Monday, June 23, 2008

The Food We Eat

Stuffing one of several (more than five) donuts in her mouth, I overhear one clinically, moderately obese (defined as more than 40% over ideal weight) woman to another in similar sorts, "I'm just going to tell her I had an egg for breakfast. I mean, I did have an egg. I'm just not going to mention the donuts." (Fire your dietician now! You aren't listening to her anyway!)

A week later, I overheard a similar conversation between two women in the same plight. "Yes, it's much better to eat those calories as protein. And don't eat late at night," whilst sipping a fat-laden, super-sized, Starbucks concoction topped with inches of whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Both of these conversations have weighed on my mind non-stop since they occurred in the past few weeks.
All four of these women blame their genes or their glands or some other mysterious malady on their obesity.

Fact: If you are doing 60 minutes of at least moderate exercise five times per week, and you are still overweight, it's your diet. And if you aren't even exercising... don't blame your genes for making you fat.

How many times have you gone to the gym, and seen the same people there, day after day, week after week, on the same machine and they never look any different? Do you ever wonder why? It's what they are eating!

True confession here:
Every member of my immediate genetic family has struggled with their weight, especially once they passed their 20s. Obesity--even morbid obesity (defined as 100% or more over your ideal weight)--runs in my family. Every cell in my body cries out to weigh 300 pounds. I could be a competitive eater, especially involving cheese pizza, hot dogs or sushi. Preferably all three. At the same time. All I really want to do is lay on the couch of doom and eat cheese pizza morning, noon and night. Throw in some beer, an occasional glass of red wine... oh and maybe some cookie dough!

But this morning, as has been consistently for the past two weeks, I have weighed 111 pounds. This does not come naturally to me. I work very, very hard for it. It is most certainly NOT in my genes. And the difference of the last ten pounds that I have shaved off since about January has been exclusively, totally about a very disciplined diet.

I began with Tosca's "Eat Clean" diet, which had amazing results. It reduced my dependence on sugar, taught me to think more about eating "whole, natural" foods. This means shopping on the outside perimeter of the grocery store. If you have to go down the aisles, you probably don't need it. However, on some level, this wasn't enough to meet my endurance needs. I had a hard time processing sugar when I wanted to (and might be one reason I became so nauseated during Ottawa, forcing sugary gels into my body so I wouldn't go hypoglycemic).

Earlier this week, I had the following conversation with my husband, who was kind enough to grill the angus beef patties I had prepared for dinner. Because I was stuck on a conference call, I didn't get a chance to give him instructions about mine. And when I came out to eat several hours later, I found that he'd put cheese on each and every remaining one. Not saying a word, I began scraping the cheese off the patty.

"Nice job scraping the cheese," he commented as he walked in on the scene.

"I don't eat cheese anymore," I explained.

"Oh, since when is this new fad come to pass?" he innocently inquired.

"Believe it or not, I haven't had any cheese for over a month," I replied. (Note: I will likely allow myself an occasional slice of cheese pizza, as it is my greatest weakness and most desired food of all time. But, I need to get that under control right now.)

I currently follow a diet that is even more strict than "Eat Clean." I gave up dairy, almost exclusively (I'll probably write more about reasons for that later). I continue to live without soda (I haven't had a soft drink since March '07). I eat eggs, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, raisins, nuts, and a lot of lean meats. I pack food most of the time when I have to go somewhere. And, I eat fairly frequently. Most important secret? It's about having abundant healthy food choices available nearby at all times. If you are hungry, and you only have unhealthy food choices, you will make the wrong choice every time.

My message for the week on diet and how you want your body to look: You have a choice!

1 comment:

Rick said...

OMG... when I'm at the cafeteria at work and see overweight people just loading up on fried foods, cheesburgers, etc., the first thing that comes to mind is "when's the last time you actually did something good for yourself?" Lack of exercise + unhealthy diet = slow miserable death. Don't even get me started on smokers!