Thursday, January 21, 2010

You Are What You Eat

I don't think I've ever met another woman who wasn't concerned on some level about her appearance. Even those women you see eating greasy fast food who look like they might blow away with the next strong breeze worry that they're too skinny. While I was working at GNC during college I used to be amazed at the number of women who would come in wanting to know how they could put on a little weight. It's easy to say you'd rather have that problem than the frustrating extra 10 pounds you've been trying to get rid of forever, but I'm sure they would just as quickly trade as you would. No matter how perfect a woman may look on the cover of a magazine or in a perfect pair of jeans, she is, in fact, human and not as perfect as you think. I think we've all heard the stories about the beautiful actress or model seeing herself on the cover of a magazine and not recognizing her own picture or wishing she looked like that.
There are about a million different fad diets and theories about the best way to loose weight, diet supplements, gyms on every corner (right next to the McDonalds), personal trainers, group classes, weight and cardio machines, cardio theaters (my personal fav), and an endless selection of exercise videos and home gym equipment. So why is America among the top 10 fattest nations in the world?? I am no doctor or nutritionist, but I think it's pretty safe to say that if you put garbage in your body you will either feel like garbage, look like garbage, or both.
Because I'm not one of the lucky(or unlucky depending on your perspective) ones with a freakishly high metabolism who can eat whatever I want and still fit into a size 2, I have spent most of my adult life learning about the best and worst ways to loose weight and take better care of my body. Until recently being "skinny" was the priority and I either just assumed or ignored for a long time that being skinny was equivalent to being healthy. In reality though, that is not the case. There are plenty of really unhealthy ways to loose weight. The Atkins diet for one. I hope I don't have to explain how a diet that won't allow you to eat whole grains and fruit but will allow you to eat bacon and other meats high in saturated fat is supposed to be healthy no matter how much weight you loose. Again, I'm not a doctor, but I'm not an idiot either and I'm proud to say I never fell for that one. I do know some people who lost weight on it, but they gained it all back so if that's not proof enough... The problem with "fad" diets like Atkins is um...they don't work. Americans, well overweight people everywhere I'm sure, are so bent on finding a way to loose weight that will allow them to still eat whatever crap they want that they'll believe anyone who makes that promise without using their own common sense or doing a teeny bit of research to find out how it will affect their body. There are plenty of other unhealthy ways to loose weight besides the atkins diet. I have tried some that I am now ashamed to admit. Diet pills and not eating top the list. I at least had done enough research to know that the basic formula for weight loss is calories in-calories out=weight loss or weight gain. Easy enough, I started eating 500 or less calories a day and excercising for several hours. I did loose weight, but the lack of any real nutrition and rapid weight loss let to a handful of other health problems (thankfully not permanent). I've tried other things in between, some worked and some didn't, but what I finally learned is that weight loss has to be a side effect of getting healthy and making permanent changes in order to last. Getting skinny by whatever means necessary does not make you healthy. My most recent research has led me to a total lifestyle change I never thought I would even consider embracing. After 2 weeks though it has stuck (so far), and while it hasn't been easy it hasn't been impossible and I finally feel like I am taking good care of this one body I have been given.
A couple weeks ago I happened acroos the book Skinny Bitch. I tend to be pretty old fashioned, so I was a little offended by the language in the book and there were some things I didn't agree with, but aside from that it was really interesting. I try not to believe everything I read, so I plan to continue to do furter research (which I hope to share with you as I go). But I did decide to do a few things right away. I'll explain a little now and elaborate later...
I gave up diet coke. I used to drink 2 or more diet cokes a day. I knew they weren't necessarily "healthy" but I was sort of in denial about how unhealthy it really is. More about that later...I have had one fountain diet coke per week the last 2 weeks and it hasn't been nearly as hard as I expected.
I stopped eating meat. I thought this would be much harder than it actually has been, but I can't think of one time in the last few weeks I've even felt a little tempted.
I'm not eating any other animal products either, at least mostly. Ok I'm not joining PETA or anything. This is primarily about taking better care of my body and secondarily about poor treatment of factory farmed animals. It will probably be a long while before I master the art of eating nothing with eggs or dairy in it, I may never. But I have been very careful, primarily staying away from eggs, cheese, and milk right now.
Buying organic - I actually started this several months ago. If you buy nothing else organic for whatever reason, you should at least consider buying all organic animal products, then, if you're so inclined, check out these links for the dirty dozen foods you should buy organic and top ten foods you don't need to buy organic. Again, I'll try to elaborate later
Limiting or cutting out refined sugar - cutting it out altogether is hard, but more because it's hard to find products that don't use it than because I crave it. Natural sweeteners are just as satisfying. I must clarify that I have not given up chocolate!! I have found several organic dark chocolate bars that use no milk fat or refined sugar that are ammmmazing :) And I have a little almost daily :)
I feel great, I've lost 7 pounds in 2 weeks, and I know I'm putting things in my body that are beneficial (even the chocolate has monounsaturated fats and, believe it or not, fiber). I think the most important thing I have gained from reading this book is the mentality that I am choosing to give up (or limit) things that are bad for me because it's what's best for my body rather than having the attitude that I am "not allowed" to have certain things because I'm "dieting"
I really hope I'm able to find the time to share more of what I'm learning with you, but based on my incosistency with blogging in the past I will make no promises :)

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