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Age one, I sucked the milk from the hard plastic bottle until it collapsed, threw it across the room at my Daddy, and listened to it squeal as it gasped for air. More. I want more.
And so began my love affair with food. A love/hate relationship to be sure. If someone was eating, I wanted in. Gimme some of that. Especially the cake, yeah, just a little bit bigger slice if you please.
Now, to be fair, I was not an obese child. A little chubby at times. My sister called me “fatty bread” when she wanted to hear me whine to Mama. It was more aggravation than truth. But don’t get too down on her now, she’s my biggest fan and I am her cheerleader. Just look at that curly haired muffin! My hair is still unruly as ever!
I say this so you know I understand…you don’t have to be significantly overweight to have food issues. I thought about food most of my waking hours, and then fell asleep and dreamt of cheesy burgers. I would wake up mid-chomp! My thoughts were: when am I gonna eat next, what am I gonna eat next, is the person fixing the food gonna have it done in time before I perish?
Fast forward to teenage and then grown up years, and I can sum up my body’s metabolism in one word: fatigue. To look at me, I seemed perfectly fine. But I always felt a nap coming on!
Then, I had two babies and no energy to play. More. I wanted more for my life.
I decided I wanted to feel comfortable in my own skin. I wanted to have control over my food, not have it control me. So the journey began. And I have found more peace on my plate than I’d ever imagined. I want that same peace for you too. I hear your struggles. You tell them to me all the time. I hear your questions. You ask them often and I try to respond with the knowledge I have gained and the amount of time given.
That is why I began this blog. To truly reach those who want to live a healthier, more energetic life. To help people have peace with their food, with their bodies.
Here are some of the steps I took that may help you to get closer to your health goals as well:
- Get moving.
One of the first things I did was to start a running program. I use the term running loosely. I’m as slow as a turtle slogging through peanut butter. But hey, forward is a pace. When I first began, I couldn’t run a whole minute without stopping. In 2015 I ran a full marathon, 26.2 miles. Today, I do maintenance walking and jogging. I am here to tell you, you can do it. Be it walking, jogging, swimming, biking, aerobics, whatever your doctor says is acceptable. You can do it if this poor, sluggish turtle can.
I found something I loved, and I kept at it. If you absolutely dread those Zumba sessions, then find something else. Find something you look forward to. Not everyone craves the same exercise. My husband and kids are athletic and love team sports. Team sports give me social anxiety! Do what you love, not what people tell you to love.
I also decided that small bursts of exercise were not enough to get my whole metabolism to change for the better. So I got up and moved whenever I could. Outside waiting for church to start, I walked around the perimeter of the church yard. Be sure to stop and smell a flower or two along the way if you try this so people don’t think you’re crazy, pacing around the church yard! On my job, I walked papers where they needed to go instead of emailing for a response. My body got used to being in motion and began to crave it.
- Think quality, not quantity.
This goes for both exercise and food. When you get on that bike or put on those running shoes, give it your all. When you get comfortable with an exercise routine, increase the intensity just a little and keep it just out of your comfort zone. My mantra: “My legs don’t hurt, that’s just my feeble mind!” And most of the time it was true. My legs didn’t hurt. It was my mental muscle that was fatigued and I had to power on through.
With food, I cannot stress enough the importance of eating a balanced diet. Make the majority of the foods you eat contain some sort of nutritional value. My breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack foods contain lots of vegetables, fruit, protein and whole grains. It keeps me full a whole lot longer. Let me be clear. I refuse to go around hungry. I eat foods that keep me satisfied.
If they don’t contain a good amount of nutritional value, they are thought of as a treat, and only eaten once in a while. The best trick I had for deciding if I should indulge was, “Is it spectacular?” Not good, but spectacular. Homemade treats or desserts that I couldn’t just go to the grocery store and pick up on a whim, were deemed spectacular. Plain old store-bought chocolate chip cookies? Nope. Not spectacular. This mindset helped me feel like I wasn’t missing out by avoiding treats altogether, but I was the one who had control over the treats I put in my mouth, not them controlling me.
- Lay off the sugar, at least for a while.
I went cold turkey off processed sugar as well as sugar substitutes. For almost four years I did not eat anything that had more than four grams of processed sugar in it. After a while I didn’t miss it. That’s why I just kept on going as long as I did. While this is a stretch for many, you don’t have to go that far to see some positive effects of ditching sugar. Processed sugar is not a necessity for the average person. Carbohydrates can be found naturally in fruits and vegetables and most whole grain items have less than four grams of added sugar. So I did not leave out any food groups. What I did leave behind was the addiction I had to sugar.
A more moderate approach may be to leave off added sugars for a few weeks in order to re-set the palate. It took me about two weeks to not miss the taste of sugary foods. To my surprise, natural sugars tasted so much sweeter, especially those in milk and fruits.
- Don’t keep temptation in the house.
Once I learned how to shop for nourishing foods, I decided I didn’t need constant temptation staring me in the face. I learned what my trigger foods were and just didn’t buy them. It is much easier to resist temptation at the store than once it is in the home.
That doesn’t mean the cupboards are bare. It just means that now when I want a snack, I have to get up and fix it, not just pop open a package. But it usually takes all of thirty seconds to do so with whole food ingredients, so it’s not a major time suck.
- Think of food as fuel.
This is not an action, but a change in mindset. One of the most important, I might add. When I changed my mind about how I view the food I eat, it freed me to choose more wisely. When I view food as fuel for my body, I weigh more heavily whether a food will give me the energy I need. Empty calories won’t allow me to work, play and serve others. That’s why those empty calories should be only a very small portion of our diets, and not every day.
- Pray to have peace with your food.
Talk to God about your health journey. He cares. No, I don’t mean, “Lord, please make me skinny!” Hahaha. I had the overwhelming sense that I was not able to do what God had planned for my life because of the way I ate and lack of exercise that led to my fatigue. So I talked to Him about it.
For me, this journey has never been about vanity. Yes, I want to be beautiful in the eyes of my husband. But beyond that, I want to feel good and glorify God. I was putting my own self in a position to not be able to live every day to serve Him. The Lord intended for food to be nourishment for our bodies, not a stronghold.
I chose to make healthy living a lifestyle choice. I do not diet. If you’re looking for a quick fix, this is not that website. If you are trying to change the way you think about food and exercise and embrace them as tools for living a life you love, then welcome. Let’s encourage each other.
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