Pass the Salt

I don’t remember much about my first training session with Mark more than a year ago. But one thing he said has stuck with me. It made me want to stomp my feet like a terrible 2-year-old and scream, “NO!”

He said, “Seventy-five percent of your results will come from what you eat.”

What?!?! I started working out so I can eat what I want. And honestly, I didn’t eat too bad. At least that’s what I thought. I went gluten-free a few years back. (Well, I’m about 75% gluten free.) I don’t eat fries much any more. And I can’t remember the last time I had a soda. Those are all good things. But I discovered I needed to make some more changes.

What I came to understand is that I am an emotional eater. Now, because I’m not 50 lbs. overweight, I really didn’t think it was a big issue for me. Yes, I probably eat too many sweets. Cakes and cookies are my kryptonite. A good piece of chocolate cake makes the whole world seem right. I used to eat out a lot, probably 2 to 3 times a week. But, I’m single. It’s just easier sometimes. And after a stressful day, a Fuzzy’s chicken taco with chips and queso goes a long way to restore my peace.

But that’s the rub. Food makes me feel better. It has nothing to do with satisfying hunger. Food is a drug that gives me a feeling of comfort and satisfaction when my circumstances are tough.

So, I listened to Mark and began making small changes, including less eating out. It was hard because I’m not the best cook. I get impatient and cooking requires thinking and planning ahead. But, this healthier way of life was a new adventure and I wanted to take it seriously. After several months I discovered that something had changed when I was driving home from school after a particularly stressful day and my one thought was, “I just want to get home and get something to eat.” Now it wasn’t long before that my thought would have been, “Where can I stop between here and home and pick up something good.” It was a small shift, but it was significant. Instead of heading for the salty restaurant food, I wanted my homemade dinner and the comfort of home. I’ve continued to focus on easy homemade meals and cut back significantly in my eating out budget. (Although my grocery bill has increased.)

Sometimes I treat myself to my old favorites. If I’ve had a stretch of staying on track, I’ll go pick up something I used to enjoy. Once it was this amazing chopped salad at Corner Bakery. And, really, how bad can a salad be? Well, let me tell you I couldn’t finish it. In fact, I could only eat about half of it before I had to stop. There was more salt in that salad than I had probably eaten the whole week before. It tasted awful. I had a similar experience this past Saturday at Fuzzy’s. The taco meal with beans and rice that I used to finish with no problem was so salty, that I left half of it on the plate. My taste buds have changed drastically. I’m used to better, healthier things. I never noticed the salt before because that’s what I was used to. That’s what made it good. Now my body can’t tolerate it.

The things I never thought I would be able to give up are no big deal now. Maybe that’s a lesson to learn about life. Once we taste the good stuff, we don’t want to go back to the bad things we craved before. I’m still working on this, because I still give in to the sweets way too much. I need to cut back on the sugar in my coffee. I need to head for the fruit instead of the fruit spread. I’m getting there. It’s definitely not an overnight change. This is a process, like all growth in our lives.

So, I’m trying to learn more about cooking good stuff. I’m getting better with making more trips to the grocery store during the week to get fresh vegetables. I’m working on more balanced plates…. protein, carbs & good fats. And I’m learning that making healthy meals at home takes time and preparation. I’m making more time in my day to prepare my meals. I’m learning to snack healthy and taking small steps toward my goals.

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