Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Time to shape up

A bunch of things happened all at once and suddenly I'm determined to eat better.

First, at long last, at the beginning of May, it is now too hot to go running every morning, as has been my wont for lo, these past six months. I enjoy exercising for the health benefits, but to be honest, I also do it to support my sometimes atrocious eating habits. Read on.

Second, it's true that I haven't eaten candy since December. But I have, uh, overcompensated in the ice cream department. Part of this is not my fault: the small grocery store on campus recently started stocking Ben & Jerry's ice cream. It is magical and delicious, but it is not a good thing because that store is literally a 2-minute walk from my front door.

Third, the health center on campus was offering a free body fat analysis the other day. I haven't had one of these done since high school and back then, the results put me somewhere in the range of "you could be an extra in a movie set in a concentration camp." Not so this time. My weight is fine, but my fat vs. muscle ratio is in the undesirable range. (Also, you have to love how doctors don't sugar-coat things here. When the results came out, the doctor said, "You have too much fat." That's it. I appreciated her brevity.)

Fourth (I'm almost done, I swear), I've finally come to terms with the fact that it has been 2.5 years since I gave birth, and my tummy has reduced about as much as it's going to on its own. There is no more baby chub left. It's all me. (Except for that extra skin stuff. I lay no claim to that.)

I'm not too worried about exercising. Once this semester is over in a little more than a month, Jeremy's schedule will be flexible enough to allow for running in the evening or, gasp, indoors on the treadmill at the leisure center. Then in the fall, spinning and aerobics classes will start back up until it cools down enough to run outside again.

It's the eating that threatens to do me in. I've shied away from putting absolute limits on my eating habits since my problem with anorexia, so it's a little scary to reinstate a few rules. But my ideas are that:

1. Candy is (still) not allowed.
2. Other sweets/treats (ice cream, etc...well, if I'm being honest, it's really just ice cream) are allowed on one day a week. I'm thinking Friday. It will just make the Sabbath BETTER, you know?
3. I'm considering an exception for if we're out and about and get ice cream as a special treat. Like how IKEA has chocolate ice cream cones for 1 dirham on weekdays. I know, right?
4. I'm also considering imposing an extra condition that the sweets/treats I consume on Fridays (in the unlikely event that I choose not to eat ice cream) must be homemade. Like, it can't be Oreos or donuts. It has to be cookies that I've spent time making myself. (Or donuts I've spent time making myself, I guess.) That puts a little obstacle in the way that could curb my inclination to indulge like crazy on that day.

What do you think? I swear I'm not posting this as a "keep me accountable" tactic. I just wanted to talk about it and see if anyone else out there also exercises so they can eat what they want. Or if anyone else out there has a 2.5-year-old "baby" and is just realizing it.

Also, perhaps now is a good time to mention a few of the unique challenges that face the SAHM when it comes to eating habits. We give birth and are left with a ton of extra weight as well as a tiny infant whose needs make it really difficult to give a lot of thought to maintaining healthful eating habits. Then, we get used to grazing all day long on whatever is available, partly for the aforementioned reason but also to support breastfeeding. Even when that stage is long past us, part of being a SAHM is that, hello, we are home all day. Guess what else is at home? A pantry and a fridge, just waiting to be opened when the kids stress you out or they're finally down for a nap or you need to feed them a snack and you decide to join in yourself. It seems like being out of the house for a good stretch of time would do a lot toward instilling more regular eating habits.



karina said...

It's funny that you post this - I had a very similar experience last week and have concocted your exact same plan for eating (except my homemade treat is on Sunday and my body fat isn't just high, it's incredibly high). I'm also trying to exercise slightly more (no need to go to extremes, here) and I've added back in weight training a few times per week. And yes, I blame all this on having a baby.

I lost tons of weight immediately after he was born and looked better at 6 weeks postpartum than I have in years. Nursing was awesome - the weight fell off, stayed off, and I ate and ate and ate. The problem started (without my noticing) when I was still nursing, but not as much, and I was still eating the same amount. Within 6 weeks I had regained 15 pounds of pure fat. Now my belly moves on it's own. Sigh.

Liz Johnson said...

This is why I simply can't have stuff like Oreo's in my house. Chris has no problem eating one package over several weeks (!!), but I see them MULTIPLE TIMES EVERY DAY when I open the pantry. They basically mock me from their perch and dare me to eat them. I'm with you - being a SAHM and having constant access to a fridge/pantry is a very difficult thing.

I think your limits are totally reasonable and moderate. I also don't let myself eat anything after 8pm, because that's when I do my best impression of competitive eaters.

Jen said...

I'm just going to go ahead and say that if a doctor told YOU that you have too much fat, I should probably go ahead and eat nothing but spinach and celery for the next two decades.

AmandaStretch said...

Dang it. I wrote a somewhat long comment and then it got deleted. Sadness. Instead of recreating it, I'll just say this: Free Day is an awesome concept, and one of the changes I've made in the last few months. Mine's also the Sabbath, and it works out well. Good luck!

Katie said...

Man, can I just say that I wholeheartedly agree with that last paragraph?

As for your plan, it sounds good. I definitely don't think there's any magical formula for being healthy, but I think having any kind of plan in mind is helpful. But of course I'm no expert, so I guess you can take that for what it's worth.

Also, that pita bread thing looks really good.

The Ensign's said...

Oh my heck! Food is SERIOUSLY a problem for me right now. I just want to snack all day long. I don't know how you're going without candy all year. CRAZY! The last time I worked on eating healthy I counted my calories during the week and then the weekends I could eat whatever I wanted. Typically that's when we'd eat out. It worked out good for me, but I seriously have lost all self conrtol right now. Our gym memebership starts back up on the 5th and I'm hoping that working out will help me want to eat better.

