It was inevitable. Every year, or even a few times a year, I’d adopt a new diet. I went vegan, paleo, AIP, and Bulletproof. I counted calories, and tried South Beach and Atkins back in ye old day. I went alkaline and did “sugar” cleanses. I cut out sugar, caffeine, alcohol, legumes, nightshades, seeds, nuts, eggs, dairy, and grains…
All. At. The. Same. Time.
I did juice fasts, and even an eight day water fast once…
Blah bid dee blah blah blah.
I didn’t just dip my toes in the water either. I did these all these diets (save for the juice and water fasts) for two month stretches minimum, a couple times a year, or in the case of “vegan,” three years straight.
I did these all in the name of different things: some for health, some for weight management, some for the challenge or out of curiosity, or even just because I was in the habit of doing them.
But here is what would happen whenever I’d do one of these programs: I’d do it, all the way, no cheating, and earn my gold star. I’d slim down and feel good, and for all my effort, I’d want a reward. I’d just gone nine weeks without alcohol so GIVEMETHATGLASSOFWINE. Oh, and I’d better have ice cream because I don’t know when I’m going to get it again. Pizza for dinner? Why not?! PAAARTAAY. I’d just gone through a season of hard core metaphorical winter, but now it was summertime, and the livin’ was easy.
No worries, I’d eat better the next day.
But then the next day would roll around and I’d maybe eat clean for breakfast and lunch but then someone would order fries for the table at dinner. I would think “well, I’m not on a program right now. Why can’t I have the fries?” And even if I came up with a reason not to have the fries I’d get resentful.
What is the point of being so strict about food if you continue to be strict about food after you don’t have to be? I’d find myself without a plan and aimlessly deciding my foods on how I felt. Do I feel like fries??
(PS. the answer is always yes)
I was sick and tired of monitoring my food intake. I just didn’t want to think anymore. So, I’d eat the fries. And also, I was going to order dessert because, doesthateverneedanexplaination?
Sooner or later, I’d be eating like this everyday and wondering why I gained those five to ten pounds back. I was still drinking my green smoothies for breakfast. I was eating organic kale salads all the time. I cooked with good oils and made things like cauliflower rice, chicken and vegetable saute for dinners.
WTF? Why the weight gain? It seemed undeserved.
OH, so you mean even though I ate tons of good stuff, I also ate tons of bad stuff? Like the two burgers I had with the milkshakes one week? And how about the gf cupcake my friend and I got after lunch that day, that same week—a lunch that I should mention consisted of an Italian sandwich with chips. But it was after an uphill hike, and I had it on gf bread, so it doesn’t count right? I mean, I had vegan collard wraps for lunch the day before. And I’m having homemade minestrone soup for dinner. Surely this balance is keeping me in check, right?
It pains me to write this sentence you guys, but two milkshakes, two burgers with fries, an Italian sandwich, chips, and a gf cupcake all in the same week (and probably a few glasses of wine I’m not recalling) is what separated me from what I was really after = a balanced, healthy lifestyle. That much junk, within a one week period, just wasn’t doing me any favors, even though I felt like I was “earning” those meals through other healthy choices or exercise. Basically, I just didn’t know how much was too much. I wanted to just be able to eat what I wanted, when I wanted it, and also keep a slim figure and my autoimmunity or other viruses at bay in order to feel my best.
However, this “lifestyle” wasn’t working. I’d eventually know the jig was up, get sick of myself, and go back on some diet to slim down again and clear up my liver or what not, before I got too out of control.
This was my whole plan. Restriction. Binge. Repeat.
This is what happens when the diet ends. I knew this intellectually, but I also didn’t really think there was another way. If there was I hadn’t discovered it yet.
My friend and I talk about food drama a lot. We both don’t do well with restriction of whole food groups. Don’t tell me I can’t eat fruit ever again! Don’t tell me to quit sugar forever! Stop saying I need to never let that dairy temptress ever touch my lips! SHE LOVES MY LIPS! And my lips love her. It’s true love, really. What is this, Romeo and Juliet? Must we all die unhappy in the end?
Questions like this keep me up at night.
My friend and I kept having conversations where I found myself saying “I just wish I had a lifestyle that allowed me the foods I love in proportions that would satisfy me while not compromising my health. What if I knew how to nourish and take care of my body, but then also knew how much I could safely indulge in the foods that make my heart go pitter patter? What if I came up with an exercise program I could actually stick to without much fuss? What if I could cultivate a life that honored my body’s need for deep nourishment and also it’s need for deep celebration? What if I kept my weight even, naturally, instead of having to go on different diets every couple months? What would that look like?”
