My Year of Eating Everything

Mark & I shared this pizza in Zurich

Howdy friends, here we are on the cusp of all the November-December eating holidays, starting with the biggest one of the year for Americans- Thanksgiving. And it seems to be the annual kick-off of the food-filled festivities that last until New Year’s Day. These 6 weeks are often met with a mix of eager anticipation of all the yummy treats (& justification of putting all diets on temporary hold),  and anxiety at what 42 days of unrestrained eating will do to us. So we either try to “be good” and avoid the holiday treats, or (unavoidably) eat them anyway, but not really enjoy it because of the ensuing guilt. There has to be a better way, people! And I think there is…

I just spent a year eating everything I wanted to.

And what happened!? Actually not too much, except for me letting go of my previously very tightly held food rules, including tossing out my list of “forbidden foods.” These were foods like hamburgers, ice cream, donuts, marshmallows, or fried anything… foods I claimed to “not like” but in fact I was just afraid of eating, or actually afraid of not being able to stop eating. But I found that once I lifted the taboo, I actually never binged. It’s funny how when the sanction is lifted and any food is allowed at any time in any amount, the allure is gone. We are all just little kids in that way, I guess.

Yes, I did gain weight this past year, but not as much as I would have thought, and much of it was needed, considering how small I’d been after my shows. I gained up to a point and then just levelled out… and now it seems I can truly “eat whatever I want and not gain weight.” Granted, I’m heavier than my self-determined “ideal body weight.” But no one loves me less, including myself, so I’m thinking I must have tossed out guilt and unrealistic ideals along with that list of forbidden foods.

One of the many pies Sara made this past summer… this one is blackberry… mmm…

It’s not that I set out to do an “eat everything and see what happens” experiment, it’s just that 2019 has been a year of some pretty incredible travel opportunities for me. I was honestly so burned out on dieting (even on weighing and tracking my food) from my 2018 bodybuilding season, that I found that I just didn’t have it in me to enforce my usual restrictions. So it was a perfect set-up for this much-needed-&-I-didn’t-even-know-it trial in food freedom.

And so I truly, truly enjoyed myself in New York City in February, where we went to not only look at colleges for Theda (& West Point for Tommy), but also to take in some Broadway shows:

From the Italian take-away restaurant near our apartment
Apparently I can enjoy ice cream any time of year, especially this delicious mochi with its irresistibly chewy texture
Everyone who thinks they don’t like marshmallows should really try homemade ones! They literally melt in your mouth
Homemade donuts… that’s all I need to say

In March I flew to Mumbai with Sara & her middle school Honours Choir team. What an incredible experience! One of the other travelling moms, a friend of mine, is Indian, and she graciously coached me on every yummy thing I should be eating! Luckily I’ve always been a very coachable person.

We ate a lavish breakfast at our hotel every morning
Lunch at a street vendor
The best paneer curry I’ve ever eaten

Thanks to Theda & Tommy, I travelled to Taipei in April to cheer them on at the “IASAS” (International Association of Southeast Asian Schools) Track & Field Championships, for which they both qualified. Track is a sport where you can come and go depending on the events you want to see, and I took advantage of my downtime by sampling the local cuisine. We were lucky enough to go to the hawker stalls with a friend who speaks fluent Chinese… imagine how much the hawker ladies adored this blond, blue-eyed Italian American, ordering our lunch in perfect dialect! I’ve never had better Chinese food. Thanks, Ilaria!

Just a sampling from our lunch- everything was SO fresh!

May brought the opportunity for me to accompany Mark on a work trip to Zurich, Switzerland. Although he had some business meetings to attend, we are mostly just there for fun and celebration. And Swiss hospitality is second to none!

