Have Your Pudding and Eat It Too: How to Lose Weight Even When You Own a Gourmet Dessert Food Truck
Happy New Year, Pudding Posse!
I hope everyone's had a great start to 2018! In the spirit of resolution season, I figured I'd share a few words about my own experience with one of the most common goals that folks set during this time of year: weight loss. I know, I know... what a weird thing to be talking about on The Pudding Truck's blog. We at TPT absolutely believe that it's vitally important to treat yourself, especially with decadent nothing-diet-about-em desserts. So isn't that super contradictory?
Well, I personally don't think so. And that's because I managed to lose a decent amount of weight while still allowing myself to enjoy awesome TPT pudding (and other treats) on numerous occasions! So I figured that if I could do it literally surrounded by temptation, perhaps it could help a few folks if I shared a bit about how I used a balanced approach to change my body while still enjoying the deliciousness around me.
A couple of important things to note before I get ahead of myself:
1) First and foremost, I certainly don't think that anybody needs to lose weight. Everyone's body is their own business and the only person that should have any say in what you do with yours is YOU. Bodies are beautiful in all shapes and sizes. Period. Some people though, like myself, decide that for one reason or another they want to lose a bit of weight, and that's also a totally valid and personal choice. So if you're at all curious about some of the strategies and philosophies I used, please read on. But only IF that is something that feels right for you!
2) I am neither a physician, nor a nutritionist, nor a dietician, nor a personal trainer. In fact, I'm pretty much the opposite of those things, since I spend my days encouraging folks to indulge in delicious old-school stove top pudding. But I did manage to lose over 20 pounds during the better part of 2016 (and have kept it off since!), which means I did at least figure out something that worked for me. That being said, everything I have to say is strictly from my own experience. I highly recommend consulting a doctor and/or fitness professional to make sure that your approach is a healthful one for you if you decide to attempt losing weight. Be safe!
It's possible that none of this is terribly new information if you, like I, have spent a significant amount of time scouring the internet for weight loss strategies. I know I'm not recreating the wheel here. But below are some specific tips that worked (and continue to be helpful for maintaining and other fitness goals) for me!
1) Figure Out an Approach to Mindful Eating that Works for You
When folks ask me how I managed to lose weight effectively, I have to tell them the truth which is usually not what they want to hear... the biggest change I made was that I started to count my calories. I also became really consistent about my work outs, but I had already been a regular exerciser (fun fact: I actually taught spin classes in 2013-2014). Using an app to track what I was putting in my body really made the difference for me.
But I actually don't think that that's a universally effective approach. Some people have amazing success cutting way down on certain types of food or macronutrients like desserts or carbs. Some people respond well when they're given super specific rules like a diet plan or fasting schedule. Probably pretty unsurprisingly, I'm not so big on giving up dessert. My guess is that if you're reading this you're likely a fan of the sweet stuff as well, so perhaps you can relate. I'm not about to give up sugar, and having a little something sweet every day is pretty important to me, so learning how to "budget" for it by tracking allowed me to learn to incorporate dessert into each day without totally negating my efforts. But for some people, the thought of doing that is completely cringe-worthy, which brings me to my second tip...
2) Know When to Take Commitment Phobia Seriously
Hesitation can come from many places. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that weight loss is easy. It takes a lot of dedication and will power and patience to actually see results. So sometimes if you're feeling trepidatious about the work you'll have to put in, it could just be those nervous butterflies that make you wonder if you really have what it takes. That's the kind of commitment phobia that you have to just banish by doubling down on your conviction in whatever way works for you (maybe it's starting to pre-schedule your work outs, learning to meal prep, or developing a reward system for yourself). Don't take that type seriously.
The sort of commitment phobia that I do think you should take seriously is the kind that stems from knowing yourself well enough to understand what you are and aren't willing to do. I'm totally willing to track my calories. I'm super unwilling to stop eating dessert. I really enjoy group exercise classes, but I am not down to run long distances. If you're feeling commitment phobic about a certain plan or activity, consider a different strategy. Don't commit to a plan that you know doesn't feel right for you. It's just a fast track to disappointment and even possibly giving up entirely. If you're struggling to stick with something, try looking for other methods that suit you better.
3) If You're Going to Indulge, Make Sure You're Actually Treating Yourself
Here's where pudding factors in for me. When I want to enjoy something that's high in calories or not exactly "figure friendly", I make sure that it's something that I actually want so that it feels worth it. A scoop of Chocolate pudding and a scoop of Butterscotch pudding (the absolute best combo in my opinion) sprinkled with a little sea salt? SO worth it to me. The stale oily piece of toast that came with my salad? Not worth it. Dinner at my favorite (not super "diet-friendly") restaurant? Worth it. The greasy not-even-a-little-bit-hot-and-crispy fries that my friends ordered at the bar? Not worth it. By strategically budgeting for treats and by deciding when an indulgence will actually be enjoyable, I learned how to incorporate higher calorie foods into my healthful lifestyle.
4) What Goes Up Can Come Down
There's a reason so many people refer to weight loss as a "journey". While I find that a little twee, I totally support the sentiment that the road to losing weight isn't always (or even usually) a straight line. I'm a firm believer that sustainable weight loss does not happen quickly. In fact, most programs recommend a goal of 0.5-2 pounds per week. It took me about 5-6 months to lose 20 or so lbs, which is a rate of roughly 1 pound per week. That can feel painfully slow. It also means that there can be times with the scale actually moves in the wrong direction. Say you weigh in the day after a particularly salty meal or you're at a time in our cycle (what's up, ladies) that makes you prone to retaining a little water. Or, just to be realistic, maybe there was a week when you had family in town visiting and fell into the food-tourist-in-your-own-city trap causing you to go pretty overboard. You may gain a little bit of weight. So this tip is just a reminder to keep in mind that your weight loss chart doesn't have to be on a plummeting diagonal. Even if there are peaks, there can absolutely be valleys. Be patient and gentle with yourself and remember that you can always hop back onto the wagon that works for you.
5) It's All About Balance
Did I mention that I eat pudding? Oh good, because I definitely eat pudding. And brown butter vanilla wafers, and fudge brownie bites, and real fresh whipped cream. I'm a BIG believer in balance. Yes, most of the time I eat a lot of lean protein, fruits, and vegetables. Yes, I actually have become one of those people who enjoys working out. But in a world and fitness community that often perpetuates an all-or-nothing mentality, I choose to live in the middle. On days when I know I'll be at the truck and inclined to sample our product (quality control, amirite?), I try to also do something like the HIIT class that absolutely kicks my ass. Or if there's a week when I know I have a lot of fun dinner plans, I'm extra careful to stock up on healthy breakfasts and lunches.
Now that I'm in maintenance mode, I actually don't even track all the time. I refuse to count calories when I travel, I try all kinds of restaurants and food trucks around LA as much as I can, and I absolutely do not exercise portion control at Thanksgiving. And again, I pretty much eat dessert every single day. But I always know that if there is a week or two when the scale reads a little higher than I'd like it to, I can go back to to the tools that I learned when I figured out the method that worked best for me. I also continue to challenge myself by creating new fitness goals (currently, I'm trying to get stronger and build some lean muscle!) to keep up my motivation to maintain balance.
So IF (and again, only if) you're one of the many folks looking to drop a few this resolution season, let me be just a little proof that it's absolutely doable. You just need to figure out the way that works for you. Call upon your loved ones for support (or at least shake the haters and saboteurs off) and buckle down. Just don't forget to save a little room for pudding ;)