I wanted to go ahead and post a picture of me after eating the SAD (standard american diet) for almost 20 years. Plenty of trans fats, refined carbohydrates, and a complete deficiency in fresh fruits and veggies. The only thing that made my early diet unique was my parents’ rather unique ethnic cuisine fetish. So while I studiously avoided the shitake mushrooms, capers, and curries, I filled up on Hot Pockets, instant mashed potatoes, and good old Kraft mac n’ cheese out of a blue box. The most ironic fact is that, now, I love all types of ethnic cuisine, Mexican, Indian, Pan-Asian, ETC. I would kill for a sample of half the dishes I rejected as a child! But instead I drank can after can of delicious Coca-Cola, and microwaved countless platefuls of pizza rolls.
When I hit puberty I grew into a full-grown woman’s body and by the time I was 18 I was sneaking up on obesity. My steady diet of white pasta, full-fat dairy products, and fast food from jack in the crack sent me speeding down the road toward diabetes, artherosclerosis, and high blood pressure.
r e v e l a t i o n
Thankfully for me, when I was 19 I had a few “OH, NO!” moments. I got pulled over for speeding and the police officer estimated my weight at 200 lb. I said…”WHAT?!” I certainly do not look like I weigh 200 pounds! To be honest, I had no idea how much I weighed, did not want to know. Throughout high school I hovered around 150 pounds, at a height of 5’2″ (I blame my shortness on excessive consumption of grains!). When I finally went to Target and stood on a scale for sale…I was 210 pounds.
Then, I attempted rock-climbing with my then-boyfriend, now-husband, Kassper, and was thoroughly embarrassed when I could scarcely hold up my own body weight. I was literally shaking, trying so hard to hold on. We were tied to eachother, so he was forced to carry my dead weight across the wall. I was mortified once again.
I hit the trifecta of shame when my dad took me skiing in New Mexico that year. I was excited to try skiing, so it was very disappointing when I found myself completely winded after only a few minutes of instruction. Once we started actually moving down small slopes, my legs felt like they were encased in cement. I retired to the lodge and drank cocoa. I felt really bad about myself! I had never failed at a physical task before. In the past I’d always been good at anything sporty or competitive. I couldn’t believe that someone who was always athletic, played basketball, ran cross country could get so out of shape so fast.
I was only 20 years old!
n e w f o o d
At the time, I had a blessing on my side. I worked at Whole Foods Market as a cashier, so I had access to health-minded people, nutritional information, and the best food you can find. The South Beach Diet was popular at the time, and as a cashier I got to see what people on that diet bought. Just being in this atmosphere of food enlightenment was helpful to my new, determined mindset.
I read the book, did the induction phase, and promptly dropped 10 pounds. That was all the motivation I needed. Honestly, just seeing a small change was so encouraging that I wanted to continue. I started eating fruits and vegetables, which had always turned me off. The food was delicious, and I had fun innovating low carb recipes.
n e w m o v e m e n t
While I had been active as a child, I had become almost completely sedentary. The most I moved was when I was playing Dance Dance Revolution on the PlayStation. I had tried Tae Bo in the past, and it was fun, so I got myself some videos (yes, videotapes, lol). I also had a 15 minute pilates video. On it, the instructor said something that stuck with me. She said if I did the video everyday for 30 days, I would see a change in my body. That became a mantra for me. “Keep it up, and you will see changes.”
I also walked quite a bit. Eventually I would walk, then jog, then walk, then jog. I thought I was being lazy but that is actually a great way to exercise, in intervals. When I finally felt comfortable running, it felt great.
n e w f r e e d o m
I think everyone should be free to be comfortable. I was never comfortable carrying extra weight. I got tired, I couldn’t shop just anywhere, and I felt like nothing ever fit me right. When I freed my mind of thinking things like
- “I will never exercise, it’s not for me.”
- “I like bread too much, I won’t be able to cut back.”
- “I LOVE PASTA, how can I live without it?”
- “I’ll always look like this.”
- “People who are thin are intrinsically different from me.”
- “People who are into fitness are weirdos.”
- “Fruits and vegetables? HAHAHA…booooring.”
I realized I could change. I could be whatever I wanted. Once I lost a little weight, the best feeling in the world came from walking into a store, pulling something off the rack, putting it on, and it fitting perfectly. My self-esteem soared, and I was so proud of myself.
e v o l u t i o n
I haven’t completely maintained to entire 8 years since. I worked in food service a lot, so temptation was everywhere, and I’m only human. I did gain a few here or there, but I always managed to realize I was going in the wrong direction and pull myself back to reality. The reality of not wanting to ever be limited by my size again. It’s not easy maintaining a healthy lifestyle long term. It is easy, and it isn’t. I had to realize that donuts, cheesecake, pizza, and pasta were special treats, and should not be staples in any diet.
