Room for chocolate in healthy eating

Aside from a very brief (less than one week, so I'm going to suggest that it shouldn't even count) and regrettable stint using weight loss products, I've not relied on gimmicks or products, or crazy weight loss systems to drop the pounds.

I started out at Weight Watchers, and I successfully dropped weight on the program, but it was there, that I knew I couldn't see myself watching points the rest of my life, or using the scale as a good measure of my health.

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I dropped the program, and set out to drop the weight the good ol' fashioned way - healthy food, smaller portions and plenty of exercise. I didn't count calories (although I did have another brief stint - about a month, of using an app to track my macro nutrients to make sure I was eating in a balanced way that would support the active lifestyle I was now living, and to assist in losing weight for my gym's weight loss challenge).

I even dabbled in magical weight loss pills, but either my body didn't agree with them, or the results were not significant enough to warrant the cost. Nothing, it seemed, worked as well as proper diet and exercise. So if anyone asks me, I wouldn't recommend any program, any products, or crazy methods to lose weight.

I also discovered very quickly that if I wanted to keep working out as much as I was, I needed to fuel my body properly for that. Protein become a big focus, and while not intentionally eating low carb, I found that I craved less carbs with a higher protein diet. A rundown of an average day of eating for me looks like this:

Breakfast 7 a.m.: oatmeal with chia seeds, cinnamon, Stevia and blueberries, topped with one-quarter cup of skim milk.

Snack 10 a.m.: Plain greek yogurt sweetened with Stevia and blueberries.

Lunch 1:30 p.m.: I frequently visit Pita Pit and my order is always the same - small chicken breast pita on whole wheat with green peppers, onion and hot sauce on the grill, with fresh romaine, spinach, more green peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers, and topped with feta, tzatziki and extra hot sauce.

Snack 4 p.m.: Either fresh chopped veggies or a salad with a vinaigrette based dressing and a granola bar or banana.

Dinner 7:30 p.m: This is the only thing that varies a lot, but will always have the following in common - a form of lean protein, lots of veggies, light on the fat content and also low in carbs.

Snack 9 p.m.: 2-3 Chocolate truffles. Yes, you read that right. I have truffles nightly.

You'll notice that I don't leave more than maximum of three and a half hours between meals or snacks which is incredibly purposeful - to keep my metabolism burning effectively all day long. Starving yourself is never the way to go!

Eating consistently throughout the day also prevents my blood sugar levels from riding a roller coaster, and I avoid any crashes that may trigger a binge eating session. I don't eat crazy amounts of carbs, but to keep me mentally alert and support high intensity workouts, they are always included.

I eat carbs an hour before I work out (my afternoon snack includes a banana or a Kashi granola bar for this purpose), so I can make it through tough workouts. Overall, I lower my carb intake the later it gets in the day, but keep my protein levels higher. Protein is necessary for building muscle, and while I don't have a goal to be a body builder, I am trying to build more muscle.

I leave room in my evenings for chocolate, because it's something I'm just unwilling to live without, and because no one can be expected to cut everything they enjoy out of their diet. I recommend leaving some wiggle room to enjoy (in moderation) the foods that bring real pleasure in your life.

My diet is not perfect, but I am not striving for perfect, it fuels me for what I need I need in my life at this point. I am active, I am healthy, I feel great, my diet is not a struggle and that was always the ultimate goal for me.

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