Eating Right Part 1: Embracing the Power of Your Mind

Last night, one of my good friends Savannah sent me an encouraging message after my blog post yesterday revealing my newly discovered belly button. Then she asked me a question that took me SO many years to figure out: “So, how do you control your eating habits?” I promised her a blog post, so Savannah – this one is dedicated to you. And to Chelsea Baughman- who has been waiting for this post…after a minor teaser 🙂

I’d like to start by asking this question: Do you realize how powerful your mind is? 

I believe mental strength can most always beat physical strength. So the theme of my advice isn’t about eating non-fat plain Greek yogurt on your tacos in place of sour cream (which is actually really good and zero fat). It’s not about drinking green tea instead of coffee in the morning.  I don’t need to tell you to eat more vegetables and fruit and replace red meat with fish and chicken- I know you’ve heard those things…it’s nothing new. While I think all of these things are important and great steps to helping you control your eating habits, the most important lessons starts with:

  • learning how to control your mind
  • changing your attitude
  • becoming accountable for your actions.

First -start now! I don’t care if you ate a bad breakfast or a large lunch. Or maybe you ate french fries at dinner and you knew you should have ordered the salad. Do NOT kid yourself and say that you are going to start your diet tomorrow. Make up your mind to start your new healthy lifestyle RIGHT NOW.
NOTE: I didn’t say “diet” – this is another important piece of the puzzle. Approach your newly found goal as a life style change…not just a diet. I told myself for three long years that I was going to “start my diet tomorrow.” And guess what? I ended up gaining nearly 60 lbs in 3 years aka 20 lbs each year. One day I woke up and thought, “Ashley- how many more years are you going to allow yourself to gain 20 lbs? What is your tipping point?” At that moment – I said these words out loud, “I am making the change NOW!” So say it out loud…and mean it.

Second – Tell people about your goals. If you are anything like me, you NEED to be held accountable for your actions. I blog, tweet, and blow up Facebook about my running and healthy eating goals. Because of these conversations, I have surrounded myself with such loving and supporting people who keep on me track. They keep me accountable.

A few weeks ago, my wonderful friend Sabrina Skramstad drove a group of us home from Steph and Jon’s wedding. She stopped at Taco Bell and my mouth was drooling; I was dreaming about a cheesy gordita crunch.

“Do you want anything?” Sabrina asked me.

Without even pausing and thinking about the consequences, I shamefully said, “A cheesy gordita crunch!”

She gave me a serious look and said, “Are you sure?”

No, I wasn’t sure. I was thinking with my stomach instead of my logic. I had done so well the past month..and that day I got a makeover so I was feeling great. But that is not a reason to return to old habits. And thankfully, I had a great friend to remind me – even without saying more than those 3 words – that I don’t need to eat horrible and take steps backward.

“No, you are right,” I said. “I don’t want anything. Just a water.”

And it wasn’t that I didn’t “want” anything…the true fact is I didn’t NEED anything. Learn to control your wants from your needs, also important.

Goodbye Fourth Meal. Hello Will Power!

Third-  understand your weakness. I was talking an un-named person about eating healthy a few weeks ago. They are going to school for a nutrition and health related degree, so I was definitely excited to pick their brain for tips and ideas. Searching for inspiration, I asked this person what their weakness was in terms of eating habits. I was hoping they would say “Carbs” and then I would have not only good ideas, but a support buddy as well.

“I don’t have a weakness,” they replied with such arrogance.

I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say back to that….you really don’t have a weakness? Pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving? Mom’s meatloaf? Pizza King pizza? Cheesy Gordita Crunches? Nothing?

Here is the deal, you probably have a weakness. Admit it. Don’t be in denial. And don’t be arrogant either. Identify this weakness and research recipes and tips to help keep you on track.

Because my weakness is carbs, I eat lettuce wraps (or low carb wraps) instead of sandwiches. A Beach Club #12 sandwich at Jimmy John’s is about 790 calories and 38 grams of fat. Take off the mayo and replace the bread with a lettuce wrap….and you go down to 191 calories and 9 grams of fat! Best of all – the bread has 71 grams of carbs…and the lettuce wrap takes you down to only 7 grabs of carbs!!

Fourth- cheat! Yes- I said it. No, don’t cheat on your exam at school. Definitely don’t cheat on your significant other, but for crying out loud – have a cheat day! You are still human. You still have cravings. You still have bad days. The main reason I was never ever able to control my eating habits before was because I put myself up on this hardcore diet, and if I messed up…it got ugly. Instead of eating a small bite of a cookie or having a bite of Justin’s pizza, I would eat 3 cookies and then 4 pieces of pizza. Seriously. I had no control. Once I had the first bite, it was all over. I kept PLOWING my way through the food (or somethings booze)…because I missed that food / drink so much. So have a bite here and there. And give yourself a cheat meal once a weak. It will keep you from going overboard and giving up.

I still have a lot of tips about learning how to eat right and controlling your eating habits. I will also dedicate some posts to recipes and tips too! I’ve learned a lot these past few months. Here a few more ideas to hold you over until the next post:

  • Don’t have bad food in the house. If it’s not there, how can you eat it? (Good advice Sarah Frey!)
  • Write down your meals. This comes back to the accountability thing. Writing something down is a way of taking ownership. Do you really want to write down that you ate 3 bread sticks, a large bowl of Alfredo pasta and 2 glasses of wine? That meal alone can be nearly 2,000 calories. I would burn that paper if I had to write down I wrote that many calories / grams of fat / carbs in one meal…
  • Research the nutrition content of restaurants prior to going there…some salads (in fact most salads) are worse for you in terms of fat and calories than some burgers. I’ve also seen turkey burgers having more calories / fat than regular burgers. Don’t be fooled into “eating healthy.”

What advice do you have for eating healthy and controlling your eating habits? Leave your comments below or email me to write a guest post!

Much love,

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