - lots of fresh vegetables, pasture raised beef from small farms, fresh butter and cheese from happy cows up the street. Supporting the local community AND getting amazingly fresh produce makes eating well much easier and more fun.

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    1. I always thought a farm share or CSA delivery would be so much fun! But, I like instead stopping at the local Farmer's Market, just wandering through there is so inspiring and feel-good. ;)

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  10. This is seriously one of my favorite posts EVER. The hubs and I will be indulging in sinfully delicious Japanese Hibachi tonight as a Valentine's Day treat. We'll be at dinner during my normal gym time so I got up early this morning and trucked my tired butt to the gym before work. I'm going to stuff my face tonight with no guilt & maybe run just a little farther tomorrow :-)

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  11. I LOVE this post! I've tried lots of "30 Day" whatevers, and you're right, they don't work. At least not long-term. Great, great post. Thanks, and happy Valentine's Day!

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    1. Happy Valentine's Day to you, too!

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  12. I think it's interesting that you say you don't restrict yourself, but it's pretty obvious from your myfitnesspal that when you DO allow yourself a treat, you don't eat anything else. Your "dinner" will be the treat that you had, instead of a real meal with meats and vegetables and a treat. Often times all you eat is some protein bars and a waffle or something, or 90 calorie snacks as your entire meal, or very low calories when you've completed 3 intense workouts that day. I don't say these things to be mean or anything like that so PLEASE don't take it that way, I only say them because you're truly someone I look up to and want to be like fitness-wise, so when I think "wow! I want to look like that! What is SHE doing?!" then I look at your diet and it seems like somewhat disordered eating, it's upsetting to see when it's someone you view as a role model.

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    1. Thank you for your honesty! I eat 1600 to 1900 calories a day. That's a healthy amount of food, girl! The last week of eating has been nuts, because I've been house sitting, so I haven't been at home to prepare my meals. And well, I don't want to go grocery shopping, and the fridge here is slim-pickin's. It may seem kind of odd, because I don't sit down for big dinner, but I've never been a big dinner eater. I'm more of a "grazer" and have been forever. I get 90-130g of protein a day, the rest in fat and the rest in carbohydrates. If I need more, I eat more. If I don't, I don't! I didn't say I was a role model or that I had perfect eating habits.

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    2. I gotcha..thanks for the kind reply :)

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  13. I wish I had the food philosophy that you describe above. I think it is all something that many of us women wish we could 'adhere' to. Unfortunately I think that many of us fall into the trap of "perfectionism" and caring too much about what everyone else thinks of our eating habits. Or we say, "If I want the chocolate I'm going to have it and not feel guilty or restrict myself". Well, honestly how many of us can say that? I usually hear other women beat themselves up over a damn square of chocolate just as much as if they would have had a darn donut.
    Bottom line: Eat the food you want to eat when you are HUNGRY. Eat until you are satisfied, not STUFFED. Get up and get MOVING more. Share with family & friends. SMILE because you are YOU!!

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    1. I have a hard time saying no to chocolate at any time, even if I am stuffed! ;)

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  14. I've tried many, many diet paradigms like you said. And every.single.one. failed. For pretty much the same reasons you listed, combined with life sometimes getting in the way. Now I just try to use intuitive eating. If I'm hungry, I eat what my body is telling me it needs. It seems to be working well so far.

    I know you can't out-workout your diet but I feel that if I keep my junky intake to a minimum and workout, it'll all balance out in the end. Plus, I need to be able to show my daughter how to have a good relationship with food. I don't want her to grow up feeling guilty for having a donut, like I do. I want her to grow up understanding that food is fuel and that working out is normal. My husband and I weren't raised that way and we both struggle as adults.

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    1. It sounds like your daughter is learning some invaluable lessons about food and fitness as a child. Great parents, lucky girl!

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  15. I think this is my favorite post you have ever written. To me you seem like you have it all together with working out and eating healthy every day. You are my super hero (Corny..I know!). It's cool to know that the strongest person to me has mishaps also..What a great post for Valentine's day also since today is a cheat day for most people! :)

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    1. I sure do love a good sweat sessions, still learning about all of this clean eating stuff :) Happy Valentine's Day!

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  16. I LOVE this post! And your positive outlook on food has been making me look at my own views on food -- for the better! So thank you :) I have followed a lot of diets in my day (Weight Watchers, HCG, south beach, etc) and they've all failed. For the past 10 months Ive been eating clean and adopting Jamie Eason's way of eating (6 small meals a day, with fats, proteins and veggie present) and its working for me!!! I still have my Starbucks occasionally, I still enjoy chicken wings at Superbowl parties - and now its all guilt free! Its about balance, and Im continually working on finding what works for ME. Ive had too many food issues growing up - Im so done with living that way!!!

    Also, Id like to commend you having your diary viewable on MyFitnessPal. You leave yourself open to criticism, when all youre trying to do is live a healthy life, and I find that so unfair. I hope you dont close it just because of a few negative remarks.

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    1. It's funny, because it was an email from Jamie Eason that inspired me to use MFP. She said that it's important to track calories, but to set a daily allotment of calories and not enter exercise in and think that you can "earn" more food. I agree! This habit of "earning" your food gives people the idea that they don't have to eat cleanly, they can just "work" it off later ... when we all know that body composition comes from macro-breakdown, not how little calories we are or are not eating. She and I are the exact same height, and she allows herself 16400-1800 calories a day, depending on her workouts, and that's that. We have similar workout habits, heavy lifting, heavy cardio days a few times a week. And when I eat smartly, I am more than content on that amount of calories.

      I'm happy you've found a way of eating that works for you, too!

