In Better Shape at 35 Than at 17? Definitely.

by | Nov 17, 2014
35 beats 17

35 beats 17

I turn 35 tomorrow, or as I like to call it: halfway to 70.


Seriously though, 35 feels significant. For one thing, people ask me when I’m having kids on a near daily basis. (Please stop). I’ve also been living on my own longer than I’d lived with my parents.

I was 17 when I left home to go to Berkeley, and it’s weird to reflect on what I was like back then. On one hand, I was the same cerebral introvert who cared deeply about food and my body. On the other hand, those qualities manifested in all the worst possible ways.

On one of the first days of school we did an ice breaking exercise in one of the classes I was taking (Music 27). The Grad Student Instructor running the section asked us to go around the room and introduce ourselves by saying our name, where we were from, and our favorite cuisine.

This was clearly no big deal for most people, but it put me into a heated panic. What was I going to say? I had never thought about my favorite cuisine before.

As my turn approached I heard people saying they loved Italian food, Chinese food and Indian food. I couldn’t even imagine eating those things, since I basically lived on Diet Coke and non-fat yogurt.

The person next to me proudly announced that sushi was her favorite food. My mind was racing. Then I blurted out, “I’m Darya, I’m from Orange County, and I don’t like food.”

Talk about awkward silences. Everyone just stared at me for what felt like the longest 3 seconds in history. Then the shocked GSI just said, “OOOOOOK, next,” and the class continued.

I never went back.

Food was an obsession back then, but it was also my enemy. It never occurred to me to like it.

It breaks my heart to think of that scared, sad girl who hated food and her own body so much that she couldn’t handle such a basic social interaction. No wonder I was always so grumpy.

What’s funny is I now weigh the same as I did then (though by my 19th birthday I was 25 lbs heavier). But I don’t feel the same at all.

Today I’m way stronger, so my body composition is completely different. I wear 2 sizes smaller now as a result.

At the beginning of college my hair was thinning so much (I’m guessing from malnutrition?) that a friend actually commented on the bald spot forming at the top of my head. That was also the time my skin started becoming awful.

Now my hair is thick and shiny, and my skin is clear.

I’m not telling you all this to brag. If I wanted to do that I’d just post selfies all over the internet (OK, just one). I’m sharing this because this is my success story of becoming a foodist.

A reader recently left a comment that sums up how this feels:


“An awesome life for me right now is eating healthy and exercising because I love my body instead of doing it because I hate my body.” –Amy R.


My wish is for all of you to know that feeling.

Last year on my birthday I asked readers to share their success stories, and it was one of the most deeply moving and profound experiences of my life.

This year I’d love to hear from you again, whether your success is new or if and how it has grown since last year.

Not only do your stories inspire me to keep working and writing here at Summer Tomato, they are also tremendously powerful motivators for people who are still struggling to improve their health and relationship with food.

Upgrading your healthstyle isn’t always easy, and knowing you aren’t alone can make all the difference.

In the comments below please share how your life has changed since becoming a foodist. I’d love to know how you were able to make the changes, and also how it has impacted your life.

Thank you so much for being such an amazing and inspiring community. You guys are a huge part of what makes my life awesome.


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39 Responses to “In Better Shape at 35 Than at 17? Definitely.”

  1. Lonnie says:

    Hi Darya,

    Thank you, again, for sharing your personal story. I’m glad I found your blog. My experience with food has been very different than yours. I was always the skinny kid who couldn’t gain weight. This was great, as a teenager. I could eat what I wanted and didn’t have to worry about it. But it also led some really bad eating habits. Like ordering a large pizza and eating the whole thing by myself. By the time I was in my late 20s things started to change. I put on 45 pounds in 2 years. My doctor put me on blood pressure medication. He said I would have to take blood pressure medication for the rest of my life. But I still thought of myself as a “skinny” kid. It wasn’t until I had to go up to another pant size for the third or fourth time in a year or two that I knew I needed to do something about it. For the next 8 years I started working out. I didn’t lose weight. I didn’t gain weight. Then, 13 years ago, I started focusing on eating more plant foods (not vegan mind you, but just eating more plant foods). I lost 30 pounds in 6-months and have kept them off ever since. Never a gym rat, I now walk between 5 and 8 miles a day. And I continue to eat a lot of plant foods (still not vegan). At 51 I’m healthy than I was at 35 and 17. It feels great to be healthy! And by the way, I haven’t been on blood pressure medication for over 20 years and my blood pressure has been in the normal range all that time.

