Over the past year I have become obsessed with being nutritious and healthy. This started because I have had a lifelong affair with food, and a passion for eating. Growing up I never had to worry about what I ate. I was athletic and active. I ate what I wanted and never had to concern myself with losing weight. Then I had two children.
After spending three years devoted to being a mother and housewife, I looked in the mirror one day and barely recognized the person staring back at me. “Is that really what I look like?” I remember thinking to myself. I was heavier than I had ever been, even in the ninth month of both of my pregnancies. That was a year and 40 pounds ago.
I decided right then and there that I needed to make a change. A friend and I teamed up and joined the annual Pound Plunge (a weight loss competition at the beginning of every New Year.) We were going to eat right and exercise. Secretly, I thought if I just exercised I wouldn’t have to diet much. The first three weeks went well. I was down three pounds. I exercised five times a week and at that point hadn’t had to change my diet much to achieve this.
Then I hurt my back. I could no longer exercise due to my injury. If I wanted to continue to lose weight in this competition I had to really change the way I was eating, there was no way around it. My favorite meal is chicken-fried steak with homemade gravy and mashed potatoes. Also, I have the worst sweet tooth. Dessert is my downfall. I started to worry because I had never watched what I ate. I had never cared how many calories something had in it. Now, in order to lose weight I was going to have to choose my foods based on calories and not on what I wanted.
My changes, at first, seemed major. I cut out sugar from my diet. I also cut out all white processed breads and pastas and replaced it with 100% whole grain breads and pastas. I started eating lots of fruit and vegetables. I ate more lean proteins like chicken, ground turkey, and fish over the fatty red meat I was used to. I was eating more beans than I ever had before (I now make a mean homemade veggie burger). I quit eating out. I didn’t drink alcohol. I started drinking tons of water and green tea. It seemed difficult at first but as time went on it wasn’t hard to eat this way because the foods I was eating I enjoyed very much -- and I was losing weight. I felt great. Eating this way was no longer the consequence for being overweight.
It took me six months to lose all the extra weight solely by changing my diet. I felt better than ever. I slowly started reintroducing things into my diet that previously I wouldn’t even touch. Now, if I want a cookie, I will enjoy a cookie. I just won’t eat ten. I eat what I want just in moderation. I truly believe that is the key to maintaining, and not gaining, weight. I couldn’t deprive myself forever for the things I love, like cheesecake, and no one should have to.
A year later I have managed to maintain my weight loss. I haven’t gained back a single pound. I made this change in my diet a routine, a habit. I don’t even have to think about it, it just comes naturally to me. Now when I look in the mirror I remember that you can have your cake and eat it, too.