After reading Ellie’s contribution yesterday about her desire to adjust her lifestyle to accommodate healthier choices, I have been inspired to share what I’ve been up to since I dropped off the face of this blog. A few things have happened. I had a mild panic attack during a 7-mile training run before I decided to sell my bib for the Buffalo Half Marathon, I’ve taken sabbatical from running to enjoy other forms of exercise, I’ve transformed my diet (quite successfully), and I’ve lost 19 pounds in the past 8 weeks.

When my boyfriend and roommate, Jeff, moved to Baltimore for a summer internship in early May, I decided to take the opportunity to make some changes to my diet. It’s very easy to control what you are eating if you are shopping and cooking solely for yourself. I ditched the carbs. And I mean, almost all carbs. I stopped eating bread, pasta, potatoes, sugar, even fruit for a temporary two-week period. I ditched artificial sweeteners, alcohol, and all processed food. I stopped eating out, I kept counting calories, and I feel amazing. It’s been two months since I made these changes and my energy level has noticeable increased, my self-esteem is through the roof, and the most surprising thing I’ve noticed is that I don’t want to stop. There have been a few weekends since I made this lifestyle change where I have indulged in the food I’ve cut way back on, and that’s just because, well, life happens. You travel, you eat out, you go to a wedding, you drink champagne, and it’s okay. I don’t consider it “cheating,” or “being bad on my diet,” because I no longer consider myself on a diet.

Yesterday at work we had Panera sandwiches brought in, and when I skipped the sandwich in favor of a salad, someone asked me what diet I was on. I realized that I am not going to label my eating choices as a diet, because saying I’m paleo, or saying I’m on Atkins, or saying I’m on South Beach adds the temporary air of a fad diet to the choices I’ve been making. I am not on a diet, I’ve truly adjusted my lifestyle. It is a lifestyle where I eat whole foods, and instead of pasta, I often choose spiralizing a zucchini.

Everyday we have the opportunity to make healthier choices. I think the trick, at least for me, has been planning so when the opportunity for something unhealthy comes along, I have an already planned healthy escape in my back pocket. I meal plan, often weeks in advance. I read healthy food blogs and get excited about the meals I’m planning on preparing. If you know what you’re going to make for dinner before you get home, and frequent the grocery store, it makes making these healthy choices a lot easier.

You can run as much as you want, you can hit the gym every day, but if you are serious about wanting to become healthier, and to lose weight especially, diet is an unfortunate and large part of the equation. Eating healthy, nutrient-dense food will fuel your body for higher performance and will make you feel infinitely better!