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How I Changed My Relationship with Food and Never Looked Back

Paleo. Keto. Whole30. A juice cleanse. Intermittent fasting. There’s a diet for almost every month of the year, and I’ve tried them all. If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably tried them too (or at the very least, heard of them). 

So, if you’re like me and exhausted from the endless cycle of diets with no end in sight, then keep reading! Here's my story of how I went from overweight and unhappy to fit, healthy, and enjoying my favorite foods every single day.

How It Started

Growing up, I was a pretty healthy and active kid. However, by the time I reached high school,  I became very self-conscious of my body. And it makes me sad to say that most women experience a degree of that at some point in their lives because of the pressure we feel to look a certain way, and going to any lengths to achieve that. 

The year was 2003 and I didn’t have access to the internet or any other easily accessible resources of nutritional information. I had no idea what the “right” way to diet was. So I ended up doing some quick math and figured that if I burned 500 calories on the treadmill, then I should only eat 500 calories for that day. In just a few months, I weighed under 100 lbs and looked incredibly unhealthy. 

After some doctor visits, I began to eat more. And the pendulum swung the other way. After months of not eating, I couldn’t stop eating! By the time I went off to college, I was almost 180 lbs and no closer to being healthy than before. I was so uncomfortable and ashamed of the way I looked, that I became reclusive. I avoided social outings, new clothes, mirrors, or anything that would draw attention to myself.

I spent the majority of my 20’s trying every diet I could, including the ‘military’ diet and even a cottage cheese diet. And they would all work great for a few weeks and I’d drop about 10+ lbs on the scale. But who doesn’t get sick of drinking ONLY juice, or eating one food, for days on end? So, of course, once the diet was over, I gained all the weight back just eating “normal” foods again.

I honestly thought that I would be dieting for the rest of my entire life. Through pregnancy, through vacations, and through to my retirement years. I thought I would constantly be calculating calories in the back of mind, or telling myself I had to skip the bread basket at dinner. I didn’t think I would ever be able to enjoy a plate of pasta or piece of cake guilt-free. Does any of this sound familiar? That isn’t a “life”, that’s a prison.

How It’s Going

The year was 2017 and I signed up for a nutrition challenge at a Crossfit gym I just joined. They happened to use a program called Macrostax to help calculate custom macros for their members. When I got my numbers, I was puzzled. Surely this many calories, and carbs, can’t be right? Our challenge leader assured me they were. 

I decided if I was going to try it, I would commit 100% effort and leave no doubt in my mind that I gave it my best shot! I did it all: pre-planned my macros to hit my green thumbs every day, picked my meals, made a shopping list for the grocery store, and meal-prepped every meal and snack for the entire week, for 12 weeks straight. 

It wasn’t a walk in the park, and I definitely had a few slip ups here and there. But in 3 months, I was able to achieve what I had been trying to do for over 10 years. I had lost 12 lbs of fat and gained 3 lbs of muscle. The results themselves were enough to blow me away. But what really shook up everything I thought I knew, was how much I was eating that whole time … over 2,000 calories per day, and almost 300g of carbs! I was no longer struggling to stay at 1,200 calories and starving myself, feeling drained every morning. Nope! In fact, I was able to lift more weights than I ever had in my entire life, and the muscle definition to show for it.

Vanessa, Before After

Words can’t describe the relief I felt, finally being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Here was a solution that offered me the freedom to enjoy foods I loved, guilt-free, and still get results I had only ever dreamed about. Not only did I have bread, pasta, and potatoes each week, but I also managed to fit in a new dessert recipe as well. I had fun planning themed cuisines, such as Greek week, Asian week, or Mexican week.

I learned that there are no good foods and bad foods, just foods. I learned an Oreo is just an Oreo, and doesn’t derail an entire diet. I learned what real portion sizes look like, and what a balanced meal consists of. I learned that being able to eat the things I wanted made me crave them less. 

Most of all, I learned how to love myself again. I took back my relationship with food and stopped letting it control how I lived my life. From going out to dinner with friends, to feeling better in my clothes, and more confident in my own skin … these are feelings that can’t be bought. They’re earned through hard work.

While I still have days I wish my waist could be a little thinner, or my rear a little bigger, I remind myself how far I’ve come. The old me would have never imagined a time where food was nourishment, and not guilt. If you’re ready to break free from your never-ending diet cycle too, then don’t waste another second. Your future self will thank you! 

Vanessa, Crossfit

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