After I had both my kids, I did Weight Watchers. Throughout last summer, I played with being grain and gluten free. I’ve done South Beach (for a second) and I’ve gone meat-free (for about two seconds). I’ve read a bunch of books, I’ve started gung-ho into a new way of eating, only to end up shoving whatever the “bad” food was into my pie-hole.
In December of last year, when I first started training for my marathon, I decided to eat for fuel. I focused on food that would help me be a better runner. I had set myself an ambitious goal of speed and endurance, and I knew that night time binges of ice cream (and then guilt) wasn’t going to get me there.
Weight fell off me, literally. I mean, I’m not a large woman and didn’t have a lot of weight to lose, but about seven pounds fell off in a couple months. But more importantly, I felt really good. About myself, because my pants were looser, sure, but I felt more… awake.
I can tell you how sugar is so bad for you or how you should avoid fast food and processed food, but I don’t know that “showing” works. Often it just leaves a sense of guilt and failure in people because they do eat processed foods and fast food.
The biggest change I’ve noticed since changing the way I eat is the way I feel about food. I read somewhere that you can’t “earn” food. You can’t eat a huge brownie and then go for a run and consider it gone. Calorie-wise, sure the math works, but food fuels our body and if you put garbage in (or empty calories, as I prefer to look at them), then you don’t get optimal results. And I don’t just mean in your physical activity, I mean in life. Energy level wise.
Anyway, I’m not into converting people, so I’ll just tell my story that I had come here to tell and then be done with it.
On Sunday we had a blow-out party for the girls’ birthdays (May 26 and June 14, so we’ve always just had a combined party in our backyard). After everyone left and we scrubbed the kids and tossed them into bed an hour early (crazy energy + bouncy castle = exhausted), Steve and I loaded up bowls with pound cake, ice cream and chocolate sauce drizzled all over. I happily chowed down and then we watched a silly romantic comedy and my belly was bloated and I was satisfied. And then yesterday morning I was a holy terror. I woke up with a pounding headache and in a sour mood. I was actually kind of in a frump most of the day. I went for a 1k swim and tidied the house and then worked on some research I’m doing for a prof and I ate really well. Last night, I had a bowl of fresh berries topped with Cool Whip. This morning I woke in a good mood. Patient with the kids, I made Steve his lunch with one hand and fed the kids with the other. And didn’t snap at anyone.
It’s all the proof I need that what I eat affects how I feel. It affects my mood, my mental state, the way I talk to myself, my sex drive, you name it. That’s not to say that I never eat cake or chips or ice cream or a huge bag of popcorn at the movies or that I never have a Gin and Tonic on the porch, but it is to say that since I truly realized that these foods are empty calories with no real benefit or fuel, that have changed from something I can’t have (and all the intense desire and guilt that tags along with deprivation) to something I don’t usually want.