Sunday, August 7, 2011

Food Fight

Gooood evening friends! I hope you're about to roll to bed so you can really to attack the day tomorrow ;) I love Sundays because they mean I get to be re-filled with God's power and fellowship with my friends at church. I really recommend you take the time to soak up some of J.C.'s lurve too, aka go to church.

Tonight though, I want to cover a topic I have been "battling" with for years... I told you this week was WAR, and this is one of the reasons ... Dieting.

I know the word "Diet" it's not any one's favorite topic except maybe my sister who is a Nutritionist, but before you immediately click off this page and run off to the fridge screaming for an ice cream bar or leftover pizza I want you to know that this post does not give you all the answers (I wish I had them!) but I just promise to be transparent in my own struggles and failures; and share what I've learned from them since I've been on a strict diet for competition.

Sadly, this is NOT how to eat to get a bikini body!

I totally believe in celebrating with a "cheat meal" after competition. I mean, I worked HARD!! I had a cheeseburger (w/ fries!) on the night after competition, and it was delicious!
Reeeed Robin. YUM.
I'm not gonna lie, when I was out and about with my dad and brother I even had some ice cream, candy, peanut butter (yay!), fish and chips, and a fruity cocktail throughout the course of the weekend and the following week ... but I knew it was time to get back to eating clean since I started to actually really miss salad and "clean eats."
Yummers! Fresh, crispy greens :)
The reason I'm writing about diet though is because I hardly have a stellar track record when it comes to knowing when to stop/start eating on a strict diet plan, and the meaning of moderation. I hate to say this but...

I am well-qualified to discuss food-related issues.
From the various stresses I've been through in my lifetime (which would take far too long to describe in length) I have been a:

 - Obsessive-compulsive, calorie counting maniac
 - "Catch-up" fitness junkie who elipticals for hours to negate a binge 
 - "Light" "Lite" "Diet" "sugar Free" "Fat Free" fanatic
 - Frantic "I give up!" binger... followed by self-punishment and fasting

Any of those sound familiar? You are not alone. You name it... I've probably been there. Every carb-depleted, over trained, "skinny-fat" girl with low self esteem, huge guilt issues, a closet full of workout clothes, a magazine rack full of Oxygen Mag and Women's Health, and a pantry full of supplements is squirming in their seat right now.
Diet fads and quick fix promises all sound so good at first,
 but don't offer lasting results. Or more often, ANY results!

Before I get too into the topic of "dieting" though, let me explain what my current diet is. The quantities and specific foods on the Team Bombshell diet plan is strictly confidential, but I can tell you the general structure. With Team Bombshell, you get an exact meal plan emailed to you every 4 weeks,and a that vary depending on what Shannon Dey had determined you need: fat loss, muscle building, slimming down for a contest. Before a contest your plan has lower carbs and decreased cals.

What IS my diet plan?
Each plan consists of 6 meals with given quanities of food for each meal. I have X oz. of protein (chicken, fish, lean  beef, ect), X oz. of carbs (oatmeal, sweet potato,ect), cups of vegetables, and X tsp. of healthy fats (flax or olive oil) at each meal. One meal per week you are allowed a "refuel meal."  At this meal you replace one of plan's meals with an approved "cheat" meal.

So, why am I doing it effective?
 - Yes. Definitely. As evidenced by my win, it works! If you follow your plan you WILL fuel your body correctly to build your muscles, have enough energy, and stay lean.
Bombshell Progress :D
The diet hypothetically allows me to satisfy crazy cravings for "normal food" at the refuel meal, instead of being too strict all the time and freaking out and having a binge. Of course, I am human and I have not been 100% perfect with this. I struggle with emotional eating when I am stressed from work, moving, training, being away from family, ect. But I am conquering this one day at a time and learning new tactics to avoid binges! If you've ever struggled with this you may find these articles helpful: 
What surprised me? 
 - I never though it would be, but the hardest time to stick with the diet is the weekends! I struggle with sticking to my plan on the weekends because I don't have the structure of a workday to keep me chugging along without the chance to binge, snack, or skip meals. With Team Bombshell, your "refuel meal" is also supposed to be on a Saturday night which makes it hard for me to stop at just the approved cheat and then get right back on track with my next meal. It's harder to flip the switch back to diet mode after getting negative momentum ya know?

Read more on how to Stop Emotional Eating Before It Starts at SparkPeople. The New York Times also did a story on the adverse effects of late-night eating based on scientific research.
Late-night food zombie.
Don't let this happen to you!
Late-night eating is a huge health goal sabatoger. I am going for scare tactics on this one: According to the study done by Northwestern University, mice that ate when they would normally be sleeping increased their bodyfat by 48% versus only 20% for the mice who overate the same calorie amount during normal hours. That had better scare me away from the fridge!!  

This mantra is written on my fridge!

What have I learned?
 - As far as actually accomplishing all the meal prep for my meal plan... it's all in the name: Plan, plan, plan. I don't try to do everything at once. Every week, I make a shopping list, and then set aside one evening to do my shopping, one afternoon to do my cooking/weighing/bagging, and every day I put my meals #1-6 in a cooler to take with me where ever I am going that day. If it's not packed in the cooler, I don't eat it! Snacking is off limits and everything that goes in my mouth must come out of that cooler except water, coffee or tea.

