Caring about your body when you're a beer snob isn't easy to balance, but I've cracked the code.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I pulled on a pair of pants a few weeks ago that used give me a muffin top, but now fall off my ass.
Confused, I did some investigative shopping. I tried different brands of jeans and discovered I dropped from a size 29 to a size 25. That's going from a size seven to a three, or a six to a four, depending on what chart you're looking at.
As someone who has always had an average weight-to-height ratio, this type of change was dramatic for me.
I wasn't TRYING to drop a pants size, but the lifestyle changes I made did the job.
I drink alcohol and exercise consistently, but I had to work on making my diet healthier to stay slim.
When I first graduated from college in 2014, I drank like a frat boy. As an experiment, I stopped drinking alcohol entirely for about four months last summer, but I didn't notice a big difference in my body. This made me take a closer look at my diet.
Here's what I did:
1. I started cooking 80 percent of my meals.
I eat three main meals a day, that's 21 meals a week. Eighty percent means I buy only five meals per week. If you include snacks, I eat up to six times a day.
If I don't make fatty, heavy foods like cheesy lasagna and giant, meaty sandwiches... I just don't eat them.
Instead, I cook lean protein like fish and chicken and pair that with green vegetables and complex carbs. My diet is tasty, diverse and healthy AF.
Cooking my meals allows me to indulge without guilt when I eat out. My favorite foods to buy — like sushi and Shake Shack — are a real treat.
Cooking my meals allows me to indulge without guilt when I eat out.
2. I bring all of my snacks to work and don't touch the cookies.
Once I started cooking, I noticed a difference in how I felt and looked within one month. But I would still bloat and feel gross from snacking on office food.
We have the typical fare here: cookies, chips, sugary granola bars and fruit gummies. What do they all have in common? They're all processed junk.
Who cares that fruit gummies are only 100 calories? What matters more is what those calories consist of.
Instead, I bring goodies from home.
I stick to whole foods like apples, grapefruit, mango, bananas, peppers, mixed nuts and the occasional protein bar. Mixing it up helps me avoid snack boredom.
I'm not perfect. I still go for the Famous Amos sometimes. It's just not every day.
3. I took dessert out of the picture at home.
My rule is, no sweets in the house.
When I have a hankering for dessert, my only option is apples and peanut butter, agave and a sprinkle of cinnamon. It's a treat that's satisfying and guilt-free.
If ice cream finds its way into my freezer (maybe once a month), it's a brand that has natural ingredients, like Talenti or Häagen Dazs.
I follow the proper serving size listed on the label, too. (One serving of ice cream happens to be half a cup!)
Besides, I would always rather have a beer at the end of the night instead of something sweet.
When I realized yogurt made me bloat, I stopped buying Chobani. But I still eat cheese.
When I finally accepted I have zero self-control with M&Ms in my kitchen, I wouldn't put them in my cart at the grocery store. But I still get them when I go to the movies.
You are in control of what goes into your mouth. I know it's tempting to eat the free food at the office, but why do that if you feel guilty and gross all the time? I know I used to feel that way. I put an end to that shit, and you can, too.
I chose to give up the foods that I could live without instead of depriving myself from beer, my one true beverage love.