My Approach to Living: Then and Now

It should come as no surprise that there are some pretty huge differences between how I live my life versus how I lived it prior to dropping 80 pounds. Sure, there are several things that have stayed the same – I’ve always loved making others laugh, bargain shopping, performing well at my job, spending time with friends and family, getting 8 hours of sleep, and watching TV. Outside of those things though, my take on life is very different these days, and not just in what I ate or how much (or little) I exercised.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably have a good sense of what a typical day is like for me now. I do a rough plan of my meals for the week over the weekend and pack my breakfast/lunch/snacks the night before. I usually work out in the morning before work a few days a week, unless I have a plan to go to a class or do a bike ride at night. There is an occasional crazy night out during the week, but most nights I try to take it easy and cook dinner, have a date night, work at a Weight Watchers meeting, or go out for dinner with a friend I haven’t seen in a while.

While this is the me you’ve grown to know and love (wink, wink), let me take you through a typical weekday for me back when I was first adjusting to life after college.

Me with my roommate, Molly
Me and Molly, my roommate, in 2007

Groggy from one too many drinks the night before, and after pressing snooze the exact number of times I knew I could, I’d roll out of bed at the last possible second. I’d rush through the motions of the morning to get myself out the door as quickly as possible – brush my teeth, get dressed, do my makeup, grab my purse, go, go, go. I’d get my exercise in by hurrying to the metro, just squeezing through the doors before they closed me out and I’d have to wait 12 minutes for the next train. After the adrenaline rush from almost missing the train had passed, and I’d caught my breath from running, I’d search for a seat to melt into for my 15 minute ride to work.

Once I got off the metro at my stop, my stomach would be grumbling so I’d swing by the deli downstairs from my office to pick up breakfast. My go-to meal was a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich on a sesame bagel, plus a hot coffee loaded with half and half and splenda. I’d anxiously tap my foot as the bagel toasted, since I had very little time to spare to get to my desk. Once the sandwich was in hand, I’d rush upstairs to plop myself into my desk chair for the day, not pausing until I couldn’t ignore the hunger pangs anymore and it was time to eat again.

I’d go back to the same place for lunch since it was so convenient to my office and I only had a few minutes to be away from my desk. My typical midday order was a California Chicken Sandwich, upgraded from regular bread to a hoagie roll, with chicken, bacon, avocado, cheese, mayo, and maybe some lettuce, plus a side of fries or a bag of chips. I’d usually grab a Coke Zero and/or a bag of gummy bears to round out the meal.

Once my workday was over, I normally find myself at a happy hour with friends, where I’d guzzle down 4-5 glasses of wine (I’ve never been a beer drinker) and then allow the alcohol to dictate my dinner choices for the night. I’d almost always go with delivery pepperoni pizza, Chinese food, or Chipotle. My roommate and I also would stop by the 711 on the way home most nights to grab an ice cream toll house cookie sandwich (so good) with pork rinds and/or a slim jim for dessert, and then settle into the couch to watch TV until bedtime.

Then, I’d go to bed, wake up the next day, and do it all again.

This was obviously during a time in my life where I wasn’t really trying to do anything about my weight and was instead embracing being young, having fun and finally being completely on my own. I think it can be all too easy to forget what life was like “before” when you make huge lifestyle changes like I have, so I honestly struggled a little to remember what my typical day was like back then. The one thing that was very clear in my mind was that there was absolutely no planning that went into anything ahead of time and I completely embodied living in the moment.

If I was hungry, I’d go find something to eat.

If I needed a pick me up, I’d go get some coffee.

If I was stressed from my job, I’d go out and drink to forget about it.

I never seemed to have the time to worry about the big picture or to plan ahead even for the next day or next meal. It was always go-go-go without so much as a second thought about what I was putting into my body or how useful some down time could be. I was always very low energy and lethargic, and literally needed the two coffees to get through the day. Now, I’m down to one. 😉

But in all seriousness, I think the bottom line is this. Back then I was only concerned with instant gratification and what I needed in the moment. Now, I understand the value of a balanced, less frantic lifestyle and actually look forward to planning ahead and putting some thought into how I approach my life.

Are you more of a live in the moment or plan ahead type of person? How does this fit in with your healthy lifestyle?

36 Comments on My Approach to Living: Then and Now

  1. Katie Photiadis
    April 20, 2011 at 8:35 am (9 years ago)

    Wow, is it bad that this post made me crave a sesame bagel with cream cheese, like whoa?? Haha..