*Side note: I ask a lot of questions
*Side side note: I also understand that some people may need to avoid certain food groups all together to help rid their bodies of diseases, viruses, or illnesses and ailments which is totally appropriate.
Wouldn’t you know it, just as I was pondering these questions, an answer presented itself. Everything I had been wondering about was presented back to me, complete with the answers, in the form of a book.
We all want the magic bullet, right? We are all searching for the answer, and usually when we think we’ve found it, it turns out not to be the holy grail we made it out to be. For example, no “miracle cream” has changed my face. Ever. Even though all the reviews say it will. But I have to say, that wasn’t the case with this book. It wasn’t that the book in-and-of-itself was revolutionary or different from anything I already knew, however, I had a strong sense as I was reading it that THIS was most definitely the thing I was searching for. This is how I wished I could live. If I was going to write a book about my thoughts on what “ending food drama forever” looked like, it would be this one.
And I was SO relieved because finding this book meant I didn’t have to write this book since somebody else already did.
Phew! Dodged that bullet! I really, really thought for a second there that I was going to have to figure this whole thing out myself.
*side side side note: I may overestimate my abilities just a smidge.
Like I said, this book is all based on science I already knew but it was presented in such an easy to grasp way. Here is the basic goal: to have a combination of four things (the fab four she calls them) on your plate at each meal: protein, fat, fiber, and greens.
In my head, sometimes I swap “greens” for “vegetable” especially if it’s a green vegetable like broccoli or brussel sprouts, but I don’t know if that’s actually allowed so, shhhh? Let’s keep that on the down low. I figure it’s not the worst rule to break. We cannot eat spinach at every meal. We are not Popeye.
Eating all four of these foods together keeps our blood sugar stable while making us feel completely satisfied and full until the next meal. This way we don’t overeat or get ravenous for our next meal, and also, I don’t have a compulsion to heave spoonful after spoonful of ice cream into my mouth at 4pm.
What? Gosh, stop judging.
She tells us to avoid gluten, but you guys, I’ve been doing this for three years already easy peasy. Gluten free is not so bad. Pick up her book for other guidelines but I can tell you the genius to her method is that she doesn’t cut out any food groups completely. She does what I wished I could for myself before: figured out just how much of the not so good for you stuff you can have (enough to not make you feel like you are an a restrictive diet 24/7) and when and how to eat those foods to best benefit your body. This way you can make a sustainable “lifestyle” out of it, which, DING DING DING DING DING, was the thing I needed to get off the restriction/binge cycle.
At first glance it may sound boring. Like how exciting can eating fiber, fat, protein, and greens at every meal be?
But hark! It can be very exciting. I am a former food blogger. I am an entertainer. I have high standards for food and a low tolerance for boring. Believe me, this approach lends itself quite nicely to versatility in food. Let me prove this to you.
What I ate the last three days:
Breakfast: Body Love Spa Day Smoothie (cucumber, acacia fiber powder or chia seeds, fresh mint, avocado, spinach, vanilla protein powder, almond milk, lemon…and then I add vanilla extract and stevia drops to taste-recipe in her book).
Tip: Primal Kitchen vanilla coconut collagen and chocolate coconut collagen is my favorite, but I also use vegan protein powders intermittently.
Lunch: Chicken lettuce wraps topped with cilantro, basil and mint w/ sriracha
Dinner: Homemade Thai Chicken Coconut Soup (chicken, mushrooms, tomatoes, onion, garlic, ginger, chicken broth, cilantro, serrano, thai basil, coconut milk)
Notes: Notice while my dinner meal had protein (chicken) and fiber (veggies) and fat (coconut milk) it didn’t have “greens” so I just added a lot more cilantro to my bowl. I figured I had had greens for two meals that day, so it was better than nothing. See you don’t have to be “perfect” as long as you’re mindful and are able to stay full.
Breakfast: Blueberry Muffin Smoothie (blueberries, almond butter, spinach, almond milk, acacia powder, protein powder)
Lunch: Roasted tomato basil soup (vegan and leftovers) with asparagus spears roasted and wrapped in prosciutto.
Dinner: Ground beef chili (just beef, onions, coconut oil, herbs, spices, tomatoes, tomato paste and liquid) served on a bed of spaghetti squash and arugula.
Notes: My lunch didn’t have the proper amount of protein to keep me full all the way until dinner, and I knew this going in, but it’s all I had, plus I like to eat vegan from time to time. I know, prosciutto is not vegan. One can dream. But I do vegan lunches here and there on purpose other days. I had a half serving of protein powder in water at 4pm to get me to dinner without too much distress. For dinner I made sure I had a whopping handful of arugula incorporated into my serving of dinner. It wilts nicely with the heat of the chili and is a lovely compliment to the meal.
