I’ve never shared much about the history of my eating habits and weight fluctuations, so I decided it was about time.
I grew up on a family farm where my parents raised corn, soybeans, and hogs. We had three square meals a day and everything was made from scratch. Our evening meals typically included meat (pork or beef), potatoes, and corn–or a hotdish. Oh, and I can’t forget dessert, which was always part of the meal! My parents are extremely active performing manual labor and being on their feet all day, which also meant us kids (I have two younger siblings–a brother and a sister.) were always helping our parents or playing outside. With all this activity, gaining extra weight wasn’t something we worried about.
In college, I quickly chose my double major of physical education and health education which sparked my interest to eat fairly healthy and keep exercising (primarily running). My foods choices at meals usually included whole grain carbs, fruit, and vegetables. I ran on the cross country and track teams, so I was very active. I don’t remember weighing myself regularly, but if anything, I gained just a few pounds.
After college was when I really started to experience how easy the pounds can creep on. I was on my own for the first time, living by myself, and teaching high school p.e. I continued to run 5-6 times per week, but I ate a lot and didn’t eat the right percentage of carbs, fats, and proteins. I remembered my college coach telling us that we could (and should) eat as much as we wanted, so I continued to have that mentality and gorging on quite a bit of food–especially carbs!! Cereal. Granola Bars. Bread. They were quick and simple, and I loved them!
I still continued to eat fruits and vegetables as well, but protein was scarce and vegetables weren’t as abundant as they should be. The scale started climbing to nearly 140 pounds–a 10 pound gain since college. I started feeling the weight gain when I walked as my “love handles” shook and my thighs would rub together uncomfortably when I ran. I knew I did not want to continue down this path, so I started to eat less food overall and increase my protein and vegetable intake in order to lose the 10 pounds I had gained.
Over the last three years, my weight has fluctuated 3-5 pounds, but any time the numbers on the scale start to creep up too much, I make sure to watch my caloric intake a little more.
These are some of my “rules” I live by in order to keep my weight in check:
– Small portion sizes. I seriously have the smallest portions of food. I will often eat only 1/2 of a sandwich, 1/2 – 3/4 cup cereal, 1/2 of a bagel, or cut a piece of pie/cake in half again. This way I am still able to have the food item but not overdo it. Then I can reevaluate if I am still hungry or not.
– I listen to my body. If I am hungry, I eat; if I am not, I don’t eat. We all know this is what we are supposed to do, but deciphering if we are truly hungry or not can be the challenge.
– I make sure to eat about 3 servings of fruit and 3 servings of vegetables each day, protein at each meal, and keep my carbs in check.
– I will often chew gum or brush my teeth after I am done eating. When I do this, I am no longer tempted to eat because I don’t want to dirty my clean mouth. (This is done after I know I have had enough to eat and want to curb the urge to eat more.)
– Drinking lots of water. I realize there is controversy whether it is necessary to drink large amounts of water, but I feel so much better/healthier/cleaner when I drink a lot of water. It can’t hurt, right? My water bottle goes everywhere with me. If I forget my cell phone when I leave the house, I hardly blink an eye, but if I forget my water bottle I feel naked!
It seems as though almost everyone struggles with their weight these days. Plus, our society doesn’t make it very conducive to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight–food is everywhere and it is cheap–we are busy and on the go all the time! We are constantly eating–much of it mindless eating: while driving, working in front of the computer screen, or while watching TV.
Our society also has a very skewed perception on what is considered a healthy/unhealthy weight versus what the doctor terms as overweight or obese. For instance, on Monday, my husband’s doctor declared that Craig is no longer obese!! If you have seen my husband, no one would have considered him obese–that is, no one would have considered him “socially obese,” but according to his BMI, he was 30 pounds overweight which makes him “medically obese.”
For the past couple of months, Craig has been working very hard to lose the extra weight that has crept on over the past few years. He signed up for the Weight Watchers program online, which really showed him how big his portions were and how many calories were in some of his favorite foods: cheese, nachos, and meat.
Since he started Weight Watchers, he has lost about 20 pounds.
After – July 2010
Craig also has high blood pressure, so losing the excess weight was a motivation to try to bring his blood pressure down and not be dependent on his medication. We found out Monday, he no longer has to take his morning dose of blood pressure medication! (He does still take his evening dosage, but it is all about baby steps.)
Please don’t fall into these fad diets, you need to make changes that you can continue to do the rest of your life–not just for a few months until the weight comes off and then go right back to your previous habits.
Changes can be made! No, it won’t be easy, but the benefits are so worth it!