2015 – My Lifestyle Evolution

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Changing my lifestyle this year has not been a straight path. There have been twists, turns and speedbumps. I’ve stumbled, I’ve fallen and I’ve gotten back on the horse over and over again. It’s been an interesting year. I didn’t think it would take me this long to figure it out and, to be honest, I still haven’t. I want to share where I’ve come from, what my journey has been like and where I feel like I’m going.

 

Where I started:

I started 2015 over 200 pounds and with a simple New Year’s resolution. I’ve made these before, I usually failed. I didn’t expect to do any differently this year but still I said with resolve “This is the year. This is the year I lose this weight. This is the year I improve the physical health of my body.” And so I set off to make a few small changes that I felt like I could manage. I immediately cut out things that I knew were “bad”. I got rid of all the chocolate and general sugar I was eating, I cut out chips and soda and other foods that were obviously calorie dense, nutritionally deficient.

As the weight started coming off, I noticed that I was feeling better with less carbohydrate intake so I gradually started eating fewer and fewer carbs and more fat and protein. I had a “cheat day” once a week, on Saturday, so that I could satisfy my cravings for pizza and Chinese food. This took me down to around 150 pounds and I was feeling really good.

 

Sliding Downward:

Then something happened. I started obsessively weighing myself. I was stepping on the scale at least once a day, sometimes multiple times a day. I found that the number on the scale was dictating my mood for the rest of the day. I found that I’d be a couple of pounds up after a cheat day and that would upset me.

I discovered intermittent fasting. At first I followed the 5:2 protocol properly. I’d fast after cheat day and one more time during the week. My fasts were water only for 24 hours then a small meal after 24 hours. The weight started coming off again and I was feeling good again. This was when I made my “how I lost 100 pounds post” back in the summer. I was around 140 lbs, which was 100 pounds down from my heaviest recorded weight.

 

 

Rock Bottom:

This is when things really went downhill for me. I started increasing the number of fasts that I was doing. I went from 5:2 to 4:3, then I started just not eating over 1000 calories most days and having a “real” fast twice or three times a week. I still had my cheat day on Saturday but my cheats became worse, bigger. I was feeling miserable, irritable and my weight loss stopped completely at 130 lbs. I was incredibly frustrated with the way things were going. I was angry with my body. It wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do. All the math says that being in such a caloric deficit should make one lose a whole bunch of weight, so why wasn’t I?

I recognized that my thinking and my actions were beginning to become disordered and I wanted to put the brakes on it.

I reached out to my sister who has had her own battles with food and weight, she’s a personal trainer and always has good advice for me. She told me that if I were one of her clients, she’d recommend that I stop weighing daily or even weekly. She told me to put the scale away and weigh monthly if at all.

 

Healing my mind, healing my body:

During this time I discovered two things, the first was the diet protocol of macro tracking, commonly referred to as IIFYM. The second was “reverse dieting”. I decided to do both of these to get out of the huge caloric deficit that I was in and fix my metabolism. Macro tracking has taught me that carbohydrate cutting is great for weight loss but not ideal for weight maintenance, which was what I really needed to be focused upon. At 130 pounds I had no more to lose to be healthy, and wasn’t that my goal in the first place? When I went into this year I was focused on my health. I didn’t want to become a type two diabetic, I wanted more strength and more energy. Starving myself was not in line with those goals.

Over the past month or so I’ve been slowly changing things. I’ve added in a lot of planned exercise including resistance training. I’ve started running. I’ve started eating more, specifically more carbohydrate, and deliberately raising my caloric intake very slowly (100 cal every two weeks) to find my maintenance point. I feel much better, I have more energy, I’m not irritable and exhausted anymore. Because of the way IIFYM works, I’m “allowed” to eat “cheat” food as long as it fits my macros. I still keep “bad” food to Saturday, but it’s helped me control my crazy cheat binges. The last time I had one of those was a couple of weeks ago. I’m still not there completely, I step on the scale too often but it’s not every day anymore.

Ironically, since I started eating more and macro tracking I’ve lost an additional 3 pounds and my waist / hip measurement has shrunk.

