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.