A Letter To My Old Friend, Pizza

A Letter To My Old Friend, Pizza

It's been a while.

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Old friend,

I know it's been a while, but I still think about you - every day.

Adopting a vegetarian, low-carb diet was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made, and I want you to know that it wasn't your fault. Well, it kind of was. But you weren't the only culprit - pasta and chocolate are to blame as well. And bread - especially bread.

I do miss you, but things are better this way. My heart and taste buds may love you, but my waistline does not. I had to make a choice, and I hope that you're doing well.

I know that you're doing fine. I know you get plenty of attention. I'm not worried about that. But I don't want you to think you were the only reason for my decision. I know you probably feel betrayed. I mean, after all, it must not feel good to be rejected by an Italian.

I can't remember the first time we met, and I can't remember the last, but I do remember your steaming sauce and delectable cheese, perfectly burnt so that you have a little bit of brown on top, but not too much. Pure perfection.

Sometimes I see you and pass by. I can't stand to look at you. I'm not strong enough. Don't take it personally.

I'm sure I will be able to see you every now and then. Maybe a couple times a month, maybe every other week. I'm sure we can figure something out. But things can't be the way they were. My figure won't allow it. I wish it didn't have to be this way, but I'm just one of those people who can't enjoy your presence every day or even every week.

I wish you the best.

Stay cheesy,

Megan

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A Girl And Her Ben And Jerry's: A Love Story Turned Disastrous

My relationship with food and what it's taught me.

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These words are coming to you from a coffee shop where no, I did not order a chocolate croissant and type away with greasy fingers like I may have a year ago. They're also coming to you from the mind of a girl who got on the scale this morning, hated what she saw, thought of all of the holiday food she could've declined, and quickly opened her phone to Google, "Can I lose ten pounds in a week?"

That girl knows she sounds insane, but hey, there's a lot else on my mind -- going back to school in San Diego in a week, seeing all of my friends, and feeling like the holidays hit my health way harder than I wanted or intended them to.

But a year ago, this girl would have been looking forward to heading back to school, seeing her boyfriend and diving into a pint of Ben and Jerry's with him (our favorite), baking, going out to eat with friends, and living with very little regard for what I was putting in my body. Did I know what I was doing to myself? Deep down, yes, and I could feel it. But on the outside, I didn't act like I cared.

My journey to where I sit today is complicated and difficult, but it centers around something I've discovered about myself in the past year, and that is my incredibly difficult relationship with food.

Since being home for the holidays I've been trying to get out for runs when I can. On a few of these runs, I've let my mind wander and it's helped me trace where my relationship with food stemmed from. And once I placed it, it was astounding to me how it had impacted my life and my choices.

My parents have never been poor eaters. In fact, how they fed us and were role models for healthy eating is quite remarkable to me, looking back. Milk was a dinnertime staple, as was a vegetable every night. Fruit was always part of breakfast, as was a good fruit juice. Wheat bread was commonplace, and white bread was not a typical purchase. There was a candy cabinet we had, but it was kept high up and we couldn't reach it until we were tall enough. On top of that, I watched my parents make good changes to their health while I grew up. And now, they continue to strive to be healthy and active.

When I was a Junior in high school, I made a major change in my activity and began rowing competitively. It was at that point that food became such a reward system for me because the levels at which I was burning calories through long practices meant I could eat massive dinners after practice and continue to stay in shape and even lose weight. I didn't need to care about calories, because most of the time, I needed to consume more.

When I got to college, I continued to row. Recruited to be on the team, I worked hard to make times and standards. But crew became extremely difficult for my mental health, and looking back I know that I experienced bouts of depression through my first year of school. My anxiety was high, and being away from home didn't make it easier. Slowly, food became an ultimate comfort. With everything so different and challenging in my worldview, food remained constant. But that wasn't visible because I was training 20+ hours a week and packing on muscle, so any weight gain from meal plan food in excess seemed almost trivial. It was all muscle, right?

Fast-forward to my second year of rowing. I was feeling hopeless under the pressure to compete on my team and was plagued by anxiety. Going to practice wasn't a joy anymore, but I continued to train and eat like an athlete because the caloric deficit allowed me to. It all came to a tipping point, though, and I left the team.

The following year would prove very difficult. Issues in my personal life and the change that followed leaving student-athlete life did a number on me, and what I thought would be an escape from the athlete life was the opposite -- my anxiety was ramping up and my living situation fueled its fire, too.

Rowing was a life change in high school, it was a life change in college, and leaving that life was another change I wasn't ready for. But one thing that remained constant? Food.

Half a year after I left that team, I recall one night walking into my bedroom with a pint of ice cream (yes, just for me, and I'd probably finish it in less than an hour) all while rationalizing the poor eating habits that became an endless comfort during a hard sophomore year of college -- I'm young, I should live my best life and eat what I want while I can.

Getting on the scale didn't really help that rationalization.

