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Why I Gave Up Dieting

You were probably initially drawn to my page because it dealt with fitness. Maybe it was because you knew me in “real life” and needed a little kick in the butt to remind you to stay/get in shape. I posted tons of workout selfies, meal prep that I had done, diet plans I chose to use through things like Beachbody (never going to knock them because they helped me when I wanted to start working out more).  Things were really different if you scroll back to just a year or two ago.

But then I stopped. I stopped posting as much. I stopped taking workout selfies. I stopped sharing what I was eating. I was feeling miserable. No matter how much I was dieting and exercising it felt like I was just the same. I felt like there was such a small difference and I was driving myself crazy. I felt like I was failing as the “fitness” role model I wanted to be. I was not going out with friends.  I was avoiding social events. I was limiting what I ate when I was on the road for work. I lived a life that was completely limited.

And when I would “cheat” or get the chance to have something delicious, I was a monster. I was out of control. I would eat the entire bag of chips in one sitting. The entire pint of Halo Top I picked up earlier that day would be gone that night (I know this one isn’t “bad” but eating a pint every other night was not a good thing either). I was ravenous and when I had a chance to eat “bad food”, I went crazy and binged.

It was a vicious cycle. I would diet, be so proud of myself, go out and binge eat, and come back and feel like absolute crap.  Then I would start again.  IT WAS INSANITY. And I was exhausted. Exhausted about hating my body. Exhausted about feeling self conscious all the time when I was eating something deemed “not healthy”.  So I came across certain Instagram feeds that promoted this thing called “intuitive eating”. I know what the two words mean separately but I was curious about what they meant when used together…

I started doing some research and listened to the audiobook “Big Girl: How I gave up dieting and got a life”.  It changed everything for me. I also listened to “Intuitive Eating: A revolutionary Program that works”.  I started practicing what each book taught me: there is no such thing as a “bad food”. I swear that was my wakeup call. Nothing was off limits and contrary to what you may think, this made me want “bad stuff” a whole lot LESS. I knew I could have it so I didn’t have to binge anymore. It was freeing and really helped me start healing my relationship with food.

I also learned to listen to my body. I started asking myself questions like: Are you really hungry or bored? Are you eating because you’re hungry or are you emotional? If I’m feeling emotional, what’s the reason behind it? I became more in tune with myself and recognized triggers. When I was stressed about the wedding, money, or school, I had a tendency to not eat much and reach for things like Hot Cheetos and wine.  But I recognized I was stressed at that point and found ways to try to eliminate stress to make my life a little easier.  I figured out that I didn’t really care for big dinners and shook the need that I had to have some sort of complex carb to eat with dinner like a sweet potato. I opted for meals that were focused on protein and veggies for dinner because that’s what my body wanted and what made me feel good before going to bed a few hours later.  I stopped assuming I was hungry for breakfast at 7am and asked myself “are you really hungry or are you eating out of habit?” I started eating more vegan and vegetarian food because my body was not feeling meat as much. This showed me a whole new world of ingredients and restaurants that have blown my mind.

This changed also brought along a lot of fear. Fear of weight gain because I wasn’t eating 4-6 small meals a day balanced with protein, fat and carbs. Fear of eating items that were previously off limits. Fear of being more than the size 10/12 I’ve pretty much been my entire adult life. But I strive every day to shake that fear and remind myself that my size is not a determinant of my worth or potential. Yes, people that don’t know and people that do know me may think I have changed or look different but if they are people that know me for who I am will love me more now because I can actually go out with them and have a spontaneous dinner date or happy hour date in the middle of the week.  It has freed me to start this new relationship with food, eating, my family, my friends, and my body.

But there’s one crucial piece I have not shared with you…

You will always see me exercising and moving. I just love it.  It makes me feel so good. It helps me with my anxiety. I’m such a busy body and my mind goes a thousand miles per hour and working out helps me slow down and be present. I will move as long as I can and I will always use it as the best form of free therapy. But that works for ME. Maybe you just like to take walks with your dog or go on hikes. Maybe you like to do yoga at home. Just make sure to move the way that makes you feel happy. Celebrate your body and embrace its ability to move.  Don’t use exercise as a form of punishment because you ate a sleeve of Oreos.

I hope this post inspires you to embrace who you are and I challenge you to shake the stigma of dieting. In the books I read I learned that 95% of diets fail. Why do you want to intentionally set yourself up for a life of failure? It’s a culture that makes us feel “less than” and encourages us to buy products that make us “better”. Fit looks different on everyone. I work out four to six days a week and I think I’m pretty fit when I curl those 25 pound dumbbells, but I also wear a size 12/14 in pants and a M/L in shirts. But I am happy. I am thankful for who I am and for all my body is able to do. You are perfect the way you are and you should embrace that and shake that diet stigmas and do what you enjoy.

I am here for each an every one of you if you want to take the journey with me. I no longer entertain dieting or diet culture but I’m ready to help you change your life and find all the happiness and fun I’ve found by giving up dieting.

All hail the #antidiet movement!!!!

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Planning A Badass Vacation

Raise your hand if you love to travel! I have to say that traveling is my #1 favorite thing to do with my money because I feel that experiences will last so much longer than that $1000 Louis Vuitton purse or $300 Jordan’s you’ve been eyeing. Many people assume I make the big bucks or just charge a lot on my card in order to travel like I do, but I actually take the time to budget my trips, plan strategically, and stay the course in order to make our travel dreams come true. 99% of the time I pay for my trip in cash or pay it back on my card within a week (I use my Discover card sometimes to get that wonderful cashback and just pay it off).

