Foodist Diaries: Escaping Mom’s Diet Mindset

by | Feb 9, 2015

Photo by musicfanatic29

Over the years I’ve been writing here at Summer Tomato I’ve had hundreds of people share their stories of success with me. Some have lost a hundred pounds, while others have finally gained weight in a healthy way without resorting to junk food and empty calories.

Some people have overcome a life of picky eating, some have learned to cook, and some have raised children who love kale and cauliflower.

Everyone’s journey toward health and happiness looks different, but all are inspiring. This year I want to share more of these stories with you so you can see how different people learn to optimize their healthstyle.

Cassie T grew up much like I did, with a mother who instilled a dieting mindset at a young age. Overcoming the restriction mentality and learning to really listen to her body was one of the pivotal challenges she overcame.

Thanks Cassie for sharing your inspiring story.

Q: What were you looking for that first brought you to Summer Tomato?

Cassie T

I wish I could remember the first article I stumbled upon, but I know there was period when I was lifting weights and was trying to figure out the whole protein and carbs thing.

I think maybe it was an article about sugar.

After reading one of your articles––the way you write is really engaging and interesting––I got hooked and read probably 10 the first day. Also, your background gives you credibility and you aren’t trying to push a certain product.

Q: When was that?

A little over year ago. I’m 24 right now.

Q: What was your eating philosophy back then?

Back in high school I hadn’t worried about my weight, but I was trying to get into modeling. My mom had always been on a restricted calories diet––eat as little as possible for as long as possible. So I kind of developed that mentality, and so it was a binge versus starve cycle. Again.

I guess you could say a good day was not eating much. That was my philosophy back then.

At that point I was really focused on protein intake. How many carbs and calories and how many grams of protein and all that.

In college that stayed, but I got more active so didn’t have to worry as much about what I was eating.

Q: What changed when you found Summer Tomato?

Over the past year I’ve learned how to listen to my body more, and that things like “whole wheat” don’t really mean anything. I loved that article about intact grains. I was like, “Oh my gosh are you kidding me?!”

When I discovered Summer Tomato I was into Body Pump, and I started to realize that weight lifting for women wasn’t a bad thing. I was liking how my physique was looking and I was realizing that food wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I wasn’t sure how to not be afraid of eating.

I’d think, “Oh this is good, but I’m not sure how much to eat of it.”

Summer Tomato started opening my eyes to Real Food. I’ve always liked vegetables and things like that. It made me realize not to focus so much on the nutrition facts, but focus getting Real Food from the different food groups and cooking it yourself.

Building a cooking habit really changed a lot for me too. I used to have the mentality that “I’m a career woman, I don’t need to cook.” I didn’t order take out a lot or anything, but it was a lot of 90 second rice with frozen vegetables and cheese sprinkled on top.

Once I started cooking for myself and realizing that oil and salt weren’t bad and that I could make food at home that I really enjoyed, and it was “healthy”––that was a big change for me.

Q: How did you start changing your behaviors as a result of what you learned?

I think the first change was cooking more. Gosh, it’s hard thinking back on those changes…

Darya: That’s kind of awesome actually, because it means the changes were so easy that you barely noticed.

Yeah, it really was and that’s what was weird.

A big one was that I stopped buying packaged cereal. I started eating rolled oats with raisins and nuts instead.

I used to make a deli sandwich every day for lunch and bring that, but then I started bringing the leftovers I made from the night before.

I stopped looking at processed foods, I didn’t even go into that section of the store.

And not buying into a lot of the health claims and the marketing claims on packaged foods, I just kind of ignored that.

Q: It sounds like cooking was a pivotal thing? Because you didn’t have to eat processed foods.

Yes, cooking and I also started really trying to listen to my body, and stop eating when I was full.

And actually eating when I was hungry. I think that was huge thing too. Because especially growing up with my mom, she really discouraged snacking. Should would just drink coffee and skip breakfast.

It got to a point where I almost felt guilty being hungry.

This past year I’ve learned that if I’m hungry, even if it’s 9:30am I’m going to have a snack, because my body is telling me that I need to eat. That has been a big change as well.

Q: Was your mom overweight?

No, she’s thin.

