Finding Harmony

Changing how I eat has been a great learning experience for me and my stomach. I’ve been able to think about it differently, too, now that I’ve found new foods that I love and are so much healthier for me.

I find that in a lot of ways, with eating especially, people tend to focus on what they’re not having. It’s about restriction and sacrifice in order to meet a goal. Really, isn’t that what most fad diets are? Keto is focused on not having carbs. Low-fat diets are focused on not eating any fat at all. Paleo focuses on eliminating anything a caveman wouldn’t have eaten (processed foods, breads, etc.).

For certain, everyone’s diet is made up of things that they do eat and things that they don’t. It’s just become glowingly apparent to me recently that focusing on what I’m not having isn’t helpful for me. I actually stopped even worrying about what I wasn’t eating a few weeks ago. Menus at restaurants got a little smaller based on what I AM eating and it’s ended up being easier to choose what to order. I’ve been learning so much about what makes me feel good that all I want is to pick those things.

I really think that this is the best thing I’ve learned over my journey so far. It’s not about what I’m not having. It’s all about finding a balance, a harmony, with what really feeds my body and what I enjoy eating.

So what if I’m not really eating dairy? I’m pretty sure it makes me bloated and no one needs that. Plus, I had a yogurt today and it was pretty gross so no thanks.

Sometimes I don’t eat meat at all. I’m cool with it (a meal can be complete without animals, for what it’s worth). I’m not running around and calling myself vegetarian or vegan or anything but I’m fine with not having meat. I haven’t had any today, in fact.

I feel like in this process of elimination, I’ve really been able to discover a plethora of foods that I had been ignoring. Like vegetables and whole grains and fruit smoothies and muffins that are so hippie it hurts. So maybe that’s why I don’t want to focus on the things I’m not eating. I really love what I am eating, and isn’t that the part that matters most?

The Start of my Food Revolution

My stomach has been pretty mad lately. It’s been rumbling and swelling with every meal that I’ve ingested. I’m blaming my bout of salmonella food poisoning last summer for the sudden changes in my digestive tolerance. The research that I’ve read on the digestive system after a significant illness indicates that prolonged stomach sensitivity  is quite common.

While that is possibly comforting psychologically, it doesn’t quite help the fact that I’ve been bloated and uncomfortable and unsure of exactly what I was eating that my stomach could no longer tolerate.

The digestive problems combined with my growing waistline led me to seek some food guidance. Luckily, one of my yoga instructors, Abby Thompson, also doubles as a healthy eating coach so I joined on with her to fix my eating and weed out what is causing my discomfort so I can eat smarter going forward. She provided some guidelines and many recipes to get me started.

I started a mere five days ago on this journey of eliminating dairy, refined sugars, gluten, caffeine, and alcohol.

(Yeah. That’s a lot to eliminate all at once. I know. But I needed something drastic and this was it.)

Five days ago, I weighed 166 pounds and felt bloated and lethargic. But today, I’m at 162 pounds and feeling much happier. My bloat has practically run away screaming from all of the veggies I’ve been eating and my stomach, if it could, would be smiling at me and sending thank you notes.

There was a very difficult hump to get over during the end of Tuesday and all of Wednesday. I’m guessing that it was my withdrawal from refined sugars and included very intense cravings for sugar and bread right along with a headache that just wouldn’t go away.

But with sleep, more veggies, and an amazing chocolate pudding made from coconut milk, dates, cocoa powder, and vanilla, I got over the hump on Thursday and woke up feeling like the me that I remember before my stomach started hating what I was putting into it.

I’m not nearly done yet, since this is a four week journey and I haven’t quite finished week one yet, but I’m excited about the things to come and what I’ll learn about my body. I hope that the improvements I’ve seen and felt in these first five days continue to grow and build to lay the foundation for a healthier lifestyle.

The Hardest Thing

Once upon a time, I was fat. It was 2010 when I hit my highest weight of 200 pounds. For a woman measuring only 5’4″, that put me into the obese range.

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Once upon a time, I lost a lot of weight. At my lowest since 2010, I weighed in at a very healthy 147 pounds. Come to think of it, I was around that weight in March of 2012 when my husband and I eloped.

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I’d always thought that losing the weight would be the hardest thing I’d ever done, but that was until I did it. It was hard to start, no question, but when I was in it, it became easy. Like butter. The weight came off a pound or two a week–the healthy way. Steady. I loaded up on veggies and took up running and it was actually fun. I splurged on glasses of wine or sweet treats here and there but I kept doing it because it worked.

And it felt easy once the ball was rolling, like how a slinky just walks down the stairs on its own after you get it started.

I can tell you, that was not the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

That prize goes to the two years I’ve lived since being able to celebrate a 50 pound weight loss. When I was getting to my highest weight (which was happening in college and after graduation), I felt helpless to stop the incessant nudge of the scale upwards and I never thought that I’d feel that way again when I started seeing the scale go down.

In 2012, after I achieved 147 pounds, I held there for a little while, and fluctuated, but never more than five pounds up. I had gained a confidence through weight loss and through visiting a counselor that I don’t think I’d ever had before and I was able to keep moving ahead without much of a slip up.

The scale began to nudge up, if I’m honest, after my break-up with my counselor. She was no longer covered under my insurance and I couldn’t afford to see her anymore. This wasn’t a happy departing on my end and I languished over it, and still do sometimes, because she was wonderful. I was very reluctant to leave the security of her office because in some way, I was also leaving part of me, the stronger woman she helped me to become.

The valuable lessons she taught me about caring for myself in meaningful way slipped. I had relied on her as an outlet for my thoughts and emotions but that was removed. Tough emotions usually make us turn to the things we know and for me, that was food.

The scale was slow to move up, and I would see it and move it back down. This happened a few times in rather small increments. Up five. Back down three. Up three. Back down two. But the ups were always just a little bit bigger than the downs.

And this winter, when I stopped running due to the weather, the downs stopped altogether. And I’m up to a weight that I last saw on my decent in 2011, just about exactly three years ago.

166.

This may not seem horrible but it feels like an important dividing line.

If I’m less than 166, I can fit rather comfortably into a size 10 with no frets. But now I’m truly a size 12 and that’s a problem because I no longer own anything in size 12. I got rid of all my too-big sizes three years ago when I was losing and I vowed not to go back up. I refused to buy a size bigger than a 10.

And now I’m at a crossroads: lose weight or buy a bigger size.

I need to get over this emotional hump and find a place where I’m happy being me again. I need to find a way to feel comfortable in my body again. And I need to fall in love with salads and running again.

If only this wasn’t the hardest thing to do.