Several months ago, my doctor sat me down and told me I had to lose weight. If not, I’d be in for some serious trouble down the road. At the time, I was 5’1 (still am, no amount of diet and exercise will help me grow taller, unfortunately) and weighed 190 pounds. According to my BMI, I was morbidly obese.
To have your doctor tell you you’re morbidly obese is rough. I didn’t feel obese. I play with my kids, walk an average of 5–8 kilometres a day, and am generally an active person. I like vegetables—how could I be an unhealthy person? But the numbers weren’t lying.
My clothes were feeling tight and awkward on my body, and by the end of the night, I’d be feeling physically drained.
After my conversation with the doc, it took me a few more months of denial before I knew I had to make some changes. I’ve always had issues with weight. It’s not an easy thing to admit because, well, we all want to be perfect.
But since I was a teen, I’d find myself emotionally eating in times of stress and heartache. We all know how much heartache teenagers go through, so this was a time that set a real precedent with my relationship to food.
Eating, almost manically so, made me feel safe, and it would give me that little boost of serotonin that I needed to get through the bad patches. The problem with emotional eating is that I wasn’t being mindful of what I was putting in my body. I would lie to myself while draped over the couch, saying that it wasn’t that bad to eat an entire bag of family-size chips because I had gone for a walk that afternoon.
Denial is one cold, hard bitch.
The linchpin to reverse these bad habits came without warning. Except I did have a warning from my doctor, a medical professional. I noticed that my children, who don’t have weight issues but could be predisposed to them, were beginning to adopt my inactive demeanour. They would complain about going for walks or playing outside. They would park themselves in front of the television and stay there for hours.
They, like me, would make excuses for their laziness. They were drawing while watching TV. Similarly, I was in front of the computer because I was working. I realized that I had to be a positive role model.
It was up to me to set the pattern for a happy, healthy lifestyle.
I’ve crashed dieted before. And although I’d lose 10–15 pounds initially (in a matter of weeks sometimes), I’d find the weight returning quickly. I wanted to do things differently this time.
Rather than a quick fix, I wanted to create a lifestyle I could stick with.
I still eat. I am not, nor will I ever be, a steamed broccoli and broiled chicken for every meal type of person. My husband is a chef, and I am a baker. I love rich foods.
It wasn’t the food that I was eating. Although we do appreciate sumptuous meals now and then, we are home cooks through and through. I can’t remember the last time I ate a fast food lunch or anything prepackaged. It was the quantity and times at which I was eating that was the real problem.
I did a ton of research into intermittent fasting and found that this was something I could easily incorporate into my life. Using the 16–8 model, one fasts for 16 hours of the day and has 8 hours in which to consume their daily caloric intake.
I usually eat dinner around 5:30–6 p.m. After dinner is when I start my fast. No longer do I find myself getting a snack at 10:30 at night, and by this, I mean stuffing my face with the five-cent candies my husband brings home for when he (a naturally thin person) wants a treat.
If I am finished eating by 6 p.m., I break my fast at 10 a.m.. I’ll admit the first few weeks were tough not to eat breakfast immediately upon waking. But it made me better appreciate the food I am putting into my body.
Instead of eating that leftover pizza for breakfast, I eat a slice of homemade bread, an egg, and some veggies instead. I feel much better throughout the day!
Stay Accountable To The Calories
I’m not calorie-counting, exactly. As mentioned previously, I wanted to begin habits that would carry through as a permanent fixture. So rather than weighing each piece of food I consume and vigilantly scanning every barcode of boxed food I eat, instead, I am keeping a food journal.
Since COVID, most of our food is homemade, so I don’t have access to my meal’s exact caloric intake, and the thought of breaking each foodstuff down to determine its calories seems too monotonous.
I downloaded an app that I can record my meals and any snacks into, and it gives me a roundabout number of calories that specific food consists of. It’s not exact, but it gives me a baseline of what I am eating and, more importantly, keeps me accountable.
Likewise, I record my calorie output. If I go for an uphill hike with the dog, I register it in my app. It gives me the number of calories I have burned on such a walk and adds it to my caloric bank for the day.
Choose to move!
It is so easy to fall into a sedentary lifestyle in today’s day and age. We can order food to our door while binge-watching our favorite shows on Netflix for hours on end.
These choices trap us by calling themselves luxuries. For the past month, I have chosen to move more. I walk the dog three times a day (she’s so happy about it).
I park further away from the grocery store doors to get some more steps in for the day.
If I want to go down to the pub for a beer with some friends, which I still love to do, I walk instead of getting a cab. Now getting up and moving has started to become natural, and it doesn’t feel like that hard of work at all.
Remember what the tortoise says: slow and steady wins the race.
Eat! But make conscious decisions of what and when you are eating.
Be accountable. Use a tracking app to stay responsible for how much you are moving and consuming.
Move. Give your body a chance to exercise the way it was meant to.
Most importantly, I’ve shifted my ideas on why a new healthy lifestyle is essential. No longer am I on a quest only to lose weight for appearance’s sake; instead, it is health, happiness, and life’s longevity that keeps me moving forward.