There is no shortage of weight loss programs and health-related posts and stories early on in each new year. Earlier this week a story ran on the news that covered this topic, and the usual solutions to post-holiday problems were offered, with a new one I hadn't heard before- "sleep naked".
That was unexpected!
In my world as a meal planner I am just like everyone else. I seldom do it all perfectly or have it all together. There are days I fall off the wagon too, but I usually dust myself off and climb back up. I don't give up when most people would. I'm here to encourage you to try the same.
If you fell off your health and wellness goals over the holidays, know that you aren't alone, climb back up there and keep going.
Today is about "special" foods: any special diet food promoted everywhere this time of year. Everyone wants a quick fix and companies make their money on those desires.
The thing you need to remember is most of these products have fine print somewhere that states something along the lines of "in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle including plenty of water, exercise, rest, and balanced food choices"... You might lose weight when you buy these overpackaged, overprocessed, and overpriced foods. Or you might not. It depends on more than what special brand of diet food you pick today for dinner or snacks- it's all about overall healthy choices.
You will reap rewards for your health with simple, manageable changes, such as:
Have a wonderful day, friends!
The Meals Maven 2016
For most of my teen and adult life I was a dieter. Always watching what I ate and counting calories. Restricting this, that, and everything else. Trying out the ideas featured in women's magazines, harshly condemning myself when I looked in the mirror or when I'd try on a pair of jeans or a dress in the "wrong" size. And heaven forbid I should cave and allow myself some chocolate or some popcorn at the movies.
In the cold, harsh light of comparison, there was always someone thinner than me, taller than me, slimmer waisted or tighter tushed. I remember swim suit shopping with my bestie and another friend in college. What could have been a really fun day for us was ruined for me because I was so obsessed with how I thought the bathing suits looked so much worse on me than on her.
I even struggled with how I looked on my wedding day, even though now I think I looked beautiful. When I look back, I can't believe I thought I was fat. I can't believe how much of my life has been spent in obsessive introspection about the size of my clothes or how I looked in a bathing suit.
The human body's capacity for adaptation is amazing. At my slimmest, the year or so before I was married, I was probably about 30 lbs lighter than I am now. That was the only time my BMI was in line with the "healthy" weight. And I say that in quotations, because my body and my mental state are hundreds of times healthier now than I ever was then. I had just come off of a bad breakup, and was so emotionally shattered I couldn't eat for days. And once I started eating again, I severely restricted my food intake and started working out. Sure, I looked great. But I was obsessing with food and exercise as a means to control something in a life I felt was out of control.
When I was pregnant with my second child I was heavier than I ever have been, before or since. I learned the hard way with my first pregnancy that denying myself food when I was hungry in an effort to not gain more than the recommended 25 lbs was a recipe for non stop vomiting for my entire pregnancy. So, with my second son, I ate when I was hungry. As a result, I was 50 lbs higher than I am now- a staggering number.
A few years ago, I was almost at my BMI target weight again- just 15 lbs away from it. To get there I was working out almost every day, counting calories, and again obsessing about how I looked, and what size I could fit into. I loved buying smaller clothes! But I didn't love the amount of effort I had to put into my life to be that size. It was constant vigilance, never ending. If my weight didn't drop in a week I'd feel despair, even worse if I put on a pound or two. Woe to me if I was too sick or busy to get my hour long workouts in. I'd started letting food control issues dictate my life again, and eventually I burnt out.
Naturally, I put some weight back on. But the number I'm at is the one my body seems to like. It takes no effort to maintain it, and I am physically healthy- blood work confirms it- and active. I am now active purely for the joy of it. I can't wait to take up yoga and tap dance again in the fall. I can keep up with my boys. I enjoy walking and sometimes even jog a little. I may not ever hit my ideal BMI again, but somehow over the last year I don't look in the mirror and think "eww" anymore. Sure, my belly and my bottom got a little bit of extra padding from when my boys took up residence inside me, but I'm strong and capable. I'm not afraid to try new things, and my quality of life is pretty great.