 

What I’ve learned:

  • Cutting out carbohydrate to the point of ketosis is great for weight loss but not necessarily for maintenance. It’s also an extremely difficult lifestyle to maintain for very long. If you are cutting carbs, having a carb refeed day once in a while is probably a good idea.
  • Intermittent fasting is a tool. It’s a tool that I still count as being in my toolbox but it’s one that I rarely use anymore because I recognize that it quickly leads to unhealthy thinking. It might not for you but it does for me. Be careful with intermittent fasting.
  • IIFYM is great. It keeps you accountable. You don’t necessarily have to follow the exact numbers that they suggest on their website, adjust the ratios and find what works for you. The key of IIFYM is eating mindfully and planning.
  • If you are in a huge caloric deficit, your weight loss may stop completely. It’s a bad idea to return to your suggested maintenance calories from eating barely anything. Instead, try reverse dieting. Raise your caloric intake by 100 every week or every two weeks; this will keep your weight stable.
  • Exercise serves it’s purpose, but that purpose is not for weight loss. You don’t need to go to the gym for 4 hours a day, you don’t need to hire someone to scream at you while you kill yourself on a treadmill. Exercise is good for your overall health; it’s good for muscle definition and energy levels. I always feel better after I’ve been for a run, but I don’t run for weight loss.
  • Try not to obsess. If you have a personality like mine I understand this is extremely difficult but weighing daily is more discouraging than it is encouraging.

 

This year has been a struggle, I hope that those reading this can have some take away from it. You can do it, you are strong, you are capable and you are worth it. Don’t punish your body, don’t hate it. You only get one body, show it some love.

 

 

Sorting it out: From Loss to Maintenance

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What’s 5 pounds? I was agonizing over it. Right now I weigh 130 pounds. 130! I haven’t weighed 130 pounds since I was maybe 9 or 10 years old. I found myself stuck in the mindset that I needed to lose that last 5 though, I needed to weigh 125. Why? Some chart I found online says that I have a small frame and the ideal weight for my frame and height is apparently 114 – 127 lbs. I’m 3 lbs more than my “ideal” weight.

Last week was a time of realization for me though. Do I really care about 5 vanity pounds? Do I care about being what some chart on the internet says is “ideal” for me or do I care about my personal health? The reason that I went into this journey in the first place was health. I don’t want to become a diabetic, I want to be around for many years in the future. I want to see my kids become whoever they are going to become. I feel like I need to return to my original vision.

I was eating too few calories, I had zero energy to do anything but what I absolutely had to do. I decided to start reverse dieting. If you google the term “reverse dieting” you’ll find it used commonly in the body building community. I’m no body builder, but I do need to find a place of health for myself, mentally and physically.

My husband bought me a Fitbit, which I love. It is “somebody” to be accountable to. Because of my Fitbit, I’ve greatly increased my activity level. Because of my Fitbit, I realized just how little I’ve been eating during the week. Turning it around has not been an instant 180. I’ve not turned on a dime. I’ve turned more like a large boat, slowly but with purpose.

The new pattern that I’m going into is called carb cycling. I recently decided to test my sugar with some old strips that I had from my last bout with gestational diabetes. If the test was accurate, my blood sugar issues have gone away. This is a scary thing for me because all year I’ve been terrified of carbohydrate. I’m going to start adding them back on weight training days, I’m going to start working out on a schedule rather than just trying to satisfy that minimum 30 minutes of activity a day. I already feel myself getting stronger, things can only go up from here.

I’m going to try it for a couple of weeks, if I find success there will be a follow-up post with my exercise regime and meal plan. Wish me luck!

 

Body Shaming Happens to Everyone

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Most of the people in my life have been positive about my weight loss journey, but there’s always one, isn’t there? An acquaintance that I see every once in a while has started announcing that she’s concerned about me whenever we cross paths. “You need to start eating” and “you’re looking too thin” are actual phrases that have come out of her mouth.

This got me thinking about body judgement in general. Even the positive comments, even the questions about how much I’ve lost and how I did it are forms of judgement. Why do we, as a society, feel like we’re justified in picking apart other people’s bodies? Is it an inward reflection projected outward? Do we feel like we’re being kind or boosting self-esteem?

