Staying Healthy in the Real World

When, just about two and a half years ago, I decided to lose weight, that was the most important thing to me for the six months between my decision and my goal date.

I followed the nutrition guidelines my trainer gave me to a tee. If I was somewhere where everybody was eating sandwiches, I’d usually eat the contents of the sandwich, but not the bread. I’d try to convince my mother to make something other than her spaghetti if I went home for a night or a weekend. I tried to be quiet about it, but I think that just resulted in my being quietly obnoxious, and totally being “that girl.”

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But I still lost 35 pounds in six months and went off to Aruba for MaryBeth’s wedding happy to be a normal, healthy weight and not be the girl trying to figure out how to strategically lie on my towel so that nobody could see my fat. Happy to be the girl who could share clothes with her friends and not look on wistfully as the other girls swapped clothes. (Maybe not happy to be the girl who lost weight so quickly that her bridesmaid dress couldn’t be altered quickly enough to keep up with her weight loss.

The other night at dinner with some blogger friends, I mentioned how I’d interviewed at a health-related company a few months ago. It was a company I admired, but when I interviewed, I got the impression that if I got the job and mentioned to coworkers that I’d had fries that weekend after a few beers or that (gasp!) I didn’t always buy organic, they’d look at me like I had ten heads. I stay healthy in the real world, not in an all-organic-food-all-the-time utopia. I try to eat as much of that stuff as possible, but I don’t get bent out of shape if I don’t.

Health is still really important to me, but it’s not the most important thing to me. I’ve changed my definition of health to fit in with my lifestyle, not the other way around. I’m no longer trying to lose weight (whew), so if I go to a party and there’s stuff I don’t usually eat, it doesn’t faze me. I just eat less of it.

I mostly cut out wheat and dairy when I was trying to lose weight, and while I can’t deny I felt great doing that, my stomach wasn’t a fan when I tried to add some back in. (I’ve fully added wheat back in now. I’m training for a marathon.) I don’t want to completely cut anything out if I’m not allergic or don’t have an intolerance, because I don’t want to be able to not enjoy some of those foods sometimes. In the real world, there’s cheesecake. And I will have some.


Yesterday, I had a multi-grain wrap from Trader Joe’s with spinach, hummus and turkey. I stayed away from deli turkey for awhile because I thought there were too many ingredients (there are), but you know what? It’s easy. No cooking required. There’s much worse I could be eating.


This morning, I had my favorite breakfast, again. (Sunflower butter and banana, on a bagel thin.) Are there healthier breakfasts? Probably. Is this easy and filling? Yup.

How do you stay healthy in the real world?

15 comments on “Staying Healthy in the Real World

  1. mindy @ just a one girl revolution.

    I think this has become the consensus throughout much of the “healthy living” blogs, but I fully believe being healthy is in fact having a beer or two, or if I want a piece of cheesecake, I’m going to have a damn piece of cheesecake. But, just not every day. And, unlike when I was fat, I’ll keep it to one piece of whatever I’m craving, not go back for seconds or thirds. I hate that people generally correlate being “healthy” with eating like a rabbit.

    For me, being healthy in the real world is about living my life and making the most of each day. If that means that I eat something junky or unhealthy when I’m out with my friends, so be it.

  2. Megan @ Life As Megan Knows It

    You some really great points and I completely agree with what you where saying..

    I also think given the fact that we are in our twenities living in the city different rules apply to us. Happy hours come up more often, dinner dates and events. I wouldn’t change it for the world but it’s not like we wake up, drive to work, work 9-5 then drive home things are different.

    Glad you figured out what works for you!

  3. Daniella @ Runner at Heart

    Oh my god, I absolutely love this post. I am the same way, I try to eat healthy as much as possible but also don’t let it get in the way of living my life and being social with friends and family. There is a balance and I think everyone should have some sort of balance in their life.

  4. Liz

    I know that I feel best when I eat clean, whole foods, but I’m also realistic about my lifestyle. I know that sometimes I’m going to want pizza, and that I don’t usually have time/energy to cook a whole meal from scratch every night. Yes, packing a turkey sandwich for lunch might not be the best thing in the world, but if I don’t do that, my other option will more likely be takeout, which is even worse. And if I never let myself have pizza, I’d just be sad all the time.

    So I try to make the best choices I can and let myself indulge every once in a while. And I also exercise to counteract some of the effects from my not-so-good-for-me favorite foods. Will run for bagels! (and beer, and pizza, and cupcakes…)


    I live by an 80/20 principle. As in, 80% of the time I try to eat healthy and 20% of the time I eat what could be considered not-so-healthy. Beer. Pizza. Fried everything. I totally agree with you and think it’s unrealistic (and frankly a little boring) to eat clean all the time. You’ve got to live a little, right?!

  6. Liz

    Love this post! And I so relate to being “that girl” but for me it was mainly in my head, my friends were so supportive but I still felt like the annoying one who was always special ordering everything 🙂

  7. Caroline

    Hi Theodora!

    I have been following your blog for a while now and love every post you write! I lost almost 100 lbs in the last two years and have unfortunately gained about 30 lbs back :(. I am looking to find a good nutrition coach. I was wondering how you found yours? Did you get suggestions from friends? I am in DC and like NYC, there are just so many options!

    Thanks for being so inspiring!

  8. Tiffany @ texan on the run

    I really like your mostly healthy approach but NOT overly uptight attitude where it negatively affects your social life and makes you feel like youre being a bad sport being the only one NOT ordering anything because everything on the menu is fried…then ppl feel bad and feel obligated to go our of their way to accommodate for you.

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Kim: No, I actually didn’t because of my trainer’s super-strict (almost-Paleo) guidelines. I usually ate either an omelette/scrambled eggs or the Starbucks spinach feta wrap. Technically, the spinach feta wrap violated all of those guidelines, but I was sort of addicted to it.

  9. Tropical Eats

    Monday – Friday lunch is definitely easier to eat “healthy”. weekends are the time to indulge and have a lil fun (pre marathon training of course omg).

    also at restarants, I always avoid ordering a salad. I can make that at home for like 2 dollars and would rather enjoy a homecooked meal.. even if its not the healthiest.

    all about moderation and never restricting yourself.

  10. Debbie

    i think our biggest thing is that we dont eat out. we prepare all our meals at home. i think its crazy the amount of restaurants in my small town & all of them are packed EVERY night. nobody cooks at home anymore. its expensive & a lot fo the time its not quality. we can still socialize w/ friends & lead a normal life. we have dinner parties & progressive dinners (where you travel from house to house of friends having a different meal course at each). we also dont over do it on alcohol. we maybe have a bottle of wine once a week w/ dinner. maybe its because we are older, but we’ve learned that meals prepared ourselves are truly the best & being hung over the next day all for the sake of “socializing” is not for us.

  11. Shaun @ snackasaurusrex

    Great post! I live by a similar principle that I never give up (or add) something for a quick weight-loss that I’m not will to give up (or add) forever. I think when people to this, it just leads to yo-yo dieting…which we all know is BAD! It’s all about life changes and how you’re going to live your healthy life 😉

    I did have a colleague bring me a breakfast taco yesterday on a corn tortilla, just because he knew I ate healthy. Hmm…have I become “that girl”?


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