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A healthier 2012

Seems like not making a resolution is the new New Year resolution.

Most years, as long as I can remember, mine was “lose weight.” Or stop biting my nails. This year it’s try a new recipe every week – specific and attainable – two important aspects when making a resolution, right? I’ve struggled with my weight and relationship with food long enough to know magical things don’t happen on January 1st that make you more committed to a healthy lifestyle. That said, I still want to make 2012 a healthier year.

Like every good SAHM, I love the Dr. Oz show. A recent episode reminded me that it takes 3 weeks to create a habit – and a lifetime to maintain it. Last year I worked hard to change my eating habits, increase my daily activity, get to a healthy weight and improve my relationship with food. I detoxed from the amount of sugar I was eating, which was incredibly hard. Then around September I started slipping into unhealthy but familiar eating habits. I was still exercising regularly, so the effects of a milkshake and a pile of sweet potato fries didn’t show on the outside right away. A few months went by and my healthy meals got replaced with junk and an “oh well, whatever” attitude as the holidays arrived. Now here I am in January, having packed on 17 pounds since August. My pants are all too tight, my belly is softer and squishing out of the top of my pants. But what bothers me most is continuing to struggle with a healthy relationship with food, one that I can model to Leia.

October 2010. I'm breastfeeding, why isn't the weight coming off?!

November 2010. Chubby legs are cute on babies, not me.

December 2010

This month I’m trying to get “back on track” by starting back up with a food journal and trying new exercises (hello pilates) to spice things up. I fell off the wagon, but that’s life, and I can get back on.

July 2011

August 2011

Some things I have learned:

1. When you’re fat it takes more (insert junk food) to make you happy. The physician on Biggest Loser explained to a contestant the way the pleasure centers in the brain differ depending on your amount of body fat. So a person who is at a healthy weight can eat a brownie and feel satisfied. A obese person needs half the pan of brownies to feel the same satisfaction. Obviously this doesn’t touch on the problem of emotional or stress triggered binge eating, but it struck a chord with me.

2. Cravings are temporary. I struggle with eating high fat/high sugar/over processed foods in large quantities. I tell myself “well, you already ate three waffles with a ton of syrup for breakfast, might as well eat two slices of cake for lunch.” Or I’ll be out somewhere and see a huge soft pretzel covered in salt with nacho cheese and start drooling. But I’ve learned that the intense craving for these things is temporary. If I distract myself with something else, keep on walking, or make a different choice, 20 minutes later the craving is usually gone and I feel better about myself. Everyday is a series of choices, sometimes we make good ones, sometimes bad ones. But one unhealthy choice shouldn’t “undo” your day.

3. Good food and Bad food are crappy words. This is hard for me. I don’t want Leia to grow up thinking there’s good food and bad food. I want her to feel like she can enjoy things in moderation. But I don’t know how to do it myself. I want to be able to enjoy some dessert after dinner, without eating a whole cake.

4. Exercise everyday. Even if it’s a 15 minute walk, or doing some stretches and strengthening exercises in the morning or before bed (or during naps). When I go one day without making a conscious effort to exercise, I go two, then three. Exercise should be like brushing your teeth.

5. Make small weekly goals, by adding healthier options. A long time ago I was given a few sessions with a personal trainer. I was all amped to get skinny by working out an hour every day and eat nothing but salads. She explained that trying to go from the sedentary all junk food lifestyle I was living to something out of a health magazine overnight was probably setting myself up for failure. So she had me make small changes each week. The first week I added water and walks. I didn’t change much about how I ate but I drank 80 ounces of water and walked for 15 minutes every day. The next week I made sure to have two servings of fruit or vegetables at each meal. I also added 10 minutes to my walks and a few strength exercises before bed (still keeping the changes from last week). Each week I added something, and it was a slow gradual change that helped me keep 50 lbs off for 8 years.