The Quest for Healthy Living

Victory Meals waiting for me on my front porch. January 2013.

Victory Meals waiting for me on my front porch. January 2013.

Throughout my adult life, I’ve struggled to balance exercise and food. Typically, I’ve done intensive exercise for about two hours a day. I’d try to eat healthfully—lean protein, steamed vegetables, whole grains—and I’d starve.

I’d manage the starvation for a few weeks, during which I’d obsess about food and feel exhausted. Finally, desperate for calories, my willpower would crumble and I’d overeat on pizza, cookies, bread, chocolate, and cheese.

I went to a nutritionist-trainer and followed his guidelines for a bit, but his cookie-cutter program didn’t work for me. Most of his clients don’t exercise as much as I do.

I just couldn’t figure it out.

So, last fall, I decided to reset to baseline. I kept running, but I pulled back my mileage and intensity. I cut out other exercise. I ate what I wanted.

And once I felt less desperately hungry and my body’s kinks shook out, I tried a new tack.


When I’m tired, I’m hungry—and never for the good stuff. Curious, I experimented with sleeping as much as my body wanted and taking note.

Clearly, I’d underestimated how much sleep I need. I guzzle down eight or nine hours a night easily. New focus: Sleep my fill.


I love to exercise. I’d rather eat junk to fuel an increased ability to exercise (and I have). However, you can always eat more junk than you can possibly work out of your system.

Therefore, I’m practicing exercise moderation: No more than one hour of intense exercise a day: boxing, intervals, weights, running. Walking the dog, biking around town, and suchlike don’t count in that total. Also, I try to take one exercise-free rest day each week.


A few years back, a friend of mine got lean and fit. One of his tools: Victory Meals. After another exhausting cycle of overeating after starving, I called the company to learn about the program.

Amazing. Victory Meals serves gourmet feasts, not at all like “fitness” food providers that give you a pile of mushy zucchini and tasteless, chewy protein. Each dish seems like what I’d get in a restaurant—including generous portion sizes. The meals are prepared by a chef from the Culinary Institute of America following the nutritional guidelines of the Victory Meals founder, a Ph.D. dietician.

Victory Meals prepares food each day and delivers it to you in cooler bags for the following day. I don’t select the meals from a menu—I get what’s fresh. I worried I’d dislike something or get bored, but after a month on the program, that hasn’t happened. (They occasionally cook up a few more carrots than I like, but one carrot is too many carrots for me.)

I get three meals a day with three snacks. You can order less food, yet as I’m a single girl and cooking for one doesn’t excite me, the full-week program is perfect. And if I have a business lunch or dinner, I have an extra meal for the weekend.

Fantastically, I can eat as much as I want of the fresh, unprocessed food Victory Meals serves. No sugar, no refined flours, no dairy, no salt. Instead, I get protein, vegetables, and unrefined carbohydrates and starches, including beans, brown rice, barley, sweet potatoes, and millet.

The food tastes so delicious that I don’t notice what it doesn’t include. I even purchased the Victory Meals recipe book with its spice blends for weekend cooking.

One final change: I focus on eating slowly and enjoying each bite. In the past, I’d charge through meals—often because I went into them so hungry. I’d eat, but I didn’t savor.

Results So Far

I feel amazing. My mood has elevated from “grumpy” to “bouncy.” Mentally, I’m more alert and creative and elastic. I’ve had one strong workout after another. My body doesn't ache anymore.

People keep telling me I look great, though none can put a finger on why. One friend told me I seemed to “glow.” Note: I’d told no one about my new sleeping, exercising, and eating program.

Have I lost weight? Scales throw me into a downward spiral of obsessiveness about numbers that always backfires, so I haven’t been on one in months. Yet my clothes do fit better. And the owner of my gym said I looked leaner. He warned that I’d “better not get too waifish on him.”

Good stuff.