This is a question that plagued me for years before I successfully made my lifestyle change. I assumed that to be thin, to lose weight, I would have to exist on lettuce and celery sticks, and that the thin people I saw eating fast food were just freaks of nature.

Just like it’s wrong to picture a fat person going home and eating three or four pizzas, it’s also wrong to assume a thin person sticks to a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

I shudder almost every time I read a cheerful blip about moderation and balance on a blog, if only because when I weighed 300 pounds, I wouldn’t have really known what that meant. Does that mean a cupcake and pizza today, and salad and celery sticks tomorrow? Well, no.

Two recent events led me to really think about how what I eat now is different than what I ate before I started to lose weight. A few weeks ago, my friend Kelsey was visiting. I handed her a cup of coffee, and she looked around the kitchen and said, “Oh — you probably don’t even keep sugar in the house, do you?”

Well, I do, because I like to bake. But I can see why she would think that, and why some other person might not keep sugar in the house.

Last week, at Target, I saw that their house label now makes a sugar cookie ice cream. Reading the label description made my knees weak, and as I opened the freezer door, I knew I couldn’t bring it home. I don’t binge per se, but I would eat a spoonful here and a spoonful there until the entire carton would be gone in a matter of days. I grabbed a single-serve size of Skinny Cow ice cream and felt really ashamed. What normal person can’t bring ice cream into their house? Don’t I talk all the time about how healthy living is a lifestyle and treats are OK?

The thing is, I am not a normal person (in many ways), but especially in the fact that I used to be morbidly obese. The way I look at food and think about food and perceive food is going to be different for the rest of my life. I know that buying that carton of ice cream and eating a spoonful here and there would not cause me to regain 120 pounds, but I am shopping for a wedding dress soon, and having a large amount of ice cream at my disposal is not the best idea. And admitting that, no matter how embarrassing I think it is, is a good thing. I’m not saying I can’t have ice cream. I’m just not bringing it into the house.

Diane at Fit to the Finish wrote a post earlier this week about bad foods, the foods she no longer eats. I can’t say there is a food I stopped eating cold turkey, but there are a lot of foods that no longer make it into my grocery cart.

This is the Fashionably Fit Fridge. (And before you say it, or think it, my fiance posted those photos that are just of me before I moved in.) Β Before I started my weight loss journey, the fridge would have been stuffed with the following:

  • Chicken tenders
  • French fries
  • Pierogies
  • Onion rings
  • Tater tots
  • Jalapeno poppers
  • Cheese-filled soft pretzel sticks (I would eat these right of the oven, when the cheese was still blistering hot)
  • Pizza rolls
  • Pop that isn’t diet

This is what was in my cabinets:

  • Potato chips
  • Pre-packaged cookies and brownies
  • Snack cakes like Little Debbies

This is not to say that I no longer eat these things. I love ordering jalapeno poppers at a bar or restaurant, but I usually share them with other people. It’s very different than having a big box of them at your disposal. As soon as I learned about calories and how many one is supposed to eat, I cut out non-diet pop, because to me, it was the biggest waste of calories I could imagine. That was how I gave up eating in front of the TV, too. I wasn’t getting enough enjoyment out of those mindless calories to justify scarfing up Doritos while watching “Sex and the City” reruns.

Here’s the catch: This is what works for me, and what has been working for me. It’s changed over the past five years. I went from being a Special K devotee to swearing by Kashi to recently choosing egg whites and salsa over cereal. If you are not insulin resistant, you will probably be fine eating a bowl of Kashi for breakfast. But I am, so my dietary needs are different.

The weight loss formula — burn more than you take in — is simple, but you have to create your formula therein. That’s the key to lasting weight loss.