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Soup or Fries?

Ask yourself before you start eating, “Is this food, soup or fries?”

That question is the answer I give to people who ask me how I have turned my life around in the last year. It is also the tip I give to anyone who wants to lose weight, get fitter, or just simply feel better.

It is a mantra I now live by.

Does it work? Yes! Absolutely!!.. and I would encourage you to see if it works for you.

So, who am I to impart such sage wisdom? Nobody special. I would label myself a 50+ year old father and husband (51.5 to be exact) who has been struggling with the pressures placed on me as a ‘fat’ person for over 40 of those years.

It isn’t all bad having that label stamped on me. It has meant that I try to defy the stereotype by having adventures that most people find crazy, whether it is the Marathon Des Sables, an Ironman triathlon, or simply running 10km to the train station instead of using the car.

But it is mainly bad.

The negative aspect rears its head internally as depression or low self-worth. Externally, it can come in the form of bullying or body shaming. My health suffers, I worry about not being healthy for my kids.

To label myself as ‘fat’ is a bit of disservice to my yo-yoing state. I have at various stages in my life been obese, morbidly obese, ‘getting thinner’, ‘just overweight’ and all the shades of grey in between. I am currently on a downward trajectory. And finally, it feels like it is a trajectory that is a permanent state.

No. Let me correct that statement. I am on an upward trajectory. Sure, my weight is coming down but so many things are going up. My fitness is shooting up, my happiness is up, my confidence is up. My overall lust for life is way up!

So how am I doing it?

Unfortunately, there is not a magic single step, it needs many ingredients like determination and support being required.

And it also needs that simple question I ask myself when eating .. “Is this food, soup or fries?”.

The wonderful thing is that this question is not just applicable to people like me. It is applicable to nearly everyone, including people who never have to worry about what they eat.

So, what do I mean? Well, let’s start with thinking about why we eat food; we eat to sustain ourselves. To give us energy.

Soup and fries are both food, so both give us energy when purely looking at the calorie count. They also taste good!

But now think back to when you eat them. Think back to how you feel afterwards.

I noticed a difference one night when I had soup and the rest of my family had fries. Afterwards I was full of energy while my family started acting lethargic. It was like the soup had invigorated me, but the fries had sucked the life out of my family.

The fries had done exactly the opposite of what food should do; it had taken away energy!

Now think back to all food you have eaten recently. What has given you energy, and what has taken it away? I wouldn’t be surprised if you notice differences in how you feel afterwards. They all deliver calories, but the way our body processes them can tell a different story.

For each person these types of food might be different. For instance, I notice the same thing with meat. Meat seems to slow me down. But that might not be true for you. Everyone is unique.

When you eat food over the next week or so, reflect on how it makes you feel afterwards. Is it your soup? Or is it your fries?

I still eat both types of food. I still love both types of food. But, I know one will give me energy and one will take it away. When I eat fries, I don’t think of it as food the food I need to sustain me; for that, I turn to foods that bring me energy. Just knowing that means I naturally levitate to the energy giving meals; the ones that make me feel better for much longer than the 5mins while I am eating them.

This mantra is not just helping me as part of my weight loss, it is helping me in all avenues of my life, especially sport. I seem to recover better after a hard session and am eager for the next session.

It also means that I am not wasting time on feeling lethargic after a meal so much. I am getting more out of my day. I am more in the present.

So, are you eating soup or fries tonight?


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