Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dieting from a "Diet"

Let me start by letting you know that I'm a pretty petite girl at 5'3''. So any weight fluctuations are pretty noticeable, since there's not a lot of room for the weight to be stretched out on. This site isn't necessarily to provide you with diet information, it is just to encourage you to stop eating meat or at the very least, to eat less meat. In the process of quitting meat, I have found a happy extra incentive and that is, I have lost a little bit of weight since going meatless in September 2008.

Diet. I remember exactly where I was when I first found out the word and truly realized what it was. I was in 7th grade and I heard that several girls were on a 'diet' of Saltine crackers, water and carrots. I remember thinking how insane and ridiculous that was, especially since these girls on the 'diet' were already in possession of gorgeous, physically fit bodies.

I also remember later that year finding out what calories were and starting to look once and great while at nutritional facts to figure out how many calories there were, though I had no idea how many I was supposed to be eating or if it even mattered. At this time, my parents were going through a lot of shit and I came to find out that my father was an alcoholic. Shortly there after, I started to hoard food in my room and so began my occasional binge that would put into a food coma. I found a great comfort and soothing ability of chips, candy and other junk food. I would take boxes of crackers, bags of chips, or other things I could find, and hide them under my bed to save for a time that I felt I 'needed' it. Luckily, I've always been a very physically active person and I never gained a huge amount of weight during that time. My parents were both fairly healthy eaters and made sure my siblings and I had a balanced meal each night. Amazingly, they were excellent at getting us to sit down and eat together as a family, despite all the problems going on in their own lives.

I didn't really gain much weight until my junior year of high school. At that time I started to work at a movie theater in my hometown, where I ate bag after bag of buttered popcorn between show times because I was bored. Employees also got to eat anything that was going to get thrown out at the end of the night (think: old pizza in a heater, pretzel bites that were hard as rocks and greasy hot dogs on a roller). I cringe now just thinking about all that poison I mindlessly ate out of pure boredom and not wanting anything to just go to waste.

Once I quit the movie theater, the little weight I had gained fell right off due to playing three sports teams I took on throughout high school. Though I certainly did ride the wave of crazy diets, including the grapefruit diet, cabbage soup diet, no fat, no sugar, etc. Though, it was more experimental and not necessarily with an outcome goal.

But, then came college. The typical "Freshman 15" found me and attacked me with a vengeance. I had a magical card that I could scan at the dorm cafeteria to get whatever I wanted! I could make my own food choices. Needless to say, there was a lot of pizza, deep fried meats and starches, and very little salad bars put on my plate. I was generally aware of what good and bad choices were, but I rarely cared. I also started to have a fond taste for beer several nights a week. I was no longer required to practice with a team, and didn't have anyone telling me when or how hard to work out, so I rarely did unless it was to run to class because I was late.

I gained even more weight during my junior year as a result of more emotional eating, binging and working at a deep dish Pizzeria where I could buy my extremely unhealthy dinner (probably portioned for 2-3 people) at a huge discount. So, I generally ate my lunch and dinner at Uno's 3-5 days a week. I remember getting really tired of the weight and wanting to lose it and so I began the South Beach diet. My roommate had found great success on it, so I did too. Though, something about eating turkey bacon, ground sirloin, steaks and cheese in place of fruit, just seemed a little backwards. If it was backwards to a pizza devouring, beer chugging, full-fledged Wisconsin girl, it had to be all sorts of wrong.

That 20+ pounds stuck with me until my final year of college. I had gone through a mild case of depression due to a break-up with a semi-long term college boyfriend. I began running almost daily and I lived with 4 Med and Pharmacy students that almost always made healthy choices. So, with their great influence and my desire to finally lose the few pounds, I found myself down about 10 pounds and feeling much better.

However, with the start of a career in teaching, I found myself enjoying plenty of birthday treats and lounge snacks with a side of stress eating and I was right back up to the excess 20 pounds. I'm not trying to sound like a whiner or complainer, but carrying around just that extra 20 is not any fun, especially when you now have a section of 'skinnier me' pants hanging in your closet that you don't touch. So, I signed myself up for my first marathon. It was beautiful! I could eat what I wanted and not gain a pound. I definitely didn't lose any weight during the training because I was eating such an enormous quantity of food, but it was beautiful to be able to eat so much and not gain a thing. Certainly, it did not help me with portion control though...

Now, bringing you up to my current condition. I'm still about 10-15 pounds from what I'd consider my ideal weight. However, I have never felt better in terms of energy and enthusiasm for food. I'm rarely binge eating and I'm truly enjoying the taste of food more. I still eat portions that are larger than a petite woman should be helping herself to, but it's healthier food. Without meat, my body feels better. I'm back to running and training for my third marathon, but I don't feel the need to attack 2-3 plate fulls of food. I feel in control. I'm still working on cutting way back on dairy but sometimes a girl just needs her pizza! Though now, my pizza is chock full of veggies and I generally ask for light cheese.

This is a rollercoaster ride for sure, but I'm now enjoying food more and not obsessing about a number on the scale. My clothes are fitting fairly well and I'll be sure to let you know once I'm back in my favorite pair of jeans (which are on the skinny side of the closet still). I'm choosing my indulgences more wisely and my goal is to be down 5-10 pounds by summer. Again, if I don't get that magic number, I will not freak out, I will not binge, I will simply keep working at it.

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