It’s all about the jeans

I’ve always envied people who have personal trainers. Not because of the actual personal trainer. I mean, who wants to have someone around whose sole purpose is to make you exercise on a regular basis, not to mention knowing when you cheated or lied about it? *shudder*
No, I’ve envied them because they’re usually fantastically fit, energetic, and have a confident attitude that makes you envy them without really knowing why.

Don’t even try to make that make sense.

I had a personal trainer once. And by once I literally mean once. I suppose technically she wasn’t a personal trainer since she met with me and two other neighbors in our neighborhood park, but the circuits she had each of us do were individualized.
For freaking Navy SEALs.
I’m not kidding, for the entire week after my workout I had to go up and down my stairs on my ass and the only way I could get on and off the toilet was by free-falling or asking for help from a reluctant family member.
Once was more than enough.
Confident attitude be damned.

After a summer spent gorging on pizza every single weekend, eating chips on the boat during the day and drinking calorie-laden fruity cocktails and/or glasses of wine most nights, and using the heat, humidity, and bugs as an excuse not to burn any of it off, it’s time to give the attitude and the body its annual cleanse.

My personal trainer?
You’re looking at her. (Well, if you’re looking at that slightly airbrushed and overly filtered picture up on the right you are.)
She’s strict when she needs to be, likes to break the rules every once in awhile, and the best part is she doesn’t work me so hard I can’t get myself on and off the toilet, which makes her totally awesome in my book.

Surprisingly, I’m pretty hard on myself when I decide to be, and even more shockingly can quit most of my vices cold turkey. My motivation? My vices, of course. Fun-sized candy and apple crisp come mid-October, pumpkin everything in November, and rich pastas and even richer Cabernet come December through February (when I’ll most likely have to hire my personal trainer again. It’s okay, she’s cheap).

Why not just say screw it and go straight from the pizza to the pumpkin bread?
I wish I could.
But jeans.
My damn jeans.

I own like four pairs of jeans that I live in from September to May and that I’ve had for about six or seven years.
Jeans that are perfectly broken in and comfortable.
Jeans that each have a specific purpose.
Jeans that have become friends.
Friends who tell me when it’s time to step back from the pizza.

When those jeans get tight, I know it’s time to cleanse, because shopping for bigger jeans just isn’t an option. Because bigger jeans? Sure, but more than that, because who the hell likes shopping for jeans?

It’s actually a pretty slick little system we’ve got going here.
The jeans and me.
I mean, I never wear the jeans in the summer, when it’s weekend pizza, chip, and high calorie drink time, so they wisely are able to keep their big mouths shut.
I wasn’t kidding about them being my friends.

But now it’s time to rekindle our friendship.
About two weeks ago—actually 16 days ago, but who’s counting? —I began my adjustment: my cleanse.
My mission to change my attitude about what I’m eating, what I’m doing, and my slow journey back to my love affair with my jeans.

Holding myself accountable is key.
Being aware of what goes into my mouth (and more importantly, what does not) and how much I move my body daily is really all it takes.
Well, besides a healthy dose of commitment, will-power, and slight insanity (because not drinking wine on weeknights is nothing short of insane).

Here’s what works for me and my husband.
It’s a system we use at least once—sometimes twice—per year for about a month when we need to get back on track to making good choices and feeling better about our bodies … and more importantly, our health.

Keeping a daily food diary sounds ridiculous, not to mention tedious and downright frightening, doesn’t it? But let me tell you, it works.
Recording every single thing you put in your mouth every single day via the easy-to-use MyPlate app is eye-opening, and it doesn’t take long before you feel like shit about your life and make some big changes.
Yay, you.

Simply by becoming aware of your daily calorie count forces you to stop and take a look at what you’re eating, not to mention makes you wonder how the hell your jeans ever fit at all.
Plus, if you were an overachieving student like I was, you’ll want to kick that food diary’s ass immediately.
Does keeping track of your calories mean you have to diet and starve? Sort of. Absolutely not!
In our case, it simply means we begin eating cleaner.

Sauteed shrimp, veggies, zoodles, and yam straws

Shrimp, fresh veggies (asparagus, red pepper, artichoke hearts, and cherry tomatoes) sauteed in light olive oil and a splash of white wine with zucchini zoodles and topped with crispy julienned yams baked on 400 for 30 minutes. 400 calories.

