Predictable Food Journey of the New Millennium Woman

by ~jenniferlynn on November 14, 2014

in Body Image, Food

Before I started Crossfit I was following the New Rules of Lifting for Women and one of the best outcomes of doing that program was finding an online community of other women who were doing the program or were veterans of it. In skimming the forum recently, one of the admins, Dana, posted something that really struck me regarding the food journey that a lot of women go through, so I asked her if I could share it here. I can relate to nearly every stage she talks about! Hope you enjoy!


Predictable food journey of a new millennium woman:   We all usually start and end at the same place, but the steps in between might be a bit different. Stage 1: Low-Fat Cardio Queen Stage 2: Eat All The Things Stage 3: Gaining All the Weight Stage 4: Clean it up with Paleo.. to the Extreme Stage 5: Bring Back the Carbs! Stage 6: “Diet” Nirvana  #paleo #eattoperform #eatclean #healthyliving

After a few years on the journey to a better understanding of health, fitness, and food and many, many discussions with other women I’ve come to the conclusion that the diet and eating habit trek is pretty similar to all. I don’t know if anyone else has noticed the similar progression we all take, but after a while it became pretty obvious to me.  We all usually start and end at the same place, but the steps in between might be a bit different.  I help admin a FB page about weight lifting and more specifically, the New Rules of Lifting books.

On our page a common post starts like this, “I did the calculations they give you in the book to determine my calorie goals and OMG, how am I ever going to eat all that food?”  Thus begins the food journey of the new millennium woman.  Imagine heralding trumpets and hallelujah choruses here.  This is the breakdown of my road; let’s see if it sounds familiar to anyone else:

Stage 1: Low-Fat Cardio Queen

Most come here after years of slashing calories and doing endless cardio. We think that in order to weigh less we must eat less and crush our bodies as well as our spirits in the process. Making certain food items off-limits and attaching the words, “free foods”, to others is a must.  We now vow to never eat another chocolate anything and instead find endless satisfaction in carrot sticks, fat-free ranch dressing, and zero calorie sodas.  We are virtuous in our resolve.

Stage 2: Eat All The Things

Wait, what? You need to eat more to build muscle? OMG, I must eat all the food every where!! I must buy one of those lunch boxes that holds all my meals, snacks, supplements, and treats and weighs forty pounds empty.   I must eat at least 4,000 calories a day in order to build muscle.  Eat real butter.  Consume large quantities of fresh ground nut butters.  Lift heavy shit both in and out of the gym. Life is no longer about denial.  It’s about making educated choices and realizing everything you ever knew about food and exercise was a BIG FAT LIE.  My life as a Superhero has begun.

Stage 3: Gaining All the Weight

Wow, have I gained weight. What the hell happened? I was eating to build muscle. I learned that low-fat was a lie. I embraced full fat, healthy fat, and I ate lots of it. You mean, I can’t eat whatever I want whenever I want and blame it on my need to build muscle? But I’m lifting heavy shit and I have a superhero t-shirt and my voice has a natural growl to it when I say things like, “I’m fueling my workout” or “I’m working on my squat butt” or “Strong is the new skinny”!  Blah…….life sucks again.

Stage 4: Clean it up with Paleo.. to the Extreme

Enter Paleo!! I must buy all farm raised, free range, grass-fed everything. I travel great distances to meet my food and form relationships with the people who grow it. No more faceless packages of meat, my meat has a name and I know where it grew up and if I could I’d kill it myself and drag it back to my cave! ARRGGHHHH!!!  My grocery bill has gone from $500 a month to $1,000, but I’m awesome and………….eating clean!! (rolly eye face) The only carbs I eat are fruit and sweet potatoes. I am so freakin’ awesome, most people can’t stand me!  I do Sunday food prep and I know every minute of every day what food I will be eating at my next meal.  I feel great and more virtuous than ever!!  Wait, six months have gone by and my credit card is out of control and I’m really tired and my workouts suck.. Why is that?

Stage 5: Bring Back the Carbs!

Wait, I need more CARBS? What the hell? How are people supposed to know these things?  Okay, now I’m looking at Eat to Perform. What I eat should depend on how it makes me feel and how it impacts my workouts. I need to be mindful of my food choices, but life is short, no need to be insane and weigh, measure, and track everything that goes into my mouth. Don’t sabotage my hard work, but stop freaking out about everything I eat and make my life more miserable than it needs to be. Hmm, I may be onto something here.

Stage 6: “Diet” Nirvana

Nirvana! I’ve taken something from every stage and incorporated it into my healthy life and I think this might work.

  1. Cardio is still important and you need to be mindful of the number of calories you consume.
  2. Yes, eat more, but make it high quality and eat more protein.
  3. Full fat is good, but still calorie dense. Don’t be an idiot.
  4. Paleo has some great points. Giving up processed food as much as possible is the best thing I ever did for myself. The best quality food you can afford is a wise investment.
  5. Potatoes and rice are not the devil, lighten up already.

Any of this sound familiar?  Seems like it’s taken me a lifetime to get to Nirvana, but in all honesty, this hasn’t really been a life-long struggle.  I never really cared about any of this stuff until I turned 45 and started seriously lifting weights.  Now at almost 51 I can appreciate the struggle to get here.  Any time you spend on bettering yourself and learning to appreciate how your body works and what you need to live a life worth having is time well spent.

