My Healthy Journey Part 1: Diet Evolution

I just realized that since my 2nd wedding anniversary just passed, so has my 2 years of keeping off 50lbs!! Wow, time sure does fly. I’ve posted about it before (how I lost the weight) but I started my weight loss and health journey in the beginning of 2010. By the fall and our wedding I had lost about 50lbs and two years later I’ve managed to keep all but 3lbs off!! I’m really not worried about the 3lbs though, they came this summer after I started lifting heavy weights. At first I was concerned that it wasn’t muscle but then I went clothes shopping and ended up having to buy all new pants that were TWO sizes smaller! I believe this just goes to show you that scales are not always an accurate measure of health.

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December 2006 – October 2012

I want to share with you my health journey both through diet and exercise. Things are way different now than when I first started to lose weight and I imagine things will be different in a few years from now as well. First up today, I want to talk about how my diet and relationship with food has evolved over the past few years. It’s a long one so pull up a chair and enjoy!

Diet Evolution:

It is interesting for me to look back over the past 2.5 years to how my health journey has evolved. When I started to lose weight, I focused solely on diet for a while – cutting out the foods that I knew to be bad and focusing on lots of mini-meals throughout the day. I didn’t even know it at the time but I was pretty much following the diet advocated by Tone It Up or Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean Diet.

My typical day looked like this:

  • Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, fruit, english muffin
  • AM snack: fruit with greek yogurt or fruit with 1 oz almonds
  • Lunch: pita pocket with turkey, veggies, and sprouts; side of fruit
  • PM snack: hummus and veggies
  • Dinner: shrimp stir-fry, baked chicken & veggies, or turkey burger and veggies

While it definitely worked to help the weight fall off that is a far cry from how my daily eats look today!! I focused on lean protein, whole grains, and lots of veggies and fruits. I was quite disciplined with sweets, opting to enjoy a square of dark chocolate daily (with the occasional ½ pint of Ben & Jerry’s thrown in).

Sometime in the summer of 2010 I became interested in eating less animal products; looking back I don’t even know what inspired this change except for the fact that I was getting bored of my usual veggies and looking for new ways to get them into my diet. I ordered a few cookbooks by Nava Atlas and slowly reduced the amount of animal products I ate until meat was only a couple of times a week instead of every day (multiple times per day) and I increased the amount of beans/nuts/legumes in my diet for some plant-based protein.

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January 2010 – January 2011

In January of 2011, I was ready for a change;  I decided to do a vegan experiment. At the end of the week I felt great! I couldn’t believe the energy and the deliciousness of the foods I was eating. I was enjoying more veggies and fruits than ever and constantly finding new meal ideas to try. People seem to think a vegan diet is so limiting but I found it liberating…I was eating so many more foods than before and I never got bored.

My typical day looked like this:

  • Breakfast – whole grain vegan muffin (like Apple Spice) with vegan butter, fruit, and a homemade soy latte
  • AM Snack – fruit and nut butter (sometimes with rice cakes)
  • Lunch – veggies, hummus, and pita
  • PM snack – I didn’t usually eat one
  • Dinner – delicious bean soup/chili, quinoa dinner, vegan burrito, stuffed sweet potato
  • Dessert – any new vegan goodie I was trying, especially chocolate chip cookies!

After a while, I discovered Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet. Honestly, the book is a wealth of information on a healthy lifestyle…not just another “diet” book. I learned about pH and the beauty of green juices and smoothies. I learned about raw foods and made an effort to get more into my diet. It took me from vegan to vegan rockstar and I couldn’t believe how much positive energy I could get out of my foods. I continued on this path for a while – until this past summer.

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June 2009 – July 2012

We all know what happened then…I decided to change up my eating and introduce back animal products. I was so worried about how my dear readers would react and overall it was so positive and I am grateful to have such a supportive group of women readers!!

