My last post was all about my current workout routine. But anybody who has spent even five seconds looking up fitness tips knows that workouts are barely half the battle. The even harder part (at least for me), is diet.
I have been seeing tons of stuff in recent years about paleo, keto, pescatarian, vegan, high carb vegan, Atkins, and literally every strict combination of food you can think of. And you know what? I say nay to all of those.
Some of you may think I can afford to say nay because I’m thin and am not trying to lose weight, or you might not believe me and think I must adhere to some kind of stringent body builder diet, but neither are true. The reason being, I have gone through a long food journey of my own and have been able to figure out what works best for my body (and for my sanity).
Back in the day, I was a competitive swimmer for almost a decade. During that time, I trained for almost five hours a day and honestly ate whatever I wanted. A whole pizza? Gimme twenty minutes. A whole bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups? One episode of Gossip Girl. I was going through a ridiculous amount of food to replenish all the calories I burned, but the majority of the food was shit. I ate my fruits and veggies, but looking back, most of my calories came from carbs like pasta and straight up sugar.
My senior year of high school, I really wanted to do the best I could for my last year of swimming so I cut out a previously elemental part of my diet: Coca Cola. Up until that point I had about roughly one Coke per day. I know some people drink far more than I do, but I was determined to focus on my hydration levels and cut out soda and fruit juices completely. It took a few days to get past the caffeine withdrawal but then I felt SO GOOD. My skin improved and I honestly did not feel as tired during a normal day and spurred my interest in looking at food as fuel, not just as tasty morsels.
I’ll spare you the details of the years in between then and now, but that occurence spurred me on to develop my nutritional knowledge and my eating habits. I strongly believe knowledge is power when it comes to what you eat, and the more you know about what you’re ingesting, the better off you’ll be.
Nowadays, I pretty much follow the 80/20 rule. I will eat well 80% of the time and about 20% of the time is a free for all. Because I typically follow a schedule, it is not difficult to follow this rule. Here is what some typical meals look like for me:
Breakfast: Two pieces avocado toast (w/ Ezekiel bread) OR a veggie omelet with fruit
Snack: Protein Bar OR a banana/apple with almond butter
Lunch: Shrimp Salad (Garlic Basil Shrimp, Romaine/Spinach, Tomato, Peppers), or leftovers from dinner the night before.
Dinner: Lean Turkey Breast with roasted sweet potatoes and asparagus OR chicken stirfry with rice OR another combo of solid protein, greens, and carbs.
Desert: Three squares of Dark Chocolate and Strawberries OR Cookies!
For beverages, I only drink water and tea, and sometimes coffee (usually in the form of a cappuccino). I don’t add any cream or sugar to my tea or coffee. I stopped drinking soda in high school, and then after I spent a year in Shanghai drinking a lot of tea and hot water, I stopped drinking milk and juice as well. This is just personal preference, I don’t have anything against milk or certain juices for nutrition’s sake.
Usually, my 20% free for all eating occurs on weekends or when I’m out with friends. Weekends are typically when I eat out and try new places, which means I don’t want to limit myself to the ‘healthy’ options on the menu. I honestly eat whatever I want during these times. I will order the full french toast breakfast, or I’ll get a burger and fries, or a pizza and ice cream! The key for me is eating well during my main work week and allowing myself to feel free to eat however I want on weekends and with friends.
You can also see that I don’t necessarily cut out carbs or sugar during the week either. I have the BIGGEST sweet tooth and there would be no way I could cut out desserts completely so I still make sure I incorporate them. The trick for me is paying attention to how certain foods make me feel. Salads make me feel full but not tired. A McDonalds Quarter Pounder makes me feel sick. And so on and so forth. By ACTIVELY paying attention to what you’re eating and what it consists of and how it affects you, you gain a lot of knowledge about what meals make you FEEL good and that is what is important for me.
This post got a little long, but I have even more tips on how I eat right for my body so let me know if you’re interested in hearing more on this topic!