Zia Hassan

Changing My Brain Chemistry On Salads

There’s something about exiting your 20’s and hitting your mid-30’s (like a bird against the window) that makes you really stop and think about your physical health. Throughout the years, I have made numerous attempts to lose weight and/or become healthier (because those are not always the same thing).

Some attempts had mixed results, like when I decided to jog every day for 30 minutes. I didn’t lose any weight in the process, but I did do cardio every day for a summer, and that was pretty useful. I also learned how to have discipline over a fitness regimen, something that I was severely lacking in my 20’s.

I did end up losing 22 pounds in the last year (and gained a little bit of it back when I went through the transition into parenthood), and I’ll outline how I did this in another post some time (because there was a ton of research that went into my approach). In a nutshell though, it all came down to how many calories I was eating. If I started tracking the amount of calories I ate per day, made sure that number put me in a caloric deficit for the day, did resistance training three times a week, and weighed myself every morning… the body fat started to go away.

But you may notice in that equation I didn’t really mention “eating healthy foods.” I was focused on calories, which meant that I could still go to Burger King as long as I got a sandwich that was within the calorie limit for the day. While it was effective, I want to change that.

While there are tons of diets out there that advocate for different ratios for different micronutrients, the one thing that most of them agree on is the importance of vegetables combined with a reduction in processed foods.

But I’ve always been against salads, due to my own bullshit reasoning that I’ve created in my mind. I’ve always thought that I won’t end up being full or satiated by salad. But my world view is based on the salads I’ve encountered at get togethers (which are sometimes good but often a side dish, so have never been something I’ve focused on directly as a main dish) and also at restaurants (hard to compare these to the burger and fries that are so incredibly addictive and delicious at every restaurant I go to.

So, to deconstruct or dispute these beliefs, I think I have to start thinking that salads can potentially fill me up, since they contain calories like any other dish. And I also have to figure out how I’m going to make salads interesting, which is highly personal.

This is a starting point. I’m attempting this week to only eat interesting salads for lunch after a failed attempt at making a rice dish last week. My hope is that my lunches will be easy to put together, and healthy. I’ll write another post about how it goes later on.