I spend a lot of time analyzing what I eat. How many calories? What are the macros? How can I get more carbs that are ‘healthy’ and not processed?
I also spend a lot of time skipping over the ‘extras.’ We don’t live far from a Dairy Queen and when they are open for the season our family walks there at least once a week…maybe once a year I actually order something.
I do my best to make substitutions and cut portions. If I can order a salad instead of fries I usually do, and if my husband is up for splitting a meal so am I.
Can it be argued that these behaviors are obsessive? Maybe…but for me they opened my eyes.
I feel empowered and educated about my choices and can also see the reflection of the consequences of them – both positive and negative.
Recently my mom baked these chocolate chip cookies that are out of this world. They are no ordinary cookie…they take a lot of time to prep and as someone who doesn’t bake I think they are worth every single second of that prep time.
More days that not I did my best to avoid the cookies all together. Not because I don’t love them, I do, but because it wasn’t a ‘healthy choice.’
Then I took the time to enter the cookie into MyFitnessPal. Surely I have no way to know if the nutritional information is exact but it’s close enough…135 calories.
Which got me thinking…
- Would one cookie? One 135 calorie cookie really make or break my day?
- Why would I deny myself something I enjoy so much over and over?
- How did I define healthy?
As I reflected on those three important questions here’s what I learned about myself…
If 135 calories is truly the breaking point in my day, I have other things to consider. I have either moved too little or consumed too much of other things. One cookies is not the determining factor of my day.
It’s easy for me to pass over Dairy Queen. We go once a week because I love the experience with my family. I’m honestly not tempted by the ice cream because it’s not something I crave, but those cookies on the other hand, I do. So instead of saying no to everything, it was more important for me to evaluate my choices as a whole.
In my quest to define my life through healthy choices I was making unhealthy ones. Instead of facing my choices head on by having the appropriate portion size, I was avoiding it all together so I wouldn’t be tempted to have 5 instead of just 1.
I think as we strive for health we have to acknowledge that we have choices. Whether it’s what we eat or how much we exercise, we have to be empowered by our choices. Because when we treat food or working out like the enemy – something we can’t have, or something we have to do – we jeopardize our perception of success.
I’m learning to change the way I think about food. I no longer tell myself ‘you can’t have that’ rather I classify food into 3 categories:
- Foods I like
- Foots I don’t like and
- Foods that I need to be mindful of my portions
Now clearly some foods (like my mom’s cookies and pepperoni pizza) fall into both 1 and 3 so I treat them accordingly. And as for category #2 – I’m no longer going to force myself to eat something because it’s healthy. There are always alternatives!
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen exercise as ‘something I have to do.’ I truly enjoy it. Exercise helps me manage stress, it makes me feel strong and it’s how I know that one cookie isn’t going to make or break my day.
But for those of you that dread exercise, my encouragement to you is to find an activity you enjoy, find a gym that you can make friends at, and find your inner strength.
As for me…I’m off to enjoy a cookie.