Friday, May 31, 2013

You Are What You Eat

So I've been giving thought to my nutrition habits lately.

About 5 years ago I made a conscious effort to eliminate excess fat and sugar. It was not a total deprivation thing. It was things like switching from 2% milk to fat free milk; no dressing on my salad; no sugar on my cereal; swapping out sodas for unsweetened green tea or water; and in general watching my portion sizes. I allowed cheating though. I concentrated on being "good" but allowed myself a piece of cake at our work birthday parties for example and the occasional sweet treat or soda as a 'reward'. This actually worked for close to a year.

Then I was diagnosed with exercise induced anemia. This was easily brought under control by iron supplements but then I started training for my first marathon. So my iron counts were good but I was still tired. Two things kicked in. First, I "needed"to reward myself for reaching mileage milestones. Second, being tired makes me crave and give into comfort food. Same thing happens when I'm sick. And let's face it, comfort food is mostly junk calories. Good thing I was running a lot. And lately, I've been a little down about the heart thing lately so more junk calories.

So what's next? What's my motivation to re-evaluate my habits again? The motivation last time was a menopausal middle aged (more or less) woman trying to avoid the spare tire around the middle. I was mildly successful in that. It could have been worse anyway.

My motivation now is multi faceted. First off I probably am middle aged now. I've always kinda thought that I'll live to be a 100 or so. 106 is a nice number,don't ya think? But I want to live long and prosper, right? I'll be damned if I'm gonna live long and be bed, couch or even chair ridden. So I have to take care of myself. The heart issues have been a wake up call. Even if my issues are not lifestyle/nutrition related it still makes sense (to me at least) that the more care I take of me the less work my heart has to do to keep up. I've been very lucky in 53 years and have taken my health somewhat for granted. And there are nutrition related heart diseases that will make my heart have to work harder or fail so why not be mindful of those. Lastly, my activity level in the month since the heart issues started is lower now than it has been in years. I've tried to compensate by eating less but I need to balance eating less with eating right. I bet eating wrong has had more - or at least as much- to do with my fatigue right now as my heart.

So again, what's next? I looked at the Whole 30 program that my friend Maggi is doing. But I don't think I can commit to it. That thought did trigger an internal argument "Is this about what I should do or what I want to do?" Since I don't know exactly what I should be doing - do any of us? - I'm not letting that argument continue. There is some sense to Whole 30 though and I've decided to use it as a jumping off point. Whole 30 calls for lots of meat, fish and eggs, tons of veggies, and fruit. I can do that and it makes sense to me. Whole 30 says eliminate grains and dairy. I do want to eliminate as much processed foods as I can but there are bigger offenders in my diet than dairy or grains so I'll cut back on those but I'm not convinced I should cut them out. However, I don't need ice cream, m&m's, peanut butter cups, potato chips (ouch!) and other 'junk foods'. I also don't need things that come in a box like rice and noodle mixes and I can drink my coffee black. The list does go on .....

Dave, I know you are reading this. No worries. We can have these things in the house but I don't have to eat them. ;)

There's no time like the present to start and tomorrow is June 1st so that appeals to my linear-thinking-please-start-at-the-beginning self. My cardio appointment is July 1st and who knows what will happen after that. So I have 30 days to be strict about this, see how I feel, visit the doctor and decide where I go from there. The first few days may be a challenge since we are headed to Atlantic City on a Lions field trip tomorrow and Mon-Wed next week I'll be in Harrisburg for work. Eating away from home is always a challenge for eating healthy. But is there every really a good time to start? And having to focus harder in the first few days may have a positive, more lasting effect.

So if you are still reading - thank you, btw - please wish me luck. I'll keep you posted but I promise not to write boring posts all about what I had to eat that day. However, I will say that right now I'm off to have a dinner which will likely end in a Magnum Bar since it will be the last one for a while. Have you had one yet? OH. MY. GOODNESS.!

Stay tuned and keep smiling and keep moving.


  1. Good luck! Can't wait to see how it goes!
    And safe travels!

  2. Never a bad idea to review habits and make adjustments. Good luck!

  3. Ooh, this post was inspiring. :D I've been consciously trying to eat healthier for almost a year now, and it kinda has its ups and downs... cutting down on carbs is my biggest goal, and for the most part I've been successful but sometimes it's a challenge to come up with something other than a sandwich for lunch. ;) I've been reading up on dairy recently and apparently there are so many other ways to get calcium and vitamin D and protein that we really don't need to consume milk products at all. For instance, almond milk serves all the purposes of cow's milk and it has about a third of the calories. Score. And it has no lactose. Definitely points in my book. :D
    Keep us posted on how it goes for you!