Tuesday, September 21, 2010

getting back on track.

cheese pizza. chicken fajitas. cupcakes.

it was a c-food meltdown over here in teachergirl world this week.  the pizza was delicious, but it started the slow descent into no longer listening to my body and instead feeding my body what my mind thought would be delicious. in some cases, it was right. but a lot of the time, i ended up feeling more nauseated than i needed to be because i wasn't eating smart.

luckily for me, i have a long and storied history of jumping off the rails and finding my way back.  i feel like i talk about that a lot, but since i've been working the past few days on getting back onto the healthy, smart eating track, i thought i'd share some of my concrete, time-honored strategies with you.

when i need to quickly get back on track, i focus on:
  • water.  most of the time, when i'm eating badly, i'm also increasing my sodium intake, which brings with it a great deal of water retention.  whether you're just feeling sluggish or ran screaming from the scale, water weight will come off quickly when you pump up your water intake.  meg has already talked about the health benefits of water, but when you're jumping back on the wagon, try to amp up your water intake. it will keep you fuller longer, it will ensure that dehydration doesn't mimic hunger, and it will flush any impurities out of your system faster.
  • getting the most bang for my buck.  most of the time when i'm off the track, i'm eating a lot of empty calories (cupcakes, i'm looking at you.). i try to completely reverse that trend by making every single thing i eat count.  even if i do reach for a leftover, i try to make it matter.  i might choose protein rich meatloaf (not perfect, but in an empty refrigerator, you do what you can) over tasty goldfish crackers because i know i'm getting both protein and fat with the meatloaf rather than empty carbs.  for my next snack, i might choose yogurt and a piece of fruit, which is less calories but packed with nutrients, fiber, and calcium.  i try to make my calories matter and, as i do, i notice that i'm eating a lot more with a lot less impact.
  • paying attention to my body's mixed signals.  am i craving sweets after i just ate? is that habit or my body's miscues because of what i've been feeding it? i try to pay attention to the signals my body gives me and, to a certain extent, ignore them. i think, for me, after a few days of eating badly, my body stops giving me real cues. to get back to where i want to be, i have to ignore what my body seems to be saying and listen to my brain.  i know what the good choices are.  even if i don't make the best ones every single time, getting back on track means deliberately choosing good over refined.
  • making the smart compromises.  i've done this enough times to know that going from zero to sugar overload and back again does nothing but make me insane. i can't go cold turkey on things like sweets or carbs.  that's me, though.  whatever works for you, you should do.  for me, i have to start substituting wisely.  instead of a cupcake, i choose a sugar free popsicle (so much easier on my stomach right now too!) or a few chocolate chips.  they satisfy my sweet tooth but also help me keep myself in control.  for me, this can be a two-step process, depending on how out of control i am that week.  when i substitute, hopefully i am also controlling my portions. but, even if i'm not able to do both of those things, making smart substitutions mitigates the damage. 
  • writing everything down. i've talked before about how recording things is my saving grace. it's also my repentance process, to a certain extent. when i am accountable, i am at least facing the reality of my decisions. when i begin to write things down and measure portions again, i am on the fast track to success.
they're not the steps to curing cancer, but they work for me and have for years.  my healthy living process has come in fits and starts, but it most assuredly revolves around real life and my very real imperfections.  next time you look around and see a train that's not quite on the track you want it to be, know that you can right that wrong (or, in my case, series of wrongs) and start again to live the healthy life you want to live.  you have the power to do it--each of us does.  we just have to have the courage to begin again.  and again.

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