If you’re reading this after I post it, you’re catching me about a week out from a Disney Trip I started planning sometime last year.  I’ve saved so much money but yet managed to travel at a great time of year—so how did I do it? I’ll share the details of that specific trip in a few weeks with some fantastic pictures and all about how I did it!

Not sure how to get started? Scared to travel alone? Now this blog is not exclusively a travel blog, but my friend Courtney definitely has some more information about seeing the world on her blog Thirty30Courtney. I’ve got some amateur advice for you so scroll down to see how I save money and plan a badass vacation…

How do I Save?—Apps, Points, and More

Saving money is always a tough thing but the good thing is that we live in the age of technology! We have tools available to us that can make saving so much easier.  One that I have personally been using is Digit which is a great tool to take small amount of money out of your account without you even noticing.  You can adjust how aggressive you want it to save for you and even put in specific goals and deadlines you have to save for!

I also love to use hotel and airline points.  My advice: find one or two of each and stick to it.  My preferred partners are Hilton, Delta and Southwest (No thanks United!) because they all give decent rewards and a decent amount availability.  If you use Hilton be sure to sign up for all of the double and triple opportunities with them! You tend to get treated even better when you are a part of these hotel programs as you start to accrue points.  Half of our one week stay in Disney/Universal Studios was paid for because of points!

I also love using travel agents if you need some time to pay things off.  My favorite one is Dream Vacations.  You get plenty of time to pay off your cruises or other vacations through them which makes it kind of like a short term bill in my opinion. I usually put down a couple hundred a month which makes $1000 looks much better than having to pay it all at once.

AirBnB is also a great option! I have only used it a couple of times but the experience has been great.  I know this is a big one for people who are traveling in Europe.  I’ve seen rooms for like $20 a night and no, it didn’t look like a creepy dank room where you’ll wake up with someone standing over your bed braiding your hair.  Just be sure to look at reviews and ask about any hidden clean up costs or deposits that might cause your price to go up.

The 3 D’s–Destination, Determination, Deliberation

Why yes, that is a Harry Potter reference but also a motto to live by when it comes traveling the world.  Determining the destination can be difficult but only if you’re really picky about what time of year to travel.  We don’t have kids so we don’t normally have to travel when they are on break, so we pick times of the year where we know that they will be in school to avoid crowds.  Also, it’s a very good idea to check out if there are any national holidays at that time if you’re traveling abroad as this can spike prices as well.  We usually travel in April/May (be careful with Easter falling late and Memorial Day!) and September/October (Labor Day can be tough but most of the other time you’ll be good).  We like warm weather vacations and those times of year allow us to escape a lot of crowds and high costs.  You don’t have spring or summer break any more so think outside of the box when it comes to when you are going to travel.

Determination is important because, honey, it’s going to take some to save up for this! Depending on what type of trip you’re trying to plan you may have to cut down on some spending to make it work.  No more sushi dates and movies on weekend evenings if you want to save up! But there are always alternatives especially if your partner is on board with all of this.  Rent movies from Redbox (make sure to return them the next day please!), find Groupons to save money and try new places, or even find a recipe to make together to make up for that date night that you guys used to have and grab a bottle of wine.  That old $60 date can turn into a $20 date pretty easily and without much sacrifice if you are determined to see the world.

Deliberation usually occurs if you’re not traveling alone.  Sometimes it’s really hard to figure out where you want to go! There are so many amazing places in the world and if you’re like me, you want to see as many of them in this lifetime as possible.  I suggest using things like Kayak’s Explore function and put the length of your trip, home airport, and price range in to give you some unique ideas on where you can go.  I also like to do a lot of research on travel blogs.  Minus the one I mentioned earlier, you may want to check out travel posts from LiveLifeWell as she does many trips with couples, girlfriends, and family.

The People You Bring Will Make or Break Your Trip

I cannot emphasize this enough.  Just because you’re BFFs at work or regularly doesn’t mean that you travel well together.  I have traveled with groups I knew like the back of my hand (or at least thought I did) and groups that I barely knew (that I came to love and cherish) so here’s my advice: go with people who have similar styles as you.  For example, I take about 20-30 minutes MAX to get ready (mainly because of my amazingly low maintenance hair), so I have a hard time traveling with people who take more than an hour to get ready (I can handle it if we’re going to a nice dinner but to go to the beach???).  I feel antsy, annoyed, and quite frankly like I am wasting my time.  I also don’t do well with SUPER cheap people. I may be money conscious about saving to take the trip but I also try to keep a sizable amount of money to enjoy myself when I get there.  What’s the point of going somewhere where I have to sacrifice learning and experiencing the culture because I’m too cheap to pay more than $5 for lunch?  For some of my friends, that’s not important, but I love to eat and drink, so I am going to save my money for those experiences when I travel. Roll with people who are willing to spend what you’re willing to spend.

Splitting the bill also may be something you have to consider when you’re traveling with others.  Set up accounts with Venmo or check what bank they have so you can send money quickly to each other when you have that illustrious Wifi connection. Also make sure you don’t jampack your days so that you don’t come back more exhausted than you are when you left for your trip.  We like to take naps on vacation and have days where we just kind of chill, so if that’s you, make sure you’re vocal with your travel partners.

Back in my first post I tried to explain that being “fit” isn’t all about being physically fit.  I hope that after this post you realize that being culturally fit—seeing and traveling the world and exploring new cultures—is not as difficult to attain as maybe it was 20-30 years ago. Your journey to being culturally fit starts by taking a chance and trying to see what you need to do to make it happen because, my friend…it is very possible.

I am hoping to see as many cultures, countries, and people in this world as I possibly can, are you? How do you find ways to save money when traveling? Where are some places you’re hoping to go this year? Where would you suggest?