Learning Not to Be Fat

This whole process of becoming a healthier me is just that…a process. There is such a learning curve to it. You would think that after loosing 60 pounds before my wedding in 2004 I would understand the concepts necessary to loose weight and maintain that. But in reality, it’s not that simple. How many of us have been there, done that only to find ourselves back where we started eventually? It makes it very frustrating. Why should I even bother to try if I’m just going to gain it all back eventually? Then there are the self defeating arguments we all tell ourselves: I’ve been overweight my whole life, I can’t change now/ I have big bones/ It’s in my genes to be overweight/ It’s too hard to cook differently for me then for the rest of my family/ I work too much to eat healthy and so on and so on.

The first step in the process was to accept myself for who I am but to also hold myself accountable for my own actions.  I had to accept that what happens to me is my own doing. I am not a victim of circumstance, and I do not have to be a victim of anything at all…including my own negative thinking. And I had a lot of negative thinking…about my body…about my habits…about my life path…about my relationships with others…about my job…about God…about life. I had to let that go. I can’t even begin to describe how much lighter I feel having gotten rid of emotional baggage that wasn’t really real to start with. I am not an alcoholic (although I will confess that one thing I needed to learn to hold myself accountable for was the amount of drinking I was doing at one point in time), but I think there is a lot of wisdom in The 12 Step Program. that can be used by anyone who feels they need to examine the direction their life is headed. There is a spiritual (but not necessarily religious) basis to the 12 steps and that is also part of my process; getting reacquainted with my spiritual self.

When one’s self esteem begins to improve, it is only natural that self care improves as well. The next big step for me was Education. It all started with a chance encounter with the 100 Days of Real Food Blog. Its a simple concept. Learn what’s in your food. I had already gotten with the program that artificial sweeteners were bad (*gasp* no more Diet Coke!) and was working on the idea of eating food with ingredients I could pronounce, but the 100 Day Challenge takes that a little further. I will not say that I eat “all real food all the time” but this one website really challenged the way I thought about food. 

Here I was thinking I was eating healthy with my Diet Coke and 100 calorie snacks and grain bread. I did Weight Watchers for years (it’s an awesome program-if you do it right- that I stand behind 2000%) so I know all about portion sizes and carbs and and drinking water and all that jazz. But the more I began to educate myself on what I was really eating, the more horrified I became at the chemicals I was ingesting. There was yellow dye in my pickles! Pickles shouldn’t need to be dyed, they are already green! There was sugar in my wheat bread! Bread shouldn’t need sugar. Slowly but surely I have been removing the processed food from my life. It’s not always the easier choice and it’s not always the cheaper choice, but it is the common sense choice to me. Would I rather have a frozen waffle with cheap “syrup” for breakfast that is made from flour that contains so few nutrients they add a couple back in to call it “enriched” and HFCS with a chemical that mimics maple flavor or would I rather have a fruit smoothie made with yogurt/soy milk/berries/banana/fresh spinach? You tell me. There are 30 ingredients in an Eggo Nutrigrain Waffle and Mrs. Butterworths Syrup. My smoothie has 5. The Nutrigrain waffle is advertised as “whole wheat” but if you read the label you will see that enriched flour is the primary ingredient (behind water). The excuses as to why anyone can’t do this have to go. It’s not that hard. I’m as far from a cook as anyone can possibly be, but I’m getting by. What’s the secret here? There isn’t one. Use your common sense and use the brain God gave you. If you buy things in packages, turn them over and read the ingredient list. Meat should contain 1 ingredient: animal flesh. Not animal flesh followed by 7 other chemicals to keep it fresh. Common sense, right? Frozen/canned/jarred fruit should contain 1 ingredient: fruit. Not fruit followed by sugar and more sugar. Fruit is sweet enough. Make your health a priority and let a little convenience go. It will mean the end of McDonald’s runs on the way home from work, but who wants to eat food that still looks the same when left out for a year. Just google McDonald’s left out for a year and check out the images to see what I mean. It just might slow your love of the Big Mac.

I have a lot to say on the clean eating topic and came across an awesome article today via another food advocate I’ve been enjoying. The Food Babe is semi local to me offers a slightly different approach to an unprocessed lifestyle. I will comment on the article she shared today in another post. I have to say, I don’t always agree with the Food Babe, but this article is a must read and I enjoy all of her perspectives, her’s and those she shares from others.

I challenge you to take a hard look at your pantry and fridge. Life doesn’t end when the Oreos run out. Trust me.

Home Grown Power Bars and a Challenge Circuit Work Out

I found this recipe on Pinterest and have been dying to try it. I had an epic fail at homemade granola bars once before, so I was a little nervous about it admittedly. The texture is perfect and the ingredients are all minimally processed. If you choose coconut or olive oil over the icky generic “vegetable oil”  the only thing of any question is the brown sugar and the dried fruit. I did use Craisins in mine which have added sugar, and they are a little on the sweet side. You might could sub maple syrup for the brown sugar if you wanted, but I’m not enough of a cook for all that. The variations on this are endless. The next time I make these, I think I’d like to try more nuts and less fruit. They are incredible! The recipe calls them “Power Bars” but I would call them more like granola bars, nothing like the shoe leather I think of when I think of commercial energy bars.