My typical day then looked like this:

  • Breakfast – protein pancake (sometimes vegan, sometimes not)
  • AM Snack – fruit + nut butter
  • Lunch – veggie bowl with quinoa/rice and beans
  • PM Snack – protein shake with fruit (still vegan protein)
  • Dinner – lean protein and veggies (chicken, fish, or turkey)

Looking back I honestly couldn’t tell you why I made that decision? I thought I had wanted to feel more “normal” I guess? I thought that it would just be easy to go back? I thought that maybe it was time for another change? Either way it didn’t work. I didn’t feel good physically or mentally, which surprised me. My digestion was out of whack and I was so bloated all of the time. But more importantly…I realized just how deep into veganism I really was.

It was no longer just about my health. It was about the animals. To anyone who knows me, this really isn’t a surprise. I have always been an animal lover and my cats are like my children (yes, I’m one of those people). I thought I would have that disconnect between what was on my plate and how I felt but that wasn’t so. I felt guilty and a little sad every time I tried to eat animal products. I realized I could not do it and did not want to harm animals ever again. So I’m back. Back to a plant-powered diet. Back to a cruelty-free diet. As Kris Carr says, “there are no cutie patooties on my plate.”

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June 2008 – July 2012

Even so, for a while I wasn’t really doing it right – that is, doing what I know to be healthy for my body. I hadn’t quite made the leap out of or back into a plant-based diet gracefully…I turned into a junk food vegan!! Potato chips, energy bars, candy, cookies, diet soda, vegan ice cream…you name it and I was sucking it down. I felt like shit, felt bloated, and overall felt gross. I knew what I was doing was terrible for my body but I kept doing it. But then I had a NO MORE moment.

I’m currently working back into a more traditional vegan diet focusing on whole foods. Think veggies, fruits, beans, whole grains, and nuts/seeds. Some cooked, some raw. Basically the diet that I know suits my body best.

What I want a typical day to look:

  • Breakfast: green fruit smoothie or oatmeal with fruit and nuts (any breakfast from this post)
  • AM Snack: don’t really need one
  • Lunch: veggies/hummus/pita; bean/grain/veggie bowl; leftovers; salad (lunch ideas here)
  • PM Snack: probably fruit + nut butter (classic combo!)
  • Dinner: chili or soup; tofu stir fry; veggie burgers and veggies

In the end, I worry less about making sure everything is perfect than dealing with my body and my appetite on a day-to-day basis. I can’t (and don’t want to) always plan everything out to a T but I do know the foods that make me feel my best so I’m going to stick with those – with an occasional treat instead of an everyday indulgence.

Basically I just wanted to show you that it’s okay for your health journey to be constantly evolving. Just because something was healthy for you at a certain point in your life doesn’t mean it will always work. Yes, a diet high in animal protein did help me lose weight and get in shape. It was a great start coming from a diet wrought with processed foods…it taught me about whole foods and portion control. However, I know I would feel terrible if I tried to eat that way again. Also, my plant-based eats look a lot different now than they did when I first started. Just make sure to listen to your body and really feel how your food is affecting you.

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Later this week I will share my exercise evolution (something that is always changing!). Have you had any major dietary changes in your life? If you are vegan or vegetarian, what made you choose this path?

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4 thoughts on “My Healthy Journey Part 1: Diet Evolution

  1. Lactose-free, gluten-free episcotarian right here! (: chose to go vegetarian two and a half years ago now (wow that seems like a long time! :D), and just this past summer adopted the other two elements of my diet. the first was a choice, but the others were a result of a lot of pain and unhappiness for awhile. FINALLY realized that gluten was the source of my headaches and lactose was the source of my awful stomach cramps; once those were removed from my diet, I was able to be so much happier. so now, my diet mainly consists of delicious fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, oats, rice/corn-based wheat substitutes, and the occasional treat (candy corn is my weakness, hehe). I really enjoyed reading this post, Shelley!! ❤ x

  2. Pingback: Back to Basics | Mile High Healthy

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