I go to the gym a lot, but I eat unhealthy food, and too much of it. My pants never quite fit right, and I always wish I could lose about 10 lbs. According to the standard medical charts, I weigh a normal amount, but then why am I so frustrated with my figure and never quite feel like I’m in the right body for me?
I think it’s partly because when I gain weight, I gain it in places I can’t hide—my face, my arms, my thighs. I’ve always thought women who gain weight on their stomach or waist are so lucky; their pants still fit (especially with all the low-rise pants options out there now), and they can just throw on a baggy sweater or sweatshirt to hide any fat! When I gain weight on my thighs, my pants let me know, and they remind me of it all day, and I can also see it in my face every time I look in the mirror. I find it fascinating when I hear people say something like, “those 30 pounds just crept up on me,” because I know when I’ve gained 3 or 4 pounds, and I beat myself up for it.
Combine this frustration with the fact that, at age 44, I’ve never had a very healthy body image, and you’ve got someone who should really learn about how to feed my body healthily, find my own normal weight, and take care of my body so that I can stay active and healthy as I age. I mean, really, why do I continue to be my own worst enemy?
A few years ago I heard a motivational speaker at a company sales meeting. He said he’s amazed that people gripe about their weight so much, when our weight is one of the few things in our lives that we have total control over. It was a good point. I can’t control the weather, my boss, the price of gas, the seasons, the US Congress, or the Minnesota Twins. I may have some control over other things, such as my performance at work, my relationship with my Hubby, and whether my car runs smoothly.
But my weight? No one force feeds me or prevents me from exercising. I buy my own groceries, I feed myself, and I go to the gym on my own. I am 100% responsible for what I eat and how active I am. I should be able to be in charge of my weight. Or at least find a way to help myself take charge.
So on December 16, I began the weight-loss and healthy-eating program outlined in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live. Today is my twelfth day on the program; Christmas Day and the day after Christmas didn’t count, since I went off the program those two days. (Christmas Day was a planned skip day. The next day, I couldn’t stay away from the leftover Christmas cookies. I’ll admit, I could not seem to control myself from eating those damn cookies. Lame, huh.)
I’ve lost about 3 lbs., and I’m enjoying the program for the most part. I like having a plan for my meals, and I like most of the foods Fuhrman recommends—enough to eat them, anyway. Because I don’t love the foods, I also no longer gorge myself.
In a nutshell, here’s how I’m trying to Eat to Live:
Eat 1 lb of leafy green vegetables every day.
Eat 1 lb of steamed or cooked green veggies every day.
Include in salads and cooked veggies, the following foods: tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, snow peas, carrots, cucumbers, spouts, zucchini, cauliflower, & red bell peppers.
Eat 1 cup of cooked legumes every day (not from a can).
Eat 4 fresh fruits every day. (Frozen fruit is also OK, but not canned fruit–it’s lost a lot of its nutrition being canned.)
Eat 1 oz. (but not more) of raw seeds or nuts every day.
I can have 2 eggs per week if I wish. (I wish to.)
Don’t eat meat, dairy, or other food that inefficiently delivers inferior nutrition to the body.
Don’t eat junk food, which delivers empty calories and no nutrition to the body (e.g., Christmas cookies).
Off limits because they don’t deliver nutrition efficiently:
Oils (1 tsp of olive oil on an enormous salad is OK)
Except for the fact that I’m relieved I can actually do this, I am also feeling pretty good and trying to have some fun with it. I don’t mind chopping up the veggies so much, because I’m committed to the program for 6 weeks, at which time I will re-assess. I love making soups, and we’ve had some good bean soup and a good squash soup so far. For fruit, which is typically not my favorite food group, I’ve been lucky that pears are in season, because they’re a fabulously healthy fruit and I really like their taste and texture. Clementine oranges are also really good right now, so I’ve eaten those with bananas and (boring) apples too. I’ve eaten some blackberries from the frozen food section, but probably won’t continue to buy those because they thaw into their own juice, and then how to eat the juice? Logistical problem.
For salad dressing, I make my own with just a bit of olive oil, plus egg white, onion, vinegar, fresh dill, fresh oregano, and pepper. It’s much better than anything I’ve ever bought in a store, and all the ingredients taste good so I don’t need much.
I have discovered that I like collard greens. —OK, I don’t love them. But they’re OK, they add some texture to other greens, and I don’t have to feel bad about eating them. And they’re packed with nutrients so they are good for me, too.
I’ve had to eat at a restaurant twice in the 14 days. I ate a green salad at both places, with a speck of dressing and steamed veggies on the side. It was NOT fun seeing my companions’ food choices, including pepperoni pizza, fettucini with fresh-ground parmesan, and manicotti. They also drank wine while I had decaf hot tea as a “treat.” It was sad, but it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever had to go through. The companionship was great.
The only other thing I’ll mention today is other people’s response to my program, to which I have only committed 6 weeks of my life. I didn’t mean to even tell anyone about it, but going out to eat for an evening work function did make it challenging (11 other people in my immediate office area also attended) to keep it a secret. Everyone said to me, “why don’t you start after Christmas?” or “Why start a diet now instead of on January 1?” or “Oh, I wouldn’t start now, I love all the Christmas treats too much,” etc. etc.
NO ONE SAID, “good for you!”