Friday, January 11, 2013

Personally: A Weight Loss Journey, Part 1 (and Weekend Cooking!)

Weekend Cook from Beth Fish Reads
When I left my job as an administrator and instructor at a Dallas career college last year (March), I was the heaviest I've ever been. I don't even want to put the number out there -- I'm still so ashamed. I had Greyson in 2010, and while I only gained about 15 pounds with him, and while I shucked those pounds pretty quickly, I kept eating as if I were pregnant. Whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, with little regard for health, food quality, or portion control. I was also struggling emotionally in many respects, which I'm sure added to my weight gain and disregard for my health.

I've tried fad diets out the wahoo over the years because I've ALWAYS been overweight. Atkins, South Beach, and a handful of others, the names of which I can't even recall. Every time I tried those methods of weight loss, I felt deprived, constricted by the choices, and generally miserable. I went right back to my old habits.

But over the last year, some things have changed dramatically. I lost 40 pounds. I didn't really try. I didn't make any big resolutions or proclamations as I have before. Instead, I made small changes. Slow changes. And somehow my weight loss journey is well on its way, and it's been a quiet, introspective journey. One I've kept to myself, for the most part.

Looking back, I don't think there was any one "aha" moment. But I did decide to do a couple of things and they've made all the difference. And it just sort of happened. It wasn't a one-day decision.

1. Eat only when I'm really hungry. Sadly, it took me a while to learn what real hunger felt like and as I made that discovery, I figured out what it means to feel yucky when I'm too full.

2. I've tried to slowly reduce the amount of processed foods in my life.

The rate at which I lose weight has picked up a lot since I moved into my house back in June. I stopped trying to lose weight, and I started trying to eat healthy food.  

I know you're thinking, "like, duh." But it hasn't been easy for me. I was raised on chicken fried steak, fried catfish, and Little Debbie squares! Am I blaming my upbringing? Heck no. But I was one of those people who was not raised to read food labels, I was surrounded by homegrown garden veggies (which I totally took for granted), and I never thought about food much. I just ate it. And ate it. And ate it. And my tastes ran toward the processed and horrible.

Throughout my teaching career I've tried to bring a lot of current events and social issues into my classroom. One of those issues, beginning back in 2009, was food quality and the ethics of food. Spurred by my reading of books like Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Why Animals Matter--as well as documentaries like Food, Inc. and Super Size Me--I started learning and talking about these issues. I couldn't help but become more cognizant of what I was consuming. For a long time I was aware, but I wasn't ready to make a change. Admittedly, that has happened over time and with more reading and viewing under my ever-loosening belt.

With a space of my own and total control of my shopping list, I've made this change. I've internalized the new knowledge and parlayed it into a much healthier lifestyle.

Over the next couple of weekends I hope to share with you some of the changes I've made, share some of my favorite recipes, and get feedback and ideas from you.

I don't have all the answers. I don't even have a third of the answers, but I know what's worked for me. And the funny thing is, I didn't even realize it as it was happening. I literally did not register my weight loss until family and friends started to point out that my face was looking thinner, my clothes were getting baggier, and I look goooood. For the first time in my life, this hasn't been about weight loss. It's been about health. It's made all the difference. The journey is nowhere near its conclusion, but it's a fun journey now. A healthy, productive, good-time adventure.

I hope you'll join me and share some of your tips and tricks for healthy living over the next few weeks!

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