Apologizes for the iPhone pic. I guess if I’m really going to do a blog I need to find my real camera.

1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
½ cup whole wheat flour (I used whole white wheat)
½ cup Grape Nuts cereal
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 beaten egg
¼ cup applesauce
¼ cup honey
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup unsalted sunflower seeds
¼ cup chopped walnuts
7oz chopped dried mixed fruit (I used craisins and raisins)

Preheat to 325
Line a 9 inch square baking dish with foil and grease foil. In a large bowl stir together the oats, flour, cereal, and cinnamon. Add the egg, honey, brown sugar, and oil. Mix well. Stir in the seeds, nuts, and fruit. Spread evenly in the pan and bake for 30 minutes or until firm and lightly brown around the edges. Let cool. Use the foil to lift from the pan and cut into bars or squares. Store in the fridge.

Source: http://trickschefs.com/showthread.php?tid=855

I’ve also been checking out new exercise ideas on Pinterest a lot recently (Pinterest is to me what peanut butter is to my dog apparently. No matter what else I have to do I seem mesmerized by the power of all the pretty links…). So I set up a challenging circuit for myself today using some of the exercises I found plus some from the Nike Training Club app. Before I go further, let me give this app a GLOWING RECOMMENDATION. It’s got a ton of variety of workouts that can be done both at home or at the gym, for all levels (you may need to take them at your own pace sometimes), and with a variety of time commitments. It’s got all cardio workouts, it’s got more strength based workouts, its got circuits. It lets you use your work out play list, and the trainers voice just pipes in with the exercise to do at the appropriate interval. It times the drills for you. And best of all…it’s FREE! Can’t beat that with a stick as my momma says. Seriously. Try it. It will make you sweat.

This morning’s work out looked like this:

Rolling Plank with Stability Ball
Leg Lifts
Decline Push Ups
Slow Motion Moutain Climbers
Box Step
Hop Scotch to Arm Curl
Inner Thigh Machine
Donkey Kicks on Machine

The stability ball plank wasn’t that hard…until you add the rolling into. All you have to do is roll the ball out a few inches and back in. Simple enough right? Whoa. That’s one to keep on the “challenging” list for sure. I did better with the decline push ups than I thought I would. I am so proud to be able to say I can do real push ups on my toes. The box step is a cardio burst for 1 minute. The Hop Scotch to Arm Curl is sort of like a jump squat with arm curl, but add a box into it. Jump up, arm curl, down into a squat, and immediately back. That was rough on the knees, but doable. The last 2 are areas that I’ve just been neglecting lately, and it is swimsuit season 😉 Repeat 3x through and it was a challenge for sure.

Start From the Beginning?

I suppose the best place to start anything is at the beginning, but for me to do that here would mean I know where the beginning is or even what I intend to accomplish. This last (almost) year has brought quite an upheaval to my life. It was completely by my choosing, and I still believe it is for the best, but for someone who struggles with change, boy did I dive head first into the deep end. For the sake of brevity, my 6+ year marriage came to end last summer and will be officially “dissolved” (as the state of North Carolina puts it) this summer. We finally sold our home this spring and I packed up and moved to an apartment in the city I’ve been working in for the last 6 years. Newly single and new apartment in a new city. Although I’ve worked here, and I have been visiting family here since I was a child, I really know very little about this town.

All that aside, I am changing personally as I venture to say most people do during a life transition such as this. I’ve regained perspective that I lost somewhere along the way that the world is a good place. The universe doesn’t hate me and neither does God or my family. I am a good person. Somehow I forgot that. 

I’ve lost almost 40 pounds since my separation. I never intended to loose anything. It’s just sort of happened as a by product of caring about myself. I will be upfront and say that I was put on migraine medication that has a known side effect of apetite loss, which I did feel at first, but regained. In the past 2 months, I’ve changed my eating habits even further. Clean Eating is the way to go. Eliminate or reduce to near as close to nothing as possible the processed foods in your life. You will be amazed at how different you feel. My workouts have gotten more weight focused, and less cardio driven. I’m seeing muscles I didn’t know I had for the first time in my life. 

I’m not sure what I intend to accomplish with this blog. I’m not sure anyone will read it. That’s ok too. This is not a divorce rant blog. Frankly, I have nothing to rant about. This is not a “poor me” blog. I’m not promising to never mention my personal life, but I am promising that this blog is about positivity.  Mostly I see this as a way to discuss my current obsession: health and fitness. I know my family and friends are tired of hearing about what I eat or the new exercise I tried today. As all things in my life, this is a work in progress. For now, thanks, and welcome.Image