Thursday, January 05, 2012


2012 seems to be hitting the ground running around here.  My people seem to be over most of the illnesses that have plagued us for the entire Christmas vacation.  Or we are at least on hiatus from them, since everyone knows that the kids just pass around the same runny nose and hacky cough from November until May.

Since we've started a new year, it seems like the perfect time to talk about the steps I've made toward regaining my health and living better.  It feels a little strange to broach the topic, but you were all so supportive and lovely.  I don't want you to think that I up and quit before I really got started.

A number of people joked with me that I was nuts to start a "clean" living plan right before Christmas, with all its treats and excesses.  Didn't I know that's what the new year was for?  

But I've got to tell you, I think it's the smartest thing I've done in a while.  I actually enjoyed reading about everyone else's resolutions without feeling guilty that I wasn't being resolute enough for the new year.  I had already made my big step, my big commitment to my health.

I'll start with the bottom (ha!) line first:  I have lost 9 pounds in three weeks.  Considering I hadn't lost a pound in three months, even with scrupulous calorie counting and daily exercise, I am pretty excited by this change.

And I lost those 9 pounds without changing my exercise routine at all.  In fact, I've even throttled back on the intensity of my exercising.

So what's the deal, you ask?   The deal has been a pretty complete overhaul of not just what I eat, but the way I eat.

Quite simply, I haven't been eating enough.  Crazy, right?  Actually, not so much.  I had been unwittingly sending my body the message: "Hang on to your fat cells, girl, because you ain't gonna eat for a very long time after this."

I used to think that the "starvation mode" theory was a bunch of bunk.  I thought snacking was a thing I could never do.  I ate breakfast, I ate lunch, and I ate dinner.  The end.  If I ate sparingly, I would lose weight.

Surprisingly, that plan did not produce the expected results.  (I am only speaking to my experiences and for my specific body type here.  I know plenty of people who can reduce their calories and lose weight no problem.  My husband is one of them.  I am not.)

Instead, the reverse happened.  I kept cutting calories, but lost no weight.  I increased the exercise, but lost no weight.  I quickly became discouraged, especially since the prevailing attitude for weight loss seems to be "eat less, move more."  I was already doing that!

Essentially, the "eat less, move more" philosophy is true, but not in the classic sense for me.  Certainly exercise is always good, and I don't care what anyone says, you cannot have lasting weight loss and increased health without moving.  Your body is a wonderful machine and it is meant to be used that way, with all the parts working in cooperation.

But the "eat less" part was what tripped me up.  I need to eat less of certain foods, not less times a day.

After lots of reading, internet researching, and working with people who know more about nutrition than I do, I think I've arrived at a plan that can work to help me both lose weight and recapture my lost vitality.

What that plan looks like for me is heavy on the lean protein, heavy on the green veggies, moderate on most fruits, moderate on complex carbs, and very light on just about everything else.   I need to go for the whole foods and strictly avoid the processed.

Here's what I've learned about myself thus far:

  • It is a myth that you can eat whatever you want as long as you do enough exercise to burn it off.  At least it's a myth for me.  I cannot, and will not ever be able to, eat three giant soft pretzels and then hit the treadmill or Zumba for an hour and a half.   Those pretzels will negate everything I do in the gym.  Times three.
  • I was seriously undercutting my portions of protein.  Since I had done weight loss programs in the past, I thought I was pretty savvy about estimating portion sizes.  Then I started weighing my food and I saw that I had been underestimating my portions of protein by at least half.  Not good for my body type.
  • I really had (and still have) an unhealthy attachment to certain kinds of food.  I would tell myself that I had a hard day and I deserved those three little cookies.  After all, I had run three miles on the treadmill, and three cookies was the serving size listed on the package.   But you know what?  No one deserves a cookie.  Food is just food.  It's not a measure of how good a person I am. 
  • Even eating this way for only a week, I started feeling better.  I had more energy and less mood swings.  I think my blood sugar was more unstable than I thought. 
  • I can't lie, the change has been hard.  There really has been an element of addiction for me - especially to simple carbs and sugar - and breaking that has been like a withdrawal of sorts.   It speaks to how awful I felt that I have been willing to leave behind my beloved mini pretzels.  And it speaks to how addicted I am to simple carbs that I call pretzels "beloved."
  • At Christmas, all bets were off and I ate a lot of junk.  I'm okay with that.
I'm figuring out more and more as I go along, but what I've learned so far has been pretty profound for me.   I still have a long way to go, and there are still some hormonal issues I need to address, but I'm on my way.  

Stick with me, my friends? 


  1. Anonymous9:36 PM

    GREAT job!!! I'm do happy for you that you found something that is working!! YAY!!! :-)
    -Lisa Luciano

  2. This is awesome! I love that you are discovering what works for you. While I am sure it is a hard process, hearing how good you feel sounds like a perfect pay off. And that one thought that "food is just food" simple yet I bet if we all get away from the "food as reward" thinking, we will raise healthier kids as well. I know I am guilty of dangling the cookie (not the carrot) to get compliance. Great job Aimee!!!

  3. It seems we're on a similar path! Congratulations on losing 9 pounds, Aimee, and (even better) on strengthening that resistance muscle because you KNOW, in the end, that you'll feel better.

    Go you! Go me!

    Happy 2012. :)

  4. You inspire me and give me hope that I can cut off my own sugar addiction. Why do we always seem to equate hard days with rewards of food?! Right now my willpower is pretty fragile, but I am working on it :) !!

  5. Good for you! I'm so impressed by your discipline and ability to see food as fuel for your body rather than a reward. (And a little envious of it, truth be told.) I'm glad it's helping you feel better! :)

  6. As one of those people who gave you a cockeyed look when you detailed your eating plan for me, I am whole-heartedly offering my apologies for thinking you are crazy. Congratulations! You know me (being your baby sister and all!) and you know that I know all about how hard it is to really buckle down and get healthy. Not just lose weight - but get healthy! I am so unbelieveably proud of you for your determination and your commitment, and I have always believed that your self control is vastly stronger than my own. Oh and a bonus congrats on your weight loss! Love you!!

  7. Of course sticking with you! Maybe being inspired by you too. I have horrible eating habits. It is sheer luck that my weight has stayed low and steady considering the way I eat. I skip meals, then I snack, I don't eat nearly enough fruit and vegetables and I eat too much meat I think. My first goal is meatless dinner once a week and a smoothie for lunch a couple of times a week. We'll go from there. I'm so glad you are seeing positive results--surely that will make it a little easier to stick with the changes.

  8. Sounds like you've got a workable plan and you have already made great progress! Keep up the good work!

  9. GeeGee10:57 AM

    I am proud of you,(especially when I come to your house with a box of munchkins for the kids).My new Johnny's Seeds catalogue just arrived in the mail and there are all sorts of great greens and other veggies in it. Maybe we can plant some good stuff this spring!!!

  10. Good for you, Aimee! Weight Watchers really taught me that I should eat small portions of most everything and tons of veggies and I would lose weight and feel great. i do tend to eat a lot of protein normally (egg for breakfast, greek yogurt for lunch and chicken or beans at dinner) because I know that's what keeps me feeling full. I do like my treats after dinner, and for me, as long as I am working out, I can have them. But if I want to drop weight, I need to give them sad. Good luck and make sure you have before, during, and after photos so we can see the changes :) Yeah, I'm nosy like that!


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