This is a noteworthy year for me in many ways. Not only will I be entering my fourth decade soon, I’ve recently published a book. And, after having been laid off earlier this year, I’m looking for my next employment opportunity. Suffice to say that much of my life has been turned on its head in one way or another. And since I’m already upside down, so to speak, why not use this time to make some real, positive, and lasting change?
I’d been wanting to focus intently on improving my overall health for some time, and decided there was no time like the present. So, to that end, I’m working on overhauling my health, nutrition, and exercise, and have made some headway. I thought I’d share some of what I’ve been up to, in case you find it helpful.
A Lifelong Battle
I’ve been fighting my weight for most of my life. But before I go on, please know this is more about overall health than it is about weight and weight loss. Yes, I’m heavier than the medical community says is healthy. Yes, I’d like to trim down and be a bit less “squishy”. However, what I’m most concerned with is fueling my body well. With being strong, fit, and healthy. I want to live an active life without limitations, and that includes good food and some treats. If I can do all that at a size 14/16, so be it. I know from years past that I’ll never be smaller than a size 10 anyway – that’s where I start looking too thin. :]
Getting back to fighting my weight, it’s been peaks and valleys. Gain weight, lose weight, gain weight, lose weight. And though there might be years in between each gain and loss, it’s been ongoing since high school. I’ve probably gained and lost a significant amount of weight at least six or seven times over the years, which is not only annoying – it’s not healthy. Repeated weight gains and losses take a toll on one’s body.
Trying Something New
Mark Twain said, “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.” Amen, Mr. Twain! I’ve been using that quote as a bit of a guide, and have been trying to do things a bit different lately. Rather than participating in a diet program, or guiding myself through a diet that focuses on low-fat and fewer calories, I’m starting at the very beginning: with nutrition.
I’ve been doing some reading, and it’s both confusing and eye-opening. Confusing because there are hundreds of books on diet and nutrition, and many of them contradict each other. Eye-opening because so much of what we’ve been told about nutrition is wrong. For example, for decades folks were told that margarine was healthier than butter. That liquid vegetable oils like corn oil are healthier than the animal fats people used to cook with. It’s now coming to light that the opposite is true. Certain oils are good (olive, avocado, coconut), but a lot of the oils used today are truly bad for us. Much of the “food” in the grocery stores is manufactured by the food industry with the goal of making something that will last longer on the shelf and bring the manufacturer more money, rather than promote good health. How do we know what to eat? Who do we trust?
Doing Research & Taking Action
Thus far I’ve read five different books on nutrition, whole food, and our agricultural system, and am going with areas of consensus amongst the authors, with my personal observations, and with my gut instinct. First and foremost, I’m focusing on eating whole foods and eliminating processed foods as much as possible.
- Eating more fruits and veggies
- Eating a wider variety of vegetables – like spaghetti squash, a new squash for me
- Shopping at the Farmers Market when I can
- Avoiding the bad oils (vegetable, corn, safflower, etc)
(I’m only using butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil for meals at home)
- Adding more meat, shellfish, and eggs to my diet
- Cooking more meals at home
- Reducing my refined sugar intake
- Vastly reducing processed grains like wheat, corn, oats, etc. for toxicity reasons
- Greatly reducing the amount of soda I drink (both regular & diet are bad for us)
- Brewing batches of iced green tea sweetened with stevia to drink instead of soda
- Reading the ingredients on any packaged food I buy
- Taking supplements like Green Tea Extract and Vitamin D
- Working with my doctor to get my thyroid regulated and my TSH number down
- Exercising 4-5 times a week
- Exercising before breakfast whenever I can, since this encourages fat burning
Here are some of the books I’ve been reading, in case you’d like to do some research of your own:
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo
The Perfect Health Diet by Shou-Ching Shih Jaminet & Paul Jaminet
The Good Food Revolution by Will Allen
Why Women Need Fat by Lassek & Gaulin
No Calorie Counting
Something I read in one (or two) of the books really resonated with me: it’s very possible to be both overfed and undernourished. I was a good example of that. I was eating too much of the wrong things and wasn’t providing my body the vitamins, minerals, and fuel it needed. The healthy foundation wasn’t there, so my body kept asking for more food in search of what it really needed.
So, at this point I’m not counting calories. I’m simply focusing on eating healthy foods (with the occasional deviation) in reasonable portions. I figure it’s most important to be eating the right kinds of foods since a typical Western diet – and dieting – haven’t worked for me.
Investing in Good Health
Eating healthfully can be more expensive and more time consuming, but what costs you time and money now will likely save you time and money in the long run. Nowadays we spend a smaller portion of our incomes on food than in decades and centuries past, but our healthcare costs are also higher because we’re sicker – so there’s not much of a savings. Many of the illnesses that run rampant today are directly related to our broken food system, and that’s a shame. I’ve embarked on this adventure to see if I can’t turn that tide in my life.
We’ll See What Happens…
I don’t have all the answers, and still have plenty of questions. I’m not exactly sure where this road will lead, but I know in my heart and in my head that eating mostly whole foods makes the most sense, so here I go. I know I’m making better choices and am fueling my body better – whether or not that will be reflected on a scale remains to be seen. And though I’m dedicated to this new way of doing things, I’ll still indulge in some things that aren’t good for me from time to time. Just not all of the time. :]
Please let me know if you have any questions, dear readers. I’d be glad to hear from you and to respond…
*Please note: I am not affiliated with or advertising any products listed in this post, am just sharing what I’ve been reading/using/eating.