  2. Suzie says:

    Thanks for your story Darya. I have struggled with weight since high school,always hated to exercise, and never been happy with my body. I would diet (starve) and lose and inevitably gain everything back and more, this went on for more than 35 years. I spent years being very heavy (205 lbs) was my high, and finally at age 55 I decided enough was enough. I began to eat mostly paleo, with some dairy. I began to eat as though I loved my body, and so I feed it only the best. Nothing is forbidden, moderation is key. I lost 45 lbs in a year, effortlessly it seemed. I began to run and now at 57 I am on no medication, my health is excellent, I run two miles every other day (I am slow but steady) and I look and feel better than I did in high school. I believe self talk and thought is hugely important. We MUST STOP sending messages of hate to our own bodies. That message is one I find on your blog, so thank you!

    • Sheila Anderson says:

      Thank you for your story. I am 58. After losing my husband to a younger woman I began to hate myself. I lived on fast food and sweets and gained over 30 pounds. I saw him and her at the birth of our grandkids, and now at their birthday parties etc. I’m always alone and sick after my battle with cancer 2 years ago. I feel food and attitude played a big part in my illness and I’m trying very hard to eat and feel better. I would love to be thin enough to date, because at any age it’s tough to be alone, and how nice to show up at the next party …thin, healthy with someone of my own.

      • Darya Rose says:

        Hi Sheila,

        It sounds like you are on the right track, keep up the great work. If you need some more inspiration, you’d probably enjoy my dad’s healthstyle journey that I describe in Foodist if you haven’t yet. You can find an excerpt here.


  3. Pat says:

    Well I’m Not a Woman,so I’ll never know what it’s like to give Birth .. Happy 35 Darya

  4. DF says:

    I realized something had to change when I came to the point of never ever wanting to be in any pictures. I hated to know and actually see myself the way others were seeing me. I also had real trouble getting up from sofa, finding it hard to breathe, and as I mentioned in a comment elsewhere on you blog, had severe eczema.

    In May I started to exercise and though I felt somewhat better, I still knew I had to look into the food, but didn’t wan’t to just read the newest cosmo article about the latest diet- I wanted to actually dedicate time and really learn about food and nutrients and human body. So in July, while on the vacation I started reading things, journals articles etc, and I came across NEAT and after googling NEAT I stumbled upon your blog. It was like giving a jug full of fresh water to a dehydrated person wandering in the desert- I drank and drank and drank up your words, I literally read your whole blog (not exaggerating) in the two weeks while on the vacation (and then later your audio book while exercising). Everything just clicked, I knew this was it, the science behind it, and my previous experiences with diets and my body. During the rest of the summer I completely revamped my kitchen stock, my recipes, the way I shopped, where I shopped and how often I cooked. I changed how I exercised and I started building habits. Since May I have lost 30 pounds and going, my skin has cleared completely, I have made new buddies in the gym, and I love my life and myself.

    It may sound a bit silly, but I honestly think of you as my friend, even if we never met, and you have no idea who I am. But your words have been there for me, when I couldn’t talk to others about things I was so ashamed of. Thank you Darya for all the hard work and passion you put into your blog and book, because it makes SO much difference and good in the world! Keep going, and happy birthday 🙂

  5. amy says:

    Foodist and summer tomato have seriously changed my life. I used to feel guilty after practically every meal because I would eat too much. I’m still working on dialing in my home court habits, but I’ve lost 18 pounds this year. The best part is, I no longer feel guilty about food. I’m doing this to have a healthy emotional relationship with food because I know that my body will be healthier and look better if I get the emotional part figured out.

    Thanks for showing some realistic life skills among so much bad diet advice. My life will never be the same.

  6. Emily says:

    Happy Birthday! When I first ready this post, I thought “what could I possibly say since I haven’t lost any weight?”, but then I started really thinking about what has changed in the 7 months since I started reading your blog and Foodist.
    -I’ve started wearing a pedometer and average 8000 plus steps per day (up from about 4000, yikes!)
    -My coworkers and friends don’t even try to take the elevator or escalator anymore if I’m with them because “she has to get her steps in!”
    -I’ve joined a CSA and started eating roughly half to two thirds of my produce organic, local and in season.
    -I’ve stopped assigning moral values to food. I no longer think of bread (or even a really great slice of almond cake) as bad food and low fat god knows what as virtuous.
    -I eat (homemade) muesli, cabbage and eggs, or poached eggs with sautéed veggies every morning without fail.
    -I’ve given up snacking between meals and instead focused on having quality meals three times a day.
    -When I do go into “what the hell” mode, I ask myself what I could have done differently earlier in the day to prevent it. Did I wait too long between meals? Did I not plan my food ahead of time? Did I neglect to eat enough protein? Or did I just need a freaking cookie?
    -I’ve started a ritual of eating every night at the dinner table with my boyfriend, putting down my fork between bites, and chewing thoroughly.
    -We went from eating takeout 2-3 times a week and buying lunches to having 80-90% of our meals homemade.
    -I’ve let go of the idea that a cycle of deprivation and then binging is somehow going to get these last 10 lbs off.

