As you may remember, part of my promise to myself for this year was to lose the excess weight. I’m no stranger to losing weight, and I don’t usually have a problem doing so. The reason I GAIN the weight back has been due to injuries and illnesses. Or pregnancies. But THAT, thank heavens, is behind me. But as I’ve gotten older, it’s gotten harder and harder to lose the weight.
In my twenties, it was pregnancies. In my thirties, it was plantar fasciitis that cut my running out, then cracked ribs (A bathroom painting accident. I don’t want to talk about it.) made me put weight training and martial arts training on hold, not to mention a nagging issue with my shoulder that turned out to be a torn labrum that needed surgery. I eventually got back into weight training and running, but then my sports med doc told me to quit running and forget about martial arts due to moderate to severe osteoarthritis throughout my spine. I was able to control my weight with walking and weights, but then I went back to school and ignored exercise, just for now, I told myself. Then into the tail end of my first year, my appendix blew. It was the appendicitis from hell. I had my feet LITERALLY (I don’t use this term lightly) knocked out from under me three times in just over a week, with all the complications. Two weeks in the hospital, two months on strong antibiotics that made me too nauseated to eat. Sure, I lost twelve pounds, but it was all muscle. As soon as I could put on my jeans after the swelling went down, I found I still had the same muffin top. NOT impressed. And all I could stomach were white carbs. Not good. Docs told me it could take up to six months or more to recover. Try eleven.
So with little energy and no stamina, my go-to weight control method - exercise - was put on hold - again. Trying to get back into SOMETHING, anything, has been challenging. I would walk on the treadmill for half an hour - just walk at a moderate pace (okay, SLOW pace, at least compared to what I was used to. I USED to run for an hour on the danged thing) and then take a two hour nap. So I decided to look into weight loss diets. (I’m still a firm believer in naps, by the way.)
So I started reading/listening to dieting books. (Are you noticing a trend here?) Not so much the lose-20-pounds-in-a-month diets. I’ve read enough about those in the past, and I know I can’t stick with them, I get dizzy trying to work the farm and subsist on celery. And 1200 calories a day?!?!? I’m done that by noon! Fasting?!? I’m ready to pass out while carrying a square bale into the sheep pen. No thank you.
I tried to find books on new lifestyle eating patterns. The End of Dieting and Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman promote a vegan lifestyle. Just fruit, veggies, seeds and nuts, for the first six weeks, then you can add SOME whole grains and beans for life. No meat or fish, no oils, no dairy, no eggs. No thank you. I don’t care if I would soon get used to it, it’s much too restrictive, especially when the rest of the family will not be following suit. Maybe if I lived alone, I might try it. In fact, a did a ‘version’ of it for a week while I was alone at my daughter’s place out in the boonies, taking care of all her critters while she baked on the beach in Mexico. My version had 2/3 cup of oatmeal with nuts and flaxseed and molasses (for iron, I told myself), for breakfast, then soups for lunch that was veggies and beans (okay, so my Mama’s French pea soup also has some ham in it, sue me) and supper was a big salad with Mighty Caesar Dressing. So yeah, some dairy, also the milk in my coffee. Some days, it was just not satisfying. But I did come home 4 pounds lighter.
You Are What You Eat is written by a nutritionist Gillian McKeith. It promotes a plethora of natural foods, does recommend cutting red meat and dairy, and sugar, of course, and alcohol. I think it was all the added supplements that turn me off of this book. Heck, I’m already taking a handful of supplements with my meals, and she has dozens I’ve never even heard of. She can tell you what foods you need to eat just by looking at your skin, hair and nails. If you are feeling the need for some nutritional tweaking to your diet, I recommend looking this one up.
The Compassionate Diet by Arran Stephens really didn’t get into a diet, per say. It was a more political/ethical plea. I had issue with the constant beating on the farmers who are trying to help feed the planet (ah, livestock producer here, and no, we don’t pump our cattle full of antibiotics or hormones, my chickens (when I had them) were ACTUAL free range (they would be roaming the yard, and even help themselves to the dog food dish under my deck. It was always like an easter egg hunt around here. You had to hunt for your breakfast). This book left me a little put out. If you want to be vegetarian or vegan, by all means, go to it. I was vegetarian for about a decade. We live in a free country that allows us that privilege. I just don’t like people telling me what I am able to eat or not eat, just to make them happy. That includes my Italian mother-in-law and my husband trying to force-feed me pasta.
Which leads me to my favourite of the titles, Mindful Eating by Jan Chozen Bays, MD. It’s not about WHAT you eat, but HOW you eat. Eating should be a mindfulness practice, not a mindless one. Yes, mindfulness is a Buddhist concept, but also a healthy one. Often times, the reason we don’t feel satisfied with what we consume is because we don’t even notice when we are consuming it. Ever finished off a whole bag of chips in front of the TV? Ever gobbled down a burger on the run, focused on your driving rather than your meal? Ever eaten while you work on the computer? (Hey, where did that sandwich go? I’m hungry!)
I re-learned that I need to pay closer attention to my body. What is it saying? One of my favourite comfort foods is tomato soup and grilled cheese. So I used that for an experiment. I ate slowly, sniffing my food first, asking if that was satisfying enough, tasting each slowly sipped spoonful, each bite of grilled cheese. What did my body say? “Ugh, all this cheese is sitting heavy in my gut. Cut it back, next time.” (Yeah, I really like my cheese, but I hadn’t had any for over a week, and found out maybe I should reduce it in my diet.) A big surprise to me, but then, I never paid much attention. Maybe the heavy feeling was a sign of fullness to me before. Listening to my body also means noticing when it feels almost full, and stopping there, no matter if there is still food on my plate. Besides, my dogs love table scraps! (I know, I know, bad doggie mama, but my dogs are farm dogs. I will not upset you with what I have seen them partake in out and about.)
So what have I taken away from all of this? I believe I don’t need to starve myself, or cut out food groups, or even favourite items that don’t fit into any of the food groups (Cheezies, you know, I’m talking about you). I just need to PAY ATTENTION to what my body needs or wants, and moderate. Eat slow and enjoy the food, not shovel it in mindlessly and still feel deprived. No deprivation, no cutting food groups. And moving more. I definitely need to move more, but I can’t go gung-ho anymore. Hence, my search through exercise books for a new way of moving for me! That will be another post;-) Which brings me to a confession: I broke my shopping ban. I bought a book. Actually, I’ve bought three books this week. It’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it? “Well, you bought one, so what’s one more? And another?” I’m sorry! I’m sorry!
The first book I bought was a bodyweight training book. A different one from the others I already have. I even went through all the exercise books I have, but they didn’t have what this one promised, and I broke down. But it delivered! I read it through, and it has more for me than the other books I had offered me. The second book, only a buck, (like the cost matters) was for research for the genre I’m planning to start my publishing career in. (And I’m afraid I foresee making more purchases like this one.) And I’m almost done reading it, too. That’s one thing that’s different; I rarely open the books I buy right after I buy them. But more on my book issues next post. I need to hit the treadmill, there’s too much snow coming down to go for a walk. Catch you later.