All of my life, my weight has been a struggle. I was a chubby child who always had my cheeks pinched because they seemed to call out to be squeezed. Even throughout my adolescence, my baby fat remained. I hated it. I was in my early 20’s when I got on a roller coaster…a ride that lasted far too long. It was the roller coaster ride of dieting.
I spent years following different diets, reaching my ideal weight, then falling back into the trap of old eating habits and ending up where I had started—at the back of the line, ready to start the ride all over again. My weight was constantly on my mind. As a fashion designer regularly surrounded by beautiful thin models with legs for days, I became more and more conscious of my own weight. As I got older, I began looking inward and decided it was time to get off the roller coaster for good.
A few years ago, I began my journey to become healthier and lose the extra weight that had been haunting me for the better part of my life. I envisioned my future as someone healthy, both inside and out. Someone who simply felt great. To get there, I knew I had to make some permanent changes to my eating habits.
It quickly became clear to me that eating with intention was vital. Eating with intention allowed me to shed pounds and target different parts of my body for improvement. How do you “eat with intention”? Generally speaking, you need to be aware of the foods you’re consuming and know how they affect your body. You have to give each meal meaning. It may sound a little weird to have your meals mean something to you, but I did just that, and continue to do so every day, at every meal.
To create permanent change, I first learned to increase the amount of fresh vegetables and fruits in my diet, while I cut back on prepared and packaged foods. I also thought about my meals ahead of time to ensure I was consuming a lean protein and whole grain carbs with my veg, each time I ate. I began snacking on fruit and nuts, leaving sugary or salty treats behind. These small changes were greatly improving my body and overall health.
The first visual improvement I saw was in my skin. As someone who has always had oily skin and a dull complexion, I was shocked and even a little confused when I started to receive compliments. This got me curious, so I spoke to a nutritionist about my new radiance. She commended my new eating habits, and confirmed that the change in my complexion was a direct result. My liver was now working optimally and toxins were no longer being released through my skin, allowing for a healthy pinkish glow.
I was WOWED at the fact I did this all on my own, albeit unknowingly, and feeling encouraged, I wanted to do more for my body. I began researching, comparing data and compiling lists of everyday foods that benefit specific parts of our bodies. I made sure to increase my intake of certain foods and include them on a daily basis. This made eating healthier something I wanted to do because unlike eating poorly, there were benefits.
The next thing I wanted to improve was my hair. As a child, I was blessed with thick, curly hair. Having kept my hair natural throughout my life, my hair remained thick and healthy—until I had tried one of those weight loss programs that promised quick results. Sure, I was experiencing weight loss at a rate I’d not experienced before, but I also started noticing my hair falling out when in the shower, and it scared me! I consulted the physician at the diet clinic and was told, nonchalantly, that my body was in stress, and was reacting to the rapid weight loss. He told me not to worry, but how could I not? I was losing my hair!! It was only through eating with intention and consciously adding specific foods daily, that my hair began to improve.
With radiant skin and a head full of lustrous hair, I continued my personal improvement on the inside. I thought it would be fitting to “start fresh” and do an internal cleanse. I deliberately ate more of the foods that naturally cleanse during the process of digestion as often as I could. It didn’t take long before I really felt a difference. It’s hard to explain, but I felt clean internally.
Another group of foods I was continually including in my meals were those that help you burn calories just by consuming them. Yes, there are foods that take more energy to break down than the value in calories they contain. These are not “magic” foods; they’re just everyday foods found in your average grocery store.
Having the knowledge to make my meals work for me and my specific needs made the journey to a healthier me a little less daunting. With the strength and tools I needed to stay on track and achieve overall health, I felt compelled to share my new strategies so I wrote the book Izzy’s Eating Plan. I want to help others achieve wellbeing and a healthy weight, so they can feel as great as I do.
With the knowledge I’m armed with now, I’ll never go back to my old eating habits ever again. Why would I now that I know it is possible to get off the roller coaster in a way that is manageable for the rest of my life.
Canadian fashion designer Izzy Camilleri has been designing clothing for over 33 years, and her designs have been featured in Vogue, InStyle, Harper’s Bazaar and Forbes. While still attending to the needs of the fashion world, Izzy’s personal focus revolves around inner beauty, good health and wellness. The author of Izzy’s Eating Plan, she has made it her mission to make present and future generations more healthful.