    I think the biggest change is that I’ve finally started to relax some of my food anxiety. I’ve still got quite a lot of self hatred and I see the fat girl in the mirror every day, but I also know that what I’m seeing is distorted by my brain. I’m 5’7″, 146 lbs and well within a healthy range. Now that my habits have started cementing themselves in my life, my goal for the coming year is to be a little gentler with myself and continue to let go of some of this anxiety surrounding my body. I have faith that if I keep adding good habits (rather than taking away yummy things or punishing myself in the gym), I will eventually be healthier both mentally and physically. For this, I can’t thank you enough.

    • Pat says:

      I’m always looking for little bits of wisdom to keep me on track eating better and I loved your thinking around your “what the hell” mode. Instead of just feeling bad, or just putting it behind you, you thought to analyze why it happened. Seems obvious now, but I rarely do that. Thanks

  7. Ron says:

    As puberty was not done with me until I was 19, I could say I was in better shape at any age other than 17. At the age of 35, I was in a daily fitness program and officiating competitive sports which required me to be in top shape. I did not have to watch my diet too much as I was burning off everything I could consume. Unfortunately, that changed over the next ten years. After my 7 knee surgery at age 51, I have to watch every bite and spend twice as much time burning off anything I eat.

    Though I will never cut meat out of my diet, I have reduced the amount from pounds every week to only the finest cuts once a week. Most of my diet is locally grown vegetables I buy at the farmer’s markets.

    Love reading your posts Dayra. May you have a fantastic birthday and live for many many decades more. The world needs special people like you in it.

  8. CreLa says:

    Hi Darya,
    The “foodist” mind-set has helped me to go from treating my body like a lab rat (well in this case, lab fish) to enjoying the positive cultural and social aspects of food.

    I found your blog after finishing grad school, an experience after which my BMI dipped to an underweight level (say what you want about BMI, but it was an indicator of my mass change).

    I worked at least 80 hours a week under great pressure from my advisor. This alone probably heightened my pre-existing abstemious and perfectionist mind-set, however, I also decided to extend this to my eating and exercise habits.

    An additional mind-f*** for me was the time I spent weighing out food and assessing body condition of my study species. Every day (yes, every day), I weighed and distributed food for over 200 individuals according to their growth curve. Weekly, I weighed each individual and assessed 12+ morphometric measurements. I constantly thought about body condition. For this and all of the other experiments I was working on, complete control was the ideal.
    This was how I decided to treat my body: a biological system I could meter out food to, a self-experiment to optimize saving money and time.
    I was hungry a lot of the time, but ignored it if I decided I had a reasonable amount of calories and a reasonable range of nutrients.

    I prided myself in how strictly healthy I was: The only thing I did in my free time was run or bike. I only ate items from my CSA or oatmeal, and was vegan other than CSA eggs or when eating in groups. Food, however, was an item on my checklist to choke down that I resented wasting time on.
    I weighed myself everyday before dinner (when I was home before 9), and like my study species, if I weighed to much I just skipped a “feeding.” This would go on for some weeks, but more than once I broke down and ate half of my roommate’s Nutella jar, needing to replace it. I wasn’t doing it to attain a specific body image, this was to prove I could be abstemious in every way. Weighing too much was just wasteful.
    Perhaps I’m recalling and hyperbolizing the worst parts, but is was pretty messed up!

    Now, I have relaxed all the pressure on myself and never think about food as a task or an obstacle. I certainly don’t give myself morality points for skipping a meal.
    Eating well and exercising regularly are still very important to me, but I don’t need to be perfect. I just have built them into my schedule. I love cooking at home and trying new food. I feel so much better thinking about health as trying what I can add because I love it, and making habits out of things that work. I feel more alert and happy, and am kinder to those around me as a result.

    I have to say, it also helped immensely that I no longer had to ration out a tiny grad-student stipend. This has made me very compassionate for those living in poverty for whom dietary choices are driven by the scarcity (

    I suppose I spent more time talking about my problems than specifically what has helped, but overall I’d say being kind to myself is central 🙂

    Have a wonderful birthday Darya. Thanks for the consistency in your blog. Popping in to visit your site every once in awhile is like having a really positive and sensible buddy!

  9. Cathy says:

    Happy Birthday! Hope your day is wonderful.

