What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been

Disclaimer: I’m not sure what exactly my reasoning is behind this post. Part of me is really ashamed of what you are about to see. Part of me feels like it is way too much bragging. Part of me feels like it is really cathartic. I’m not sure. But it is all part of my journey and something I’ve been sort of mulling on for a while. So, somewhat against my better judgement, here goes nothing.

I keep seeing this motivational image on Pinterest. I’m mildly ashamed to admit that it’s from Koutney Kardashin’s website (but hey, at least I had to use Google Image to determine that).

Source: Kourtney Kardashian (don’t judge)

I feel like I’ve gone in the reverse order. Yes, I’ve lost weight. Yes, I’ve gotten stronger and gained muscles. But, as I’ve said before, I’ve always seen myself as a big girl.  You have to understand that for most of my life, I was a big girl. 

Age 18 maybe (note the irony of the subject matter of my reading material)

 

Then there’s this. This picture is actually in my kitchen right now. It use to hang in my pantry, but for now it’s just sitting on the inside of a cabinet. I have no idea what I weigh in this picture, but it’s probably over 200 pounds. It’s likely the only picture of me close to that heavy. Do you want to know what I notice about myself? My eyes. My face is so bloated that my eyes even look fat.

Age 20

By the time I was preparing to get married in 2004, I was actually starting to look seriously at my weight. I’ve yo-yoed several times between somewhere close to 200 and closer to 140. It didn’t take long for me to go from a decent sized bride (sorry, no wedding pictures, I hope you can understand) to this 2 years later:

Age 23

 

You can see by later pictures that I did get better, but was still always a “bigger” person.

Age 25

Age 26

Fast forward to the current. People keep telling me how different I look. My clothes don’t fit. But when I look in the mirror, I see the girl standing next to Cinderella: above average but not huge and can look ok in appropriately fitting clothes. Like millions of American woman, I have a highly distorted image of my body.

Then I went to the beach this weekend. I snapped a couple of quick pics with my phone thinking maybe I would stick them on facebook. When I looked at them, I almost didn’t recognize myself. The picture on the right is from 2010 (I think) and the picture on the left is from this past week.

2010 (Age 27)/ 2012 (age 29) Yes, its a different (but similar) swim suit

 

Now, it’s not the most flattering picture of me, but the difference is obvious even to me at this point. I have to accept my size. Now I get it. I’m seeing what everyone else saw weeks ago. For the 2nd time in as many weeks someone has commented on my abs. I have abs? Holy crap! I have abs!  

Very old size 14s on underneath brand new size 4s

Size 14 to a size 4. I’ve held on to those shorts “just in case” for several years. I think I might can finally let them go.

The not-so-conspiracy-theory as to why your “diet” doesn’t work.

A few days ago The Food Babe posted this article on her facebook page:

Why the Campaign to Stop America’s Obesity Crisis Keeps Failing – The Daily Beast.

More than a head scratcher if you ask me. Obesity is the number one “illness” in America and in many other countries. In fact, watch the video that accompanies the article to hear Dr. Mark Hyman tell about working in Haiti and discovering that prior to the earthquake in 2010, the top reasons for hospitalizations were chronic illness: diabetes and high blood pressure, not the infectious diseases we here in industrialized America would believe. How is this possible in the poorest nation in this hemisphere? This is not a nation of McDonalds and Dairy Queen. No, but it is also not a nation where high nutrient vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and quality proteins are easily and inexpensively available either. People eat what is available, which may not always be the most nutrient dense.

There is a basic idea behind weight loss. Eat less and move more. But I can tell you for a fact that its not always that simple. What you eat is really as important as how much you eat. I’m not talking about counting carbs or eating only proteins. I’m talking about eating REAL FOOD. Food that grew the way you are eating it. Where so many anti-obesity campaigns fail is in the lack of direct finger pointing at refined grains. That’s sugar and white flour folks. These refined grains have such a strong impact on insulin levels which in turn have a strong impact on fat storage. It’s not a medical mystery as the article points out.  But the basic idea of eat less than you burn off will not always work if what you are eating is not real food. This is the basis of the clean eating movement. Eat real food.  

In essence, we in our 1st world America, are choosing to eat like a 3rd world country where nutritious options are not available. This is not Haiti. If you have the resources to get to a grocery store in this country, you have no excuse not to eat nutritious foods. Once again, it all goes back to common sense. I respect my body so I treat it with care and make conscious choices about what goes into it. I am grateful for the opportunity to shop for food in a convenient fashion at the local grocery store (and to have such a variety of choice of stores for that matter).

I have heard Lisa over at 100 Days of Real Food say over and over again that when you eat real food you don’t need to eat as much. I am really learning how true this is. Eating this way, I do feel fuller and stay fuller longer. It’s not like eating junk that leaves me hungry quick like I used to find. She has also said that eating this way eliminates the need to count carbs and proteins and individual nutrients. I really like that thought, because tracking individual things was never something I liked doing. I loved Weight Watchers because points were easy. Well this is easier. Here’s your flow chart for deciding about food:
1. Did it grow this way? If yes, it’s food-eat up!
2. Does it have ingredients you can’t pronounce? If yes, proceed with extreme caution, may not be “real” food.
3. Do you know the food source (cow/pig/chicken/plant/etc)? If yes, it’s probably food-eat up!
4. Does it have more than 5 ingredients? If yes, proceed with extreme caution, may not be “real” food.

As always, use your common sense and of course, read the labels. Just because it’s cheese, doesn’t make it a clean food. Most pre shredded cheeses contain chemical stabilizers to prevent caking. Again, you may have to let a little convenience go, but buy a block and shred your own and avoid a chemical.

I have been a chronic dieter my whole life…Seriously…Since at least puberty maybe earlier. I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t aware of the fact that I was bigger than other girls my own age, even though I was never “THE big girl.” I have yo-yo dieted my whole adult life. Maybe I’ll be brave enough to prove it with pictures up here one day. Clean eating is the easiest and most logical thing I have ever done. This, and weight lifting, has truly remade my body…and remade it into a body that bought a bikini top that ties on with strings and not thick straps today for the first time ever. By the end of the summer I will be brave enough to find a smaller bottom, but for now I am celebrating in the smallest bikini I have ever owned. Me…in a bikini…who would have ever believed it?