Being told that I look “too thin” and that I am “worrying” someone is very disconcerting. It’s a blast to my already fragile sense of self-esteem. The last time it happened, I informed her what I weigh and what my BMI is and that both of these are right in the “normal” range. Why did I feel like I had to do that? I have no duty to alleviate her apparent worry, I have no responsibility to justify my appearance to anyone. I spent far too long doing that as a fat person. I spent too long wearing plain clothes, hiding in oversized things and carrying myself in a generally apologetic manner.

I was sorry for my size, sorry that I took up too much space, sorry that I would bump into things with my stomach or backside when I turned.

I am not ready to be sorry for my size again. I’m not ready to apologize for being “too skinny” or whatever else people deem me to be. I am done apologizing for who I am.

I’ve learned something very important about body shaming. I always thought that body shaming fat people was so much worse because thin people have “thin privilege”. Sure they might get called things like skinny, sure some people might automatically assume that they have an eating disorder but they can shop in straight sized shops and generally fit in with what the media thinks people are supposed to look like.

All of these assumptions were incorrect. It feels just as bad to be judged for being thin as it does to be judged for being fat. In some ways, it feels worse. I know intellectually that I’m a normal size now but now I find myself looking at my arms and legs and wondering if they’re too small. I’m terrified of regaining the weight I lost but I have people telling me that I should.

This is unacceptable and we need to stop doing it to each other. Before you make that comment to your friend, before you suggest that they have a salad instead of the fries or tell someone how tiny they’re looking look inside yourself. Are you projecting your own insecurities onto someone else’s body?

 

 

 

How I lost 100 Pounds

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We’ve been through the “why”, now it’s time to examine the “how” part of my weight loss journey. The premise started out fairly simply, stop eating crap. Now I realize that “crap” is a fairly broad term and also fairly subjective, so I’ll break it down. In a broad sense, “crap” is anything processed. If it comes in a package it’s probably crap, especially if the package has smaller packages inside of it and fancy graphics on it.

The few exceptions to that are frozen vegetables (I especially like steam-in-the-bag ones), packages of vegetables and packages of meat. I wish that I could buy all of my vegetables, meat and eggs from the farm stands like I do in the summer but that’s not always doable. I tend to not buy eggs at the grocery store because I have several sources for good eggs, including my own chickens.

What I avoid:

  • Chocolate, candy, sweets – anything made with refined sugar.
  • Anything made with grains (more on that later) but especially processed grain products like pasta and bread. Even ‘whole grain’.
  • Soda, even diet. Sports drinks and energy drinks.
  • Artifical sweeteners. I do use them, I make fudge with Swerve in it, but that’s mainly for my husband. I prefer to just not eat them.

 

Some things are more acceptable but still not awesome. I avoid these as well but not everyone has to or should.

  • Whole grains like quinoa
  • High sugar fruit like pineapples and bananas
  • Coffee, tea, fruit juices, vitamin water – any “enhanced water” products.

 

“Healthy Whole Grains”:

It seems like the words “whole grains” usually have the word “healthy” stuck in front of them. They travel as a unit, kind of like the words “artery clogging saturated fat” (I won’t go into why I have a problem with that one here). For me, whole grains are not healthy. I am an insulin sensitive individual and grains, even whole grains, spike my blood sugar. I try to avoid spiking my blood sugar on a regular basis and thus I avoid “healthy whole grains” most of the time.

 

What I eat:

  • Eggs – probably my favorite and most readily available fat and protein source.
  • Vegetables
  • Meat and fish
  • Low sugar fruit like berries, apples and stone fruit
  • Nuts and seeds, that includes nut and seed butter
  • Full fat dairy – Greek yogurt, cheese, butter and heavy whipping cream. Note I did not say milk or any substitute milks like almond or cashew milk.
  • Water

So on a day to day basis that’s what I eat.