  10. timothina says:

    I was pretty healthy, with a healthy relationship towards food and exercise, until I was hit by a truck. I was (and am) lethargic, and the medicine I was put on to deal with the brain damage and nerve pain gave me a crazy sweet tooth. I started packing on the pounds. I knew I didn’t want to go on a conventional diet. Your book got me to eat vegetables for breakfast, and to walk more. It is a challenge–my feet often hurt, and my weight is not ideal, but I think I am doing better than I would have otherwise.

    Your birthday post really hit me, because I am also approaching 35. There is a part of me that wonders how I can achieve my former well-being. Your post reminded me that I can still put on muscle in my thirties. Women are bombarded with negative messages about how everything gets (physically) worse after our twenties. You have reminded me that it doesn’t have to be that way.

    I hope you have a happy thirty-fifth birthday, without anyone asking about babies!

  11. Michael says:

    Thank you for sharing, Happy Birthday!

  12. Tracy K. says:

    Happy Birthday to you! Thank you so much for Summer Tomato! I so enjoy reading the articles. More than anything I appreciate that you focus on enjoying real food and don’t promote any particular “diet”.

    I’m a couple months away from turning 40. Technically I’m the same size I was in high school (in fact, I just wore my high school prom dress for Halloween this year), but weight alone isn’t a sole indicator of health. As a present to myself, I’m working with a personal trainer and focusing on getting stronger. The training has been tough, but I already feel better physically and mentally.

    I’ve commented on this before, but I must say thank you again for your cabbage and eggs recipe! I thought I hated cabbage, but this amazing vegetable is now one of my favorites.

    Happy 35th to you and many more!

  13. Sherry A. says:

    Happy Birthday, Darya – May the year be filled with awesomeness!

    Your birthday post resonates deeply; if only I read it in my early years – perhaps it may have saved me from the poison I repeatedly fed myself of body image. To be free of dieting is truly life altering; the time spent obsessing about food is toxic. I wish you continued success in your effort to reach many women, in particular young girls that are fed false information on diet and exercise. For me, the madness of dieting has stopped, as has the maddening intense workouts that would only leave me to devour food with a vengeance. I feel and look better than ever before, and the support of your words and that of your readers give that added encouragement to continue on a healthy awesome life.
    Thank you!!

  14. Vivian McDonagh says:

    My journey as a foodist began almost a year ago while preparing for an interview with you and your kind husband, Kevin. In preparation, I had read everything the internet had to offer, including your blog and ordering your book. Ultimately, I didn’t get the job but your writing helped me to walked away with something far more valuable…a renewed sense of health and well-being.
    I was raised on a farm in Mississippi 58 years ago where everything we consumed was whole and fresh. Long before the concept of “farm to table” was hatched, we were living what I referred to as “field to fingers.” The origin of our food was no mystery. I didn’t even know what the inside of a grocery store looked like until I left for college.
    In the decades that followed, life pulled me away from my center and unhealthy habits moved in. My body was screaming at me to reset my health style and I did WITH YOUR HELP.
    Your blog has kept me on track and served as a daily devotional to the idea that you get back what you put in to yourself and the beauty is I can take you with me almost anywhere! I especially love the way you have indexed your blog by subject as I can go right to a particular article that I feel is most pertinent at the time. These tools have reinforced the importance of mindful living and sister, living I am.
    Your words have made a profound effect on my life. I am off all of my medicine. No more high blood pressure. I’ve gone from a size 22 to a size 2 and lost close to 100 pounds. I enjoy food from my garden (I had the most delicious tomato this morning that I packed in newspaper in my closet before the first frost) and I went for the most wonderful walk with my now very happy dog.
    Today, my life is good and you have played such a role. In a way, I feel like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. I had those ruby red slippers on the whole time and it was always in my power. I just needed Glenda The Good Witch, aka, Darya Rose, to keep me on the right path.
    Have a Happy Birthday and thank you from the bottom of my, now healthy, heart!

  15. I finally started paying attention to what goes in. Before, I would just activate my power shovel utensil (the biggest fork or spoon I could find) and go to town.
    It’s weird, but I have a really fierce bright red beard and even that has been so much softer and healthier since I started eating better.
    Yes, ladies, I groom it and lay with it easily as much as you do your hair.

  16. Michael Delizia says:

    A belated happy birthday to you, Ms Rose. I’m 72 myself, so I think your “halfway to 70” is cute.

    I grew up in a big Italian family where meals were prepared by people “off the boat” and where my neighborhood friends begged for invitations to our Christmas Eve seafood feast every year. Until I was 18 and went off to college, the only pizza I ever ate was prepared from scratch by my mother. I ate my fill at every meal and I weighed 140 pounds soaking wet. In the next 10 years, however, I discovered the joys of fast food. I gained 40 pounds and felt miserable. It was around that time that organic food shops began appearing in our town. The choices in those days were limited, so I found myself eating more and more fresh vegetables. Also, I bought myself a nice road bicycle and started doing “centuries” on it with a local club. My weight went back down and I felt great. (After I moved from New England to New York and found cycling less healthy, I joined a gym.)

