The Pendulum Diet

Photo by Jennifer Burk on Unsplash

The Pendulum diet. Where you lose weight. Find it and it’s friends. Ditch the weight. The crew finds you again. And it just keeps going and going and going.

Let me tell you a story.

Four years ago at age 38 I was the fittest I’d ever been in my life. I. Looked. Good. Like smokin’ hot in a bikini kinda good! My husband couldn’t keep his hands off me.

I got there by working out close to two hours most every day, weighing portions, counting calories, and not eating carbs after 12 p.m.

So basically my life consisted of exercise and eating chicken and vegetables.

Then my mother made the decision to stop dialysis and I began the long emotional journey of watching a loved one die and saying goodbye to my best friend.

I took a month off work to help care for her. During this time we watched lots of cooking shows together. I started trying recipes to pass the time and keep myself busy. (Disclaimer: these recipes would by no means fall under the category of healthy. Shocker. I know.)

I also stopped working out because I didn’t want to miss a minute with her.

By the time she passed two months later, I had gained 10+ pounds. I continued to gain weight as I attempted to eat my grief into nonexistence and continued not to exercise. I hadn’t even realized that I had gained so much weight.

Until I saw a picture of myself 6 months later.

That picture was the kickstart of my journey on the Pendulum diet. I worked viciously to get rid of the weight, then life would bump me slightly off track, and I would instead be completely derailed. Regaining all the weight lost plus some.

Other times, I just gave up and wallowed in defeat and self pity.

I counted calories, weighed and measured my food, and added up points. Each one worked in its own right. For a short time.

And then before you know it, I was treating myself to this and that. I’d feel guilt and shame for most of what I was eating. So I’d eat more in a weak attempt to drown out the guilt and shame. It became a vicious cycle.

And pretty soon the scale and my waist line were creeping up in numbers again.

I was so disappointed in myself. I constantly beat myself up because I knew better. I had been a personal trainer!  I had become my fittest self! Age age 38! I knew what to do! Yet now I struggled making consistent healthy choices.

What I didn’t give myself credit for was the fact that my life had changed drastically from when I had that hot bod.

Before mom died I’d leave the house at 7 a.m. to train and work out with clients in as a personal trainer and hiked. All before going to work at a youth program. I then spent the day running around with kids until getting home at 8 p.m. Just in time to say goodnight to my own kids.

After her death I went back to working an 8 – 5 desk job and spending more time with my little family. Once again I was there to help my kids with homework, take them to after school activities, and put them to bed. Which meant I didn’t have as much time to workout.

I compared myself to a version of me in a time and place that no longer existed. Which set me up for failing. When I wasn’t perfect in my food choices, I beat myself up by telling myself I might as well give up and go all out. It wouldn’t matter anyway. Like this was an all or nothing situation.

But it’s not.

Putting on underwear is all or nothing. But food choices? Those are lifetime choices. With the opportunity to choose to eat healthy every time I eat. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t. Either way I continue moving forward.

It took me a few years to realize this.

I now live by the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time I eat healthy; 20% of the time I give myself permission to have a treat or two. It offers flexibility when life gets chaotic and busy. The majority of the time I’m making healthy choices and sometimes I have pizza or ice cream, but I do so without guilt. And I no longer tell myself that I’ll start over tomorrow. No need to. I just pick up with the next meal!

To do this I needed to make an intentional mind shift. No more hit it hard, off limits foods for 30, 60, or 90 days.

I now think long into my future and break it down into smaller steps which become habits which accumulate into massive successes.

It will take me longer to lose the weight. But I’m ok with that. I’m no longer aiming for that smokin’ bod. I just want to be healthy so I can play soccer with my kids and hike. I just want to live til I’m a 100, movin’ and groovin’ the whole time. And all the while setting a positive example for my kids so they can avoid some of my hard learned lessons.

I don’t want results in 30 days. I want sustainable, healthy habits.

I’m in it for life.

How about you? Do you want to start taking small steps to succeed for a lifetime? Awesome! Here’s a few ideas to get you started.

Meal Swaps

I’ve tweaked some of my family’s favorite meals. They don’t notice a difference and we all get healthier. Like making sloppy joes and tacos with ground turkey instead of ground beef.

Mason jar salads are made ahead to divide as a side salad for dinner. Think dijon mustard mixed with olive oil, chicken, red grapes, spinach, and shaved parmesan cheese layered in that order.

I also try one new easy healthy recipe a week. It’s definitely good to introduce new things every once in awhile. And I love quick and easy. Many new recipes have become kid and husband approved!

Meal Prep

I’ve prepped work snacks and lunches for many years. I highly recommend it.  But now I’ve taken it to a new level. Super simple. Chop all the vegetables ahead of time. Cook all the ground turkey at once. Divide, freeze, and BOOM! Pull and mix dinners! (Funny. I never thought to do that before.)

Feeling super pumped? Put together a homemade pizza, tape baking instructions to the wrap, and freeze. Pull and bake. Just like Papa Murphy’s.

Got a crock pot? Fill it with chicken then freeze a few in individual baggies and some in meal amounts. Then pull and shred for salads or add to dinners. Want to come home to a home cooked meal? Put all the ingredients in the crockpot the night before, turn it on in the morning and voila! Dinner is served! Add a mason jar salad, some music, and candlelight and your rockin’ it! Your family will think it’s a special occasion and you barely broke a sweat.

Portions

Portion control is the hardest. Order food at a restaurant and there’s enough for 3 meals. But if you’re like me, you eat it in one.

So make it easy on yourself! Get containers that are divided into 3 areas. These are my favorite. Carb and protein in the smaller areas, then fill the larger area with your vegetables. Yes, that many vegetables. Use the same containers to portion your dinner.

For snacks, get tupperware containers and ziplock baggies that are snack size. Pre-portion your snacks, limit yourself to 2 – 3 snacks daily, and over time I guarantee you’ll notice a difference.

I won’t pretend. Eating healthy is not easy. At times it’s even inconvenient.

But it can be fun. And delicious.

These are just a few things to get you started. Tweak as you go and build upon your baby steps over time.

Most importantly give yourself a break. If you have a treat don’t beat yourself up over it. Be present in the moment, enjoy the treat, and pick right back up with healthy food choices at the next meal.

So what do you struggle with when it comes to eating healthy? Have your own tips for keeping meal time healthy? Share in the comments!

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