Saturday, July 3, 2010

Eating Clean

My eating style has taken many forms during my life. I was a super picky child, smelling everything before I would decide if I would taste it, and unable to keep weight on my ever growing body. In 5th Grade I was a whopping 5'8" and 98 pounds.

All of that changed when I went to Junior High and met girlfriends who like to eat junk food and lots of it. I also stopped growing and maxed out at 5'10", and my hormones started to kick in with full-force bringing on the big boobs. Pizza, shakes, french fries, candy, Hostess snacks... and up went my weight.

High School brought more of the same eating as Junior High, but I also started adding a lot of extra calories via alcohol consumption. We certainly did drink. I remember being between 175 and 180 pounds for most of High School.

When I went to college, the eating continued with even more foodie friends and other things that contributed to almost constant munchies. The pounds started piling on. When I was 19, I decided to become a vegetarian... but certainly not a healthy one. I would call that the Junk Food Vegetarian period, with lots of cheese and bread and sugar.

A couple of years into my college time, I decided to become vegan. I was hard-core vegan for 2+ years, and would not even eat honey or have a roll when out at a restaurant for fear of an egg wash on top. My weight dropped to 155 pounds because I was also working out at the field house with some friends. I felt amazingly healthy during that time, but it came to an abrupt end when I graduated from college. I spent the three months directly after my graduation in Greece visiting with my family who lives there. Lots of good food and wine. Bye-Bye, Veganism!

When I came back, I found a job and worked crazy-long hours, eating almost all of my meals in the office. I also started going on pub crawls and to parties with new-found work friends, so my weight kept creeping back up.

When I was 27, I decided to get a grip on it. I started to jog, which I had never really done before. I also counted calories obsessively and went to the gym in my office building every day after work. I got back down to 165 and then I met my ex-husband. That was the last day that I worked out for 6 years.

I replaced my gym time with dinner out with him, started smoking (again... it was a bad habit that I left behind years before), enjoyed a lot more drinking and socializing, and ballooned up past 200 pounds. We married, I got sick with Ulcerative Colitis and started on massive doses of steroids, my daughter came into our life, and soon I was amazingly sick, on 90mg of Prednisone per day, and sitting in the hospital waiting to have my large intestine removed after a weigh-in that showed me a number with a "3" at the beginning.

The next year and a half brought me a 90 pound weight loss, a divorce, and a second surgery to create my j-pouch. After that, life felt good again! I celebrated by eating the foods that I was unable to tolerate when I was so sick, and my weight crept back up again. Also, for the first time in 15 years, I began to eat meat again (poultry and fish) on my surgeon's orders to counteract my severe protein deficiency during this time of healing and rebuilding. It was actually a very difficult transition for me because I *like* vegetarian foods better than meat-based ones!

Two years ago I decided to get serious about this for life by incorporating exercise and portion control into my life. I both counted calories online and followed the Weight Watchers plan during this time, switching plans as I got bored with one or hit a plateau. I am down about 80 pounds from that time, have been running for 2 years, and am now venturing back into some of my healthy eating habits, but with a twist. I have my trainer to thank for lighting the fire under my butt in the form of his food plan, which re-introduced me to the beauty of whole and clean foods. By clean I mean minimally processed food without chemicals and preservatives.

I just finished reading The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged, and am now making even more changes in my food intake based on it. I had read her first book several years ago and liked the concept, but never felt the pull to move away from my low point/low calorie convenience foods. I am also following the Dr. Oz principle that you pick a few meals and eat them over and over again for most of your meals. Right now I have three breakfasts from which I choose each day (although mostly it is the avocado toast). I choose between four snacks that I really love, and keep to a pretty standard lunch that I bring to work. I mix it up at dinner, but only every few days as I cook enough at one time to feed me for a few meals.

After reading her book, I am going to experiment with adding flax seed, chia seed, and bee pollen to my diet. I just tried a breakfast that she outlined in her book which includes rolled oats, fresh blueberries, and a tablespoon of each of the things I mentioned above (flax, chia, bee pollen), along with some scrambled egg whites on the side for protein.

This is my next area of experimentation, to see how eating clean affects my fat loss goals. I'll keep you posted!