I was a chubster growing up. When hubs sees pictures of me, he laughs, and so do I. What can I say? I enjoyed my after school snacks of Slurpees, Cheetos, and French Fries maybe a little too much (and no, not all in the same day).
When I got to Junior High, sports became a huge part of my life. And I began to slim out. High school resulted in even more weight lose as I grew, matured, and was more active in sports, playing volleyball both for school and for a club team.
When I got to college I quickly gained the “freshman fifteen” thanks to Caf food and late night runs to Whataburger for Honey Butter Chicken Biscuits. Not to mention all the events with free food! That’s the best way to get college students to anything, after all.
My junior year I decided to start running again, and trained to successfully complete two half marathons. I stopped running for awhile (after overusing a tendon in my foot putting me in a boot). But picked it up again and completed another half marathon my senior year.
My weight fluctuated after that, as my running did. I thought that if I worked out I could eat whatever I wanted to. When I stopped running, I would pack on some pounds. When I started running again, I was slim down a little.
When I got engaged, I was living at home, ran routinely each morning to clear my mind, was stressed and busy with wedding planning, and depressed over my current job situation and transition out of college. All of this partnered together to shed some pounds. I didn’t exactly plan to go on a “wedding diet,” but I did slim up. I felt great in my dress on my wedding day!
Then marriage began. I began eating the same portions as my husband (who can literally eat pretty much whatever he wants and still look super slim thanks to his awesome metabolism that I hope our kids are blessed with). I felt pressure to eat more because I didn’t want to waste the food we made. Cooking for two is hard. We also enjoyed eating out and trying new restaurants in our new neighborhood. On top of that I was working at a bundt cake bakery, and let’s just say bundts go straight to the butt. I never knew how much I love sweets until I lived with someone who doesn’t. I never realized I was a snacker until I lived with someone who isn’t. I never knew my eating habits were sort of out of whack until there was someone questioning, out of love, why I ate certain things, or amount of things. Also, I began to realize food was a comfort for me. When I was having a bad day, I “deserved” a treat to cheer me up. (And during the first few months of marriage I was having a huge struggle with identity and purpose, so of there were lots of opportunities for treat days). When something good happened, I “deserved” to celebrate with a treat!
All these years I had never really struggled with my weight or body image. I was never the slimmest of my friends. I was blessed with “big bones.” I had just come to accept it. Yes, some days I felt fat, and when seasons changed and my clothes didn’t fit I felt a little discouraged. But it wasn’t until a few months ago that I realized I had the wrong mindset in regards to food. It’s not that food controlled me, it’s just that I didn’t really think I needed to control what I ate, I wasn’t mindful of the effects it had on me. I was ignorant of what I was actually putting in my body. I was pretty passive toward food. I realized I wasn’t being a good steward of the body God had given me.
A few weeks ago I asked my mom about a three day diet I knew her and my dad had done before. I wanted to kick start a new lifestyle (including running again). So I began the diet, and it was rough. I was hungry all the time, revealing that my body was used to massive portions. Therefore when I ate smaller, healthier portions and foods, my body was longing for more. It was used to something else. It needed to be retrained. I also realized that my portions were not balanced. I looked at the plate of what the diet called for and saw a different ratio of veggies to meat than I usually see on my plate. Sometimes it’s not about eating less, it’s about eating more of the right things. Those three days opened my mind to the fact that I need to be more mindful about the things I am putting in my body. It also made me more thankful for the tastes of food.
After the diet ended, I downloaded a calorie counting app. Not only does this app allow me to count calories, but the other nutritional values of food (protein, fats, carbs, etc.) as well. It gives me goals to stay under each day for each category. (And by the way, I am aware that there are people who say calorie counting doesn’t work, just like there are always haters for everything, and people who say that anything you eat causes cancer…*sarcasm*).
I have been using the app for about two weeks now, and it has really changed my diet. The other night hubs and I went out to dinner and dessert. As I looked at the menu trying to decide between two things I said “I will go with this one, since it has less calories.” “I’ve never heard you say that before!” said a surprised husband. He could see a change in me.
This isn’t about losing weight, it’s about a mindset change, it’s about being more mindful and practicing self control. It’s not about not enjoying food, it’s about finding more enjoyment by enjoying foods in moderation. It’s not about being legalistic and always saying no to “unhealthy foods”. It’s about being free to take time to really savor foods (not just scarf them down) and praise God for the wide variety of foods He has given us and the nutrients He offers us through them. It’s about being a better steward. It’s about being more mindful in general.
I’ve found that counting calories is a lot like counting your blessings. It’s an intentional way of stepping into the moment and gathering the richness of life.