Good luck!

Kelli said...

I totally exercise so I can eat too. I don't keep any goodies in the house and that helps - the thought of dragging all 3 kids out to the car to get something I'm craving (or putting forth the effort to make something from scratch) is usually enough to deter me!

sarah-lucy said...

I think putting limits on what you eat is not as effective as choosing not to eat when you're not hungry.

If I decide I can't eat ice cream, all I think about all day is ice cream and how much I really want it. Even if I don't end up eating it, I don't think it's healthy to think about it all time.

If I just choose not to eat when I'm bored, stressed, etc, then I always loose weight. But I'm allowed to eat what I want, so I don't feel restricted and deprived. And I don't think about it or obsess about it.

And remember, being hungry is like being in love...if you can't tell if you are...you're not.

Scotty P said...

Yeah, I exercise so I can eat. The only effective diet I've found over the years that works for me is tracking my calories and exercise. Then I know precisely how much more I have to exercise to eat another piece of junk. Usually, though, if I'm being good, I'll only eat the equivalent of about half the calories I burn doing the exercise. I use a pretty cool website that allows me to track my calories and exercise pretty easily. I find that a exercise a lot more when I'm tracking.

Amanda said...

I had one of those body fat analysis tests done in high school. They told me I was obese (over 33% body fat). I was currently swimming competitively so I had practice 4hrs a day with weight training 1hr a day five days a week. I couldn't believe it! And so I didn't eat for two days. But then I realized how much I love food and caved.

Now I just try not to buy junk unless it's a holiday, and really focus on portion control. Snack on fruit or veggies & only eat if I'm really hungry. I have no idea what my body fat currently is. I could probably work out a lot more, but I'm happy with where I am, at least weight wise, most days.

Brittany Cornett said...

This has been a life time struggle for me and I know lots of women out there probably have there own boo hoo body problems. In high school I wanted to be thin and so I had two slim fast shakes a day and then for dinner I would warm up a frozen vegetable medly that I put fake butter spray on. Then in college I bought dried soup mix and gatorade along with massive amounts of milk and cereal and that was more of a convenience thing. Then fast forward to marrying Justin I wanted to start cooking eating normal meals and I gained 40lbs. Now I have dropped 50 lbs but to me the reason I check my weight is less about numbers these days and just more to keep tabs. What is great is I feel like I am finally eating normal. I can make food and make good choices. I also exercise enough that I can splurge on dessert (as long as I keep it to outside the house, cant leave a carton of icecream in my freezer). I loved the mediteranean diet/ lifestyle study that I did and I still keep it up I feel like it really taught me how to eat to be healthy and strong.

Jennifer said...

I've used the "sweets must be homemade" rule for a few years now and it has stopped many an impulse buy at the grocery store because once I get home I don't always have the energy to actually bake, so I think that's a good one!

And I'm with Jen, if you have too much fat, I'm in trouble :)

Kat Clark said...

This is great! You're going to rock it. The only two cents I have, which probably isn't very valuable because I'm the worlds worst eater, is to make meals. My Grampa stayed with us for almost a month and he is the kind of guy who eats a breakfast, lunch and dinner. He would usually throw in a couple small snacks each day and that was it.
It was kind of a pain in the butt to be cooking 3 times a day and to try to make them "square" meals but it totally paid off. I lost 10 pounds that month! Insane! I totally credit it to the constant healthy veggie or fruit side and the constant home cooked meal. We ate out twice the entire time he was here. It was SO MUCH WORK since no one but me cooked or did the dishes but it was also some great time together with him. I just think that constantly making an effort to square your meals with produce sides is a huge help since the fiber fills you up and the calorie count is usually pretty low.

Bridget said...

I love these suggestions and experiences! I'll have to come back and read this every time I need motivation. The good news is that tomorrow is FRIDAY!!! I'm already trying to decide what my splurge will be.

Sherwood family said...

I agree with the SAHM thing. I seem to have much better self-control at the store when my indulgences have a price tag on them. When I'm home and looking for something tasty, I have a lot less self-control. So, my best rule is the same as with stray cats: don't bring them home.

The Harker's said...

Thank you for this post Bridget.:) You have such a cute, athletic shape, I would never have guessed you suffer from temptations with food too.:) Makes me feel like I am not alone.:)

Shannan said...

You wrote this post for me. My baby is almost a year but several things are going against me. First, it's my fifth baby I've given birth to. 2nd, I'm 35 yrs old. 3rd, like yourself, I'm home must of the time! Usually I've lost all the baby wight by the first birthday, but a few months ago, I realized I've only lost 5 lbs SINCE GIVING BIRTH!!

So this is what I did. I started tracking calories. I read jillian michaels book making the cut about losing the last 10-15 lbs ("vanity weight"). I looked up bmr calculator on google, put in my height and age to see what my body burns daily. I'm 5'4" and my bmr is 1570 calories burned/day. To lose vanity weight you can only create a calorie deficit of 500-700 calories/day. So if my "net" calories at the end of the day is around 1100, then I'm going to burn the fat my body is storing. I used an android app called My fitness pal to track my god and exercise. So if I do a 45 minute workout and burn 450 calories, I can eat around 1500 cals that day. It's great!
The other thing I would say is to clean up your diet. No refined or processed food. If it is packaged, them you need to be able to pronounce everything on the label. Eat organic if that is possible in the mid. East. No artificial anything! (color,flavors,etc). Your body will be able to burn the food more efficiently if the food is "whole".
I started doing all of this on march 13 and not only have I now dropped all my baby weight (last 12 pounds), but I'm sure I will get smaller and be way more healthy than I've ever been! Hth


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