No Diet Is The Best Diet

Now that I have a post-pageant body, and a post-happy-and-in-love body, I am suddenly in a whole new phase of what I am doing in the gym, the kitchen, and just, you know, in general.

And funnily enough, more than once in the last month or so - especially since jumping back on the personal training...train - someone has asked me about my diet.

Which, we should probably talk about. Because I have maintained - for as long as I have had to prep - that unless you are dieting with a specific, health-based, realistic goal, you should not be dieting.

I am so serious. And I am on no diet, at all. I eat what I want, when I want, while simply understanding that no one made salt and vinegar chips with the intention of them being consumed at every meal.


If you are prepping for a pageant/competition/race, fine.

If your doctor has given you a low sugar/low sodium diet with specific measurable goals for your own health, fine.

If you have been told by a medical professional that you need lose weight and thus cut calories, fine.

But there is no reason that you, as a healthy individual, should be on any sort of regimented plan without a specific purpose and a specific end-game and date.

Why?

Uh, literally just this: disordered eating.


If you are cutting calories, you ought to first know:
Are you already eating too many calories for your lifestyle? 
If so, should you be looking to just up your daily physical activity? 

The reality is, unless you're pounding something like 3500 calories day (a, congrats. b, wow.) you probably just need to be more active. Is it always that easy? Hell no. But before you start restricting your food intake for the sake of calories, look at how much you're burning each day against what you are consuming.

If you are prepping meals and doing the whole protein shake thing, you need to ask yourself:
If I don't eat a prepped meal, how does that effect my plans and my goals? 
At what point do I stop pre-making three meals a day and eating just that? 

I'll add here that there is a distinct difference between making your lunch ahead of time, planning out your groceries, etc. and sticking to three/five pre-cooked meals a day without room for "mistakes."

And if you are cutting carbs/fats/certain foods, you should be able to answer:
Is this something that I need to maintain long-term for my personal well-being, or am I looking for a short term fix? 

Carbohydrates are important. Fats are important. To eliminate these - or restrict what you consume of them, is just another way that you are distorting your idea of what healthy meals look like. Plot twist: they include carbs. And carbs can actually be bread, and that's fine.



Because listen, I have been there.

I have done the disordered eating thing. And I have done it while prepping, and I have done it while cutting carbs, and I have done it while adding protein shakes into my day-to-day.

And it was as simple as this:

Oh, I can't have that, it's not in my meal plan. 

Oh, that has too many grams of carbs, I'm already at X grams today. 

Oh, I'll just drink this protein instead. 

That alone is unhealthy. That alone is why I am by no means on a diet of any kind right now.


Because if your meal plan means you have to say "no" to any food (that's not an allergen or, like I said, been prohibited by your doctor,) that meal plan is causing you problems.

If you cannot eat something because of what you have already consumed that day, you are restricting food. That's a problem.

And, I don't know how many times I've explained this to girls during a pageant "season," but I'll say it ten thousand more times if it have to...there is no such thing as a meal replacement. 

Stop, stop, stop living under the assumption that you should be replacing your meals with anything.

First of all, sitting down, enjoying and chewing a meal is a really important part of the eating process. Both to your brain and the rest of your body. And there is a lot of value in looking at your plate of balanced, (solid,) and measurable foods. This is how you learn how to eat well.

Second, any time you are creating the notion that you need to replace food with liquid, you are distorting the value of perfectly nutritional food. (Fair to note, often any meal replacement shake or protein powder is loaded with synthetic products, added sugars, and chemicals.)

Finally, it is almost always more expensive per serving than actually buying food.


And I will tell you right now, I own and use protein powder. But it is not a meal replacement, and it does not get consumed instead of something else.

If I have to work early (like 5:45 AM early,) it is totally possible that I'll make a smoothie with a scoop of protein in it. While I'm doing my makeup, or brewing three pots of coffee, or driving around Chittenden County, I'll enjoy my smoothie. But you better believe that I'm making a real breakfast when I get back to the office.

Why?

Because I know that I need food, real food, to get me through the day.

And that's also why I am not on any kind of diet.

Did I lose three pounds in the first two and half weeks of this new season of life? Hell yes I did.

But it is because I started cooking regular dinners, instead of grabbing Moe's. It's because I started doing cardio four times a week, also instead of just eating Moe's. It's because I have a new personal trainer. It's because I don't happen to have any chips at my house right now.

That being said, have I been to Henry Street? Heck yeah.
Ordered pizza? Yup.
Eaten hash purples more than once in a week? Better believe it.


I am literally just eating what I want, when I want, and maintaining a healthy level of physical activity. Because I'm a grown-ass woman, and I don't have time to be re-learning how to eat three healthy meals a day every few years. That is boring, and lame. And dangit, I have enough anxiety, and you know, problems in general. I don't need to be adding disordered eating to it.

That is the whole story. 

So let me say this: if you think that by cutting calories, following a regimented meal planning, drinking protein shakes, and carb cycling is helping you, you might be right. But if you don't know at what point that stops, and you stop "being on a diet/meal plan," you need to stop now.

It is sometimes really hard to recognize disordered eating in ourselves - and it took a moment of me, standing in my kitchen, a month after Miss America when I felt like I wasn't supposed to order pizza - for me to realize, alright, it all has to stop. No form of diet or plan is worth that feeling.

And maybe you haven't hit that point, but if you know you're following some type of plan right now, I urge you to look at those questions again. Look at your own behavior. Look at how you feel about going outside of that plan. That's how you'll know.

Frankly, I gotta tell ya, eating whatever the heck you want is great! It means last week I had an insanely tasty english muffin for breakfast and a pumpkin muffin as my morning snack. And that's it. I didn't change my lunch because of that. I didn't run for an extra half hour. I still just did my thing.


And, later this week, I'm sharing the one thing that I have added to my life in the last month that I think is helping with my goals of spending more time being active, less time worrying about when I'm gonna get groceries, and still eating a regular delicious dinner. So, as they say, stay tuned.

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