The first cornerstone was WHY. Took a lot of effort, a lot of tears, to wrestle that one into place. But it is now solidly there for life, of that I have no doubt.
The second cornerstone I chose was HOW. Still a great effort, but this one was blessedly without tears. How is going to be a tad longer to walk through than why. I know in the coming month, I will loop back more than once.
How was I going to feed my family and not force them to adopt my chosen lifestyle changes? How was I going to travel…and boy was I on the road a lot during this time…and not eat meals that tore my plans asunder day after day? What was the right thing to eat? How much of it? Three solid meals a day, six little ones, grazing, cyclical fasting, count calories or macros?
A search for nutrition books on Amazon results included high carb, low carb, high fat, low fat, high protein, grain free, grain focused…you get the idea. And boy oh boy, did I ever learn that the child of the majority of people who were following a certain school of thought was that THEIR WAY was THE WAY. And perhaps, for them, it was. But you don’t EVER tell someone their child is ugly, and wowza, did I have the wrath of a few when I told them I did not agree with (or found no sustainable results from) their pitched path.
I had people insist that this method or that was the best or worst. That protein shakes were the devil for some and savior for others. Same with juicing, supplements, teas—oh my—it made my head spin at times. I also believe that while I know the parameters I have put in place for myself are right for me and when people want to tell me why I should be doing something else, I certainly push back. But I hope I do so with grace and respect for their ideas.
So I hired a nutritionist.
It was a pretty hefty amount. Not covered by insurance. But I’d heard great things about this particular person and she was both an accountability partner and a cheerleader. I needed that, when so very few knew I’d even gotten on a path to a healthy self. Years prior my husband had been sent to a dietician who was *maybe* 100 lbs and so teeny tiny, we both felt like elephants just standing by her. Sat down, talked about what we ate and she clapped her hands with glee and said this was going to be so simple and we leaned forward to hear her magic words:
It was clear she thought that she was brilliant and that we were bordering on mentally deficient to not have known this ‘simple’ fact. I know it is not medically possible for my blood to have boiled and still be here years later…but it was a degree or two below that point when I stormed out of that office. Had a REALLY bad taste in my mouth .
But this new, pricey nutritionist was very realistic.
When I met with her she told me this was going to be hard. That I’d have times I wanted to quit or go a different way or just be happy having lost 30 pounds instead of my stated goal. She shared that it was far more complex than the simple math of calories eaten and calories burned when there was more than 20 pounds to be shed. That the whole way I ate was going to need an overhaul and was I really ready?
So we spent over an hour talking about the foods I liked and that I cooked a great deal from scratch (plus point!) and that I had to travel a good bit for extended periods for work (minus point) and that I had a teenager at home (minus point) and so on until she had filled two pages with her notes in my file. All she wanted me to do was keep a food diary.
What should I not eat?
Don’t worry about that this week.
How much should I eat?
Don’t worry about that this week.
What should I eat?
Don’t worry about that this week.
I think you see where this is going. She encouraged me to get My Fitness Pal. I still, to this day, have no idea why I resisted doing so. It’s marvelous and we’ll talk about that in the near future. But she said she simply wanted to see what I was eating and when and to mark down the calories/carbs (showing the sugars separately) fat/protein and only for canned items, the sodium.
I’m sure I was not the first, nor the last, to modify what I ate simply because I was recording it all for someone else to read. I still kept my Moleskine record of my feelings, but this was far more scientific and at the end of each day some of the caloric totals were rather large and other days more reasonable. It became clear to me that I ate at least five times a day. But they were pretty evenly sized. When we met and I shared the intake journal from the prior week she asked me to go through each meal and tell me what I had loved, liked and ate because it was part of the meal.
She took notes as I spoke and at the end made a key observation to me.
When I spoke about the FOUR pasta dishes I’d had over the past seven days, I talked about the sauce. I raved about the beef and pork layered in and I waxed poetic about the cheese. I sang the praises of the seasonings and roasted garlic. But I never once mentioned the actual pasta.
You sound like a good cook. See what you can come up with not using pasta.
So home I went. I made a list of the top three ‘pasta’ dishes in our family. Lasagna was one of them. I make a clam lasagna so fantastic that my ardently anti-seafood husband will have a slice! I have over a dozen varieties of lasagna and of course they all had pasta layered in many times. Normally.
The next day I added an extra egg to my ricotta and a little more beef/pork to the meat layer and made a Mockzanya. All the goodness with none of the pasta. I told no one. Husband ate it. Son ate it. Next day it sat in the fridge and then was reheated on day three for a lunch.
Hey. Something is not right with this. The 18-year-old food detection device was on alert.
So I asked what was wrong. He looked. He sniffed. He tasted. He declared he did not know, but it didn’t seem right. But he ate it all the same.
A few weeks later I made it again, this time he picked through with a little more care and declared he’d been served a piece without any pasta. I smiled and asked how it was. Good, but I like the pasta. His dad and I finally came clean and told him the entire pan was without pasta. But since that time I’ve never once used sheets of pasta in my lasagna. Or my mac and cheese (cauliflower and garlic) or anything else. I’ll have a bite or two of mac and cheese when I’m out from time to time. I will eat a ½ cup of spaghetti the night before a race. But mostly, this body is free from pasta.
The other thing I had to expect: the unexpected
A meeting that ran long, a traffic snarl, a delayed flight. You know. Life.
To this day, I always have at least one protein bar in my handbag and usually my trunk as well. I keep a bottle of RTD Isopure in my desk at work and have one right when I open my fridge door, too. The Syntrax single serve packages of my three favorite flavors are in various places in my life—car console, running bag, outside pocket of my airplane carry on. A 32 ounce unsweetened tea and a packet of the Roadside Lemonade and I have a 25 gram protein drink that will not only hydrate me, but fill me up and keep me from buying a calorie laden who knows what at the airport or when I’m on a road trip. A Quest bar can sub for dinner when I’m rushing from the office to an after work event where all manner of pant tightening food will be there for the taking. And if I am hungry, I am far more likely to have a bite or two of something I’d not have otherwise chosen.
If I remind myself that my body has all the fuel it needs right now, I can keep on going. I don’t stop to put gas in my tank every 10 miles even though I see gas stations frequently.
My fuel tank doesn’t need to be continually topped off, either.
I also learned the ONE THING (and some have more than one thing) that I can eat at virtually any fast food place. Apples at McDonald’s. Grilled chicken tenders without sauce at Zaxby’s. Small chili at Wendy’s. These might not be my first choices, EVER, but sometimes you don’t get to have your first choice and I have had instances where I’ve opened my Quest bar and looked like a bad Carol Burnette skit when it almost jumped from my hands onto the disgusting parking lot, or a dog licked it and then ran off with it when I was sitting a little too nonchalantly at the dog park and the crinkling wrapper had been too much for the Lab a few feet away to resist. And if someone calls and says they are thinking about running away from home and can you come to the McDonald’s and talk to them while their kids are in the ball pit…how do you say no to that?
How I made preparations on the road. How I changed up recipes I had made for years. How I incorporated newly learned things as I pushed old habits (and boy do they die hard with a vengeance!) aside. How I began to read and research labels and ingredients like never before. How I evaluated the choices all around me. How I chose to communicate and on what level and with whom about what I was doing. All of those HOW moments, the physical and mental bits and pieces, coalesced into that second cornerstone upon which I would build the foundation of the new me.
And tomorrow I’ll share the way I struggled with the third stone, moving into just the right place.
See all posts in A Journey of Weight Found and Lost →