My producer Deana has suggested many times that I write about what I eat. Not what I post on this blog, which tends to be the dramatic, rather my day to day lifestyle.
I am a former anorexic and bulimic. My high weight in college was 152 and my low weight was 89 pounds.
Three and a half years ago I was 26.8% body fat. Today I am less than 18%.
I am often asked how I did it.
It’s the dreaded “D” word.
Not diet. Not deprivation. Not determination.
Discipline to eat healthfully and to exercise.
Here’s my Top Ten:
1) My trainer Deb suggested allowing myself one “poison” when I embarked on this journey. Some people choose bread, others pasta, many chocolate. I chose wine. I’ll be honest – I couldn’t make all the other sacrifices if I didn’t have my vino to look forward to in the evening.
2) I live by the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time I try to be really good; 20% of the time I give myself a break.
3) When I do indulge, and I do indulge as evidenced by these pages, I eat small portions.
4) Eliminating the small things makes big changes. Sushi rice for example. I order my nigiri with half rice and my rolls with no rice and triple veggies. That small adjustment can save a hundred calories.
5) I drink lots of water. I gave up diet Coke because of the bloating but not coffee. Black coffee that is. You’d never catch me wasting my calories on sugary flavored coffees with foam.
6) Visualization. When I am loathe to work out or craving that pork bun, I imagine myself in a bikini and actually wanting to be seen in public. Or I think of my jiggly wiggly arms and cellulite. Both effective. When in doubt, stand in front of the mirror in your bathing suit for a good, hard look or find a bright flourescent and wave.
7) I exercise five days a week. I never played sports growing up and hated P.E. I’m not a natural born runner, yet I started with one mile and eventually ran a marathon. I hired a trainer because I’m worth it. Putting on gym clothes first thing in the A.M. pushes me to pump iron. I go to group exercise classes for the camaraderie and accountability. As Mario Batali told me recently, “Eat what you want just be prepared to work it off.” Calories in and calories out. It’s just like deposits and withdrawals at the bank.
8) Fiber is my friend. I refer to myself as a vegetablist. I strive for my daily diet to be composed of fifty percent veggies.
Forget what your internal time clock tells you, breakfast is the perfect time for greens. They set an important tone for the day, and if I get busy, I can relax knowing that I’ve met my minimum quota.
9) I have found that cooking at home is infinitely more healthy and lower in fat and calories than dining out. This was not an easy transition. I am always on the go, but I make it a priority. Convenience is the key for me. There are always basic foods in my fridge and pantry that makes the decision making easy.
I eat very little starchy carbs, however I enjoy an English Muffin now and then. My fave are the Thomas Light Multi Grain. (Don’t confuse with the Hearty Grain or Whole Wheat; those are much higher in calories.) They are only 100 calories a muffin and pack 8 grams of fiber. That’s 32% of your daily requirement!
One of my quickest and yummiest snacks is half an English muffin topped with chicken salad and tomatoes.
Kashi Go Lean Cereal. At 140 calories a cup and 10 grams of fiber is a great nutritional value. Not to mention flavor and crunch. I add bananas, strawberries and blueberries for sweetness and all those wonderful antioxidants.
10) I am fairly realistic. I can’t cook at home all the time. Nor do I want to. My preferred fast food lunch is the six inch turkey on whole wheat at Subway. It starts at six grams of fat and 320 calories, then I subtract calories from there. I peel off the top layer of bread and save 100 calories. By skipping the cheese I save another 60. Forgoing mayo eliminates another 100. I add lots and lots of veggies – priceless.
When dining out in restaurants I try to order first, that way I won’t be influenced by everyone else’s choices. I eschew the starch and ask for double veggies. If it’s my decision, bread and butter are not brought to the table. If there isn’t a vinaigrette available I make my own dressing with olive oil and lemon. Two apps are often better than one entree. An alternate to toast points is endive. I usually request the sauce on the side, but when it comes to something like veal picatta, I ask the chef to substitute chicken stock and wine for the butter and oil. If I sound like Sally in “When Harry Met Sally,” well, that’s the way I roll.
Now the painful part.
Because you have been so patient, dear reader, I will show you a picture of my former self when I was thirty pounds heavier and nearly thirty percent body fat.
In March 2006, I had the honor of playing golf with LPGA Hall of Famer Patty Sheehan. It was days after seeing this photo that I made the irrevocable commitment to health and fitness.
Baby steps. Embarrassment. Set backs. Heartbreak. Accomplishment. Exhilaration. All of it.
I consider my lifestyle to be akin to a hobby or a sport:
There’s always room for improvement and hard work delivers results.
I’m in it to win it.