    As I grew older and had kids (and now grandkids), I became less active and gained some weight. Quite a bit of weight, actually. I am of the opinion that a few extra pounds on a senior citizen are not necessarily a bad thing (the statistics bear this out). But I’ve never lost my love for fresh food. “If it has a label with a list of ingredients, don’t eat it” is my mantra. And your book “Foodist” is the best confirmation of this I’ve ever read.

    Btw, I discovered you through your blog when I was searching one day for photographs of veggies! More of that, please.

  17. Judy says:

    Happy Birthday!

    Your story was very touching and hit home. I am 52 and although I can’t say I way the same as High School, mentalpause can have something to do with that, I feel strong and healthy.

    I like to say my generation invented eating disorders, and we did it ALL to try to be the image we thought we should be. As a result, because I have always loved food, I over exercised and have paid dearly. I was fanatic, when I are I would workout to burn off the calories – my go too was jumping rope, usually 2 hours a day straight! In the last 10 years I have had 3 shoulder surgeries, and two back – all as a result of the pounding my body took. Today, I live in the Napa valley and take all things in moderation. I am not overweight, but love to cook and eat! Thank you for all your inspiration. Movement is my key, 10000 steps a data must, a couple of core work outs a week. Cheers!

  18. Gretchen says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Only 1/3 way to 105! Thank you for bringing back my desire to cook healthy, gourmet meals again. You have reminded me that it’s just as easy to cook healthy as it is to cook junk. Since I live in the middle of nowhere I HAVE to cook everyday.

  19. Ann says:

    A very happy birthday to you!!
    I have been a serial yo yo dieter for as long as I can remember. Serious amounts of weight off and on accompanied by thoughts of failure, inadequacy and self loathing. My journey toward foodism began when I was 48 and developed a medical issue. When the medications caused dangerous side effects, my doc shrugged her shoulders and advised me to start walking. Sure, easy for her to say! I huffed and puffed all the way to the corner on the first day and in desperation tried to go a little bit farther each day after. I finally decided I was emotionally drained from beating myself up and, even if I stayed the same, or just lost a pound a month I’d be better off.
    Two years later I’d lost 50 pounds and another 50 or so 5 years after that. By age 60 I was a new person inside and out. My normal weight body was craving healthy (mostly!) foods and those walks turned into membership at two gyms. I have muscles!
    Ive been a foodist without knowing it for exactly 20 years now. Gradual, completely unintentional, but oh so wonderful! I look forward to turning 70 in two years and plan on celebrating with an adventure in some exotic country on the other side of the world.
    Here’s the very best part, and what motivated me to write…….yesterday,I was strolling down a lovely street with upscale cafes, boutiques, etc. As I walked past an Italian restaurant a waiter offered me a full size, free slice of yummy smelling pizza and without thinking I said “no thank you”. Huh?? Me, turning down free pizza? Who is this person? I spent the next couple of blocks wondering if I should go back and thinking about why I didn’t really want to. WOW! Being a foodist is kind of amazing.
    You and I both were fortunate enough to figure it out, but you were smart, talented and generous enough to share it with the world! Thank you! Thank you!
    PS……. Im thinking of dying my hair pink on my 70th birthday. Aging is fantastic when you’re not physically and emotionally in the dumps!

  20. MR says:

    Happy birthday, Darya!

    Here’s how Foodist has affected me: I’ve never wanted to lose weight as I was a very, very skinny child and teenager, and continue to be a slender adult.

    But I have been truly surprised to find that eating healthier foods actually (actually!) makes me happier. I never ate a lot of junk or packaged crap, and I’ve never dieted…but like everyone, I’ve been attuned to the cultural trends around food and wondered if I was doing it right: I saw bread and pasta disappearing from tables, everyone going gluten-free, avoiding meat and dairy, then fats and sugars, then grains (?!), etc.

    I also found, when I turned 30 years old, that I could certainly be out of shape, even while slender.

    So, what to do? I didn’t want to be gluten-free, or anti-fat, or anti-pleasure. What was life, after all, without pasta?

    So I started to cook—a lot—and eat what I like. It sounds strange to say it, but I didn’t realize how much stuff I ate that I don’t really like: food that doesn’t taste very good but happens to be sitting around the office or a friend’s house; extra-sweet stuff that tastes chemically and awful; so much unpleasant take-out, so many inferior ingredients.

