Breakthrough Nutrition: A Diary of a Recovering American Diet Addict

Growing up in a large family of large boys – Germanic, Hun, Celt, Viking Barbarian boys – dinnertime was war.  Although it erupted into an actual firefight only once (the Great Battle of the Lima Beans), there was always a subtle understanding of the competition at hand: eat as much as you can before everybody else eats it all.  My strategy, personally, was to eat my first serving of my favorite item as fast as I could.  As fast, fast, fast as I could and then, quick as lightning, get seconds.  My approach to food became: if you don’t eat what you want first and you don’t eat it fast, the other barbarians will take it all.

 Obviously, this is not the mentality or perspective of most athletes about their diet.  I knew this and had tried to address it to little or no avail multiple times.  It’s hard to know what to address; I debated whether or not I needed counseling or a nutritionist.  In the end, a friend of a friend came to the rescue with his company, Breakthrough Nutrition.

 Since beginning to work on my nutrition plan, I have learned a lot, and I decided to put the only-Bethany-would-do-that moments into a diary collection for you to enjoy.  These are true thoughts/stories/musings.  I hope that you laugh… and I hope that you are even more encouraged in your life journey with whatever you are doing.  Because if this kid can be an athlete (?!)… goodness knows anybody can do anything.

– Day 0 –

I just got my information packet from Breakthrough Nutrition, including my weekly shopping list. I’m not sure what to do with this stuff.  There isn’t anything microwaveable on it.  Seriously.

Um… and I have to tell this guy, Cliff, in far-off-email-Breakthrough-Nutrition-land everything I eat…?  And he judges me.  And I pay him for this.

Oh. Dear.

– Day 2 –

Yeah, so I just learned that everything I eat is crap.

Okay, okay, not everything.  He said it was only 90% actually.  90%.  Do you know what that means?  That means I should only use 10% of myself to do everything!  10% of my efficiency and my energy and my sunny disposition and my body for swimming.  That’s it.  That’s like… my head.  My Viking Barbarian head.

Basically, I’ve been living off the oatmeal I get at Bob and Deb’s house on Sunday mornings.  Fail.

Well.  The good news is… it can pretty much only get better.

– Day 3 –

…Vegetables are carbohydrates?!?  For REAL?!

– Day 4 –

I went to the grocery store today.  I did.  I faced the piles and piles and piles of easy, convenient food items that I can’t have.  I was nervous.  It felt like a blind date.  My hands were trembling (Okay, that was probably the coffee.).

You have a list, Bethany.  A list.  Buy everything on the list.  Everything.  Don’t question it; just do it.  Buy nothing but what is on the list.

I walked by the sweet potatoes and stopped.  Sweet potatoes were on the list.  I picked one up and muttered, “What do I DO with this?”

“Can I help you find something?” A produce worker next to me asked politely.

“No, oh no…” I answered. Just my mind.

– Day 5 –

Is it possible that I already feel different?  That I already feel… better? Just, like I have more energy or something.  I don’t sit at my desk and feel my body just shutting down after lunch… wow.  I just feel good.  No.  It can’t be.  It’s got to be too soon. …Right?  Hmmm…

– Day 6 –

All I wanted today was ice cream.  I woke up thinking about it.  I went to work thinking about it.  I drove home thinking about it.  I thought about what I would order at every ice cream shop along the route home, because I know them all.  By the end of the day, I felt guilty that I had eaten it.  Really, really guilty.  I felt like I was wasting my money and Cliff’s time.  I thoroughly dreaded writing to Cliff about my meals, because I knew I was going to have to confess that I had ice cream and he would say it was a bad choice.  I felt so awful.  Well, I told myself, tomorrow will be a new day.  Just put this mistake behind you and move on.  That’s all.  You can do this, Bethany.  Really.

Then I sat down to write… and I realized I never did eat any ice cream today after all.

– Day 7 –

Oh!  So here is my plan.  You ready?  Okay.  I will get rid of all the bad food in my house and not buy anymore.  Right?  I had finished the leftover ice cream and the leftover cereal. But GUESS WHAT?!?!  Even if you don’t buy it… sugar comes to find you.  It does.  Because this is America, and everybody has the right to happiness which means cookies at work all the time!  I mean… WHY does this HAPPEN?!?!  I tried to explain to my co-workers that I have a list.  And cookies are not on the list.  I don’t even remember the last time I paid for a doughnut!  This is ridiculous!  Nobody brings berries to work for everyone to snack on!  Or carrot sticks!  Dumb.  Just dumb.

