I seem to find myself in conversation over this heavy topic (pun intended) more often than not. I find that it has become a natural subject brought up in day-to-day exchanges with friends, family, coworkers - even the lady standing next to you in the grocery store checkout line wants to disclose her issues with you. Through these conversations, I hear my personal struggles reiterated by others on a daily basis. I wanted to share this cartoon with everyone for my 1 year blogiversary post along with a little background to the genesis of this blog.
I have weeks where I feel really on target and even if the scale isn't necessarily showing it, I'm feeling slimmer because I'm eating well and making it to my workouts, clothes are looser, it feels great! Other weeks, I feel blah - my clothes are tighter than they were last week but all I did was have a burger on Saturday and missed yoga on Thursday because of a work conflict, ok some wine with friends over the weekend too. Sometimes I feel that I work so hard to "be good" but I have one cheat meal and skip the exercises, so I have blown all progress.
Then I look beyond the way I feel to determine what factors assist those thoughts and feelings. I had lunch yesterday with a coworker who said "I just don't get it, I work out but I eat half a lunch portion and feel like I have to unbutton my pants afterward. Then I look at her (her = a very slender woman in a slinky pink dress) and I'm like, does she eat??!" - shortly after that, I got in the elevator and listened to a woman complain to her friend about feeling "obese" because she put on her "fat pants" today, a size X (which I won't share because I think it provides an inappropriate, unhealthy image for this person to think that size is considered obese). I think we all feel this way at times, "why can't I look like that," or "according to that person, I'm overweight because I'm a size X," - we get so caught up in listening to how everyone else says we should look, or how they deem a certain size or weight to be "so huge", we never feel comfortable or confident enough in our own skin.
Last year I sat down because I had reached a point where I realized I was lazy. I couldn't complain anymore because I wasn't actively doing anything about it and despite my best believe-and-it-will-happen efforts, it just wasn't going to magically go away. Going to the gym once a week and having the occasional fruit and salad, skipping meals, where not going to get me anywhere. I needed to examine my unhealthy habits and figure out where to trim the fat (another pun intended). This is why I started this blog to begin with and that my friends is the purpose of this post.
My story: I took a new job a little over three years ago, it was my dream job at 24! A special events coordinator for a major non-profit hospital in a big city. The new longer hours that running events entailed, on top of a new boyfriend routine (Mr. Max!), coupled with our then active social life in which we were going out 5 nights out of the week, all resulted in the inability to keep off those L-Bs like I used to. I was only helping them find a permanent new home on my thighs, hips, arms and belly with poor diet choices and the lack of exercise. After yo-yo dieting, thinking Healthe Trim would really get me "high school skinny" (yes, I buy into radio/infomercial gimmicks from time to time) and infrequent workouts for a year, my metabolism was shot and I decided to buckle down and get serious. Something had to change.
Is this a success story telling you how I lost 20 lbs just after eating right for a year? Nope, sorry. But it was a year ago that I made the decision that if I couldn't always rely on the physical activity because of an erratic schedule, the one thing I really could take control of was eating right and that did make a big difference. Not a 20 lb difference, but enough of a difference to know that it does really help. It is still something I have to work on every day.
The old me: Mr. Max and I formerly relied on Chipotle, La Madeleine, Panera, our neighborhood prepared-food market Eatzi's and the occassional "upscale burger place", meaning, not a drive-thru, or "gourmet pizza", because that's better than a Papa John's.... The decision to change my eating habits meant he did too, we couldn't succumb to the take-out meals anymore. I leaned that I had to cook so that I was in control of the food I consumed, both the nutritional aspects and the quantities. Luckily, Max Man was pretty healthy as it was and already bought organic food only. The boy liked cooking, and was good at it too - this was already looking up. I started only shopping at Whole Foods because I found that my willpower was always tested at a Tom Thumb or Kroger by the snacky foods or Kraft macaroni boxes. Without fail, I would get the frozen dinners full of preservatives, goldfish and what? they have PopTarts, man I haven't had PopTarts since I was a kid so let's get those, 5 for $5 mac and cheese - amazing.... Funny, I don't have those distractions at Whole Foods. I don't see a difference between my old grocery bills and my new ones and feel good knowing that I'm buying everything for a purpose and putting the best I can in my body.
The new me: In this quest, I started going to a health coach to get on the right track and re-learning what I should be eating for a balanced diet, doing it the healthy way. I began buying magazines advertising healthy meals of under 500 calories or less. Then for my busy seasons, I looked for magazines that had 30 minute or less healthy meals (where my Low Stress God Bless label was born). I read America's Test Kitchen practices, learning ways to cut back on fats, sugars and calories by substituting other ingredients and adding more herbs spices to give bland food flavor without racking up the bad stuff. In the beginning, I had a hard time finding recipes to support the goals I was trying to meet and still sounded appealing to my tastes. As I discovered new recipes and sources, I decided to share them with those that were looking for healthy meals or simply loved to cook and thus, a blog was born.
Here's a secret: I used to dislike cooking. It was a chore, why do it when I could just run up the street and get take out already made for me. I worked hard every day, I am tired when I get home, I don't want to spend an hour making food. I did enjoy it every now and then - my college roommate and I would have fun whipping up some concoctions in the kitchen: shrimp and avocado salad, pork tenderloin with roasted potatoes, and we thought anything pasta was fancy. This carried into the real world, every now and then I found it to be enjoyable but not every night, not things from scratch. I used to dislike almost every vegetable that wasn't potato or broccoli and thought cheese was it's own food group category. I slowly began trying new combinations and realized: this is good, I can make stuff and I'm not bad at it.
Starting this blog was a tangible accomplishment, it made me want to cook because then I had something to show for it and the ability to share with others. I learned about different tastes, I became challenged to find new recipes that were not only good for me, fun to make and tasty, but ones that I hoped others may find useful too. Through this, I learned to try new things! My very first post, the halibut en papillote is a true testament and perfect example for that. I didn't really care for tomatoes, I had never tried halibut or quinoa, I hadn't made my own pesto before and I didn't think I liked zucchini. Now I use all of these things quite often and it turns out, I love them!
While I still have my problem areas and struggle at least twice a week with wanting to be "smaller," I have more energy than I used to which allows me the chance to make it to the gym after a long day of running around. I never used to have energy. I would hit 3:00 PM and not come back from the slump. Well, I don't always make good use of this energy by diligently visiting the gym daily, sometimes I slip and it is used for happy hour or shopping, tee-hee. That is something I am still working on but I feel like I've been able to conquer cooking, and have something to show for it now 1 year later and can confidently say that I am 1-2 dress/pant sizes smaller (depending on the store) than 365 days ago, so if anything, there's a result.Am I at my ideal size? No, but at least I feel good and overall healthier now than before. I plan to continue and work hard for the results I want to attain while advancing this little hobby I've grown to love, cooking.
Thank you for allowing me to share this compilation of recipes with you so far. Whatever reason you have for following - whether you are looking for healthy recipes, you love to cook or just enjoy blog surfing - I hope to continue to give you what you are looking for and thank you for your support. You encourage me to do this.