Cheat day:

Once a week, my husband and I have a cheat day. On cheat day, rules do not apply. We’re allowed to eat as much ‘crap’ as we want. I usually keep cheat day to a single cheat meal. Cheat day has been essential, it’s taught me a lot about myself and a lot about the mentality behind why I was craving whatever I was craving. I’d often find that something I was craving all week was built up a lot more in my mind to be tastier than it actually was in reality. Recently I was dying for some fudge, so I bought some for cheat day. When I finally got to eat it I was just disappointed, it was so sweet that it was almost sickly and I couldn’t eat it.

 

Exercise:

I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m not, nor will I ever be an athlete. I’ve tried to like exercise but I just can’t shake the fact that I feel like a hamster running on its wheel whenever I try to do any “traditional” exercise. This doesn’t mean that I don’t get any exercise though. I prefer to do something that is a required task, like mowing the lawn, for exercise. It doesn’t sound like much unless you factor in the fact that our lawn is about 2 acres, I mow it with a push mower and it’s quite hilly. It takes me about 2-3 hours to do the entire thing. I break it up into thirds, so 3 days a week I’m doing about 45 minutes of lawn mowing in the summer.

Other things are taking walks (and soon bike rides) with the kids and the dogs, doing other physical tasks outside like gardening and cleaning out the chicken coop.

You won’t hear about crossfit or spin class or “sweat is fat crying” from me. I am not huge on the exercise.

 

Intermittent fasting:

The last thing I want to mention is intermittent fasting. Right now I do IF twice a week; Saturday into Sunday and Wednesday into Thursday. I usually fast for about 24 hours. One time I tried 36 hours but that was too much. What that looks like in practice is that I stop eating on Saturday night at around 7:00 then I don’t eat again until Sunday evening at 7:00. A popular IF plan you may have heard about is the 5:2 diet. I don’t exactly follow 5:2 protocol but I do keep the meal that I break my fast with relatively light just because I feel unwell if I break my fast with a huge amount of food.

I find that IF has kept the weight loss generally steady. Before I started IF, I’d have periods of a few weeks where I’d maintain but not lose. IF seems to prevent this.

 

Snacks:

I don’t snack. I used to but I stopped doing it because I found that snacking made me want to snack more. I do better if I have set times to eat.

 

 

Example Meal plans:

 

Normal:

Breakfast – 1 Light and Fit Greek Yogurt

Lunch – 1 apple with 2 tbsp of natural peanut butter

Dinner – 1 oven baked chicken breast, the rest of the plate filled up with roasted vegetables. I usually do roasted cauliflower, asparagus,  mushrooms, broccoli, Brussels sprouts – things like that. The vegetables I toss in melted butter or bacon fat and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt (if using butter) and pepper. Parmesan cheese on roasted vegetables is nice as well.

Dessert – Berries and whipped cream + 1 square of very dark chocolate

 

Fast:

Breakfast – /

Lunch – /

Dinner – Two eggs done any way, sautéed vegetables

Dessert – Berries and whipped cream + 1 square of very dark chocolate

 

Cheat:

Breakfast – ¼ cup of chia seed pudding with blueberries

Lunch – Turkey and cheese omelet

Dinner and dessert = cheat. Last week I had a slice of pizza, a couple mozzarella sticks and a lemon bar. Next week my husband is traveling so I’m going to have some pasta (it’s been a while since I had pasta) and some tiramisu or a chocolate bar.

 

Weigh ins:

I’ve found that weighing myself every morning is beneficial to keeping on track. I hate weighing in after cheat day, I usually gain at least a pound but I do realize that that weight isn’t fat.

 

Maintenance:

My goal weight of 135 lbs is looming ever closer, it’ll take me to an even 100 lost. I feel like that’s a good place to stop for me. With reaching my goal comes maintenance though and I’m still not sure how I’m going to tackle that. I’ve heard a lot of different theories on maintenance. I’ve heard of people treating days where they are down on the scale as cheat days and days that they’re up on the scale as “follow the plan” days. That doesn’t appeal to me because I don’t really like the idea of swinging between eating crap and eating non-crap every other day. What I’ll likely end up doing is decreasing my fast days to one a week instead of two and increasing my calories from good stuff. Once I get to maintenance and have been maintaining for a while, I’ll make another post detailing what has and hasn’t worked for me.