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  17. I've been toying around with the idea of trying the Whole 30, but haven't bitten the bullet yet. Right now, I just try to focus on the things that I can have that I enjoy. After all, if I tell myself that I can't have something, then I'll crave it until I binge. On the other hand, if I say to myself that I CHOOSE to not have something, or that I don't want to eat that, then I can walk right on by. One of my favorite self-tests is asking myself how that's going to feel when I'm working out the next morning.

    Life's too short to focus on the can'ts. I'd much rather look at what I love that my body will like better, like blackberries, broccoli, eggs, spinach, peppers, peanut butter... Mm mm mm!

    Of course, that doesn't mean I don't still indulge on occasion or on the weekend ;)

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    1. I think trying the Whole30 would be a great idea, just not something I know I could do. :)

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  18. I'm glad that you put this out there. I'm also figuring out my own version of healthy eating right now. It's hard because everyone at my box is paleo-crazed and in the middle of a 21 day sugar detox. I'm so like you in that as soon as I set those stringent rules for myself, I start to rebel and obsess and my quality of life deteriorates.
    I find that if I try to adhere to the basics for the most part (including proeins and vegetables in most every meal and limiting processed foods and sugar-laden foods) I feel good and don't obsess. I love your mantra that food is fuel. If we are going to ask our bodies to complete these tough workouts, we need to reward them with the whole foods and nutrients needed to rebuild the muscles! Anyway, just wanted to chime in with a little 'thank you'!

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  19. I'm the same way! I've tried the challenges, never made it past two weeks. I do better when I just use loose guidelines, and try to avoid the foods that make me feel like shit...except for when it's REALLY worth it :)

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  21. I am thinking about participating in my box's 60 day paleo challenge. But I already know that I'm going to cheat (friends wedding, St. Patty's etc.). The competitive person in me still wants to participate knowing full well I will deviate at time from the plan. I wonder if I can still win even though I won't be 100% paleo for the 60 days...

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    1. Go for it, a little friendly competition is fun, and I learned how to cook a lot of awesome vegetables when I did a Paleo Challenge!

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  22. Wow! Great post!

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  23. Amen!!! Love this. I don't follow any restrictive diet either. I would just rather eat healthy foods that I love and make me feel good as well as things for my insanity! ;)

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  24. Wow what great words and advice. So very true. I think you have a great approach and outlook on eating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle that fuels your body instead of a quick fix and temporarily helps you meet a short term goal with no long term vision in sight. The gratitude is such a great, humbling point. We are so lucky to have the ability to choose how we fuel our body and to go to bed full at night. I think it is so easy to lose sight of this. Keep up the great work. Your hard work shows. Your abs are AMAZING! I aspire to have cuts like that. One day at a time!

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  25. Awesome post Courtney and Im also very thankful for a lot of things in my life and truly enjoy reading your blog! Happy Valentine's Day to you and your husband!

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    1. Happy Valentines Day to you and yours, too!

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  26. Great post! Your posts about food are completely drool-worthy since you're so creative with recipes, you enjoy good food, and you pack so many nutrients into your diet.

    I've spent many years trying to figure it all out, but I've reached a point where I realize what makes me feel good vs icky. So it's now a lot easier to turn down the candy, desserts, chips, etc. Now my weaknesses are dried fruit (too much sugar, I realize) and nuts. I had no guilt about not joining the Paleo challenge at the box--variety of reasons I didn't want to struggle to stay strict for 45 days.

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    1. Good for you to not give into the "peer" pressure of a Paleo Challenge. It sounds like you have a solid head on your shoulders, and if nuts and dried fruits are your weakness, goodness, you're 900 steps ahead of everyone else! ;)

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  27. Thank you for posting this, Courtney. I really needed to read this today. I've been struggling a lot with my eating lately. So, this was very motivating for me. =)

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  28. Amazing post. I so appreciate the honesty in it.

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  29. Such a great post! Often people associate so much with food. Emotions, thoughts, self esteem, etc... It is best to visualize it as exactly what it is.

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  30. Love this post! I eat clean 90% of the time but i allow myself to eat things i crave as well. Most importantly i listen to my body, everyone is different and i believe if you pay attention to your body you can learn a lot. I try to fit in carbs around workouts but other than that i try to keep it low carb ( i feel so much better ) Another thing i believe works for me is always keeping a snack around. I noticed i crave really unhealthy foods when i go too long without eating and if i have a pear and a few nuts it puts me back into the right state of mind. btw love seeing the before and now pics, they motivate me to continue towards that six pack in the making :)

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  31. Wow what a great post I am in the middle of a whole30 and I have to say seeing that you were like that before and the way you look now is an inspiration.
    Thank you for keeping it real wit us:) I love your blog keep them coming we all need real inspiration like you to help us.

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  32. I just found your site and I love it!! I can really relate to this post especially. I have tried all kind of diets and 30 day challenges, even did no sugar for 12 weeks. Usually I can complete the challenge but as soon as I'm done I completely fall off the wagon. I've found that the only way to lose and maintain is by eating mostly clean and healthy and if I really crave something I can have a little in moderation. That way there is no wagon to fall off of.

    I also like the recipes that you have posted and wanted to see what you would recommend for a wine party I am throwing next week. If you were the host, what type of food/snacks would you make?

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  33. I'm pretty strict paleo + raw pastured dairy. I only heard of CF (which I started doing last month) because of the paleo community and it took a year of clean eating before I was even interested in moving much, so I'm backwards than most CF'ers. I eat like this because my digestion and skin are crap if I don't. But I don't track calories or think much about my food. If its real food and won't make my stomach hurt, I'll eat it! My cheats are not asking about soy/canola oils in restaurants. I wish I could choose to have a regular cupcake without a face full of acne though!

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