Breakfast: Collard Greens Smoothie (collard green leaves, 1/2 banana, almond butter, acacia fiber powder, almond coconut milk blend, vanilla protein powder, vanilla extract, stevia drops)
Lunch: Blackened Chicken Breast with Broccoli topped with Lemon Chive Aioli
Dinner: Curried Chicken Thighs with Peppers, Onions and a tiny bit of bacon served with cauliflower mash.
Notes: I picked up my lunch from a place that serves grab and go food. It was a blackened chicken breast with aioli and polenta cakes. I just tossed the polenta cakes and served it with some broccoli I had in my fridge from a previous dinner. There was no “green” veg let alone greens at dinner, but I did have a whole serving of peppers and onions plus the cauliflower so…
One of my favorite meals that fits this plan is a nice whole roasted chicken served with a kale salad, lemon garlic dressing and topped with pomegranate seeds.
See? Not boring. Also, if I make something like Greek chicken thighs with rice and broccoli for dinner, (rice! a starchy carb! And not what’s supposed to routinely be on my plate at every meal) I go ahead and eat the rice but keep it to a small portion, like 1/4-1/3 cup. I think of it more like a condiment for the chicken rather than a whole separate thing and I make sure I only eat grains like rice if I’ve worked out that day. If I haven’t, I might make cauliflower rice instead. I’m learning that this makes a huge difference. See? I’m learning HOW to eat. I’m learning WHEN to eat certain foods and how much when I do. I’m incorporating one thing in at a time. I’m becoming mindful of which days are best to allow some gf bread for a sandwich, or rice without sabotaging my efforts.
At this juncture you might be thinking “where’s the cheese? Where’s the wine? Where’s the desert? I thought you said you could eat all food groups and not just the protein, fat, fiber, greens component. Did you lie?”
Oh no, dear reader, I did not lie. She talks about when the best time is to incorporate these foods and how often. She suggests to some of her clients to pick one meal a week and eat anything they want and just indulge without guilt. Once a week will not sabotage your efforts. Notice I say one “meal” a week and not a whole day. That is key.
One trick: wine is a carb. If you decide to have a glass at dinner, don’t eat any other starchy carbs like grains with it. Order a protein and veggie or salad to go with it, enjoy the wine, and be done. This, she says in her book, is what she does for “girls night.”
If you are interested, get her book and just start there. It makes a huge difference in eliminating food drama from your life and is so simple to follow. You’ll see. But guys, buy her book because there’s more info and RECIPES, including a lot of her fab four smoothie recipes, and the why’s and science behind all this are throughly laid out.
Body Love has given me such food freedom. It is hands down my most favorite thing I discovered last year. Like, no joke. If I was Oprah this would be in my “favorite things” episode. I’d be yelling at the top of my lungs, “you get a copy, and YOU get a copy, and YOU GET A COPY!!!!”
Buy it. Unless you are my friend because (spoiler alert) I already bought it for you for your upcoming birthday’s this year.
I feel like I should also mention that Kelly works with people like Molly Sims, Emmy Rossum, and Jessica Alba to name a few. Girlfriend knows what she is doing.
Follow Kelly on Instagram @bewellbykelly
PS. In addition to Body Love, I wanted to come up with a workout regime I could stick to, and Kelly does talk about this in the book. I remembered that quote “what’s the best habit you can make? The one you keep” and started there. I already weight lifted twice a week, so I kept that in the mix. And I already did one long walk or hike when the weather allowed once a week, so I kept that as well. But HERE was the secret sauce: I discovered the 15 minute workout. You may be thinking “15 minutes won’t do anything,” but you’d be wrong, at least for me. See, I found a workout I can’t refuse. If I don’t want to do it, I think “IT’S FIFTEEN MINUTES FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!” and I can just make myself do it because it doesn’t require equipment or for me to go anywhere. It’s just me, and my computer screen banging it out quick. I don’t have to plan around it or carve time out for it, and because of all this, I do it each day except for Sunday’s and my two weightlifting days.
This means I get a workout every day except Sunday’s (and some Saturday’s if I’m being completely honest). I do Betty Rockers 15 minute video series (she just offered it free for the new year) but there are online services you could join to gain access to different workouts everyday and can pick how long you’d like to workout for. How cool is that? Because it’s only 15 minutes, I’ve developed a healthy habit, and I’m so proud of myself for that. Plus, these workouts get me all hot and sweaty, so they are working. The book taught me the importance of pushing myself and making my workouts challenging. A hike won’t do much if it’s a flat road and I’m strolling along, but if my body is working hard or I’m hiking uphill at moderate pace and making my heart pound, I’m working towards something good. This may seem like common sense but I forget it all the damn time.