My whole life I have been on and off a diet. I have always struggled with weight and can remember going on my first diets as young as 10 or 11. For me, knowing and seeing that no one in my family was naturally slim or skinny made me think it was just a natural part of life since all the people around me were always struggling with the battle of the bulge.
Family trips and gatherings were always centered around what food to bring and a constant thought about do we have enough? Maybe we should make more…just in case. Everyone cooks for an army and damn, they were good cooks! However, we were always active.
Growing up, we were still in that generation where we would run and play outside until it got dark and then, when it was dark, we would dress in black and play capture the flag in the woods (while also creeping ourselves out). We swam, I played golf (they type where you carried your clubs and walked nine or 18 holes – no carts allowed), we played volleyball with the cousins at family parties or up at the lake, we road bikes around the neighborhood and sang jock jams at the top of our lungs. So we did earn our food.
Food in those years, however, was definitely evolving into the super processed, heat in the microwave, or toaster oven, if you were lucky enough to have one, food you find in the “middle aisles” of the grocery stores today. We loved our pop tarts, coco puffs, Doritos, pizza rolls and full sugar soda ( all better known as sugar and salt and preservatives). We wanted what was shown in the commercials and what was quick and convenient for the family …and lets be honest, we loved squeezing our heated frosting on our toaster strudels and calling that a balanced breakfast. (Just writing about it is making remember that taste- memories!)
Also during those year, while we still managed to play a lot outside we were also evolving into the video game and blockbuster movie rental eras. I had my lazy moments – playing Nintendo all day and movies all night – binge watching is not a new thing. Winters in Wisconsin left us indoors most weekends, where we baked cookies or pizza and didn’t get off the couch for most of the time.
My weight fluctuated a lot throughout the teen years as a result of the inadequate exercise (buns of Steel and Denise Austin could only do so much for me).
Changes finally started when I went off to college. I lost weight – even had a family friend say that I did the opposite of gain the freshman 15. I had a gym, something the family couldn’t afford nor did we have nearby growing up, a pool to swim laps at, walking to class or everywhere in general instead of driving as I didn’t have a car, and I played intramural sports …sometimes drunk volleyball in the racketball courts but I digress.
I also learned how to make my own healthy food choices, no longer having to eat what was made for everyone at the table but picking a salad and soup or grabbing or having a sandwich made to my liking. I didn’t have the struggle like I did at home, where there was always loads of snacks and goodies, those that I wouldn’t buy nor could afford to keep on hand when I would rather put that money to Thursday Friends (the tv show) and Chinese night or even better, that $5 red solo cup at my next house party.
At the time I didn’t know I was naturally doing portion control. Eating what I needed and living an active lifestyle yet only indulging when it mattered. When the reigns were off, however, it was almost like I had a hunger that couldn’t be satiated.
After college, I think the wheels really came off for a number of lifestyle choices. I was driving everywhere and sitting all day (i.e. no longer walking), I had money to buy whatever food I wanted, I didn’t understand how many calories I was actually burning by working out for 30 minutes a day on the elliptical, and I was a bit bored in my personal life. All those things combined lead to making bad food choices and eating way more than I should because I could.
Fast forward to when I turned 25 and started to want to take control of my life. I signed up for that diet that Oprah does but before she did it. I mentioned in my last post, however, it was not the diet that it is today. It taught me to choose a hundred calorie pack over a banana because they were the same points and to me cookies tasted better than bananas even though they were artificial. I also started to use exercise as a way to justify overindulging, meaning I ran to eat and then I’d eat and run some more. It was a vicious cycle.
Me at about 232 lbs before joining WW
Me around the lowest weight I had got (and am close to again!)
However, I did manage to lose 77 lbs and it did teach me good things:
- Community – having a support system to get you through and teach you what is going on with your body. We don’t understand why we can do things perfect and not lose weight yet other weeks screw up and loose a few pounds. Our bodies are not always logical but its good to know we are not alone. It also taught me about
- Portion control and I also learned how to create a big meal with healthy low calorie and natural ingredients.
- I discovered a passion for making recipes healthier. Being a baker I learned how to substitute butter with applesauce or make muffins with a cake mix and a can of pumpkin (thanks Hungry Girl!).
- Finally, recording everything I eat in a day is something I have not stopped doing everyday to this day.
All of these items I still incorporate today and has helped in maintenance and weight loss to this day. I think the plan today has come a long way but I haven’t been able to make it work for me the way it once had.
While I fell of the strictness of the diet, I always had it going on in the back of my mind, following a loose version because my workouts should have been also adding more points than I could eat to my day. I was eating very healthy, very little processed and fried foods, or even traditional carbs like pasta (I’m not a big pasta eater) but just too much of things that I didn’t realize I shouldn’t be eating. I would take some of the changes made over the years, like “fruit are zero points” too literally and have waayyyy too many fruits. Yes – you can do that. And for me that is something that my body in particular cannot process as well as others.
In the meantime, over the course of the last 5 years, I moved away from Wisconsin, to NYC, to Italy, then back to NYC. When I moved back to NYC after Italy, I knew it was time to get serious and start to figure out why I can workout like a dog – which I walk 15k steps or more a day and do at least one intense cardio workout a day -but wouldn’t lose a lb, even following said prior diet to a T (modern/present day version).
Fearing burnout at the gym and tired of maintaining my weight where it was, at overweight status, I finally got some answers when my primary care physician noticed my cortisol levels were off and testosterone levels were too low (even for a female). She asked that I go to an endocrinologist (basically an internal Dr) and also given my history with PCOS (more to come on that later ), sent me to a nutritionist. Since then, I have started seeing both, and my life and weight loss goals are becoming more and more attainable.
Finally I had people do the right testing, prescribe the right medicine and I realized what I had been putting into my body, while it was healthy, wasn’t right for me based on my makeup. You need to find out what makes your body tick and work at its most optimum level for the long run and make it more of a lifestyle change than a diet.
Over the last 6 months I have made the changes, those of which I will discuss in more detail in future posts, but since I have started doing them I feel so much more alive. A fog has lifted and my body feels right. Weight has been falling off and I am the lightest I have been since I was working so hard on the aforementioned diet. When your body learns what it likes to eat to feel good, the other stuff isn’t desirable any longer as you know how you will feel later on or the next day based on what you put in. While starting can be tough and maybe you think, “oh I really want that beer,” but after a few weeks of learning what you are “allergic” to as my nutritionist and I have coined it, you find what you can have instead (prosecco anyone?), and by that point you really never want to go back because you have kind of reset your body and feel so good.
So now no more diets. I splurge when its worth it but now I know my balance and I can’t wait to share what that is! Stay tuned!
Me on my 32nd bday