I’ll be the first to admit I have a pretty odd relationship with food. In my twenties I tried various diets (mostly some version of starvation), and always ended up bingeing a few days in. I found Weight Watchers in my later twenties, and had a good amount of success (lost about 28 lbs, and made it to my ideal weight), but I was living on Coke Zero, Lean Cuisines, Skinny Cow bars, popcorn, pickles, and mustard. None of it was real, actual food. It was processed junk. After having my first son, my eating habits drastically changed, as I wanted to give him the best nutrition, so food, actual food, was introduced. And it was the good stuff – grass fed beef, pastured chicken and eggs, grass-fed raw whole milk directly from the farmer, organic produce… We ate a more paleo diet, but with a fair amount of paleo inspired treats. (That food was GOOD!) When my second son was born, my eating habits got a pretty serious slap to the face. He developed eczema, and it was very apparent that it was related to the food I (and therefore he – since he was nursing) was eating. After trying to cut this food and then that food and then another food with no results, we ended up doing a Total Elimination diet, and for 5 days, we ate the same 7 foods (turkey, yellow squash, zucchini, wild rice, pears, red palm oil, and sea salt). His skin cleared up in two days! We gradually added one new food at a time (one per day or every other day, based on a specific protocol), and watched for reactions. We got up to about twenty-some foods, and got stuck for several months. He reacted to many fruits and vegetables, as well as a slew of other things and it was incredibly frustrating. That hurdle changed with the introduction of a specific type of probiotic (more on that to come) that helped us to nearly double his food options within a couple of months. It’s still an experiment each time we introduce a new food even now at nearly 3 years old. During that time, I learned a lot about how my own body reacted to some of those foods, and have chosen to eliminate many of them from my own eating too.
In the last several months, I’ve gotten fed up with my weight – I’ve been carrying around an extra 20 pounds after having my second son, and would very much like to wear some of the clothes that are just hanging in the closet mocking me and my thicker thighs. So in an attempt to slim down again, I’ve gone back to Weight Watchers meetings, and I’ve consulted with a friend who is an expert in helping people to lose weight (she has lost 100 lbs herself and successfully kept it off for over 3 years now) – she is amazing at getting to the root of emotional eating, and relentless to find a program that will get you the results you are after. I’ve dropped about 8 lbs in a few weeks, but somehow managed over the last couple months to get stuck again.
This brings me to now – I can’t even for a minute contemplate cutting out more food, re-arranging my eating habits again, tracking more stuff, adding in more exercise or otherwise obsessing over food and the lack thereof in my life.
These thoughts bring on fears of hypoglycemic episodes, electrolyte imbalances, irritability, stress, exhaustion. Messing with the delicate state of balance in my body through deprivation or overworking results in feeling like I’ve got a hangover for 2-3 days. (A prime example for you). So what the heck is a girl to do? How do I lose the excess, without losing my sanity?
The answer – I believe – came over the weekend on a trip to Mexico with my husband. We were blessed with an all-inclusive trip to a resort in Playa Del Carmen, where we were intensely spoiled for 4 days. I had steak two of the nights as a late-night snack! Can you say spoiled?! And I even indulged in a couple mimosas and glasses of wine. When I came home, I expected the scale to have a higher number, but to my delight, it had actually gone down a bit – the lowest number I’ve seen since giving birth!
For four whole days, I let go of obsessing, I wore my bikini, I wore sleeveless shirts, and I decided not to care about how my body compared to anyone else’s. I was grateful for the experience, for these sweet people who willingly served us like royalty, for the time to spend with my sweet husband, for rest, for delicious food, for sunshine, for a king size bed to sleep in. And apparently my body started to relax – by the third day, I wasn’t as hungry at night and skipped my late night steak. The next morning was the same – not as hungry.
This revelation brings a new question (they always do, of course): How do I replicate that feeling of gratefulness (and even feeling a little spoiled) in my normal, everyday life? I don’t have a king size bed, it’s currently 28 degrees and there is 6 inches of snow on the ground outside. My sweet husband is away all day at work, and I am certainly not being served like royalty anymore. But the truth is, I can find so many things to be grateful for – I love my home, my kids, our neighborhood. I have amazing food in our kitchen that I have the privilege to prepare exactly the way I want it. I have a comfy bed with loads of pillows, a perfect cup of coffee each morning, etc etc etc.
The point is that we have a choice in how we view our world. I have stressed and obsessed about mealtimes, and thus hoarded food, overeaten, and felt miserable. Today, I’m making a different choice. I’m choosing to be grateful for what is in front of me, because the fact is that it is far more than I deserve. I’m not changing my eating habits for the next 30 days, I’m changing my thinking habits.
My mentor, Dani Johnson has taught me that words are seed. Focusing on gratitude means I’m planting seeds of gratitude in my life. The fruit of gratitude is peace, contentment, abundance, restoration. I want those far more than I want the scale to be at a certain number, and far more than I want to fit in to that pair of sassy purple slacks – because the purple slacks and scale aren’t really the goal. They are merely a representation in my mind of what I think peace, contentment, abundance, and restoration look like.
In my next post, I’ll share with you exactly how this gratitude diet will look – the rules – so to speak. Because a healthy life does have boundaries, after all. I think you will be very grateful for them when you see them. 😉