Through several failed attempts, I recognized that I needed to get fit and lose some weight. But it wasn't until I saw my scale blink 2-0-0 that I became concerned. I tried apps, smoothies, all kinds of stuff and it wasn't working, because my food relationship was toxic and on my end, misunderstood.

Six months later, I'm happy to report that I made some changes. I lost the weight, feel like a new person, and now I know a lot about food. I found a diet that worked for me and truly, made me feel amazing and energized. But I'm still sitting in this coffee shop reflecting on what I saw on the scale this morning.

Mental health, life's obstacles, and my perspective on food came together to create a very toxic relationship with consumption that I still deal with. I have a major sweet tooth, often call myself a "bottomless pit" when it comes to eating a big meal, and generally just LOVE to eat. My mind centers around food when I'm eating next, and I can even tell you exactly the snacks I'll have on my road trip back to school this weekend. Fortunately, I've planned out healthy snacks!

I know that I'm not alone. I can imagine that so many struggles with the urge to have a sweet treat, the satisfaction that comes from an amazing meal, or the comfort that comes with good food if your day was difficult. And I want you to know that despite weight loss, my food relationship hasn't entirely changed for good. Not every day is easy, and I'm not perfect. But I'm growing in other areas -- self-control, balance, willpower, and knowing what is and isn't good for me. It's an ongoing battle, but one thing is for sure: I won't give up, and you can't either.

I took photos of myself along my journey, and one that haunts me is the day one photo. Looking back, I couldn't believe who that girl was and what she had allowed herself to become. Many old photos now have me thinking hard about the changes I've made and how thankful I am for them. And while it represents a lot of struggle, I also love that day one photo. Because it not only shows my progress but my bravery and decision to start and not give up. Whether you struggle with sweets, battle an eating disorder, need to make changes, or you've gotten to a healthy place, one thing will remain true: Giving up in the struggle to take care of yourself isn't an option. Keep going.

Food and I will always have a complex relationship, but I'm happy to say I've decided who wears the pants -- it's me, I'm in control, and I'm going to keep going. My health is priceless, and so is yours. Not every day is easy, but reflecting on obstacles overcome, I choose to keep trying.

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7 Words To Remember When You're Trying To Eat Healthy

An easy way to remember how to be healthy.

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Around this time of year, people everywhere are giving up on their New Year's resolutions to eat healthier. At this point, the full reality of their commitment has hit them hard, and they are not having it! Eating healthy may be harder than some think, but it doesn't have to be. There are simple ways to help you eat healthier.

Keep in mind, I am not a nutritionist, but these tips are meant to be basic enough that anyone can use them. If you have health concerns, I recommend talking to a doctor rather than just consulting an article you see online. I will say, however, that these tips are useful, and I hope you get good use out of them!

If you keep the following words in mind, they'll help you get closer to eating and feeling healthier:

1. Eat.

If you want to lose weight properly and healthily, then eat. You may have to change the way you eat, but you must eat! Even if you need to eat less to get healthier, you still need to eat. If you're constantly starving, then change your diet! Even if you're following a diet that seems to be healthy, it may not be right for your body and lifestyle. Be aware of the signals your body is giving you, or you could end up even more unhealthy.

2. Variety.

A healthy diet consists of a variety of foods. Fruits, veggies, carbs, proteins - you'll need them all. If you eat too much of one thing, you'll get too much of one nutrient and not enough of another. Be sure to add some variety to your diet if you find yourself eating too many carbs or meats.

3. Portions.

A lot of losing weight and getting healthy has to do with portions. You may eat good foods, but they won't be good for you if you eat too much of them. In a world with tons and tons of tasty food available, you'll be tempted to get more than what you need. You must resist that urge! Again, be cautious when restricting your portions so that you don't end up starving yourself.

4. Balance.

There are some foods that you are gonna want to eat that aren't very good for you. That's okay! We all have those cheat snacks. You can have those, but you'll have to balance them with other things that are good for you. Chips and cookies can be part of a good diet as long as you eat them sparingly and with other healthier things.

5. Enjoy.

If you're not liking what you're eating, you're not going to keep eating it. Period. Even if changing your diet is a little unpleasant at first, you can stick to it by eating stuff that you still like. Sure, maybe you can't have that slice of cake, but if you like berries, you can still have something sweet that you enjoy. Don't choke down things you don't like; eat things that you enjoy!

6. Substitutions.

If you think you need to cut down on some burgers, maybe go for veggie or chicken patties instead. If you like pizza, try finding whole wheat crusts with veggie toppings. There are so many healthier options out there; you'll for sure find something you like.

7. Avoid.

Avoid places, situations, and foods that you know will be tempting. If you want to cut down on cakes, then don't walk past your favorite bakery. If you know you'll be tempted by an unhealthy snack at work, then bring your own snacks instead. The best way to avoid falling into temptation is to avoid the temptation entirely.

The hardest part about any change in your life is self-discipline. These tips can help you, but you'll have to increase your discipline if you want to do well on your goals. It all depends on you and how badly you want to make a difference in your life.

I hope these tips will help you make that difference. Good luck and happy eating!

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