Q: How did your body change when you changed your approach to food? Was weight loss a goal?

I probably lost three pounds, but it’s more that it’s easy to maintain and I’m not stressed about it anymore. It used to be that stepping on the scale was a winning or losing thing, and now it’s like a data point.

It’s more about how my body feels.

I guess there is a certain number on the scale that I tend to feel good at, but I’m not trying to actively lose weight by any means.

Q: How has your exercise regimen changed and how has your body changed as a result?

I’ve figured out balance. I do strength training three times a week, then two or three days of cardio. That’s what my body likes. I do Ultimate Frisbee or running with a friend, and that’s how I get my cardio.

It’s funny, I haven’t yet done a lot of strength training this week and already I can tell that my body isn’t as happy because of that.

Q: What was the time frame of all this change? Was it slowly over the year or did it happen quickly?

It was slowly over the year. I’m still improving in terms of figuring out habits, or just certain tweaks I can make to maintain certain habits.

Q: What kinds of changes did you make?

I’m trying to think of things I haven’t mentioned yet.

I stopped buying certain things. I don’t buy sliced bread anymore, and pasta has become a treat.

I used to really like whiskey and sprite, I don’t know if it was after reading the sugar article or what, but I realized it had so much sugar in it. So I tried seltzer and lime and it was like “Oh my gosh, mind blown.” It was so much better. It was less “stuff” and wasn’t this sugary drink. So little stuff like that.

Working out in the morning. I’m definitely a morning person, but for my job I have to be there at 6:30am and for awhile I thought there was no way I could get up earlier than I already do to go workout. But I was trying to figure out a way to do that and then I realized, why not just get up earlier?

So I started getting up at 4am to go to the gym and it was surprising how easy it was to get used to when you don’t give yourself a choice. It even got to a point where if I didn’t work out I didn’t feel as good, the whole happy body thing. So in the mornings I would focus on how I felt afterwards.

I also stopped adding sugar to my coffee. It was mostly just as an experiment to see if I could tolerate coffee without sweetner and it turned out that I liked it better. Now my coffee standards are higher and I can’t stand any of those sweet Coffeemate creamers.

This lead to me eliminating all zero calorie sweeteners. I’ve noticed that while I still have a sweet tooth, my standards are higher and I recognize what foods would actually be considered desserts as opposed to “healthy” foods. I’d never been a picky eater, but eliminating sweetener from my coffee made me more willing to experiment with other foods.

Q: What does it feel like now that you’ve made these changes?

The best word I can use to describe it is I feel free. It sounds really corny, but there’s this weight that was lifted off of me. I don’t know how else to describe it.

Even this morning I worked out, and it wasn’t like “Oh I really need to workout because I want to stay healthy,” it was like “Oh my gosh I’m going crazy, I need to workout.”

And “I’m really craving vegetables, so I need to buy vegetables and cook them, because I really want them.”

And “Hey I’m hungry, and I’m going to eat.”

It’s that I’m not doing anything because I feel like should do it, I’m doing it because I want to do it. And it so happens that it’s good for my body.

The healthy side of it is almost just a side effect of what I want.

 Do you have a success story you’d like to share with Summer Tomato readers? Please let me know.

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5 Responses to “Foodist Diaries: Escaping Mom’s Diet Mindset”

  1. amy says:

    Great post! I hope you’ll do more of these!

  2. Corne says:

    This is a very nice post. There is so much confusion out there because of all these crash diets and quick weight loss schemes. For me it is important to have that balance in life and from this post one can see that you bring that message through. Cassie made small changes in her diet to replace the incorrect foods with more nutritional food and that is key to heaving healthy habits. Being thin does not mean that you are healthy. Eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals and being active is what makes you healthy!

  3. Wonderful post! It’s very encouraging to hear other people’s stories and experiences.

  4. I don’t have a success story of my own (yet), but I found this one very inspiring. I am trying to make some small but significant changes to my own lifestyle, so I could really relate to what Cassie was describing as her process for making changes slowly over a year. Baby steps, take your time, see how it makes you feel, adjust as required. Great advice!

  5. Oren says:

    Great post. I’m dealing with many of these issues as well..

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