Eating for health versus eating for weight loss

Did you know that eating to be healthy is so very different than eating for weight loss?

When you eat for weight loss, you need to count calories or macronutrients or points. While many people are successful in this method of losing weight, they often struggle to keep the weight off. This is because they didn’t learn to eat healthy along the way. We so easily fall back into old habits and patterns when restrictions of a temporary diet are lifted.

Eating to be healthy means that it matters to you the quality of ingredients and what is happening internally to your body. Now, in today’s world of non-GMO, organic, grass fed everything, it is actually often times hard to determine quality. I am not saying that you need to determine the best and only eat the best. I was at the grocery store today and decided to take a peak at the fruit snacks. I found one that said “Made with real fruit” real big on the front. Do you know the first three ingredients were Sugar, Corn Syrup, and Corn Fiber. Um, that isn’t fruit folks. And the marketing around the product made it sound healthier.

I once upon a time I ate for weight loss, so I’m not knocking it totally here. I actually sat down and gave myself some guidelines to follow for 12 weeks. I knew when my 3 months were up that I would need to re-evaluate which of the guidelines worked long term, and which needed to be modified. What were my guidelines? Great question, glad you asked.

Eat every 3 hours.

Don’t eat anything that you didn’t make at home or bought at the grocery store ready to eat.

Drink your water.

No alcohol.

45 minutes of interval cardio, on an elliptical, 6 days a week.

60 minutes of strength training 5 of the cardio days.

Weigh myself once a week.

What happened? Well, after 11 weeks I was down 33 pounds. I felt great. I allowed myself to skip a meal, if I wasn’t hungry. I would go out to eat with friends, once in a while. Prior to weight loss, I literally ate 1 or 2 times a day, always in a restaurant. The alcohol was a funny one. I wouldn’t of considered myself a “big” drinker, and I could be quite picky in what I liked.  In just three months, my tolerance and taste for alcohol totally changed. I was bartending, and would often be given drinks at work. In my 12 weeks, I would do a shot of pop or water, and no one knew the difference. I just continued this practice after my 12 weeks. If I was out and wanted to have a drink, I would, on occasion. But I found, and still find, fewer occasions where I want a drink. I still drank my water, over a gallon a day. I have never really recommended a person drink as much water as I do. I find that it works well for my body, so I just keep it up for myself. I allowed myself to miss a workout here and there. I was also able to increase the intensity and decrease the time of my cardio once my weight was at a more manageable level.

 (we will ignore the boy in the picture, more than my weight changed)


How am I different today, now that I do more for my health? Well, first, let’s be honest. I don’t always and forever drink my water. I go through funks where I just drink nothing. It is dumb, but I’m still human. I go through periods where I don’t prioritize exercise as I should, or I half ass a workout that I manage to squeeze in somewhere. Again, I am human. But I want to share what is working, has worked for me. I just need to make sure I don’t sound high and mighty up on my horse. I was listening to Rachel Hollis’s live stream this week and she stole my thought. No one is perfect, and if they tell you they are then they are a liar.

(me at Wonderlust 2018 Chicago)

Back in 2009, Mike and I researched the Paleo diet. We decided to give it a try, January 1, 2010. We followed the 6 week plan in The Paleo Diet by Dr Loren Cordain. It worked great for us. I actually lost 9 pounds, that I didn’t know I needed to lose. Mike lost about double that, but it wasn’t a competition. I loved the energy I felt, the clarity it gave me. Then I got pregnant, and decided I could eat more of whatever I wanted. We have gone back to paleo, often, but never as strict as those first 6 weeks. We instead, have taken the lessons learned, and tried to adapt them to what we know worked for our bodies and our lifestyle. We learned how well we feel off processed food. We learned what it means for nitrates, grass fed and finished, cage free organic, non-GMO. How some of it matters and some is more of a marketing ploy. Oh, your grapes are gluten free? Well, I think a grape that isn’t gluten free has some serious issues. (I for real have seen grapes advertised as gluten free before)

As you all know, I eventually was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis and have had some physical struggles with that. I am ever so grateful that my struggles pale in comparison to others, so I am not trying to say that everyone should be like me to cure themselves. In fact, I still have bad days. But this being about health for me, it is about finding how to have more good days than bad days. How to make the good days great. After my diagnosis, I tried the AIP (Autoimmune protocol) to see what foods I should eliminate from my diet. Let’s just say my first attempt was a fail. I did not follow the re-introduction process. And I found myself, reluctantly, needing to re-do the entire 8 weeks of AIP. I do not recommend not following the directions, that was not fun. However, I learned that some foods are not tolerated by my body so well. I have chosen, for health reasons, to eliminate them. I have cut soy, gluten, and egg out of my diet, near completely. In fact, you can often immediately tell when I have had a bad for me food. Recently, I have discovered that corn is also an issue for me. Now, I don’t think all corn is bad for me. But I can’t tell when it will be bad and when it won’t, so I have started to just avoid it totally. Of the entire list of foods, I miss eggs and edamame the most. But there are so many substitutes for the others. I have found soy free ranch, for when the party calls for veggies and dip. Coconut aminos is just fine with sushi. And Bob’s Red Mills makes a perfect egg substitute for baking and cooking, until you want Chinese fried rice or even just a sunny side up egg. I will survive though, and my stomach won’t cramp near as bad without them in my life.

I think that often times we need to eat for weight loss, to kick our body into gear. Make some guidelines to follow for the short term, when you know long term isn’t realistic. I believe one of the reasons Weight Watchers, or WW now, has been so successful is because they have taught people what portion control looks like. I also think that they are set with members, because you always need to go back to portion control when you don’t cut back on the number of not healthy foods you eat. I am not anti the group though, as they teach a valuable lesson.

It is also important to remember that while you are making some guidelines, rules, what have you, that while you need to think about what you can follow long term, no one is holding you to these ideas. One of my favorite sayings is Do the best you can until you know better, then do better. When I first got onto the healthy meal train, I made tuna helper with double the tuna. That was healthy enough for me. I made Kraft mac and cheese with broccoli. That was healthy enough for me. As I have grown in my knowledge in this journey, I have changed what is healthy for me. Even just in the last month or so, I have really started to grow in my desire to make my plate 50% vegetable. I have long preached more protein. But for me personally, I am at a place where I need to up my greens, even though they are already higher than most. I feel it will set a great example for my little kids. I also think it is the environmentally responsible thing to do, as the meat processing causes pollution and uses so much more energy.

What are some steps you are going to take to be healthier? I’d love to hear in the comments below. I’ve written about weight loss and weight maintenance before, if you want more. If you are looking for some added accountability on this journey, check on my virtual Pocket Trainer program. I will not stick my guidelines onto you. I will help you find your own, realistic guidelines, as it is your own personal journey. If you need some tips to stay accountable, check out these 10 ways.