Thursday, April 19, 2012

healthy lifestyle changes: progress report

Since I posted about my weight gain last week, I've been trying to implement some healthy changes in my life.  I am trying very hard not to get obsessive about body image, but I'm also finding that as an always-skinny girl, suddenly bumping up against a noticeable weight gain makes it hard not to obsess.  Sometimes it's hard to accept that my body will never again look like it did before I got pregnant and had a baby.  The best I can hope for is the leaner but still visible belly rolls and droops of my body after pregnancy.  In a culture that accepts nothing less than physical perfection, this can be hard to accept.  But my husband consistently reminds me that that droopy ol' belly is evidence that our sweet daughter lived there once; because of that, he says, it is beautiful.  What a gift he is to me!

So I am trying to accept that perfection is not a realistic goal.  Rather, regular healthier choices in the area of food and exercise will eventually begin to pay off in a more fit body, an ability to fit into my clothes better and feel better about how I look.  (I actually got asked if I was pregnant a few weeks ago.  NOT an ego boost!)

Anyway, I've been trying to get exercise in as often as I can.  If it's a nice day, I try to invent a reason to go for a walk.  If it's a gloomy day, I do leg exercises and Pilates.  Every day?  Heck, no.  I'm still sedentary at heart, but I'm really trying to increase my exercising and get more active.  I've noticed increasing strength and stamina and the exercise along with eating healthier is helping my body to just feel better.

I counted calories several days as well.  Mostly to attune myself to how much I actually am consuming and to hold myself accountable to make better decisions.  But I am not starving myself.  It's tempting (for about half a minute!) because I know I would get quicker results.  But I would also have the grumpy hungries all day and I'd end up gaining a lot of the weight back.  It's not good for me mentally or relationally or physically to be without nourishment.  So instead of starving myself or eating gross food-like substances labeled "diet food," I am trying to make my calories count.  Rather than getting a huge portion of my daily calories from butter or other fats, I am trying to get them from a lot of protein and I'm eating a ton of vegetables too.  I'm also eating more whole grains again.  But I've not fully cut out fats.  I tried some low-fat cheese as a snack this week, but I think I'm going back to full fat cheese and just having a sensible portion.  Our bodies do need some fat.  They just don't need us to gorge on it all the time. 

I've found some great snack ideas (I require snacks during the day and at night, but without good options in the house, I go back to my trusty popcorn with three tablespoons of butter!).  Here's a few to share with you:
--Triscuits with 2 TBS of good cheese (Manchego, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Boursin are some of my favorites)
--Sugar snap peas, baby carrots, and red/orange/yellow pepper strips with Skotidakis Jalapeno Yogurt dip (available at Costco and just 50 calories for a 2 TBS serving!).
--Spinach Salad, with onions and tomatoes, tossed with homemade salad dressing (lately, I've been partial to Maple Dijon)
--Fage 0% Greek yogurt with fruit (120 calories per container)
--Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches (although, I think I'm going to go back to regular ice cream and just eat less of it! Low-fat dairy just isn't as satisfying!)
--Half an apple with 1 TBS of natural peanut butter (salty and sweet craving!)

I've also found some great lunch ideas, packed with protein to keep me going.  My favorite was this smoky, sweet and savory Creamy Chicken Salad, served on a bed of spinach. 

If you have good healthy and filling recipe ideas, post them here!  I'll be back with another post on healthy dinner options soon!  It's funny how easy it is to get lazy about what we eat, but healthy nutrition is starting to come back to me!  Stay tuned!


  1. Rebecca-

    A few comments on this post struck me

    1. "I'm also eating more whole grains again"

    This assumes that whole-grains are good for a person.

    In recent years- Medical Researches have kept discovering the hard effects Gluten can have on a person's body. This plays itself out in a variety of ways from bloating to excess gas to joint pain to general inflammation. I've lived in the past thinking that Whole-Grains were healthy until My overall energy was sapped and I was always having stomach problems.

    The debate between Refined and Whole Grains isn't as simple as some like to make it. I'm not fan of Refined Grain but it is way less inflammatory then Whole Grains. The harm it causes on a person's body is just different. Dr.Loren Cordain is one of the most well known spokesmen of this belief. This says nothing about the Relationship between Inflammation, Heart Disease and Cholosterol.

    I think the best test of the health of Whole-Grains is to remove them from your diet for a while then reinsert them back in. The subsequent stomach pains and excess gas are probably going to get a person to question this position.

    2. You also seem to advocate Low-Fat Dairy.

    You might say you prefer Dairy stripped of all health value or Dairy that needs to be loaded with Sugar to taste acceptable as in the case of 0% Fat Yogurt. I would also question that removing the fat would make such a product very filling. I can only speak here from personal experience.

    3. I do understand your agree with you that Calories matter. Where I would disagree is the assumption that the body handles all calories in a similar fashion. For example- Yesterday I hiked about 15 Miles. One might have assumed I would get quite famished in such an activity but before the Hike I made a big meal of Italian Sausage (No-Nitrates) mixed with Organic Cheese and Olive Oil. After the Hike- I had half of a Dark Chocolate Bar and a few baby carrots for quick carbs.

    My overall nutritional thoughts

    1. Isn't that Carbs are bad. They are just way too excessive in the Standard American Diet. I try to limit Carb Intake to around 150 Grams rather then the average 300.

    2. Experiment with removing Whole Wheat and bringing back in later. How the body responds to Whole Wheat being reintroduced should at least make a person question it's overall value.

    1. Stew, you're misunderstanding me. I use low-fat dairy SOME, but since you mentioned about all the crap that is added into it, I've been reading labels. An example of low-fat dairy that would be good would be nonfat yogurt or low-fat cream cheese. If a bunch of crap is added into something, however, I'd rather eat the "real thing" and just eat a little less.

      I agree that we need fat in our diet. How much depends on how active we are. I am not very active. That's why I need to get less of my calories from fat. But I still need some. And I'm by no means eliminating things like butter or cheese from my diet. Just using a bit more moderation.

      I'm not sure I fully agree on least for me. I don't have any sensitivity to grains. I have friends who do, but I find I need some whole grains to feel full. I used to eat whole grains almost exclusively and was in much better health than I am now that I have allowed a lot of white flour to enter my diet. Again, white flour is not evil, but should be used in moderation.

      A balanced diet is the best cure for whatever health fads are currently popular. If we eat from all of the food groups, we stand the best chance of withstanding the ups and downs of prevailing advice.

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