A Practical Guide To Healthy Living
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Strategic Eating

I have been what most would describe a super-healthy eater for a while now. Cancer’ll do that to a girl. I have been all about fruits, green leafies, whole grains, lean meats, fiber fiber fiber for over a decade. I have cooked most of our food, eaten little processed food and cut out almost all alcohol.

But I still had my vice: sugar. And I knew it wasn’t good for me, but in retrospect (and even at the time, but I chose to overlook this), I was/am addicted. It is, in the great words of the authors of It Starts With Food, my “food with no brakes.” Once I start, I just can’t stop. Even if it was fruit, which of course is much better, I ate a lot of sugar. So I was 1) spiking my blood sugar often and 2) getting a lot of calories from carbs, to the exclusion of calories from fats and proteins. But I was eating well and so I overlooked it and chalked this up to my “one vice,” not so bad, right?

Enter in my terrific trainer, Tamara. After reviewing my food logs for a couple of weeks, she gently alerted me to this macronutrient mayhem and suggested I might want to limit my carbs and up my protein a bit. Suggested that I might finally start to see the fat loss I’d been wanting for so long, see the muscles I’ve been building start to emerge from under that little layer of fat that kept them from shining through. And since Tamara is so smart, and is older and more wise than any other trainer I’ve ever seen, I took her advice. And you know what? It happened.

At first, I kept things to about 30-30-30, macronutrient-wise (protein/carbs/fat). I stopped eating the sweeter fruits, focusing instead on things like apples and berries and citrus. I upped my protein and upped my fat (you KNOW I love me some fat – “Don’t fear the fat!” I always say). I was satisfied and I started to lose inches. And see muscle. And my CRAVINGS WERE ALMOST COMPLETELY ELIMINATED. My blood sugar was much more stable. This was enabling metabolic change to happen, all the while keeping me un-hungry and out of our “carb cupboard” at home.

So between this and the freedom from pain I felt because of giving up gluten, I have been feeling freakin’ fantastic. Full of energy. Strong. Satiated.

All this got me thinking more about hormones and metabolism and fat loss and such. Yes, this dyed-in-the-wool calories in/calories out dieter started exploring the world of bodybuilding. I read blogs, I read books, I’ve delved deep. And you know what? There really is something to it. I like to call it “Strategic Eating” – and although I thought it the stuff of meat-heads, it’s not. It’s working wonders for my body. It really does “start with food.” What you eat, when you eat it, the quantities you eat it in. It can really make a difference. I’m living the proof right here on this sofa.

More soon on some more great books and resources to get you started, if you like. I don’t aspire to be a body-builder, just a strong, fit middle-aged mama who feels good in her skin (and a swimsuit). And for the first time (yes, folks, at 43) I can say that I finally do.


*Disclosure: If you click on the graphic above, it’ll redirect you to my Amazon.com store, and if you purchase the book, I’ll make a teeny tiny commission. To date, I’ve made $.04 from this blog!

© 2013, Sarah. All rights reserved.

  • Stephanie Robbins

    Great post. I am a recovering sugar addict as well :) There has been some mourning over the loss of sweets but now my taste buds have adjusted. An apple tastes as sweet as what I remember a cookie to be. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my days. However the additional energy I feel and the patience I have gained back are not worth any cookie, no matter how warm and gooey.

    • http://www.semisweetonline.com Semi-Sweet Sarah

      I know, Stephanie – even the most diligent healthy eater just wants a gooey cookie once in a while – and that’s OK! But I have LONG said that once you get off “the hooch” (highly processed & artificially or highly sweetened foods), you can taste the natural sweetness of whole foods much better. My husband gets irritated w/me b/c I don’t season certain things enough for his taste . . . and I say, “but can’t you just taste the delicious flavor of that broccoli?” and he looks at me like I’m nuts. Ah well.

  • http://Semisweetonline Heidi

    Way to go, Sarah! I decided to give up sugar for Lent this yer and it has been eye-opening (to how much I was enjoying of the stuff every single day) and amazing (like how good I feel without it, how much better I sleep, and how I don’t miss that sugar hangover!). I do think I am going to make this a serious life-style change! Yippee!

    I have still been enjoying fruits, so maybe I need to evaluate my ratios (and check that glycemic index) to get even better results. The green smoothie isn’t the same without the honey, but it’s still yummy (with plain yogurt!). Thanks for the update on your progress…as always, you are an inspiration!

    • http://www.semisweetonline.com Semi-Sweet Sarah

      Isn’t it interesting how your body reacts to different foods, Heidi? I’ve also found that I feel better w/a lot less (almost zero) dairy . . . although it’s “good” sugar, you know that even plain dairy does have sugars and can up your carbs, too . . . as much as I have been against “processed” foods, I do find that protein powders (vegan and whey, both) have had an important roll in all this – my green smoothie is flavored & sweetened by the protein powder I put in (so stevia, which is not w/o its detractors, but all agree it doesn’t mess w/your blood sugar in a huge way). But yes, you might want to consider what fruit, and how much of it you’re eating. And check out how much protein you’re getting!

  • http://fitknitchick.com Tamara

    I know that I’ve told you before, but I’m just so thrilled to be working with you Sarah! You’re the perfect client; you do your workouts religiously and are open to making the dietary changes necessary to reach your goals. Not very many people are…

    • http://www.semisweetonline.com Semi-Sweet Sarah

      Aww, Tamara, I’m just so glad the interweb connected us and I can’t thank you enough for your time & patience w/all my questions and my “special needs” – I’m living proof that low-impact doesn’t have to mean low-intensity – you “get” that in a big way and it’s paying off for me, bigtime! Big hugs.

  • Alyson

    Congratulations! If you wouldn’t mind, I’d love to hear what a typical day (or, preferably, a few days) of eating looks like for you. I find myself picking up great hints here and there for recipes for a single meal but struggling with putting it all together into a bigger picture. In particular, I’d love to hear about what yummy satiating things you’re including that have helped you conquer your sweet tooth!

    • http://www.semisweetonline.com Semi-Sweet Sarah

      Hey Alyson – there’s a post coming up on this, but I’d say THE MOST important thing for me has been eating 5 small meals per day, and focusing on getting at least 20g. of protein + a non-starchy vegetable (and/or a lower sugar fruit) at each of those mini-meals. I think that keeping my overall carb. intake on the low side (like 150g. max per day – that’s including all my fruit & veg. so really, not a lot of room for starchy veg or grains) has kept my blood sugar stable and gotten me off the cravings roller-coaster. But stay tuned for more specifics . . . it requires prep & planning, but if you’re willing to give it a go, I’d say it’s totally worth the effort!

    • http://www.semisweetonline.com/ Semi-Sweet Sarah

      Another idea, Alyson – do you follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook? I often tweet/post what I eat.