 

I hope that this helps! Good luck on your own personal journey.

What’s eating me?

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So I’ve been asked my a couple of people to talk about my story, share my “secrets” and such. I’m going to, but right now I’m not sure how it’ll come out so please bear with the stream of consciousness style of this post.

Overall I’ve lost 95 lbs. I can see my goal on the horizon, I’m almost there. I’m still not sure what I’ll do once I get there in terms of maintaining but let me share my journey from 235 lbs to now.

I have been overweight for the majority of my life. As far back as I can remember I was the fat one. The rest of my family was lean, svelte, and attractive. I was the black mark, something went wrong with me. My parents divorced when I was 5 and my father equated buying us sweets with love. I lacked the manic energy that my sister had and the weekly influx of junk made me put on weight.

I was a chubby kid. Then after moving to the UK, I became an obese teenager. My mother tried in vain to correct this. She heavily restricted what I was allowed to eat. She tried to get me to do aerobics class with her, we both hated it but I suppose it was for the greater good in her eyes. Because of the restriction, I started to sneak and hide food. I’d save up every spare coin I had and go to the shop after school for a couple of chocolate bars and a bag of potato chips. I’d visit the fish and chip shop in town regularly. I’d eat the packed lunch my mother made for me and then buy extra food from the cafeteria.

When I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time walking. That probably kept me from getting even fatter than I was. My sister, meanwhile, was an image obsessed athlete. She would spend over an hour getting ready for school in the morning so that she’d look perfect. I’d throw on my ripped, stained, too small sweatshirt and call it a day. I never learned how to do makeup or do my hair, I didn’t shave my legs or underarms, I cut my hair very short. I made very little effort and took no pride in myself. I figured that I was a fat, hideous blob so what was even the point of trying to look presentable? I’d never be my mother. I’d never be my sister. I should just give up. Due to my utter lack of self-esteem I found myself involved in one toxic relationship after the next. It was a low point in my life.

In 2001, my sister and I moved back to Canada to live with our father. I was 17. I didn’t have to sneak food any more, I didn’t have to ask permission to eat, I just could. Old habits die hard though and I continued to secretly eat. The family would have supper together every night and then go their separate ways, I’d return to the kitchen later on and eat leftovers or take “just one cookie” from the pantry over and over and over.

I started to like myself a little more, I found acceptance from people online and I met my future husband the following year, when I was 18.

It was when I moved to the United States at 18 that I went completely crazy. Now I was free of any type of accountability or judgement. Now I could indulge my every desire and food is everywhere here so that was very easy. I moved in with my future husband and his family, his mother was someone who liked to feed people. She baked constantly, there was always sweet things or fried things or just downright delicious things. I was introduced to food I’d never even heard of before and I could eat as much as I wanted as often as I wanted.

We moved out, got married and had three kids. It was between my first and my second child that I hit my heaviest weight. After my second child was born I was 235 lbs. I decided that I needed to change things, I started slowly to realize the reasons why I ate so much and why I ate garbage. I started to eat clean and exercise, I lost 30 pounds.

I fell pregnant with our youngest child and did relatively well through my pregnancy. I am cursed with gestational diabetes; I’ve had it three times. The one upside of it though is that I am forced to follow a diet while pregnant and never really put on a lot of baby weight. After my youngest child was born I started to eat with reckless abandon again because I was breastfeeding. Breastfeeding gives you a ravenous appetite and I constantly grazed, mostly on that same junk that had become my soft place to fall. I saw my weight creeping back on, I had to return to my “fat” pants. Warning bells went off in my head and I decided that I would do something about it for real this time.

I’m done having children, I don’t have to worry about sustaining a growing fetus or producing enough milk for a baby anymore. It is time to focus on myself. It is time to start loving myself and treating myself as someone who’s worthy of being taken care of.

I’ll make a follow-up post to this detailing what exactly I did and even suggesting some daily meal plans, for now I feel like this is a good place to pause.

 

“You Keep Losing That Weight, Girl!”

