Hello, friends! Apologies for my unplanned hiatus from blogging. The last seven months have been absolutely insane but also pretty wonderful. There have been high points (our AMAZING wedding on October 9, buying our first home, starting a new job I absolutely love) and also some low points (my grandmother becoming ill and passing away in a matter of 11 days). I’m finally starting to find my rhythm again, and I’m ready to return to blogging.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the direction of both my journey toward a healthy weight and the direction of this blog. In the months I’ve taken off from blogging, I’ve been reading lots of healthy living blogs, as always. Some of my favorites are Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point, Kath at Kath Eats, Emily at Daily Garnish, Tina at Carrots ‘n’ Cake, and Anne at Fannetastic Food. These women are all extremely talented bloggers, and I enjoy their work immensely. However, I’m realizing I definitely have a voice to add in the healthy living blogosphere. None of these women understand what it’s like to truly struggle with weight. They’ve all been slightly overweight, and have absolutely made amazing transformations in adopting healthy lifestyles that work for them, but they’ve never stared an extra 80 pounds in the face. They’ve never experienced the frustration of realizing that, for you, there’s no such thing as eating moderately, and that piece of toast, pancake, french toast or baked good can never belong in your daily diet.
For people who don’t have a genetic predispotion to morbid obesity, there is such a thing as eating moderately. Counting calories alone works. Carby foods can appear on a daily basis without any real repurcussions. But I think an increasing majority of the population does not fall into this category. Our bodies are broken, confused by the endless barrage of processed simple carbs. Our hormones are too off balance for our bodies to even consider dropping weight. For us, it’s not just about calories in and calories out, it’s also about insulin levels. We must be willing to accept that our diets cannot resemble that of our former selves if want to convince our bodies to drop tons of extra fat. It can be very isolating to realize that every bite matters, and “eating intuitively” will not get the results we want. Anyone who has ever been extremely overweight knows that chips, cookies, pasta, cereal, granola and warm bread with butter cannot be eaten in moderation without serious willpower, which wears down with time like any other muscle.
Studies have shown that overweight people simply do not react to food the same way that normal people do. Our brains go crazy in the presence of triggering foods, and the urge to overeat only gets stronger as we lose weight. Our bodies are designed to tell us to gain as much weight as possible, a lingering instinct from the not-so-distant past when food shortages were a real concern.
I have experienced the insane brain chemistry issue firsthand more times than I can count. Recently, during a team lunch at a barbeque restaurant with my coworkers, I ordered pulled chicken with two vegetables sides. I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch and felt quite satisfied when finished. A couple of my coworkers decided to order a few desserts to try, since we were enjoying a company-paid outing. They ordered bread pudding and pecan pie for the table to split. The servings were ENORMOUS. Each of us had an appetizer plate loaded with several bites of each dessert. After we’d all finished our small plates, there was still quite a bit of each dessert left. Picking up on the cue that one small plate of dessert was the socially acceptable maximum for a lunchtime outing, none of us dove into the remainders. I observed the differences between the thin people at the table and the overweight people. The thin people seemed to enjoy their 6-8 bites of dessert and move on, not thinking about the remainders. The overweight people kept glancing at the dessert. We were sitting on the patio and it was a hot day, and I found myself becoming slightly panicked as the fresh, creamy vanilla bean ice cream accomanying the bread pudding began turning to soup. My internal dialogue became laser-focused: “It will only be good for a few more minutes! Why is no one eating it?? It was soooo good! Oh my God, are we seriously going to let that go to waste?? That pecan pie was so outrageously good. I’ve never had moister bread pudding. Will someone please eat it so I don’t have to think about it anymore?” I found myself paralyzed by the rapidly-melting desserts. Our waitress came by to drop off the check and didn’t remove the desserts from the table. I remember desperately hoping she would take the plates away so I’d be able to calm down and move on.
This perspective is what I hope to bring to the healthy living blogosphere: The experience of the increasingly-average American for whom the weight loss deck is not in favor. There’s a reason something like 90 percent of people regain at least some of weight lost: We live in the fattiest, most sugary, saltiest, most excessive, most decadent, most unhealthy food environment ever known to mankind. Contrary to what diet books may tell you, losing weight is neither simple nor easy, and maintaining weight loss in the Western world is an even more challenging feat.
I want this blog to document my experiences trying to live “against the grain,” if you will. I want to show that it’s possible to radically limit the foods you choose to put in your body but still enjoy your life.
That’s all I have for today, but I’ll be back with more soon. 🙂