We trade the weekly trips to Buffalo Wild Wings for turkey sandwiches from Potbelly, eat protein bars instead of bagels, and replace carb sides with zucchini zoodles (which are as fun to make as they are pretty to look at).

Baked halibut with zucchini zoodles topped with crispy yams

Baked halibut with lemon and pepper, zucchini zoodles, and topped with baked crispy julienned yams. 385 calories. 

The baked yams are a big hit, obviously, and add insane flavor to the fish, shrimp, or chicken you top them on.
Julienne one yam (a pain in the ass)
Drizzle with olive oil (just a touch)
Sprinkle with a hefty hand of sea salt
Toss right on a parchment papered cookie sheet

Yam stringsBake at 400° for about 15 min., toss again, bake for another 10-15
They won’t all be crunchy, but when mixed together result in a cruncy/chewy blend of deliciousness

Clean, fresh, under-processed eating.
It’s good to stop every once in awhile and give your body a shock with it.
Sure, we’re dying for pizza and processed foods, and they’re not entirely off the table—and will be back in a month or so—but in moderation.
We give ourselves a cheat day once a week, and while we don’t cheat the entire day, we also don’t beat ourselves up about a bad choice.
Like an entire bottle of wine.

olivia pope

Lunches are easy, too, and surprisingly, don’t have to include half a family-size box of Cheez-Its.
Remember this sandwich I shared a few months ago?

yummy low-cal bagel sandwich

Thomas’ bagel thin, 1 TBSP cream cheese, hefty servings of cucumber and red pepper slices,
 deli turkey. 210 calories. Bam.

I eat it every day.
And I actually look forward to it.
(And I replace the Cheez-Its with Veggie Straws to get my salt/crunch fix.)

Giant salads with fresh veggies, chicken, and (portion-controlled) yummy dressing; this soup (to die for, especially if you top it with baked corn tortillas cut into strips); mexican pizzas with baked tortillas, black beans, and veggies—food doesn’t have to be (all that) gross to be good for you, and when you’re recording every item that you put in your mouth, it makes you think about what kind of fuel you’re putting in your body.

And for those of you who think I’ve set up permanent residence on the dark side, don’t worry. I’m like a bear. Come 20° days I’ll be shoveling pasta and garlic bread into my mouth without a care and putting the padlock on the food diary until my jeans argue with me again (which is perfect really, since 20° is better for wearing fleecy sweats and I’m usually sick of my jeans in about mid-April anyway, which is coincidentally when they’ll pick this fight up once again).

Has making better eating choices and getting my ass out of my computer chair for an hour or two every day (thanks to my new assistant personal trainer, Mr. FitBit) for the past 16 days made a difference? Sure, I’m pissed off all the damn time because I can’t have a cupcake, which I’ve never in my life really wanted until I know I shouldn’t have one.
But other than that, I don’t know if I’ve lost the pizza pounds or not. I won’t hold a meeting with my jeans again for at least another week to see if they’ve forgiven me.

You might wonder, “why don’t you just hop on a scale?”
I hate scales and rarely get on one.
They’re liars, anyway.

Here’s the bottom line:
All the food-recording, all the wine-restriction, the sudden and shocking movement of my ass off its computer chair—it’s not ever about a number, and it shouldn’t be.
Numbers aren’t important.
It’s about how you feel and how you’re treating your body, no matter what your stupid number is.
It’s about liking how you look in your jeans. Or your yoga pants, sweats, or mumu.
It’s about balancing the gluttony with the good stuff, and about holding yourself accountable for both.
It’s about being healthy … and most importantly, being happy with yourself, however you choose to get there.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my personal trainer has told me it’s time to take a mid-morning nap to refuel.
Told you she was awesome.



  1. Mondays Are Forever on September 17, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    I feel the same way! I try to have a healthy replationship with food, exercise and my jeans. It is a delicate balance! 🙂

  2. Lucia Paul on September 17, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    I still like your writing despite the fact that you have the self discipline to do this as needed. Thomas Bagel Thins and the other brands of sandwich thins do make a huge difference for us “sandwich lovers.” I suffer from reverse body dysmorphia. I think I look a whole bunch better than I really do. I need the regular kind.

  3. Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms on September 18, 2015 at 2:33 am

    You’re hired! 🙂 Ellen

  4. Stacey Hatton on September 18, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    This is an awesome post! I want to try those zucchini noodles tonight. Is the recipe somewhere? I’ll have to pull out my mandolin and pray I don’t sever a finger!

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