This whole Marie-Claire Gate over the past two days has really got me thinking. Thanks to the chatter around the blogger community about healthy living habits (and what is not healthy but pretending to be), I’ve been thinking about what I do and why I do it. I know I want a healthy, long life but am I doing the right things? I feel like, for the first time in my life, I am doing what I need to be doing.
I grew up a chubby kid. No bones about it, I was carrying some extra weight. I never felt badly about it because my mother loved me and the rest of my friends and family didn’t care about my weight. Then middle school hit – I honestly think that middle school is the worst three years of a kid’s life. I dread the day I have children that have to suffer through middle school. Kids are just mean.
I moved right before high school, ditched my glasses for contacts, and got rid of my bangs. (Those suckers used to congregate on either side of my head and curl out earning me the nickname of “little dutch girl.”)
Oh yes, my bangs mimicked that hat. It was brutal.
Anyway, high school did me some good. I met a group of friends with similar goals and interests. And, I found that I didn’t care quite so much what other people thought of me but I still had a little extra weight.
In college, I hit my stride. I loved the people I was around, I loved my school, my classes interested me, I joined a sorority with a fantastic group of women that (surprisingly!!) never once pressured me to not eat, work out more, be skinny. They embraced me and loved me. College was awesome!
As I’ve mentioned before, I graduated from college and moved to DC for grad school. After four years of a meal plan (with an awesome salad bar), I had no idea what to do in a kitchen. If you couldn’t microwave it or simply fix it by boiling water, it was not gonna happen for me. Couple that with a new grad school schedule, strange eating times, missed work outs and a new relationship (Hubs!), I gained a lot of weight in the first six months of living in DC.
My clothes weren’t fitting and I was not happy. I didn’t know what to do really – working out wasn’t shedding any weight. I wasn’t eating well and that was holding me back. So I joined Weight Watchers and immediately started seeing results. In about a year, I lost 30 pounds. But then I started to think about what I was doing.
Weight Watchers is built around points and aims to teach portion sizes. Really, what it taught me was how to “get by.” My diet was almost entirely processed: Lean Cuisine for lunch? Check. Snacks entirely composed of 100 calorie packs? Yup! Packaged, packaged, packaged. Oh, and desserts? Weight Watchers is “who” taught me to sabotage desserts – not healthy living blogs. (Those blogs told me that moderation was key. You can have what you want, just don’t over do it!) Yes, I had lost weight, but I started to wonder about what I was putting in my body. Weight Watchers had me picking processed foods over fruits because of a point value. I knew that wasn’t right.
About that time I found healthy living blogs and the meals these women were creating looked amazing. And they looked like something I could do! I mean, they put it all out there step by step and with pictures. I spent so much time reading these blogs, soaking up ideas, and trying things out. I learned about oats and yogurt with fruit and granola for breakfast. I experimented with new foods and roasted every vegetable I could get my hands on. Oh, and I started running! Their pictures and posts about races made me want to give it a shot. I’m so glad I did.
I finally feel like I’m doing things right. I enjoy working out and I make efforts to vary my work outs and partner up with friends to keep me honest. I listen to my body and push myself. I eat good things: whole foods, organic food, food that I can trace back to its source, good energy building foods. I eat because I enjoy food and because I need to properly fuel my body. Yes, I do try to approximate my daily caloric intake and avoid certain foods because I am trying to lose weight.
Why do I do all of these things? Why do I feel like I’m in the best “healthy” place I’ve ever been? I want to lose weight so that my BMI is smack in the middle of the healthy range so that I don’t increase my risk for disease. I eat good things because I like the way they taste and because they provide my body the best fuel possible. I exercise to push myself, make myself excel, and because I enjoy the endorphins and mood boost from a good work out.
I want to meet my great grandchildren. I want a long life with my husband. When I go on vacations, I want to climb mountains, walk through cities, and not worry about limitations because of my weight and health. When Hubs and I decide we want kids, I want to have the healthiest pregnancy I possibly can.
I am not perfect though. I think balance and moderation are the key to not going insane. I love happy hours – beer is something I definitely enjoy. I fear no dessert – I will eat any and all of them. I enjoy going out to eat and fully understand that most restaurants are not worried about how much butter they’re using. I do feel guilty when I skip a work out – but not because I’m not burning the calories. I feel guilty because I’m not pushing myself. If there’s anything I love more than dessert and beer, it’s a challenge.
So, I choose to look at a healthy lifestyle as a challenge. I love finding and trying new recipes (so many thanks to Hubs for teaching me to cook). Working out lifts my spirits and pushing my body farther is a wonderful feeling. Getting back a clean bill of health from my doctors – I love that too. So, for the first time in my life, I feel like I’ve been on the right track for the past year or two. I am happy and healthy and I feel wonderful! Thanks for being a part of all the learning and growing I’ve been doing.
And, I promise I’ll return to my “regular programming” of books, runs, eats, and shenanigans soon. Okay, deep thinking over – thanks for listening!