I had to realize that when I “messed up” it was okay. Just do better next time. At first, when I would “cheat” I would get upset with myself and then, paradoxically, cheat MORE. My thought was, “I already effed up my diet for the day, so who cares?” This thinking is not what a healthy relationship with food is like. No foods are forbidden, you just need to exercise moderation with high-calorie items to control weight gain. Eating healthfully 90 percent of the time is my goal.
I am still working on my relationship with food. I think too much about calories and carbohydrates and nutritional content.
p a l e o
Something great happened recently, however. I finally had heard enough about the Paleo diet. I saw it everywhere! When I started learning about crossfit last year, the phrase came up frequently. When I found out it called for the elimination of grains AND dairy, I was put off. So I ignored Paleo. Cheese and milk had always been go-to proteins for me. They probably saved my life when I was trying to cut back on carbs. I also ate a LOT of yogurt.
When I realized Paleo was catching on, and saw the number of websites and blogs being created to promote this way of eating, I started to wonder if they weren’t onto something. I was always careful when on a low-carb diet, thinking mistakenly that grains were necessary for health. I heard about the perils of Atkins, and tried to keep things relatively low-fat. I knew that avoiding fruits was a bit on the crazy side, considering how nutritionally rich they are. Everyone warned me about low-carb, and now here is a diet that goes more in that direction than I ever have before. The thing is, Paleo doesn’t need to be low-carb. You can eat all the complex carbohydrates in vegetables and fruits you want!
When I started looking at the blogs, reading the recipes, and learning the science behind the idea, I was hooked.
I told myself to try one week of no grains and no dairy products. I think I had a mental block similar to what I had at the outset, “I need cheese. I need milk. I need coffee. I need sugar.” The truth is, I can do without, and still have tons of options for my meals. It helps to have so many blogs for inspiration! I plan to list them on a separate page, because they are what got me convinced to try it. I read “The Paleo Diet” by Loren Cordain and found it fascinating. He really did put a lot of thought into his hypothesis that we humans should eat the foods we ate as we evolved for maximum health. I love that his theories about food go hand in hand with science and common sense. He does an eloquent job of explaining what food does inside your body, and why certain foods are stressful for our caveperson constitutions.
I encourage anyone and everyone to research this diet. It’s not just a way of eating, it’s a way of fixing the damage the standard American diet does to our bodies. It’s the answer to the question, “Why are we so overweight as a nation?” I won’t go on and on, but I do want to say that I have been experimenting with this way of eating for for about a month. I haven’t been completely faithful, but I do see changes in my body. My middle seems to be shrinking. My muscles seem to be growing.
While I am not yet able to indulge in the highest quality, grass-fed beef or agave nectar, or coconut flour due to my limited budget, I am making changes in my diet. I want to go full-on Paleo when I can. For now, I am practicing :). I have completely cut out dairy and grains, except for when I’m cheating (which has been too often this past week or so).
Most of my meals are Paleo-friendly. The food is delicious! I never feel bloaty or experience stomach pains after a nice, hearty Paleo meal. I have had no ill side effects, aside from food cravings in the first few days. My brain really wanted some cheese, and I think my body agreed. I told them no, and it hasn’t been an issue since then. In fact, when I look at cheese I feel a little sick. I think of the way it melts and stretches, and picture what a number it must do on my gut.
h a r d c o r e f i t n e s s
For my birthday last year, my dad bought me a set of kettlebells, as I had been going on and on about wanting to try them. Once I did, I haven’t looked back. This style of working out is without question the best fit for me. I love the way it is challenging but fun. I loved learning the movements, and I love perfecting them. I love how you have to pay attention to your body and what you’re doing. It has increased my body awareness. I am stronger than I have ever been.
I used to do a lot of workout DVDs, and as I got fitter and fitter, I had to do longer videos to remain challenged. I adored Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper, loved Billy Blanks. But I had to commit an hour plus to them per day to keep seeing improvements. That’s kind of a lot of time! I also had to make sure I had a DVD player whenever I worked out.
Now I can do a workout in under 20 minutes anywhere, and still get my ass kicked. My favorite website of all time is now MyomyTV, a free website run by Marianne Kane, who designs the best kettlebell interval workouts.
Last year I also became interested in Crossfit, which is basically just the sport of serious fitness. I love how tough the workouts look! I’m not yet actually involved in Crossfit. I attend a free fitness elements class at Crossfit Dallas Central some Saturdays, and I have incorporated Crossfit kettlebell and dumbbell exercises into my workouts. I am learning to do double-unders and improving my pull ups! Someday maybe I’ll compete at the Crossfit games, LOL! Dream big or go home.
w h a t n o w ?
So, I am a work in progress, dabbling in Paleo, playing with my kettlebells, and not taking myself too seriously. This blog is me documenting my progress and sharing my experiences as I grow and change. I hope to stay fit and healthy for a long time, and set an example for my six-year-old daughter, Celeste!