    In all due seriousness, I think it’s AMAZING how far you’ve come and how many changes you have made. I, too, have gotten sucked up in the comfort of “instant gratification” and life works so much better when you plan ahead. I bet a lot of people can relate to this post. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Gretchen @ Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!
    April 20, 2011 at 8:48 am (9 years ago)

    This is an awesome post, Beth (you must get tired of hearing that though! :D) I can so totally relate to exactly what you described life was like before you turned things around and got healthy.

    My one comment is this though, you said: “If I was hungry, I’d go find something to eat. If I was thirsty, I’d buy something to drink.” Barring the third thing you said, I don’t think that these first two things are really BAD things. I’m not a super big meal-planner or anything like that (though I’m trying to get better because I’ll admit that I eat better when I’ve thought things through) but for so much of my pre-healthy life my mental process was “If I’m hungry, I shouldn’t go eat anything because I’m fat.” I think that thinking was far more detrimental then than me not planning out my meals is now. I’ve had to retrain my brain to listen to my body’s hunger cues and not deprive myself because I know now that in the past all deprivation did was lead to an inevitable binge.

    Thanks a lot for sharing this side of you. 🙂

    • Beth
      April 20, 2011 at 9:31 am (9 years ago)

      I think that’s a great point. Listening to your body is definitely important, and going to find something to eat when I’m hungry is actually a good thing. I think the main problem for me was that the choices I made were what was causing me to be so lethargic and low energy. Even now, if I wait until I’m to the point of being so hungry that I’m ravenous, I tend to make really bad choices.

  3. beyondbananas
    April 20, 2011 at 8:51 am (9 years ago)

    I totally like to plan ahead like you! i know what my meals are for the week on Sunday. As soon as I get home from work, I am packing my lunch for the next day and preparing for breakfast. I crave routine..and only on rare occasion do I stray from my routine.

  4. Mb
    April 20, 2011 at 8:59 am (9 years ago)

    Beth, I really like this post. I have been inspired by you to be better at meal planning. This post also made me look back on my own fitness adventure and assess how far I’ve come. Thanks for the reminder that balance can bring happiness and so much more.

  5. Katie
    April 20, 2011 at 9:01 am (9 years ago)

    Since becoming more focused not only on weight loss and exercise but my overall health, I’ve become much more of a plan ahead type of person. It’s funny because I’ve always been a Type A planner by nature in most aspects of my life… except when it came to food.

    When I first moved to Boston, my boyfriend was going to school 5 hours away and I was completely alone, so on Friday nights while trying to stay occupied, I’d pick up a bottle of wine, a McChicken from the McD’s next door, along with a Quarter Pounder and fries… and then order more takeout later. Taco Bell after class on Friday? Sure! A box of Hamburger Helper because it was easy and cheap? Sign me up!

    Once I became aware of the straight up havoc I was wrecking on my body, I switched to the opposite extreme and started planning EVERYTHING. I’m the type of person who’ll sit down on Saturday and plan every meal out for everyday, and grocery shop based on the plan. If I don’t have a plan going into my week, I’m semi-doomed from the start. I love your little weekly menu plans– I might have copied the idea for myself 🙂

  6. Holly @ The Runny Egg
    April 20, 2011 at 9:05 am (9 years ago)

    I am definitely a plan ahead kind of person — but a few years ago I never would have dreamed to plan out my food, meals, grocery shopping, etc. Ever since I started doing that my weight has started to go to its “happy place” — I credit Weight Watchers with the whole idea of planning ahead!

  7. Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday
    April 20, 2011 at 9:40 am (9 years ago)

    This is a great post Beth.
    I still struggle with the “instant gratification” and succumbing to what I want in the moment. It often holds me back from truly eating healthy.

    I love your approach!

  8. Jennifer
    April 20, 2011 at 9:51 am (9 years ago)

    This was really interesting to read the “before” scenario, because seeing how you are now is so different. I guess the different has a lot to do with your successes.

    I’m definitely a planner, and make my best choices in that scenario. I tend to get a little overwhelmed if I don’t plan ahead. I need to get better about making better choices when I’m in a spontaneous situation.

  9. karenlovescardio
    April 20, 2011 at 10:00 am (9 years ago)

    You are such a rock star. What a complete 180 in lifestyle change! and losing 80lbs…what an accomplishment! I absolutely love your blog and am so glad I ran into you in DC!

  10. Christine @ Merf In Progress
    April 20, 2011 at 10:09 am (9 years ago)

    I’m still learning these lessons, day by day, week by week. And the planning ahead and less hectic approach to life is making me a much better parent, I can tell you that.

