My cousin Kerri wrote this lovely post, which is a lovely personal post about not dieting and making lifestyle changes instead. Create a healthy relationship with food and your body through mindset changes and mindful eating. Thanks Kerri!
Learning to make lifestyle changes, from someone who did.
I was never really fat; but I was always uncomfortable. I distinctly remember being in the shower at age 9 realizing my body was changing and hating every minute of it. In hindsight I never had a distorted image of the way I looked but it was more that I felt really unhealthy. According to the numbers I was “okay” but knowing what I know now, I feel as though I wasted a lot of time being uncomfortable.
I grew up as a 90s kid on high sugar, processed foods with more appeal to the “quickness” of the meal rather than the nutrition. I played sports so I did have that energy outlet but once I was old enough to really pick and choose what I wanted to do I got a wee bit lazy and my body was fluctuate in size and shape so fast. I’ve always had wide hips and a large…well you know; but a flat front from shoulders to hips so to everyone else I didn’t need to lose weight and that’s still debatable. It’s not as if I had doctors saying anything to me with the exception of my first pregnancy. When I gained an unhealthy 60lbs but I vowed to lose every pound and I did. With my second child I did the same thing. Just to clarify I didn’t set out to gain a ton of weight while growing humans but I didn’t avoid it either. With my second child I was working with nurses at an institution that offered a program that basically was a bite/write it journal program. Once a week we would meet online and the goals were all our own. I loved this idea because it would be great to not have to weigh in or face your peers on those days of shame- or so I thought. What I didn’t expect was how much my whole life and perspective on food was about to change.
How it worked:
I began the program in January of 2012 and set out to lost 13lbs. I just wanted to weigh 135 I thought that was a farfetched goal but I had seen the success others had had and I thought maybe it could be reasonable. I remember having the chat with the program coordinator and saying “wouldn’t I love to weigh 125 but I don’t see myself EVER weighing less than 130.” Slowly I began to make changes. I set reasonable limits, no eating past 9p and I was on a medium tier calorie count of 1800 calories a day because I was breastfeeding at the time. I could eat whatever I wanted so long as I didn’t go above that, but if I did that’s okay because you can always pick back up the next, new day. This was the biggest key for me. Eating food was no longer punitive. I learned how to go to a restaurant and ask for low-fat dressing or ask about the oils they cook with. It’s not to be a pain to the waiter but it is food you are paying for and you want to enjoy every bite not feel like the money you just spent and the food you just had wasn’t worth it. I paid a bit more attention to the types of dairy products I was eating and in the quantity as well and slowly but surely the weight literally just came off.
The classes were fantastic in the sense that the support focused on the positive. Check in happened every week and not a single person felt as though they had to avoid a celebratory event or weekend BBQ. If the weekend was hard the facilitator would encourage conversation among all of us to provide feedback for the question what can you change for next time? Regardless…on Monday you can get right back on track. See the learned initiative was that if you “fell of the wagon” rather than just eating yourself to oblivion you slowly change your mind set to having an internal shut-off. Perhaps this time you consumed 2200 calories and that’s okay because you stop there with the idea that, “that’s enough and it was good but I’m stopping there because if I continue to indulge it’ll only make me feel (literally) worse/gross and 2200 calories is way better than the 3000 I would’ve consumed at this bar mitzvah six months ago.”
Yes, exercise was obviously part of this as well but I admit with two young children and a full-time and part-time job exercise was probably where I faltered the most. I chose the route of fewer calories less exercise, but most individuals find a happy balance of both. I was however logging all of my energy output i.e. chasing children lifting the baby, carrying her around the store, walking across campus, etc. and all of these things counted toward my exercise goal.
The final count
By June 1 I weighed my lowest weight since I was 12 and I began to get the negative feedback and raised eyebrows from people. Admittedly at 5’5 this was too small. I have a self-imposed 5lb rule and I am trying to find more time to exercise with the stress of life it can be hard. The BEST thing I learned from this program that all individuals, regardless of size or weight, should find is a lifestyle and love of food that is healthy and natural that doesn’t make you feel regret or that ever-awful grossness that junk food can do to us. Of course I have my days where all I want is chocolate and emotional stress can cause anyone to just indulge but I have learned to stop eating and overeating because I’m bored and to take the approach of my Italian background, enjoy my meals. Savor the freshness and indulge in family dinners at home and cook with TLC makes each ingredient count and makes me feel good on the inside. Learning to live this way took months but I am happy to say that over a year later I still have this mindset and while there have been times I have gone upwards but I can spend some time getting myself back down and not for a single day did I feel as though I was on a “diet” it was a lifestyle change I didn’t realize I would be making and I am so happy that I did.