I say this all the time- it’s a process.  You don’t just arrive without working out the details along the way.  I’ve been blessed with the company of many amazing women who are also looking to find the right combination of things that work for them and leaves them feeling in control of their bodies and their lives.  Can we really ask for more than that?  Don’t we all want to take back control from the world and leave it squarely on our shoulders where it belongs?

Independence comes at a price.  We have to be willing to listen and learn and struggle through the work.  It’s never been as easy as just following the latest fitness or food fad no matter what the world wants to tell you.  In the end, you have to figure out this crap for yourself, because the same thing doesn’t work for everybody and when you finally embrace that fact, Nirvana is not very far away.

Thank you, Dana for the post!

Can any of you ladies (or gents!) relate to this?

Alex @ Alex Tries it Out
Twitter: alex_j_meyer
November 14, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Haha – this is *so* accurate! Wow. I’m probably hitting the “Nirvana” stage, although thinking more of a Paleo-esque base sometimes just gets me to make better decisions in general. I’m mulling over a post on this right now, actually :).
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Twitter: fantabulouslisa
November 14, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Um. I skipped nirvana and cycled back to stage 1. lol!
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Lindsay November 14, 2014 at 2:57 pm

so so true! and let’s not forget the fake sugar free faze. Ohh my poor gut!

Shelly November 14, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Pretty sure this post was written for me personally. I’ve been through the cycle and am honestly still somewhere between stage 4 and 5. Phew, Nirvana is on the horizon. This was a great post, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing!
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Kelsey November 14, 2014 at 4:11 pm

This has been my life, and I think I’m at the point of being interested in Eat to Perform, but on the other end, I just want to do what makes me happy. I have found, after just finishing a gym Paleo challenge, that I’m pretty 80/20 no matter what day of the week. And if I end up having, say, a fancy coffeehouse drink in the morning (the ones with lots of sugar), I don’t let it ruin my day. And why should I? I probably consumed it while catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time — and that is what really matters. I think I’m getting closer and closer to Kelsey’s Nirvana. =)
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Lindsay @ liftinginlilly November 15, 2014 at 8:39 am

I definitely can relate!!! High school/ college- age 26, I cycled through those first 3 stages– starving/cardio/giving up/getting fat/starving again etc…. I never looked or felt the way I wanted to and it was a constant struggle. When I started powerlifting at age 27, strength became my focus and I started to eat better naturally because I knew it helped me feel and perform better when I lifted. I gained a ton of muscle, lost a lot of fat, and got strong, but after a year of long and repetitive workouts, I got bored and wasn’t as cut as I wanted to be! Sooo I started Crossfit, started eating even better, got way stronger, and lost whatever fat I wasn’t happy with before! I will never go back to those first 3 stages, and that makes me feel so relieved because I was miserable!!
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jill conyers November 16, 2014 at 7:16 am

Well said my friend! So so much information and the latest recommendations change daily. Nirvana for me was realizing I’m the expert of me. No more extremes! When I look back I noticed the biggest improvement overall when I eliminated processed foods and stopped eating gluten (doc agreed with that one).
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Jenn November 16, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Hee hee, I skipped #4 & 5, but can relate to this process. Lately, I ditched meat, but have little idea on how to be vegetarian. Maybe I should write a #4 for that?
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~jenniferlynn November 16, 2014 at 12:50 pm

I think the vegetarian could be similar to the Paleo mindset!

Danielle @ It's a Harleyyy Life
Twitter: itsaharleyylife
November 16, 2014 at 6:15 pm

this is so true! I think I’m currently at stage 5. I need to find that nirvana still! Thanks for sharing!
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Chris November 17, 2014 at 12:07 pm

I’m at stage 2. I have to eat more. I’m trying to eat more. I’m not doing a good job because I’m not trying too hard. Yeah that sounds dumb, how can you not try to eat more… But it’s a combination of eating more OF THE RIGHT THINGS. I could stuff my face with crap and be fine. I need to prep more food for the week so I have what I need to eat all the foods and make all the gains!!
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~jenniferlynn November 17, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Step 1 is realizing that you have a problem.. 😉

Got to eat for the gains!

Christa @ Living Unbalanced November 19, 2014 at 11:13 am

Wow — this is so, so relateable. I tend to feel and look the best when I’m not stressing out/constantly analyzing what I’m eating. I’m slowly learning to just eat when I’m hungry, eat real food, and not freak out!
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Carina December 30, 2015 at 1:32 pm

This is SO me. Granted I feel like I did it within a two-year period as I went from runner to CrossFitter with boxing and swimming smattered in.

It’s so great to get to a point where you understand the importance and advantages of whole foods without ditching out on my beloved oatmeal and wheat bread!

I have a diabetic uncle that told me once “Everything and anything in moderation.” I was probably in high when he said this but it is SO true. Yo-yo dieters need to cool their roll!

~jenniferlynn April 7, 2016 at 10:50 am

Thanks for the comment, Carina! Yea, it’s funny how we transform until we find that happy, sustainable balance!

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