    I got healthier not by limiting myself, but by demanding better for myself.

    I’m now 32 and in pretty darn good shape—thanks to walking a lot, ballet (an activity I love), but mostly to eating!

    I put my food on a plate, put down my fork, and chew because (and this surprised me as well), the food actually tastes better this way. I feel like I’m honoring it by taking my time to eat it. Since I don’t restrict myself, I tell myself I can eat all of it and have seconds or thirds if I want, no big deal. But take your time and enjoy it, I remind myself. And so I do. And afterwards—as you predicted—I almost never want more food, and am always satisfied.

    So what about my love of pasta, that glorious, gorgeous food of the gods?

    I still eat it all the time. Along with a beautiful salad of—again—stuff I like! Forget romaine lettuce, because romaine lettuce is always overwhelming to me. But avocado and red onion and tomato? Massaged kale and apples? Pea shoots and arugula? Yes. Yes. Yes. Why would I want only pasta? Why not MORE foods instead of fewer? Fill up my plate, please!

    And finally, lastly, the other way your writing has helped me: I’ve applied the principles about food, about habit-forming, about pleasure to my own creative work, for which I have to be incredibly disciplined (but wasn’t) and found I was often struggling to complete the work. When the reward is built into the activity, it isn’t a fight every day. It is still hard work, but joyful hard work, not willful work.

    Thanks for your writing and shared ideas and enthusiasm—

  21. JK says:

    Happy birthday! And congratulations on all your successes, both personal and professional. Love your blog, and have gotten SO MUCH from it–one concept I like that comes to mind immediately is the “home court habits.” I’ve passed along that tip and many of your other strategies for eating well to my teenagers, too. And I must mention the cabbage and eggs recipe! That simple little recipe has a prime spot in the meal rotation at our house and every one of us loves it. Why had I never thought of that before? Thank you for all the good-quality, sensible information you are bringing to the world, and many more years of success!

  22. Carrie says:

    My success followed a typical menopausal weight gain – most around the middle. After back surgery, I was advised to lose some weight unless I wanted to come back for more surgery!
    I’ve struggled with weight for decades and knew I had some horrible habits. I was a bona fide chocoholic for one.
    After surgery I wanted to find a way to stop the see food, eat food instince – and it was usually a food that wasn’t a great choice! So I tried EFT (google it if you’ve never heard of it – it’s free!) which worked. Since then I avoid almost all refined sugar and flour and all chocolate – for me there is no such thing as one piece – and dropped over 35 pounds.
    I may still be higher than my best weight, but I’m fitter and wearing almost the same size as my best – 40+ years ago; I’m now 61 and still dropping the weight.
    I wasn’t aware of the term Foodist until recently, but I had adopted that way of eating. The term Nutritarian also applies to how I try to eat – after all, I’m human so not perfect!!

  23. Elizabeth King says:

    Hi Darya,
    Wishing you a very Happy 35th Birthday! May you celebrate many more.
    I enjoy your newsletters & your book. I like your foodist attitude regarding food. I have read so many different book/blogs that advocate eating things that I don’t think appeal to me & adding supplements like protein powders etc that are expensive that I find your approach to be like a breath of fresh air. Just eating healthy foods & of course moving. I am double your age but am still relatively active & healthy. I am working on improving my diet & my exercise committment. In the past year or so I have given up drinking pop which I used to drink in excess & now drink water, herbal tea & green tea. Also gave up a daily habit of eating ice cream. I now don’t eat it unless I make it at home & so far the spirit hasn’t moved me to do so.I am trying to eat more vegetables but that is a bit of a struggle. I find lately I am lagging in motivation & energy & have trouble getting up in the mornings so I can fit in 3 meals each day. I know that is what I need to do. I have about 10 stubborn pounds to loose & it just isn’t happening. I am a chocoholic so that is the net habit to tackle & change. A work in progress to be sure.
    Keep up your good work with your blog etc.

  24. Romi says:

    Happy birthday 🙂 Thanks for the prompt to reflect on life since becoming a foodist. It’s been a good ten weeks!

    I was a big kid and teenager, and while I’ve lost weight over the years and don’t have much left to lose, my eating was all over the place, ranging from mild deprivation to overindulgence over the course of each week. I never maintained weight – I was either losing it or slowly (or not so slowly) gaining it back. I was reasonably active and I ate well – I’m vegetarian and generally not into processed foods – but I drink quite a bit socially, enjoy eating out, and a decade of saving calories for big evening splurges left me with an amazing ability to wolf down crazy amounts of food while feeling virtuous for being within my calorie limits – completely ignoring satiety signals.