Pizza at a little cafe after a morning run & stroll through the historic district
The best donut I’ve ever eaten in my LIFE… and I hit a motherlode of raspberry on my next bite
Local farm produce- dried apples from the orchard & spiced pumpkin seeds- perfect appetisers with a glass of crisp white wine
Swiss fondue at the gala event on our last evening
Swiss chocolate… it was every bit as good as it looks

At the end of all this travel, I told myself I would “cut back” over our summer home leave… track my macros, try to lose the little bit of weight I’d gained. But I found I just didn’t want to. The body inherently rebels against restriction, and you just tend to crave what you’re trying to restrict. So I kept a free rein all summer, and enjoyed the yummy food we made… Tommy’s fried chicken, Theda’s pasta, and Sara’s homemade rolls & pie.

Sara’s rolls… my Ma would be mighty proud!
I haven’t had fried chicken this good since my Ma cooked it for me
Theda’s creamy mushroom pasta- so yummy & healthy

I certainly still ate a lot of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, etc, and I took advantage of all the awesome exercise opportunities in Steamboat- hiking, jogging, and biking through the gorgeous mountain trails.

My typical lunch- grilled fish, veggies, and rice/corn/potato- such a delicious combination
At the top of Fish Creek Falls with new friends I met on the way

I have to admit that my eating freedom unfolded little by little, not all at once. But I found that my comfort level continued to grow every time I allowed myself to eat previously forbidden foods with truly no guilt, just enjoyment. And I loved it.

The bottom line is, we really can trust our bodies. We do all have a stopping point. We might just be forgetting to listen, so overridden as we are with restriction that we can no longer hear our own signals. It took me awhile to hear mine, because I’d restricted my eating for so long.

But I found, ironically from lifting the restrictions and eating everything… that I really can trust my body to say, that’s enough. It sure was good. 

And you can too. I promise. Even if it takes awhile. It took me a year to self-regulate. Have patience.

Happy American Thanksgiving, friends! Here’s to nourishing ourselves well.

What I Ate (& did!) in France

Howdy friends!  Or I guess I should say, “Bonjour!”

I’m just back from the trip of a lifetime… celebrating Mark’s & my 20-year anniversary!!!  Twenty years of marriage is something pretty special no matter how you look at it, and being away together to celebrate in Paris and the Loire Valley was truly amazing.

This trip couldn’t have come at a better time… just 3 weeks after my first bodybuilding competition and the structure and discipline that accompanied it.  I was so ready to ditch the weight scale and the food scale while I was away and just eat according to my heart’s desire.  And I did….

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What I Ate (and did!) in Austin

Fish tacos

Howdy, y’all!  I’m in Texas, so this greeting just comes naturally.  I’ve been away from the blog for awhile, because we’ve  been visiting friends and family, and I have to say, my baby nephew is so completely adorable and charming that I haven’t sat down at my computer one single time.  And I’m not even sorry!  Babies grow up too fast…  …

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Tips for Staying Fit on Holiday

Handstand on Sunset beach wall

Hi friends, what are your best tips for staying fit while on holiday?  Spring Break is right around the corner for us, and I’ve been thinking about how holidays break up your routine, for better and for worse.  While they provide a much-needed break in every way, taking too long of a hiatus from your fitness routine (healthy diet, regular workouts) can make it harder to come back to those good habits.

So how can you maintain your fitness while on holiday, and still enjoy, and be refreshed by, your time away?  The following 5 strategies work for me:…

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Peach Blueberry Chia Breakfast Pudding

Peach blueberry chia pudding

The mind is a terrible thing to waste.

And the waist is a terrible thing to mind.

Here is my current situation: I forgot to bring the flat of peaches up to Steamboat with us on our camping trip, thus derailing the Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler I had planned.  Yum, right?  But not so yum when the peaches were left waiting in Pa’s refrigerator in Denver….

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Vacation Eating

Our view climbing up to Coit Tower

Our view climbing up to Coit Tower

Well folks, I promised you I would tell you at some point “what I ate Friday night” that does not include a green smoothie or anything made with chia seeds… So here it is, “what I ate on vacation in San Francisco”… such a perfectly yummy day!!

My day started with this view from our vacation rental in Sausalito, watching the sun come up over Marin Bay. …

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