Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Still Battling The Bulge

When I first started this blog, one of the main things I talked about was my weight. I worked through where I thought my weight began, why I have carried so much fat for so long. I talked about what it was like to be the fat kid, and what it was like to be the fat kid with skinny friends. I talked about the ways I had tried to lose weight, and why I thought it wasn't working. I talked about how embarrassing it was when I went to a doctor, afraid that there was something wrong with me. I brought him records of every bite I'd eaten and every workout that I'd had for six weeks. And he looked at me as if I was the biggest fattest most disgusting liar. How dare I try to convince him that I was working out and eating healthy?! He was sure I'd been living on ice cream and twinkies, I guess.

Well, I've still been eating healthy all this time. I have allowed working out to slip to the back burner because I feel like it gets me nowhere, and it's certainly easier to be lazy when I get alone time than it is to get up even though I'm exhausted and work out until I'm sweaty and gross. And my weight is just the same as it was before. Even though I had a baby.

But something did change in that time. I learned what it is that is wrong with me. I found out what medical problem is keeping me from losing weight. Because while I was pregnant with Piglet, I became a gestational diabetic. I pricked my finger four times every day to check my blood sugar. I learned the difference between how I felt with high blood sugar and how I felt with normal or low blood sugar. I also learned that even when I am not pregnant, I have probably been "insulin resistant" all this time. "Pre-diabetic".

What does that mean? For me, it means that I have been eating too many of the wrong carbs too much of the time, for far too long. I am now taking steps to change this, but they are not easy steps for me to take. I fear new vegetables the way I fear going outside alone after dark. Part of this is because I have a VERY limited income. What if I buy something new and want to try it, but find it repulsive and then I have wasted food money that could have been used for something yummy ... like noodles!

Noodles are my kryptonite.

The other part of my veggie terror is due to simple ignorance. I don't know how to prepare fresh veggies ... they are horribly intimidating. And not just for me. Piglet would eat them because she is one year old and doesn't know how scary they are. But six year old Teenybop wouldn't touch a new food ever if she could help it. She could happily live on chicken nuggets, Campbells chicken noodle soup (shaped like Dora, Princesses, Cars characters, or Spongebob), and macaroni and cheese. And with her metabolism, it would never show. And that's even without the dread of trying to introduce those new vegetables to Private Ryan who will most likely turn up his nose like a high school cheerleader and declare that he is not hungry.

But I have decided. I will not let two kids and a food-snobby man dictate my right to be healthy. My right to EAT healthy. And if they don't like it, they can live on peanut butter and jelly, because I refuse to cook two different meals, and I refuse to allow them to do it either. We will eat together as a family, because I am a home-maker. That means the home is MY domain.

However ... Power struggles aside, I will make the effort to make this an easy experience for my family. I know that Teenybop despises baked potatoes (as noted here and here), so on those days when I serve them, we will have two different vegetables and she will be allowed to omit the potato. Other than that, I will start with simple recipes that simply change something we are used to in a small way. Instead of buying regular macaroni and cheese at the grocery store, I bought the kind with whole wheat noodles. They don't taste the same ... but they aren't bad, and we can learn to prefer them. They are also more filling, and when we ate them we didn't get hungry again for a while. This change will continue until it no longer feels like we have "lost" those simple carbs that regular noodles are full of. Whole wheat noodles aren't really perfectly healthy either, and I know that. But they are a start.

I have also been looking at different recipes that include vegetables in a way that is friendly to my family. I am going to learn to make healthy "mock mashed potatoes" with cauliflower. I am going to make a cheesy squash casserole recipe that I found, and I suspect it will taste like the halfway point between scalloped potatoes and macaroni and cheese. if it is good, I will not make macaroni and cheese anymore ... this casserole will replace those simple carbs with cheese that feeds our muscles healthy protein and squash that is a whole food. Right from the ground, not from some factory where they mix chemicals and powders to give me an ingredient list I can hardly recognize.

I know that these changes will be a challenge to all of my family (except for Piglet) to adjust to, because our palates are trained to prefer overly sweet fake foods and chemicals. But we will learn, we will adjust, and because of this determination to change my family diet, I will be the home-maker to a healthy family that is well fed and nutritionally satisfied in a way that keeps our taste buds just as happy. I will be proud of a healthy man and healthy children who make healthy choices.

I will be proud of myself, because when I jack up the protein and exchange the simple-sugar carbs for more complex and nutritionally useful carbs, I will see health benefits in myself before my usual diet has a chance to really leave me with permanently damaged health. I will lose weight because my body will learn again how to digest carbs and sugars properly. My body will learn again how to use the fuel that I put in, and my body will learn again how to give energy back. My mind will learn again how to interpret the signals my body sends me ... what to eat, when, and how much.

I stopped posting a long time ago about my weight because I worked out the mental and emotional issues behind it. I stopped hating my weight. I stopped hating myself because of my weight. But the desire to be thin isn't gone.

It may have been hibernating ... but as always, I am reading the archives of a blog, Escape From Obesity. Also, two of my friends have begun a competition between them, to inspire each other to lose weight. They have invited me to join them, but I declined, preferring to do change my lifestyle in order to be ... well, thinner. But also healthier. I need to learn to make choices that will bring myself and my family to better health, not just smaller sizes. And I'm not in a hurry for that, because I don't want a burnout that will have me giving up and regaining whatever I am able to lose.

I am excited that my friends are trying to lose weight and improve their bodies and their quality-of-life. I can't wait to cheer them on as they work together to become more satisfied in their skins. I hope with all my heart that they both succeed. But if I'm going to keep it off, I have to do these changes forever. I can't just go on a diet and get thin and then eat macaroni and cheese and stay thin. But if I have to do it forever, I am willing to do little by little to make sure that I can stick to it.

After all, the best way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a good one. But I will get nowhere if I overwhelm myself.

So for now, I'm off to make dinner ... and drink a lot of water.