    The first thing I did was stop counting calories. I was really apprehensive about it, as for my whole adult life, I’ve associated counting calories with being ‘good’. I told myself I’d try it for a month. I kept the food diary going for eight weeks as I didn’t trust myself yet and felt I needed to be accountable. I occasionally check how many calories are in a meal, but only out of interest and to inform future decisions, not to fit some arbitrary daily maximum.

    I started weighing myself every day. I got over the dread and started enjoying the stats. I’ve lost eight or nine pounds, which feels great because I haven’t deprived myself of anything.

    I identified my home court habits (being active during lunch breaks at work; bringing a healthy breakfast and lunch to work; cooking frequently at home) and worked on developing a few more. I began reflecting on my eating and exercise each day, and committed to 10 000 steps each day (has always been easy for me on weekdays, but dipped on weekends – I’m on a 63 day streak now!).

    I look for ways to add veggies to every meal, and I’m experimenting with strategies to eat mindfully. While I still struggle to eat mindfully each time, I’m naturally eating more slowly and enjoying my food more. I’ve made my breakfast and lunches a bit bigger than they used to be, realising that was part of the reason I overate later. I’ve started considering the value of a splurge to me, which has worked really well.

    I used to do pump sporadically, but I now weight train at least once a week at home. I’ve made an also-previously-sporadic boxing class I attended with my partner a regular weekly occurrence. Feeling more fit has made it possible to commit to a boxing class during lunch one day a week while at work – I used to think the class looked way too intense.

    This one isn’t a home court habit, but I also – I’m really proud of this one – changed a biweekly catch up with my partner and a few friends, usually at a pub over trivia, dinner, and at least five drinks, to playing tennis once a week with the same group. We still go out for dinner afterwards, and usually have two drinks. It’s even more awesome than it used to be.

    The way being a foodist has impacted my life is that I LOVE not being on a diet. I used to find the idea of achieving weight loss almost depressing, because then a lifetime of maintenance loomed ahead of me – more calorie counting and guilt about food. But I could easily eat the way I’ve been eating for the past few months for the rest of my life – all it really took was eliminating the bingey ‘what the hell’ splurges (occasionally eating an entire block of chocolate for what now feels like no discernible reason) and some treats I didn’t care about, and I can now have treats all the time. There’s no wagon to fall off of, which was my greatest fear when dieting. I also now consider myself a fit person, which changes my approach to everything really. I feel stronger and more confident. I’ve been excitedly showing my friends ‘my new little muscle’ – my tricep which I can see if I straighten my arm and look over my shoulder. I’m excited to see definition showing up in different parts of my body and to be a smaller size – I think I look like I’ve lost a lot more weight than I have. I feel great. I’m in the best shape of my life at the moment myself, at seven months from hitting thirty — and I’m really excited to see what the next few months hold.

    • Romi says:

      Gosh that got long. And I hit send before even saying: so, thank you! For making so much sense and finally getting me to see things that seem in hindsight to be obvious but that I would never have arrived at by myself.

  25. Jess says:

    Since becoming a foodist… I’ve become more aware of my body and what it needs to feel good. Somewhat ironically now, I’m glad I had really bad skin because it was only thing that pushed me into a healthier lifestyle. I think it was my body’s way of yelling at me to stop with the cereal and takeout. The last time I went to a doctor for my skin, I told her that my cystic acne went away after I ditched the processed junk, and she just kinda went, “Oh…” and gave me a prescription for the rosacea I had been battling. I went home and thought about it for a few days, ultimately listened to my gut and threw away the prescription. Since then, I have been eating more veggies and less desserts, moving around more in general, and starting to conquer my (previous) disdain for exercise. My skin has gotten so much better. I’ve discovered more about my body (and mind) than I ever thought possible, and eating and preparing the right foods is a huge part of that. Thanks so much for your awesome blog! It’s really been a big help. 🙂

  26. G says:

    Hi Darya, and happy birthday!

    I have only recently discovered this blog, but this post really resonated with me and I felt like this comment section would be a perfect outlet for me as I’ve never really written out my thoughts about my diet. Basically, when I was 17 I could eat anything I wanted and I never gave a thought to my diet. However, once I entered college this lifestyle finally caught up to me and my body composition began to dramatically change. In retrospect, it is funny how you never notice it happening until you can barely recognize yourself. I spent much of my time in college in a deep depression. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced depression, but the time in self-induced solitary allows you the opportunity to constantly critically examine your lifestyle. At the time it completely sucked, but I now know that it was a necessary evil. One day I finally decided to revamp my diet, which at the time consisted of mostly ramen noodles and frozen pizzas. I made gradual changes, starting with breakfast and then slowly moving to other meals. Long story short, changing my diet resulted in changing my life. It has been about a year now, and I can safely say I have never felt better and that I am completely happy with my body.

