A few years ago I hit my forties. They didn’t body slam me like I thought they would, but they definitely threw my frontal lobe for a loop. After some rational thought and loving words from my devoted husband, I recovered, and actually began to enjoy my journey into the 4th decade. Until a few things happened in quick succession:
- I quit smoking.
- I required surgery which included partial removal of my spine and a very, very long recovery. (FYI, I’m fine, fully recovered and right as rain, knock wood).
- Because of #2, I was unable to exercise, on any level for over one year. An occasional trip to the gym, slow walks and an occasional bike ride were happening, but my intense running and cardio sessions became nonexistent.
Results? Not good. Not good at all. Over the course of the last 2 years I gained 25 pounds. I am slightly vertically challenged, measuring just 5 foot 3 inches (almost!), so a 25 pound increase is a very big deal, and not pretty. Despite my honest embrace of getting older (it beats the alternative any day), my vanity is strong enough that this current event did not sit well with me.
I didn’t notice the weight gain at first. It was gradual, and spending the majority of my days in sweatpants and hoodies tended to mask the ever growing girth. And then my favorite jeans started to get a little bitty tight. I knew then I had put on a few. But it wasn’t until I went to my doctor’s office for a check up, got on the scale and saw the three numbers that did NOT make my day. One Forty Three.
One Forty Three? As in 143? Me? Hello? Uh, this thing must be broken. I usually hover around 120. Ack! Jesus, Mary and Joseph, this was bad. Very, very bad.
I returned home and tried to figure out how I was going to lose 20+ pounds. Thank the angels, my health was returning, I was getting stronger, and more physical activity was possible. But I didn’t have a plan or dare I say it? Diet plan. God, I hate that word. Diet.
diet 1 |ˈdī-it|nounthe kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats : a vegetarian diet | a specialist in diet.• a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons : I’m going on a diet.• [as adj. ] (of food or drink) with reduced fat or sugar content : diet soft drinks.
As one who doesn’t eat to live, but lives to eat, this could prove difficult. I mean, I will sit down for breakfast and plan my menu for lunch and dinner, people. I love all that is pork. Fried pork is even better. Hell, let’s be honest. Fried anything is fabulous. I would probably even eat fried cardboard and love it. I’m not too big on sugar, but butter? I’d bathe in the stuff. Bread? Check. Cheese? Certainly. Foie gras? Oui. Carnitas? Por que no?
Luckily, I also love ‘good for you food’. Fruit, vegetables, salad and the like. But seriously, if I had a choice between hash browns and muesli, come on.
And yet. My ego was screaming in my ear louder than the thunderous demand for potato chips, so I began my next food journey. Eating less. Less pork. Less red meat. Less cheese. Less fat. No processed sugar. No refined carbs, which basically if it’s white, it’s a refined carb. Exceptions are cauliflower and root vegetables I think, but everything else white, I just avoided. I ate endless amounts of vegetables, fruits and salads, along with lean fish, chicken (no skin!), and lots of water. Oh, and whole grains, like lentils, beans, tempeh, sprouted bread and oatmeal became staples in my daily meals. Non of this “carbs are the devil” crap, I mean seriously! Oh, and I refused to give up wine too. I didn’t quit smoking so that I could live longer and be completely miserable folks, I just won’t do it.
I started moving more. I started sweating again. My nightly routine of snacking in bed while watching a movie with the DH came to a screeching halt. I know. I was in the zone. And because I have thankfully learned a thing or two over the years, I knew I wouldn’t lose the weight quickly or painlessly. I also could not imagine my days consuming boneless, skinless chicken breasts cooked in a non-stick skillet with PAM, and steamed, flavorless broccoli. Just shoot me now.
Thankfully, my knowledge of food and cooking has been my salvation. Herbs are good. The freshest produce and fish are highly flavorful with nothing more than some fresh herbs, good olive oil, sea salt and pepper, and a toss on the grill or a fiery pan (hold the butter). A little goat cheese and some almonds tossed in a salad are a joy to behold. Oven roasted potatoes (skin ON), flavored with your favorite herbs and some olive oil are heavenly. And using fat free plain yogurt instead of mayo for the most part is sheer genius.
But, you don’t have to be a chef to eat well. I’ll be posting some of my favorite healthy recipes soon, and some good tips for any of you who might need a little help and cheering along. You can also shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, or recipe makeover help!
So far I’ve dropped almost 20 pounds, 2 sizes and inches all around. I feel better, I have more energy and honestly? I really don’t miss the bacon all that much. And occasionally I still splurged on a gorgeous piece of prosciutto or a chunk of country sausage. I just don’t go whole hog.