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Remember the post I made at the beginning of the year about improving my health? I’m still at it. I’m still about 15 – 20 pounds away from “goal”, but I’ve lost 60 pounds since I made that post and 80 since my heaviest non-pregnant weight in 2011. There have been a lot of unexpected side effects from weight loss that I wasn’t anticipating. All of my life I’ve been big, I’m smaller now than I was at 19 when I got married. I’m smaller than I was at 14.

I’ve complied a list of unexpected things that happen while you’re losing weight:

– You have no idea what size you are.

There’s a huge myth that 10-15 pounds = 1 dress size. That’s totally not true, at least for me it’s not. If it was true, I should be a size 8-10 right now. I’m not. I’m still hovering between a 12 and a 14. It can be disheartening because I was a size 14 at 180 pounds, how on earth am I still a size 14? You think that once you lose weight all your problems will disappear with it. You’ll be able to shop in straight sizes and just pluck something off the rack and have it fit fabulously. Not true. You still end up with things fitting oddly or having one size on the top and another on the bottom. I am completely lost with regards to bras. No idea at all.

I recently picked up 3 tanks because I was getting sick of the too-big XXL maternity tanks that I’ve been living in sliding off my shoulders. I didn’t try them on because I have some other shirts from this brand so I figured I knew what size I was. I got home and put one on, my first thought was instantly “oh god this is too small”. Then I had to step back, look at myself and say “No, tanks are supposed to be tighter than tents.”

I’m trying not to beat myself up about what dress size I am and what dress size I want to be is still an ongoing process.

 

– This body feels foreign.

I have days that I look in the mirror and think “Gosh, is that me? Am I really this small?” My husband can pick me up and throw me over his shoulder now. I feel lighter, I have more energy, I’m sleeping better. There are other days that I catch my reflection and see the old me. I think that I look huge, I focus upon the skin overhang on my stomach, I feel like I’ll never be attractive, I feel like I’ve not lost any weight at all.

Logically I know that’s not true. I know because I can look at old pictures of myself and see it. It still happens though and it’s upsetting when it does.

 

– All those comments you were looking forward to don’t feel as good as you thought.

When I started this I was so looking forward to people noticing my weight loss. The first 20-30 pounds, nobody noticed. I noticed, I just wanted someone to say something. I wanted someone to acknowledge my hard work. And then they started to. And now I hate it. Comments have run the gamut from the benign “You look great” to the somewhat offensive “Wow! I didn’t recognize you at first!”

I’m a shy individual, I don’t like being looked at, I don’t like being the center of attention. People commenting on my body makes me more uncomfortable than I assumed it would. Sometimes I just want to say “Stop looking at me.”

There’s a person in my life that says “Oh my gosh you look so good! You keep losing that weight girl!” every time she sees me. Every time. Sometimes multiple times during the same interaction. I don’t enjoy it, it makes me feel self conscious.

The problem with this is that all of these comments are well meaning. People think they are being nice or being encouraging. I don’t want to make them feel bad by asking them to not comment so I keep my mouth shut about it and shift about on my feet, blush, and mutter “uh… thanks”.

 

– The idea of maintenance is scary.

I figured out how to lose weight, I’m awesome at losing weight now. I’m 2 pounds away from “goal 1”. I pushed my goal lower another 15-20 pounds so that I’ll be in the “normal” weight range instead of the “overweight” weight range. I’d be lying if I said that was the only reason that I pushed my goal lower. With another 15-20 pounds to lose, I don’t have to worry about maintenance.

Maintenance scares me. Why? Because all the statistics out there say that people who have lost weight are very likely to gain it back. The likelihood that you’ll lose weight and keep it off is discouragingly tiny. I need to find the sweet spot. I currently weigh myself every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I’ve read that this habit is the best one to keep up for weight maintenance. Part of me feels like that’s obsessive and unhealthy, but I never ever want to be 232 pounds again.

 

My journey isn’t over yet, but I’m closer to the finish line than ever before. I’m starting to realize, however, that it’s not a finish line. That this isn’t a sprint. This isn’t even a marathon. It’s a treadmill and the ground will keep moving under my feet.

