I Changed What I Ate (and Didn’t) to Lose Weight

By Elevate Fitness Marketing Director and Certified Spin Instructor Jason Jaquays-Tarbox

Recently, I found I’d fallen into some bad habits. Bad habits that I’d corrected once before through lots of hard work, determination, dedication, and effort. Bad habits that I’d sworn I’d never allow back into my life regardless of the circumstances.

Oh, Jason, you naive thing you.

I’d recently been recertified to teach spin classes and was teaching and taking classes several times a week burning a butt-load of calories when I took out my summer wardrobe only to discover that some of my shorts were simply too tight to button anymore.

How could this be? I was spinning four to five times a week and burning in the neighborhood of a thousand calories each time. How, when I was doing all that work in the gym, could my waist betray me like that??

Oh, Jason, you naive thing you.

The reality was that on top of all this crazy pedaling I was doing, I was also going home and telling myself that I’d worked so hard in class that morning that I deserved chips before dinner. I deserved full-fat ice cream after dinner. I deserved to bake and eat half a pie before bed.

Yup, I was essentially trying to out-exercise a bad diet. It was time to change things up and take responsibility for what I’d been telling gym members for years – your efforts in the gym only count when they’re accompanied by making good choices in the kitchen.

I set out to attack the problem head-on by avoiding the following things that I self-declared to be out-of-bounds for a month:

  1. No gluten. For me, that meant no bread (and trust me – I could make an entire meal out of bread alone, so this wasn’t an easy task) and no pie. Now, I’d recently discovered that I’m REALLY GOOD at baking homemade pies, so to say this took some willpower is an understatement.
  2. No caffeine. Prior to beginning this journey, I was drinking anywhere from four to six Diet Dr. Peppers a day. I know, I know. I’d chosen for a long time to willfully not believe all the evidence that shows even diet sodas can lead to weight gain.
  3. No white carbs. No regular potatoes (sweet potatoes were acceptable), no white rice (brown rice was acceptable) and no added sugars.
  4. No dairy. That’s right – none.

More important than what I wasn’t allowing myself, though, was what I WAS going to be eating. Afterall, without bread, pie and my beloved Diet Dr. Pepper, what exactly was I going to be eating, then?

  1. Green apples (not red), and lots of them!
  2. Protein shakes with added fiber for breakfast and lunch (meal planning just got a whole lot easier).
  3. Lean protein (chicken) and greens for dinner.
  4. Raw cashews.

Now, I know that list doesn’t look very long or very interesting, but I can assure you that like most routines that we fall into, consuming the same foods day after day became not only normal but almost preferable to me.

In fact, when I set out to do this challenge, my goal was a 30-day period beginning on May 31st and ending June 29th, allowing me to eat anything I wanted come June 30th, my birthday. And I did splurge on the 30th (there was a LOT of bread in my belly when I went to bed that night) but by July 1st, I was ready to get back to the routine I’d established in June.

And so I did, but I added a new rule and went vegan while reverting back to the four off-limits rules from above.

Here’s what I’ve accomplished with this strategy over the past 62 days:

  1. I’ve lost somewhere between 20 – 25 pounds (my weight fluctuates up to 5 pounds a day depending on how long/far I’ve run, how hydrated I am, etc. so this is normal for me).
  2. I’m (mostly) sleeping through the night again (probably thanks to giving Diet Dr. Pepper the heave-ho).
  3. My running form and time have both improved (although, full disclaimer: this could also be due to a recent 32-day run-streak of daily runs of at least 3.1 miles each).
  4. I have experienced fewer and less-severe headaches (again, probably thanks to ditching the doctor).
  5. I feel generally happier and more positive.

Now, you can make your assumptions about why I’m experiencing these improvements, but the bottom line is – they’re improvements and whether the cause is the change in my eating habits or good, old-fashioned placebo effect, the improvements are real.

For me, the effort and discipline have been worth it for the weight loss, the improved sense of well-being and for having been finally able to ditch the soda! And chances are I’ll continue to eat “clean” 90% of the time or more just to maintain the benefits I’ve experienced.

I haven’t been perfect. I’ve faltered. I’ve whined. I’ve complained.

But even when it hasn’t been great, all I’ve had to do is think about how much money I’m saving on soda or how my shorts finally fit (comfortably) again, or how much healthier my skin looks to know that like all things in life, the things worth having (doing?) are rarely easy, but the rewards are oh, so worth it.


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