I’m participating in The Scintilla Project. You can read my first post here.

Prompt: Talk about the ways in which your body is awesome.

Restrictions ruled my life.

No peanut butter. No ice cream. Only cheese made with skim milk. Rolls, bagels, sandwich breads of all types were on the “no-no” list. Pizza, rice, cheeseburgers. No, no, and no.

I’d fret when I went out with a group to eat and the table wanted to share cheese fries or an ooey gooey brownie dessert. Those items were most definitely not on my preappoved list of foods.

Not many things made it onto my list of approved foods.

Some fruit. Some veggies. Yogurt. Grapenuts cereal.

It was a mean, unfullfilling diet. I was hungry all the time. And moody. Suffered from headaches and a forever growling stomach.

I instituted my restrictions over various periods of my life. After those awful mean girls told me I was ugly in middle school, during stressful periods of life at college.

I thought I was being healthy, eliminating almost all sources of fat and calories from my diet. But all I ended up with was feeling weak, in a constant state of low blood sugar, sallow-looking skin, and absolute unhappiness.

After years of living on restriction, I grew tired of missing out on group dinners when the restaurant’s menu didn’t offer meals that fit my limited food criteria. I wanted to be out with my friends, laughing over a shared giant cookie cake smothered in bright icing instead of isolating myself in favor of rice cakes.

So I started easing up. Expanded my food rules. Learned more about what actually constituted a healthy diet.

Turns out, low to no fat diets don’t do me any good. Once I introduced good fats and the right kinds of calories into my rotation, my fitness level improved. I ran faster, cycled better, increased my endurance.

Healthy isn’t about what I restrict, it’s what I let in. I balance out my love of whipped cream and cupcakes with blueberry oatmeal and grilled chicken. All in moderation.

When I first eased off my restrictions, I thought I would balloon. But instead I redefined a healthy lifestyle into what worked for me. That’s when I got into group fitness, cycling, explored recipes with a good balance of fat and calories and protein.

I’m stronger without my restrictions. I’m in better shape than I was under my restrictions. My mood improved. I’m happier. My skin changed from sallow to rosy. I can squat and lunge and cycle and jog with a body that feels like a machine, running on the fuel of all things in moderation.


Sarah is a thiry-something wife to an engineer and mother of three. She loves teaching aerobic and cycling classes, learning to shoot with her DSLR in manual mode, and drinking coffee.