My New Lifestyle is Incredibly Challenging (and Rewarding)

I just shoveled seven chocolate covered pecans. They're so good. And it's what spurred this post. Two years ago, I was close to 230 pounds and ate whatever I wanted: cookies, brownies, mac & cheese, pizza, the occasional beer, etc. I lived with my parents. I sat on the couch like a lifeless lump. I didn't exercise because exercise was disgusting.

In June 2011, I changed.

I took control of what I ate - still no exercise - and lost ten pounds in a month without trying. Well, I had to resist the giant container of chocolate chips in the "baking cabinet" at my parent's house.

As I made better food choices and tracked what I ate (I no longer do that because I'm happy with my 95% strict diet, with 5% of my intake going to dark chocolate), the pounds melted off. Months later, I got a personal trainer. You can read more about that here. I was exercising twice a week.

I now exercise 4-5 times a week. It's hard for me to get anything done when I haven't at least gone to the gym for twenty minutes. My fridge? It's stocked with fruits, vegetables, and lean protein - ground turkey and chicken. My freezer? frozen vegetables, more chicken, and two mason jars of maple syrup.

It's a completely different lifestyle. I used to bake all. the. time. I used to watch hours of TV. I used to eat potato chips. I used to not even want to walk to the mailbox. I was 55 pounds heavier. The fat me is gone. (But clearly I still enjoy chocolate).

My new lifestyle is incredibly challenging.

You only live once. I get that.

Some people would say that means you should eat whatever you want. Sure, go ahead and shovel cupcakes with butter-cream frosting, fried chicken, and clam chowder. Get whatever you want when you eat out. But, don't you want to live longer - not shorter? That leads me to believe you should eat real, clean foods. (And like I said above, I do 95% of the time.) It also means you should exercise to keep your heart pumping.

I'm significantly healthier now than I was almost two years ago. And I'm happy with the new me. But, it's a battle. It's a battle to resist chocolate cake. It's a battle to resist fried food (it now gives me headaches). And it's a battle to force myself to the gym on days I just don't feel like it.

Basically, I'm at war.

At war with the old me. I don't want to go back. But I still want to eat chocolate. I have weapons. I have an army to help me fight the battle. But sometimes there are moats to attack and bayonets to be drawn.

So, how do you keep "old me" from winning the war? I've got three tips (basically the action plan I just made up).

1. Look at your progress

How have you improved? Can you do more push ups now? Have you lost body fat? Did you buy a new pair of jeans? Remember where you used to be. On Saturday I had some serious progress: jump rope, rower, pull ups - pretty much the whole workout. And on Sunday I ran 1.8 miles better than I ever have. That's the progress I (and you) need to focus on. Why do anything to ruin that progress?

2. Focus on the future

Where do you want to go? And how are you going to get there? Are your choices today negatively impacting your goals for tomorrow? That's what happened to me when I downed an enormous handful of chocolate-covered pecans. Now, I'm focused forward. I re-read my goals for 2013 and got back on track.

3. Get rid of reminders of your old self

I throw food out. I know I shouldn't, but I do. I've tossed chocolate. I've tossed peanut butter because I was eating it by the spoonful (um, yum). I've gotten rid of high-calorie sauces in my fridge when half the bottle is left. That's the crazy part. But, I've also gotten rid of 90% of the clothes I used to wear. That's a trade-off if you ask me. My style isn't exactly up to Plato's Closet snuff, so I just donate them. By removing the "fat me" triggers from my life, it forces me to never go back. I'm never buying a pair of jeans bigger than the ones I have now. Ever. Again.

Those are my three tips. Now it's your turn.

Have you made a radical change recently? How have you been able to keep the old you from returning? What tips and tricks do you have?