Lesson: free sugar is still bad sugar.

– Day 8 –

I feel really, really good today.  I just feel like my body has energy.  I mean, I’m tired from work, but I’m not tired the way I used to be tired.  I just woke up feeling good in a way that I’m not sure I’ve ever really felt before.  Just good.  It’s hard to explain, but it’s really reassuring.  This is just such a good idea.  I should have done it years ago when I first thought about it.  I really, really should have.

I realized that today I stopped saying that “Cliff won’t let me” have things.  Today, I started to feel like… like I don’t want those things anyway.  Well… I don’t want them all the time anyway… OH!  And then!  Then Cliff told me I could have one day off a week where I could eat whatever I wanted!

… I’m pretty sure that’s one of the nicest things anybody has ever said to me.

– Day 9 –

It turns out that steak is pretty simple and fast.  And salads. I’ve decided to stock both of my residences with salad and meat so that I have it handy when I’m in either establishment.  I know there are recipes out there that Cliff sent to me, and I should be familiar with them, but I haven’t had a chance yet to really understand them.  See, recipes require cooking.  And I don’t know how to cook, I only know how to heat things up.  As a result, I’m still unsure of what to do with the sweet potato I bought the other day. I guess I’ll bring it along with me and see if I can figure it out at my other house…

– Day 10 –

So…  I am losing weight.

THIS WAS NOT MY PLAN!  I know, I know!  I know I’m the only girl on the planet who doesn’t really want to lose weight!  My body fat gives me super powers!  I like it!  I’m comfortable!  I know what this body can do – it can swim in the snow and in 39.6° water, and it can go for two hours in 56° water without a feeding – I just know what I can do.  And I like what I can do!  I don’t want to have to learn all over again!

Lesson: it’s not a diet; it’s nutrition.

People go on diets just to lose weight, but I… I need to eat healthier.  I need to be healthier.  I just do!  And so, perhaps, weight loss will be a part of that…?  I suppose.  If it’s a problem, we’ll fix it.  We will.  The point is the Channel, and you can’t use 10% of you to swim the Channel, even if it is your Viking, Barbarian head.   *sigh*

– Day 11 –

Gosh it’s like 85 degrees out here today!  It’s so hot.  Better drink more water.  Or something.  Ugh… I don’t like warm weather.  The car is so hot… 

Oh no! … Did I ever take that sweet potato out of the car?! 

– Day 14 –

Today, I went to McDonald’s.  I got a salad with grilled chicken, and I picked out the tortilla chips.  I used my leftover frozen white bread as an ice pack in my cooler too, and just threw it away when it was thawed.  I am actually probably a little too proud of myself for both of these things…

– Day 15 –

… where is that sweet potato?

– Day 16 –

I headed back to the grocery store today.  It seems like one shouldn’t do much shopping in the central part of the grocery store – you know, the aisles.  At least, that’s how it seems.  All the best stuff seems to be located around the periphery of the store.

I bought another sweet potato today, to replace the one I lost.  I’m still not sure what to do with it.  I hope the other one isn’t partially cooked rolling around in the trunk of my car…

– Day 17 –

Never mind!  I found it!  It was at my other house all along!

… do sweet potatoes go bad?   There’s no expiration date.

– Day 18 –

Nick: “Hey Ryan!  Want a Gummi Bear?”

Ryan: “Sure!  Aren’t you going to offer Bethany one?”

Nick: “No, she’ll freak out at me.  She can’t have this kind of crap.”

– Day 19 –




Yes… well, it’s been a journey, anyway.  So far, working with Cliff at Breakthrough Nutrition is one of the best adventures I’ve ever undertaken.  It’s exciting how many healthy options there really are out there, how good it feels to eat right, and how great it is to have somebody to answer all your questions and help you stay on track.  Like I said, I wish I’d done it sooner… and I’m so glad to finally get some guidance on how to navigate a grocery store.

 Next up, I’m really going to learn how to cook.

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