  11. Theodora
    April 20, 2011 at 10:13 am (9 years ago)

    Such an awesome post. I can relate to so much of this–except add in a gym membership that I rarely used, except for when I went to a further gym so I could drive, rather than going to the one three blocks away. That Theodora would never believe that this Theodora would run to and from a gym 1.5 miles away at 6:30am to get some sweat time in before work.

    Can’t wait to see you at Fitbloggin’…and maybe make a few unhealthy choices, too? 😉

  12. Amy @ Second City Randomness
    April 20, 2011 at 10:22 am (9 years ago)

    I have to plan ahead- otherwise my day would end up just how you described. Eating whatever was around whenever I felt the need to. A dangerous trap I still fall into on occasion!

  13. Stephanie @ The Cookie Battle
    April 20, 2011 at 10:23 am (9 years ago)

    I have to plan ahead…if I don’t, I end up making bad choices. 95% of the time I pack my lunch for work, and have something planned for dinner.

    I love this post! It’s nice to see the before and afters.

  14. Katy (The Singing Runner)
    April 20, 2011 at 10:29 am (9 years ago)

    Fantastic post! Definitely can see how you have come! 🙂

    I am a planner when it comes to my life, but I don’t plan my meals. I should, because it tends to make things easier and less stressful.

  15. Theresa @ActiveEggplant
    April 20, 2011 at 10:54 am (9 years ago)

    It’s amazing how similar your life then was to mine! I will say that I worked out in my early 20s and was thinner then than I am now but I was SO unhealthy in every other aspect of life! I ate fast food all the time – think supersized value meals at McDonalds, footlong BMT subs with chips AND a cookie AND a large Dr. Pepper, and cases of beer each week. (Then I got totally derailed in my mid/late 20s and completely stopped working out & continued eating and drinking myself into oblivion.)

    Since I had my wakeup-call my life is entirely different – I know how to treat my body well, and also “treat” myself with indulgences too. Such a difference a year or two can make!

    Kudos on another great – and honest – post Beth!

  16. Kandi
    April 20, 2011 at 11:00 am (9 years ago)

    Hey Beth. This post is very deep. I don’t know if I could write that. Sometimes things we’re embarassed or ashamed of we act like it didn’t happen. Good for you in being transparent and acknowledging your growth.

    You hit the nail dead on the head with the “instant gratification” part. Depending on how some of our lives were from birth to young adult, we use the freedom we gain in being an adult with careless abandon. MANY times I felt the same way: if I want to eat the whole pizza or the whole cheesecake, I can have it. I’m an adult! Mom can’t tell me only one slice anymore! But then we live and we learn.

    I am moving further and further away from that type of lifestyle too (although the morning hitting the snooze still sounds like me).

  17. Jen@jensdaily
    April 20, 2011 at 11:00 am (9 years ago)

    I used to be go go go, fly by the seat of my pants. Then I had kids. Now, I thrive on routine. While i’m still trying to figure out this whole new healthy lifestyle and still wish I could just go grab some drive thru. Life is much easier on a plan and routine 🙂

  18. definediana
    April 20, 2011 at 11:10 am (9 years ago)

    I would defintely agree that one of the major changes that I have made is planning ahead! Everything from exercises to meal planning.

    I get the same amount of sleep at night, but have so much more energy during the day!

  19. Lisa
    April 20, 2011 at 12:24 pm (9 years ago)

    Sounds about right…my “old life” was pretty similar.

    I am a plan ahead person and I schedule my workouts, plan my meals, and stick to em! It works much better.

  20. Groff's Girl
    April 20, 2011 at 12:26 pm (9 years ago)

    I am such a planner!!! I think about what I will have for breakfast at night before I go to bed. I pre-package my snacks in advance so they are ready to go. I measure out my Kashi Go Lean and put them in baggies with some unsweetened cocoa powder so they are ready in the morning if I want them. I pre-make as much as I can so that it is ready and I don’t get to the ‘over-hungry-eat-whatever-is-in-sight’ stage! I try to keep tons of fruit on hand, date balls, tofu pudding, etc. so I have some great snack choices available! Planning ahead and being prepared just makes the whole process a lot easier…that is why I chose to go back to WW…it keeps it easy to plan and gauge where you are at through out the day if you do need to add some extras 🙂

  21. Andrea @ The Skinny Chronicles
    April 20, 2011 at 12:28 pm (9 years ago)

    I want to be a planner person. …I think I am a planner person… But now I am realizing I somehow just think I am a planner person and am really more disorganized (and live in the moment) than I would like to admit. Not sure how that happened.