As far as actually sticking with my meal plan... that's a whole new ball game. I have 3 main players: Coffee, Gum and Spices. Coffee for the energy and something hot, gum for something for my mouth to do, and spices to add some flava and make my food satisfying. Coffee is pretty self explanatory, I keep it simple: black coffee w/ a dash of almond milk.

I cook with LOTS OF SPICES! No butter, oil, dressings or sour cream, but you'd be suprised what a little Cumin and Garam Marsala can do for a plain old hunk of Tilapia. YUM! Thank yoooouu Kinjal for introducing me to Indian flavors :)
Yummers, and SPICY!

One thing I learned from eating Indian food is their creative use of spices! They really know how to make dishes satisfying and decadent without adding fat or sugar. Win. Win. Here's some tips to add some spice to your life.
My last secret weapon: Gum! This is my most effective defense when sugar cravings hit: Desert Extra Gum.

Kari over at FitnessRx shares my love of this gum, and recommends
it to fight 'cake in the office lunchroom' induced cravings. Heard that!

What's the hardest part?
 - The mental aspect of the diet is pretty taxing. You know how you always want something when you can't have it? Try overcoming that with every food commercial you see on TV, every restaurant you pass, and every plate of home-made cookies a coworker brings to work. Ahhh!! It's a battle for sure. A week of that and I am practically screaming for a cheat meal.

Seriously Dairy Queen? Seriously!? Get outa my head!!

One tactic I started recently is instead of scheduling a cheat meal I will just have one cheat meal a week, at an unscheduled time. If I set a date, then I am building up anticipation and cravings all week and by the time the day comes I just want to go nuts and eat way too much  because I have made such a big deal of the meal. Not good. Now, instead I will just stick with my diet for as many days in a row as I can, and have my refuel meal as life happens. This way it might be a Monday one week, and a Friday the next, or a Sunday then Monday on a particularly stressful 2 weeks :). I bet I will always have it on a weekend anyway, because weekends are waaaayyy harder for me, but this way I don't go nuts waiting for it all week!
Funny, but also sooo true.

I struggle DAILY with food related issues. If you learn one thing about me from reading this blog, let it be this: I will not only show you the good side of me... my successes, my goals, desires, aspirations and victories. No, I am not perfect!!! Not even a smidgen perfect. There's other issues besides cravings that get me, for example, the "I-Only-Want-It-Because-I-Can't-Have-It" syndrome that commonly attacks during the final week of contest prep, or when I get your new month's diet plan and (gasp!) there's no protein powder on the menu!! I without fail seem to crave foods only when I specifically am restricted from having them. This problem is the underlying root of the self-sabotaging binges many women in the competition field deal with. It's a viscous, viscous mind game :( BUT, Victory is obtainable! I AM STRONGER THAN A JAR OR PEANUT BUTTER!
There's a ton of blogs and articles written on food disorders, but here's what I have found to be effective tactics to shift my mindset from obsession over food to a much more healthy viewpoint. I have not yet mastered this, nor do I expect to ever be perfect (that is NOT a healthy goal!) but I strive to forget about food as "pleasure" and instead make eating a mindful and thankful experience.

 - Winning the Fight: Conquer Cravings
  • Chew gum when cravings are instantaneous... usually they'll pass before the flavor even runs out!
  • Focus on what you CAN have. I love sweet potatoes just as much as peanut butter, and I get to have them every day!
  • Don't be unrealistic. Food will NOT fix any problems. When it all boils down to it, you're still the same person before and after a binge and before and after a good day. Food is merely fuel; if you need to do some mental housecleaning and/or deal with issues food cannot do it.
  • Team up with an accountability partner and be HONEST! I just started this on Tuesday, and I am already doing better. The idea is that you'll be more motivated to meet your goals, of not eating in the middle of the night for example, if you have to tell someone else how you did. My partner and I text eachother every morning and every night to remind eachother to "win the night" and to encourage or praise eachother in the morning :)
  • Love yourself and forgive the past. Don't play catch up, it's a viscious cycle and no matter what you tell yourself it will never end... let alone end well! Learn from your past mistakes and remember this:

If you also struggle with eating, try putting this on your fridge and read it ALL THE WAY THROUGH before you put anything in your mouth... still hungry?

Change is not easy.
 Give yourself time to make the adjustment to more balanced eating. Strive to make small changes every day and over time you will get to your goals.

Eat Like Every Day Is Thanksgiving

What?? No, not your portions... your mindset! I believe the key to overcoming overeating is being mindful and thankful of the privilege of  having an abundance of food. Reverence to God, instead of worshipping food as some great indulgence to be sinfully and gluttonously enjoyed.

The apostle Paul had it nailed when he wrote the following in his letter to the Philippians:
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

For the ladies, the site has great verses and daily devotions. We need to daily remind ourselves of the important things in life and of our many blessings; then have contentment in the blessings we DO have!

I hope you're not struggling with a food related disorder, but if you are I want you to be encouraged and to go forth and live in strength, God's strength :) Be blessed.

~ Ruthie


  1. Well written. I praise your honesty, I know how it feels to struggle with food-related issues and it isn't always easy to talk about.

  2. This is a great post. I can totally relate and I love your tips and mantras.

  3. Thank you for your support, I was nervous to shine light into this dark side of me... but that's the only way to let the healing begin; and that is something I do NOT want to put off any longer!