Late in the spring of 2013 I started thinking about ways to be happier. There were several areas that I could work on, but not many that were going to be, quick, easy, or by only my own doing. A big issue was how I looked and felt. I was tired and grumpy and overweight. An idea hit me. I could make different dietary choices, focusing on overall health rather than weight loss, and see what happened.
The most valuable food items to me were all the same color, white. Pasta, bread, potatoes, rice, cookies, cake and desserts in general were all big players in my every day consumption game. I woke up one Sunday in May and said, “That’s it, today is the day, no more white stuff”. It was shocking how easy it was once I made the decision, not that it was an easy decision to make. But I knew I wanted to make some changes and this one was one that would have quantifiable and obvious results. It was more effort to think about substituting fruits and vegetables for the stuff I was leaving behind and I wasn’t sure for how long I could do it, but I did know that I had nowhere to go but up, or more specifically, down.
The benefits were slow at first but every pound lost hardened my resolve to stay on track. I started exercising more too, mostly walking and then some running and light weight lifting as well. As I got lighter physically other changes followed. My success led me to consider more ways in which I could make my life better and happier, and as I’ve already written, I ultimately chose to make huge moves, like divorcing my husband and meeting someone new.
Those kinds of changes can negatively impact health and for a while that’s what happened to me. I not only didn’t eat white stuff, but due to emotional turmoil and uncertainty, I wasn’t eating much of anything. Aside from the negative things happening in my life, there were exciting parts too. For possibly the first time in my life food was not my main source of joy and entertainment. I could go for long periods of time without wanting or even thinking about food. And ok, thinking about being intimate with someone new had me worried about the shape of my body so still more weight came off.
In the excitement of my eventual new relationship, eating remained low priority, though nothing extreme, and I felt better and more energetic than I had in twenty years. Some people expressed concern, but I wasn’t worried.
A year and a half passed since deciding to improve my health and happiness levels. My weight stabilized. A few months ago I noticed that I was no longer the food Nazi I used to be. The occasional potato, piece of bread, dessert and even pizza had crossed my plate. It was nothing to freak out about, as it was not happening on a daily basis. I could pull things back on track and remind myself that that the ‘bad’ stuff wasn’t for me and how much better I felt and looked without it.
But then something happened. As I began to feel more secure and relaxed in my life the slides into unhealthy food choices were becoming less rare, and I noticed I felt hungry. A lot. In regards to the things I knew were not the best for me it started to feel less like a calm, rational choice and more like, “Get outta’ my way, hand me the spoon (shovel…) and no one will get hurt…” Not good.
I am now back to spending too much time thinking and planning what and when I am going to eat because if I don’t, bad things happen. I don’t think I need to be as draconian as I was in the beginning, life does go on and it’s not like I’m suddenly twenty pounds up. I’m currently around five pounds heavier and though I realize it’s a slippery slope from five to twenty, I’m still far from pushing the panic button. I want to give myself permission to be human and hungry, while maintaining perspective on the value of staying healthy. In the end with this, as with so many things in my life, it’s all about balance. A topic that has always been fraught for me, and one that I’m sure I will be writing more about.
But right now, I gotta get something to eat…