    Thankfully I was able to make the right changes at a relatively young age, and the healthy habits I have formed are ones that I will keep with me forever. I’ve never really considered myself a “success story,” but this comment makes me feel like one at the moment, and for that I would like to thank you. I would also like to thank you for what you’re doing. More people need to understand how fundamentally important the food we eat is, and even the smallest changes can compound into wonderful results over time. Healthy habits have a funny way of multiplying themselves, and I truly believe that anybody can become a success story. Your blog provides a perfect first step.

  27. TFP says:

    All I can say about my story without going into an essay length description is that I’m still a work in progress. Some days, I am making awesome decisions, and others I make poor ones. The key for me now that is different from when I was younger is that my days of awesome decisions far outweighs the days of poor ones and that is something that I can call progress. Happy birthday, Darya.

  28. Cactus Wren says:

    Happy birthday! And you’re almost certainly right about the hair loss: certain fatty acids are essential to hair growth. A few years ago, during an illness, I lived for the better part of three weeks on fruit juice and water. I quickly gained back the lost weight, but it took half a year for my hair to recover.

  29. Jolene Clark says:

    Hi! I love your no-nonsense yet motivating common sense!

    Here’s a link to my recent wellness journey that came to fruition three-fold in my life and still continues today.

  30. David Gans says:

    I’m healthier at 62 than I was at 52, or 42, or 32. I’m grateful to you, Darya, for the great advice you’ve given us over the last few years. You present your information beautifully and effectively.

    The most important change I have made in recent years was prompted by a story in the New York Times about lab experiments in feeding schedules. I got the idea to fast 12 hours a day: no calories after dinner, nothing til breakfast.

    I had been making progress with my low-carb life (largely informed by having read Why We Get Fat, by Gary Taubes), but my weight didn’t go down as much as I wanted it to. This change has made the difference. Those superfluous, self-indulgent nighttime calories – even if it was heathy food as opposed to ice cream or pastry – needed to be eliminated.

    My cardiologist recently gave me a “superb” after seeing my numbers, and he tried to fire me because it’s been 6 years and I am in no danger of another cardiac event. But I’ll see him once a year just to be sure.

    So: happy birthday to you, and thank you for the great work you do for us!!

  31. A little older than many of your readers, heading into menopause in my 50’s brought some changes that i didn’t expect. Even though i had heard about weight gain etc, frankly i thought i would not experience those issues because i always kept my weight in check with what i thought were healthy habits and fitness pursuits. Boy was I naive. I DID experience changes, my weight rearranged on my body settling more toward my middle, which made it more obvious and made me feel heavier and less womanly. I hated that feeling. But luckily, I read Foodist and got a real tweak to my understanding about my habits. By following the advice in Foodist, I found that I actually lost a few pounds over the next years instead of gaining, as so many women do during menopause. It really helped to have good data on which to base my efforts. Although yes, my weight has shifted a bit on my body, the ability to have a little less weight (lost relatively easily with a few better habits) was enough to keep me feeling like my old self and eliminated a lot of frustration and worry about how menopause would affect me and who I am. I was still the fit and healthy me…. in fact even a little healthier! Being older is fine -even great, but feeling older in body or mind is not so great. Foodist is a great bible for keeping us feeling young and fit, even if we are not “kids” anymore! Thanks, Darya!

  32. Neri Kawashima says:

    My daughter is the same age.Anyway, I am 66 and in good shape although I put on extra 2 kgs this summer, I intend to shed it this season. I love food and I have always struggled to not eating too much but most times I can’t resist. There is one discipline I am proud of is that I don’t want to be fat, so when I gain extra weight, I step on the scale everyday and try (ooops) not to over-eat and as much as possible do the Zumba and walk around the area. I still eat a big bowl of green salad in the morning, (yes not at lunch as Americans do)and oatmeal or a roasted sweet potato and “Natto”(fermented soybeans).It makes my coffee really worth sipping.My lunch always consist of veggie soup mostly creamed and I make everything myself including breads that go with the soup. Of course the dinner is heavy but we always have it at 5:30PM in winter and 6:00PM in summer.That way there is plenty of time to make way for the food to metabolize before going to bed.The dinner is a variation of meat (twice a week) and almost everyday fish and Soy products and Miso soup with lots of veggies again.This is a typical Japanese menu. My skin is perfect and friends ask me what I use and do. Well, I eat plenty of fruits and vegetable with moderate exercise. Is there anything more to expect from a 66 old woman who tips the scale at 58kgs which I intend to put it down again to 56 as I was before summer.Wish me luck.

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