Sunday, December 18, 2011

Travels and Some Thoughts About Nutrition

The Eldest finished up her first semester as an official college student on the 9th so we packed up and headed out on a journey to cold northern climes. It was a challenge to pack since we don't really have winter clothes but we got by. Can't let a little thing like that stop you! It was cold the first few days but then it warmed up by the time we left. It was great to see my family. I miss everyone so much- it's hard to live so far away from all of them.

Now that we've returned home I can assess the damage- to my weight, that is! I managed to do OK. I went up a little bit but nothing significant in spite of the fudge I bought in the mountains; now I have to continue the battle to get back down to my goal weight. The holidays and traveling are no excuse! I stopped walking for about a week to a week and a half since we were so busy but I got right back to it today. I feel so much better when I walk every day so it was important to get that going again.

My cousin and I had a great discussion about nutrition while we were visiting. We talked about how important it is to make sure our food is nutrient dense, among other things. After that conversation, DH ran across an article today about how food companies are lying to us. It boils down to this- processed food isn't food at all, it's chemicals made to look like food. (Michael Pollan writes about that quite eloquently.) Our taste buds may not know the difference but our bodies sure do, and if you are consuming empty, non-nutritive calories then your body will just send out the order for MORE, MORE, MORE in an effort to get the nutrients it needs to function properly. You'll only know you're hungry and you'll over eat, but you're still not giving your body what it needs, so you aren't satisfied, so you eat more, and so on. When I gained all the weight in the first place I was eating a "Standard American Diet" (aka SAD), I was stressed out, I wasn't exercising, and I didn't know much of anything about nutrition. I ate junk food, processed food, and fast food on a regular basis and my portions were out of control. I was a mess; it's a wonder I didn't gain even more than I did.

My Nutritional* Influences

I went to Weight Watchers several years before my big weight gain. I gained a little after I graduated from college and wanted to get it off before my wedding, which I did thanks to Weight Watchers. (I walked all over campus when I was in college. Once I graduated and got a regular job I didn't walk everywhere any more and that's all it took.) I learned a little about nutrition from Weight Watchers but not enough, obviously, since I didn't stick with it and gained back all the weight I lost and then some. I still like WW and think they have the best commercial program out there, but it didn't work for me long term. They are a good starting point since they do teach you about portion control and they encourage exercise, which are important components to a weight loss program, but they don't get into the importance of eating REAL food enough. I went on from there. I took a class at a local hospital wellness center on nutrition and weight loss called the LEARN program which was fantastic. I lost some on that program too, but life got in the way and for one reason or another (having babies, problems with my feet that meant I couldn't walk for exercise, etc.) I wasn't able to lose and maintain on that program AT THAT TIME either, but a lot of what that class taught me went into the program I came up with for myself. When The Eldest was little I was involved with La Leche League, a nursing support group that is so much more than just nursing support. They also talked about nutrition for the breastfeeding mom and for your children once they transition to solid food, and one of their main principles was EAT WHOLE FOOD. Sound familiar? Michael Pollan says the same thing, basically. Real food, whole food, whatever name you have for it, it means NOT PROCESSED. Cook from scratch. It's the best thing you can do for your body.

I've also done quite a bit of reading about nutrition. One of the best books I've read is by Brian Wansink called Mindless Eating. He's a researcher who is figuring out why we eat what we eat and you'd be amazed at what he's found out. I first heard about him on a TV show; I can't remember which one, but I was impressed enough that I bought his book. He gives you really great strategies on how to avoid mindless eating traps, like how to handle a buffet without over eating. Michael Pollan, whom I've already mentioned, has the right idea. I didn't discover him until after losing the weight, but he's got some good ideas that will help me maintain. La Leche League titles first brought my attention to the importance of real food back when The Eldest was little, and even though I didn't follow through with that at the time, I sure do now!

Articles in magazines like Cooking Light, tips on Oprah, healthy eating shows on Food Network, (although they don't seem to like the healthy shows too much- they are into selling FOOD so there should be no hint that it can cause anything negative like weight gain, diabetes, and other food related illnesses), articles on-line, and everything I can get my hands on about nutrition have all influenced me and enabled me to put together my own program. I've been successful too, even if I've gained a little back. I've kept off the majority of what I lost and it's been over four years now. I've already beaten the odds; the numbers say I should have gained all of the weight back a long tome ago. It's not easy, there's no denying that, but it's not impossible either and I'm living proof. Even with fibromyalgia, even getting up there in years, I'm still doing it. You can, too! :)

*Is that a word? If not it should be!

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