  22. Liz
    April 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm (9 years ago)

    Great post! I’ve become a complete planner since I entered the “real world.” It’s the only way I can get everything done and get enough sleep and feel sane.

  23. cindylu
    April 20, 2011 at 3:07 pm (9 years ago)

    I try to balance. I like the living in the moment and planning ahead. I’m actually a lot more motivated by the costs savings of planning ahead. Doing things on the fly like taking a trip, going out to dinner, or buying an outfit you really like in the store, will often cost more than if you planned. I’m sure you know this since you’re big on frugality.

    That said, planning everything takes time and effort and sometimes I’m lazy. I’m cool with that. No one said balance was easy.

  24. Kathleen
    April 20, 2011 at 3:53 pm (9 years ago)

    First of all, I love your blog and have been a reader for a long time, but don’t think I’ve ever commented. Wow can I relate to this post. Even though I’m older (40) I lived the same way in my college days. I lost 84 lbs. with WW back in 2004 and remained lifetime for about a year and a half. Then I stopped going to meetings (big mistake), had a serious tailbone injury, several surgeries and now I’m trying to get back to my goal weight. Pre-planning is KEY for me. It takes away the guess work and creates less possibilities to grab things on the go. It’s calming for me to know what’s coming next – especially while in weight loss mode.

  25. Parita
    April 20, 2011 at 4:17 pm (9 years ago)

    I loved reading about the lifestyle change. Great post! And I am a planner…oh, I can’t even tell you how much of a planner I am! I feel like I’m slacking in some areas of my life, but when I want to be, I am on top of everything…because I plan to be that way!

  26. kristisn
    April 20, 2011 at 4:51 pm (9 years ago)

    I’m definitely a planner… now. I used to live like you did back then. My problem was I could do that and not really gain weight and then I got pregnant. I have been struggling with weight ever since. I feel now I have to plan ahead to keep myself on track.

  27. Dee
    April 20, 2011 at 5:06 pm (9 years ago)

    Very thought-provoking post. I think planning is key to weight loss & maintenance, and I’m only recently discovering just how important it is. I am definitely NOT a planner by nature, this is something that I have to force. But it’s worth it, because the planning makes success easier to come by.

  28. happywhennothungry
    April 20, 2011 at 6:46 pm (9 years ago)

    I definitely love to plan ahead. It just helps me stay on track with eating and exercise. You’ve come so far. So proud of you 🙂

  29. Maura
    April 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm (9 years ago)

    So funny to read this – every morning this week, as I hit the gym, or make a healthy breakfast, or put on my (smaller than before) clothes for work, I’ve realized just how different my life is vs. when I was 26, guzzling Patron and chicken fingers, not getting enough sleep, and with all of that – just trying to mask the unhappiness.

    Change is awesome – I’m so happy for yours.

  30. Monica
    April 21, 2011 at 3:15 pm (9 years ago)

    So interesting! Do you work at the same job as you did then? Was your weight-loss journey ever impacted by your job?

  31. Lili
    April 22, 2011 at 4:40 pm (9 years ago)

    Im a planner too Beth! I don’t like to be hungry and not have my snacks and meals around (at work). So, if I bring everything i will need to eat throughout the work day, it makes things easier and healthy of course.

    Do you end up eating your lunch at your desk? Or you find something to leave the office? I eat most of the time at my desk, but sometimes will drive to a nearby park if the weather is nice and eat 😀

  32. Chase
    April 25, 2011 at 7:52 am (9 years ago)

    I waffle between being a live-in-the-moment person and a planner, but I tell you, I’m a lot happier when I have plans laid out. When I’m flying by the seat of my pants, I feel extremely disorganized and out of control and it affects everything, not just my healthy eating! My work suffers, my relationships with my friends suffer, it’s a mess! So, I can totally relate to your former lifestyle because I’ve been there! But I’m a lot happier where I am now instead 🙂

  33. Linda
    May 1, 2011 at 8:46 am (9 years ago)

    I think it is great that you have made these changes to your lifestyle at such a young age. Many people wait until a crisis hits – like a heart attack or diabetes. I have found planning to be the key to healthy eating, and always packing my own food for the day. Yes, sometimes it’s a pain, but it is so worth it in the end. In case of emergency I know I can always go to Starbucks and get a greek yogurt parfait or a protein plate though.

    Another thing I did was to write down meals on index cards – pink for breakfast, blue for lunch, etc. Then I just pull cards out of the box for the week. It’s a real time saver.


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