Earlier this month I may have lost a potential client because I wouldn't guarantee weight loss. Given a second chance with them, I'd make the same statement again. There are very few certainties in life- death and taxes come to mind- but allow me to add to the list "weight fluctuation". It is guaranteed that within this brief life we live that all of us will experience changes in our weight. Sometimes we lose, sometimes we gain. Many factors affect that number on the scale, from illness to stress, from lifestyle choices such as how active or sedentary we are, to food choices- how much we eat, and what we eat. There are physiological factors at play, too, such as your genetic blueprint and your natural metabolism.
In short, there is no way I can guarantee you will lose weight by following my meal plans. I can guarantee healthy and tasty nutritious meals, with a focus on lean proteins, whole grains, and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. I can guarantee very little added sugar or salt. I can tell you that following my meal plans will help ensure you eat a wide variety of nutritious foods, and you will not be throwing out food that you bought with the best of intentions, so you will definitely be saving money in the grocery store. However, I cannot absolutely promise that you will lose (or gain, for that matter) weight.
If you need a weight loss plan, there are a plethora of companies out there that focus exclusively on weight loss, such as Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers. I'm a meal planner, and I'm really, really good at that.
There have lately been some interesting studies done that can assist you in making choices that may help you to drop some pounds. I've rounded up some of the more interesting ones I thought you might enjoy, and I'll conclude with a little bit of wisdom I've gleaned over the last few years.
And now, some wisdom I've gleaned over the years.
Love Your Body, and Your Life, Today.
18 years ago my BMI was perfectly in range with the ideal weight for my height. I look back at my wedding pictures and can't believe I wasn't happy with how I looked. Here's the thing, though- if you don't consciously celebrate you, as you are, you won't be happy when you're at your ideal weight, either. We are bombarded daily with perfectly smooth and unwrinkled, cellulite-free images of beautiful people who have perfect skin, hair, teeth, and so on. There will always be someone and something to compare ourselves with, and if we play that comparison game, we will never measure up.
Real life has given me laugh lines and stretch marks, a few grey hairs, some laproscopy scars, and unattractive veins on my legs. It's also given me 2 beautiful, intelligent, creative boys, a passion for learning, and a wide variety of interests. I live in a not-perfect home with a not-perfect husband, but it's my life, and I'm sharing it with my favorite people.
Think About Being Healthy, not About the Ideal Number.
Admittedly, I've put on some weight in the almost 18 years of my marriage. But at this point, even with the extra weight, I am significantly healthier than I was when I had a perfect BMI. I shudder to think at the diet we used to eat. I know there were significant holes in our nutrition, and my physical, emotional, and mental health reflected that. I used to get colds often, and miss a lot of work because of it. I didn't deal well with stress, as reflected with frequent migraines and cold sores. I suffered from anxiety to the point where I was prescribed medication. And in spite of being obsesed with the number on the scale, it's gone up and down and up again. No amount of dieting or obsessing stopped the movement on the scale.
Within the last few years, however, I've made it my goal to focus on making small, conscious decisions to become an overall healthier person. From the food I eat and drink, to the activities I participate in, to the peole I surround myself with, to the financial choices I make. to the spiritual lessons I'm learning, and to the online courses I've taken. My annual bloodwork and checkups confirm that I am, generally speaking, really healthy. I'm celebrating that.
You Can't Force People.
You just can't. Everyone has to come to their own place of peace, whether it's regarding their health, their lifestyle, their weight, their choices. Focus on you, and your example. Model the right behaviour, make good choices, and if you're the feeder of small children, make good choices for them. They might resist, but it will make an impression. Don't make food a fight. That may set them up for a lifetime of food issues.
Do the Activity You Love.
It's ok if what you love to do isn't the same as your best friend, or trending on twitter. If you love walking, walk. Running, run. Dancing? Dance your heart out. The important thing is to bring some movement into your life. We in the west are particularly fond of sitting, and the advances made in television, movies, and small electronic devices aren't going anywhere but forward. So make your choices consciously, and stand, run, dance, do stairs, climb ladders, hang drywall, etc. Do what you can to infuse movement into your life on a daily basis. Don't worry about how long is the right amount, or compare yourself to your ultra-fit neighbor. Make it your goal to best your own best, and let the rest of the population worry about themselves.
Scale photo from http://www.drugstore.com/sunbeam-dial-scale-model-sab-602-05/qxp309310
Fiber chart from http://www.preparationh.com/live-better/hemorrhoid-diet