10 Things I’ve Learned from Eating Like a Fitness Competitor for 31 Days

I spent January 2016 “eating like a fitness competitor.”  While my diet may not have technically been a fitness competitor’s diet, I certainly stuck to my plan of eating clean and I’m lighter and tighter because of it.  Here are the 10 things I’ve learned along the way…

Keep It Simple – I removed all clutter from my life, and I don’t mean physical clutter – I mean emotional clutter.  For 31 days I deliberately focused on work, eating healthy, and working out.  I was fortunate that I didn’t have any situations that were “emotionally snagging” me (as Brene Brown would say).  This approach worked!

Have 10 Go-to Items – I was originally going to follow a pretty strict diet which consisted of the same stuff every day.  Instead, I had about 10 go-to items that I could rotate accordingly.  All of them are good choices, and all of them are more or less convenient depending upon the time I had available.  Turkey burgers….super slow to cook and semi-inconvenient.  Pre-made organic protein shakes…super convenient and easy to tote to meetings and drink in my car.  These 10-ish items made it easy to change up the way and times I ate things but kept me within a boundary that avoided anyone finding me face down in a cheese pizza.

The Days You Think It’s Not Working, It Is – You think you eat a few salads and drink some water and you wake up the next day as a super model.  And when the next day comes, and you’re not only not a model, you might randomly be more bloated or feel more out of shape than you did the day before, that is when you have to stick with the plan.  The biggest difference between this not working for me in the past vs. working now is, I did not get derailed when I didn’t feel like it was working.  I just carried on and ignored that part, and the next day I would wake up and feel skinnier for it.

There’s an In Between – I’m all in or all out.  That’s how I function.  It’s how my parents function.  This is great when you’re all in, but Lord help us when we’re all out.  I learned about the in-between.  There’s things like home workouts and “fairly healthy meals” that are better than no workouts and not healthy meals.  These things keep you from just throwing in the towel altogether.  One trail mix with a few pieces of chocolate in it kept me from desserts after meals.

Mental Drives Physical and Physical Drives Mental – If my mind is right, I eat better, and my physical self is better.  If my physical self is better, it makes my mind right.

Food is Fuel – I really hate when people say “food is fuel.”  I also hate when people say they love salads.  But, I am on a project at work that required some late nights in the office, even later nights of working at home, and 3-4 hours of work on Sunday nights.  Once I started losing weight from eating better, I just plowed through the work.  I wasn’t quite as miserable because I at least wasn’t letting all this work ruin the way I felt about myself.  I didn’t get overly exhausted at work (though I did have some moments) because the food I was eating was fueling me vs. making me tired and feeling blah.  (I’m convinced “blah” is a standard feeling and described as such in the dictionary).

Packing Your Lunch Isn’t That Bad (I Guess) – I have bought my lunch since the first day of 1st grade.  I was never a packer.  I never brought a little lunch box to school, or a brown paper bag, or had to deal with the fact that I left my lunch at home on the kitchen counter by accident.  I toted my $1.10 to elementary school, then $1.25 in middle school, $1.50 in junior high, and my $2.25 in high school and I managed to be fed and felt freedom in my options (as much freedom has you have in a school cafeteria.  Basically choosing chocolate milk over white was my only freedom, but I felt empowered).  As a working adult, I buy my lunch, be it in the cafeteria or out at a restaurant, or I tend to receive a lot of catered lunches if I have meetings through the lunch hour.  But, I broke that streak and packed 75-80% of the time this month.  It wasn’t that bad….I guess.  Honestly, I was just so busy at work I didn’t really have time to dwell.  I know this will still be a struggle for me going forward, but I can say this was probably the single biggest thing that contributed to my weight loss and kept me in line for the rest of the day.

Turkey Burgers Out the Wahzoo – I could eat a turkey burger for lunch and dinner, nearly every day.

No Green on My Plate – I basically don’t eat vegetables.  I have to really try to add them in.  I started getting a green smoothie when I would go to Whole Foods for groceries and imagined that I’d leave with glowing skin and a positive attitude and restored organs and all the other things kale, pears, and spinach are supposed to do for you.  I tried to add broccoli to some of my meals, but green is just something that doesn’t seem to show up on my plate unless forced.

People Respect It – If you’re not annoyingly over-doing the “I’m on a diet” production, people don’t pressure you to cheat.  I don’t know if it’s because I use this blog to share my secrets or what, but not one person this whole month gave me any sort of guilt trip or “come on, you know you want to” type of bribe while dangling pieces of bread and pasta and pizza and treats in front of me.

Be Healthy – Take care of yourself.  Be healthy.  Make it not an option to live any other way.  There are many who are battling health conditions that are out of their control.  Let’s choose to be as healthy as possible in the areas we can control.  It feels like it sucks and for some reason it’s super hard  and inconvenient and just the worst at moments, but it’s worth it for more reasons than I can list in this blog post.

I did it.  And I’m skinnier!