Friday, March 2, 2012

My Weight and Clean Eating

I haven't discussed my weight gains or losses yet and it occurred to me that I should disclose this information. I am not changing my lifestyle solely to lose weight, but it was the quest for weight loss that brought me to this point.

I was a skinny kid growing up and was a "normal" weight all through high school. Once I reached my full height, I maintained that healthy weight for quite some time. So let's call that weight T for target*.

When I left college, I was T + 20. I thank cafeteria food and my job at Cracker Barrel.

After college I wanted to join the military. I had to take off those 20 pounds, however, to qualify. After 4 months I got down to about T + 3. I know it was 3 because that was the exact maximum weight for my height allowed by the Air Force.

I left the Air Force at about T + 10. I yo-yoed a bit while in the service but they keep tabs on you, so I never got that out of control despite my severe Mt. Dew habit. 

I got pregnant right away. After the baby was born and a year of breastfeeding I was T + 20. After the second kid it was T + 30. After the third it was T + 40. I then used breastfeeding as an excuse to eat whatever, whenever, and before I knew it, I got up to T + 65.

When the kids were young and not yet eating big-people food, I occasionally tried counting calories, mini-fasts, or bouts of exercise to get my weight under control. But I was getting so tired of trying to change my habits through will-power alone. The old adage to "eat less and exercise more" stopped seeming simple and obvious. I could not muster up the resolve for more than a day or two at a time.

Not to mention having kids makes you rethink everything.
I decided to stop dieting and slowly start a lifestyle change by cooking all dinners at home. I decided to find a way to maintain a healthy weight by just living life. A life that was healthy for everyone in my family, not just a goal for "fat" people. I knew there had to be a way that wasn't a constant battle, because while millions of people struggle with weight, millions of people don't struggle. What are they doing different?

Then I discovered Erika's blog. The phrase "clean eating" just spoke to me. It was the answer. I knew it in every fiber of my being. Because of her blog I found renewed purpose. I went back and read every post, joined a CSA, and resolved to eventually cut out ALL processed foods. 

In that first year I didn't really lose any weight. But I stopped gaining. After putting on another 25lbs after my 3rd child was born, maintaining was kind've a big deal to me. I should've been T + 90, but instead I halted the upward spiral at T + 65.

The second year (this last year up until now) I did start losing. I cut out cereal and switched to oatmeal or scrambled eggs for breakfast.  I lost 10lbs last year just by changing my breakfast habits. And it's not that oatmeal has less calories, it is most likely because I feel satisfied and don't graze all morning anymore.

Now 10lbs may not seem like much in an entire year, but let me tell you what I haven't yet cut out:
  • Nightly dessert (usually popcorn, but occasionally ice cream)
  • Friday night pizza
  • Homemade cookies or brownies a few times a month
  • Pop several nights a week
  • Take-out several times a month
  • Hot dogs and chips at lunch
  • White rice, pasta, and some white flour (I am migrating over to whole grains, but slowly so my family can adjust)
Also did I mention that I have not counted calories, measured portions, or routinely exercised this past year? All that and I lost weight. 

So currently I am T + 55. I will report regularly on how that's going. I imagine my credibility will rise as I lose weight. Like I have said, this journey is not just about weight loss anymore. I will concede, however, that if my body does not respond to clean eating by moving towards a healthy weight, then my ramblings may not worth the bits they are using up in cyberspace! But I really think I am onto something. So we shall see.

*Yes, I also like the play on T minus something for shuttle launch countdowns.

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