I’m a bit of a health nut. My attitude towards my own health has vacillated over the years. I remember a time when I didn’t care how much I ate, nor what I ate. My favorite food was Doritos.
I weighed as much as a grown woman by the time I was twelve.
Being the pudgy kid in junior high isn’t the slightest bit of fun. Granted, a lot of my own pudginess was the result of my ignorance about my own metabolism and how it related to my appetite. Which, as I recall, was voracious.
Of course, puberty being what puberty is, I started to realize that the boxy clothing marketed for teenage girls was completely unrealistic for my evolving (if oversized) shape. And, silly me, I thought that because I didn’t fit the mold, there must be something wrong with me.
So 15 came along, and I dieted.
I did Weight Watchers. I was a point-counting fiend. I ate all the little pre-wrapped Weight Watchers snacks and lived off of canned soup. And I ran. And lifted weights.
The pounds melted off (20 in one summer). I was scrawny, but still pudgy in places where my weight naturally settles (shopping for jeans was a demoralizing nightmare). Weight Watchers worked, but I developed muscle spasms from vitamin deficiency. Go figure.
That was the last summer I followed a strict diet plan…strictly. I tried Atkins for about a month and missed bread and fruit too much to continue.
I decided to focus more on exercise and less on the quantity of food I was eating. I cut back on snacks, of course, but made sure my meals were filling and vitamin dense. Over time, I learned to love vegetables for what they were without doctoring them too much. I learned about healthy fats and ate plenty. I limited, but did not completely eliminate, my consumption of desserts.
And I ran like crazy. The farthest I’ve managed to get my stubby little legs to go in one stretch was 3.1 miles. But I ran.
After second puberty (a little nightmare that slaps you in the face in your twenties but no one bothers to warn you about), I became very conscious of what I was eating. I discovered the connection between the kind of food I eat and my hormones, my digestion, my metabolism, my blood, my brain, and how they all work together to maintain a healthy system. Fad diets don’t cut it as far as nutritional needs are concerned. Food can be the best medicine. food was intended to be eaten, not avoided.
The girl who once wouldn’t touch anything not labeled “low fat” now reaches for the whole fat yogurt and milk at the grocery store. The girl who wouldn’t touch anything with starch now eats sweet potatoes by the pound (undoctored by brown sugar) because of their vitamin content. I discovered kale. I put spinach in just about everything. I buy flax seeds. I voluntarily eat oatmeal. I believe in eating steak and mashed potatoes. My taste for sweets has diminished with my increasing love of honey. I drink green tea instead of coffee. I use coconut oil for everything. I drink diluted apple cider vinegar. I believe in an apple a day. I dose dark chocolate as carefully as I might take ibuprofen. I eat scrambled eggs for dinner and bananas and peanut butter for dessert. I don’t count a single calorie or worry too much about the numbers on the scale. I’m done with feeling remorse when a certain size doesn’t fit.
My definition of a diet is going out and running 2.5 miles, doing a minute plank and 35 squats, stretching every muscle I can think of, then coming home, baking brownies made out of sweet potatoes, then eating half the pan without a lick of guilt.
I will never look like a supermodel, but I feel fantastic. If the jeans don’t fit now, it’s their own stupid fault, and that’s that.