As 2018 approaches, I look back on 2017 and its blessings and challenges with a smile. It was New Year’s Eve 2016 that I slid on my Carhartt jacket and realized it wouldn’t zip up. Had I let myself go that much? It was year three of our marriage, and between renovating two houses and one apartment, moving us as well as our horses and other animals, managing and renting the other two properties, eight family deaths (some expected, some out of no-where) and God only remembers what else in between, I apparently did in fact “let my self go.” It wasn’t just me. The husband had packed on a few pounds too. My Carhartt unable to zip was the slap in the face- in 2017, we needed to get a handle on ourselves.
First Step:Buy a wall calendar to track just how often I did work out.
We’ve all been there. We lie to ourselves. “Oh I just worked out a few days ago, so I don’t need to today.” In reality, it was two weeks ago… That wall calendar holds you to the truth. It cannot lie. I’m not a gym person, so we have a treadmill and exercise bike in our house. It allows us to hop on either whenever we can. Definitely more time efficient. I started slowly on the low treadmill workout level. Y’all, it was so hard. I felt pathetic. Fit and athletic high school me would have laughed and laughed at my struggle, but I kept it up. It got easier each week. Eventually I moved up to level 3 on the treadmill once a week. Then twice a week. Then three times a week. I looked more tone, but I only lost 5 lbs from January to June. 5 lbs. It was defeating. I was tired of doctors telling me I was a little overweight. Time for…
2. Step Two: Changing my eating habits.
Who really wants to deny themselves a Chick-fil-a sandwich? Not I, and I didn’t. Chick-fil-a’s the healthiest fast food restaurant, right? Maybe, but those fried chicken sandwiches, crispy waffle fries and three Chick-fil-a sauces per meal containing 140 calories each… not so much. It was time to face the fact that I didn’t eat as well as I had convinced myself that I did. Enter Alton Brown. The husband and I love his show Good Eats. It comes on late night on the Cooking Channel, and we either stay up to watch or record it. In late June of 2017, we saw the episode “Live and Let Diet” where he explained how he lost 50 lbs in a year. Eye-opening and a mental breakthrough! He hashes over and over how it’s not a diet you need. It’s a LIFESTYLE change. That one word interchanged for the other morphed my entire outlook on changing my eating habits. (Watch a part of Alton’s episode here.)
Alton Brown’s Clean Eating Plan
- whole grains
- leafy greens
- green tea
Three times a week
- oily fish
- sweet potato
- Once a week (alcohol, desserts, red meat, white starch)
- Never (soda, canned soup, “diet” anything, fast food)
3. Step Three: Implementing new eating habits.
This struggle was real, harder than starting to work out times ten. The first month I complained incessantly. Oh how I missed fried chicken and cheese and hamburgers and pasta and sweet tea. Poor husband. He stayed steadfast and did not let me give up, and he did it in a way that was encouraging and supportive. He of course dropped 10 lbs in the first month… It took me awhile longer, but I felt great and started to have more energy. Cliche I know, but it’s true. Pretty soon I was so proud of myself and the changes I was seeing in my body and in my life that I wanted to keep going.
4. Step Four: Continuing & maintaining your new lifestyle.
I was so nervous that once I reached my target weight that I would slink back into my old mindset of eating what I wanted at will. Fortunately, your body doesn’t allow that to happen easily. I ate holiday casseroles on Christmas and paid for it dearly. For two days, my stomach felt like it was tied in a knot. I’m pretty sure it was wondering why I all of a sudden stuffed 4x the amount of food I normally eat into it, not to mention that it was all fatty food and of course the added holiday alcohol consumption. Some weeks are different than others, but we don’t stray far from Alton’s clean eating plan. I work out 3-4x a week, and yes, there are still days I dread it. But overall, making sure I have 3-4 Ks (K for Kira!) on the wall calendar per week is just now a part of the routine. Fast food restaurants have strived to create healthy options, so I do still eat lunch from them during the week. I normally look up the menu beforehand online and pick out whatever they have that fits into our clean eating guidelines. I used to turn my nose up to salad as a meal, but now I happily consume leafy greens as my meal as long as it’s paired with a protein. We don’t eat dinner out as much as we used to which saves us a good bit of money, always a plus. We buy bags of frozen fish from Sam’s and bags of frozen vegetables so fish and veggies make up most of our weekday meals. On the weekends, the husband will cook fresh meat and vegetables. His latest favorite is breaking down a whole chicken which lasts us two dinners and is super cheap. I’ll do more posts about individual meals and snacks later. He’s the cook in our family, so I’ll basically just have to observe and note what he does to share with y’all.
Summing it up
All of this seems like common sense. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. I was a disbeliever, but the results are in. I lost 27 lbs in 2017. I didn’t understand how others could truly enjoy clean eating, but now that my palette has adapted, I seriously don’t enjoy the fried, fatty carbs I used to crave. We are that couple now that people look at and wonder how we have the energy to do all that we do. The husband weighs less than he did in high school. I’m not there yet, but I did reach my first weight goal so I’ve set a second one. After I reach that one, I will stop trying to lose and just try to maintain, but that will be determined by my body and its response to our clean eating lifestyle. It’ll know when to stop. I’m giving it all it needs to reach its optimal level.