2015 and Operation “Get Healthy”

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On January the 1st this year I did something that I don’t usually do, I made a New Year’s resolution. I don’t normally do them because I feel like they are pointless, nobody ever keeps them anyway so why bother. I wasn’t going to make one unless I was actually going to keep it. This year I’ve decided to do just that. My resolution started out with the end goal of 150 lbs, I would need to lose 60.

I’ve had an obsession with sugar, especially chocolate, for too long. I found myself buying a big bag of of those little individual squares “for my son to take to school” then keeping it in the cupboard. I was counting out 5 chocolates at the beginning of the week to set aside for school, then slowly eating all the rest of them. Every time I passed the cupboard, I’d grab a couple of squares. They’re just small, I figured, can’t do much harm. It’s not like I’m eating big bars of it.

The truth of the matter was that was exactly what it was like. All those little squares throughout the day would add up to a full bar, sometimes two bars. On top of that I’d have hot chocolate, nutella, a dessert after supper which usually consisted of a big bowl of ice cream (a habit held over from gestational diabetes) and a chocolate bar every time I went through the check out line at a store. Add to that all the diet soda I was drinking and fast food I was eating, it’s a wonder that I wasn’t heavier than I was. I think the thing keeping my weight stable was the fact that I’m breastfeeding.

They tell you not to “diet” while breastfeeding. That a decrease in caloric intake will decrease your milk supply. I took this as licence to eat whatever the heck I wanted, or sometimes stuff I didn’t want that was just in front of me anyway.

So at the beginning of the year I said enough was enough. I was calling it “Operation: Stop being such a fatass” but a revelation hit me the other day. It isn’t about what I look like or how much I weigh, it’s about how I feel. It started with eliminating all chocolate and soda. I instantly felt better. I like the taste of soda, I like the way the bubbles feel but it makes my body retain water. When I cut it out I lost 10 pounds of water weight very quickly.

Next came eliminating most other sources of simple sugar and all complex carbohydrates. What this means in practice is using lettuce instead of bread for burgers and tacos, using apples instead of bread as peanut butter vehicles, replacing potatoes and pasta with more vegetables and replacing rice with cauliflower rice. Most of that has been relatively straightforward, the thing I am having the hardest time with is pasta. I love pasta, I love how it’s a vehicle for deliciousness. I refuse, however, to buy myself low-carb alternative pasta. To me, moving from one processed thing to another processed thing just won’t solve the problem. I’ve been eating a lot of meat accompanied by mountains of veg for dinner. It’s a good thing that I like veg!

Notice what I did NOT cut out: Animal fat, plant fat (coconut oil / olive oil / peanut butter) and salt. I never cooked with much salt to begin with so salt really isn’t an issue. I will eat cold cuts and bacon still, not every day, maybe a couple times a week. Fat isn’t even on my radar. Without complex carbs I need my calories to come from somewhere, I need to keep my calories up in order to provide milk for my son. Fat is the most calorie dense substance, you get a lot of “bang for your buck”. So fat stays, whole milk and heavy cream and olive oil and butter stay. I’m also taking a multivitamin and calcium every day.

The final stage was to get back on my bike. I have a love / hate relationship with my exercise bike. The darned thing was bought maybe 4 or 5 years ago and two houses ago. It followed us through two moves. The seat is breaking, it’s missing bits, the handlebars have split and I had to ziptie them back together, the display no longer works because the kids stole the cords for it… but it does it’s job. It gets me sweating once a day for about half an hour.

I started out 20 minutes every other day, I’ve moved it up to half an hour a day. I don’t feel like I’m ready to return to the HIIT that I was doing before I got pregnant with my little one but that’s OK. I’m not looking for rapid, dramatic weight loss. I’m looking for a slow, steady discovery of health. I can’t say “return” to health because I have never been healthy. Even as a kid I wasn’t. I used to walk a lot but I also ate and drank like crap.

This year’s resolution is one I’m determined to keep. I want to be around for as long as possible for my kids, grand kids and, who knows, great grand kids maybe.