Chubby Tendencies. That’s what I call it when I am completely truthful about my reality. As a woman who’s committed to my well-being, fitness, and athletic goals, I can’t deny the fact that I LOVE to eat. I’ve got Chubby Tendencies!

Don’t get it twisted. Don’t let my current physique fool you. I’ve been chubby almost all of my life. Food was central to my upbringing and vittles were the consistent reward for a job well done in any facet of life. I wouldn’t say that food was abused, but food definitely had a central role in the first 17 years of my life in southern Virginia.

Dr. Shaunna Gold

CRUSH Columnist Dr. Shaunna Payne Gold

Fast forward to 2012 when I started to get my fit life together. My body got the memo that it needed to be more active and less sedentary, but honey chile – my taste buds didn’t co-sign on anything healthy. My palate needed to be exposed to something other than grease, sugar, and salt. I was highly successful reprogramming my body to move more through running, walking, and strength training, but I was highly unsuccessful when reminding my taste buds that we have a clean deal.

So, moving to a clean eating lifestyle was an iterative process. First, work on portion sizes. Then, work on more water and fewer liquid calories. Later, introduce new food options to the palate. Finally, moderate all the bad food with scheduled “splurge meals.” This was my simple little process.

But let me be clear – I did not completely give up the foods that I love. Yes, I still have a Chick-fil-a milkshake once in a blue moon. Yes, I still have my Five Guys burger once every couple of months. Yes, I still eat the five French fries my sons leave at the bottom of the bag from McDonald’s.

So, again – I did not give up the foods that I love. I simply got smarter when it came to nutrition decisions over the long term. For every 80 percent of my clean eating, there is at least 20 percent of my dirty eating that ensures that I don’t fall completely off the nutritional wagon.

If you’re reading this article in CRUSH Fitness Magazine, then I may be speaking to you, too. Yes, we’re health conscious. Yes, we’re fit and active. Yes, we have athletic goals. But YES – we also love to eat. We began to get “fit” sometime in our lives, but we never really deprogrammed the ways we used to eat, the ways we used to think about eating, and the ways we used to idolize the necessity of food. Chubby Tendencies can still run amok if we don’t get a handle on this thing.

So it’s up to us to change our mindsets about how we fuel our bodies. Here are my quick thoughts to help those of us who have Chubby Tendencies:

Re-think food “rewards”

We often live in a world where food serves as the reward for many things. Got a promotion at work? Eat. Got an A on that graduate school paper? Eat. Got a raise? Eat. Finished that home DIY project? Eat. Wake up and breathe? Eat. We’ll eat for any reason at all. Let’s look for other rewards that still provide some semblance of satisfaction. A new pair of shoes. A trip out of town. A piece of jewelry you’ve been eyeing. Actively look for ways to reward yourself and others that excludes food.

Make trade-offs

It is not uncommon that I will sacrifice all week for that one splurge meal. (Note well: I don’t call it a “cheat” meal because you can never cheat your body. Your body always knows what you ate and will show you through its performance.) No, I may not have fries on Tuesday, but I plan to go out to dinner with friends on Friday. No, I may not have Starbucks on Wednesday, but I plan to have my caffeine on Sunday. No, I may not have a burger for lunch because I plan to have a slice of pizza with my sons for dinner. Delayed gratification is a must, so always walk into your day with a reason plan.

Think about quality AND quantity

Some folks believe that it’s difficult to feel full on clean food. That’s simply not so when you’re eating the right food in the right portion sizes at the right times. Pay attention to your hunger patterns and allow them to tell you when to fuel up. But don’t assume that because you’re eating well that you can eat as much as you want. Rookie mistake. Focus on the quality, frequency, and quantity of what you’re eating at all times.

Liquid calories

My Achilles heel lies in liquid calories. I love them! However, I keep them in check with enough water intake. For those of us who love juices, shakes, and the like – don’t get too comfortable. Chewing is not required to take in too many calories. Don’t give them up, but be painstakingly aware of them.

Don’t give up everything

For those of us who have chubby tendencies, just like Oprah – we have our Favorite Things. For me? Frappucinos, fries, a homemade burger…OK, lemme stop right there. You get the point. Now, I don’t go to Starbucks and order the Trenta size, I get the smallest size. I may eat the fries at the bottom of my boys’ bag, but I also may substitute those with sweet potato fries baked in the oven. I don’t always go for the greasy burger, but I may in fact bake or grill my burger at home and it tastes just as good if not better. The clean eating lifestyle does not require 100 percent compliance, but it does require 100 percent discipline and calculated choices.

More important than not giving up everything – don’t give up. Don’t give up as you continue to work with, around, and through your Chubby Tendencies. You’re not alone. There are others who feel similarly and the food options NEVER leave us alone. Move forward with these loose guidelines and you’ll find yourself eating better over the long term despite your Chubby Tendencies.

Dr. Shaunna Payne Gold writes monthly for CRUSH Fitness magazine AND…she’s a U.S. Masters Swimming Certified Coach, Triathlete, Marathoner, Author, Blogger, Educator, & BoyMom, Owner & Founder of SHEro Athletics, LLC

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