Yes, I'm thinner than I used to be. Here's what's changed.

OK--I've never been a big girl. Genetics have blessed me with a body that, at its heaviest, bordered on "curvy" but hasn't ever approached "chubby," "zaftig" or "rubenesque." I have no more control over this than the colour of my eyes or the fact that I really, really like eggplant--so please don't roll your eyes at the skinny girl complaining about her weight. That's not what this post is about.

I am thinner than I used to be, though. Three years ago, I had finished my journalism degree at Ryerson, and graduated with honours, two writing awards, a pile of fascinating, accomplished classmates, and about 20 extra pounds.

Yes, I gained the frosh 15--it just took until my third undergrad degree to do it. And, being an over-achieving mature student, I added an extra five, just 'cause I could. I wasn't overweight, but I was concerned that the habits I'd developed would lead to trouble down the road.

Three years later lots has changed, body-, diet-, and exercise-wise--so I thought I'd share what I've been doing, partly because people have asked, and partly to remind myself what I need to keep doing if I want to stay as happy with myself as I am now.

So what do I do? Generally, I'm mostly careful about what I eat, and I exercise--not as much as I should, but more than I used to. But specifically:
  • I'm honest about my motivations. Yeah, I'd like to say I'm doing all this for my health. Nope.Vanity trumps health. I just like the way I look. If I want to keep being happy with what I see in the mirror, I need to keep working. End of story.

    Well, not quite. Actually, I do exercise for my health--my mental health. When I'm not running (or dancing, or hiking) regularly, my moods swing more wildly, I sleep badly and my natural optimism plummets. Actually, I haven't been running recently--and boy, do I feel it. (My Facebook status updates probably reflect it, too.) Guess I need to lace up the sneakers...

  • I cook at home. I know, I know--I'm lucky because I work at home, so I've got a little more time in the day to plan out meals and actually cook.. I also don't have kids, so I'm not balancing picky palates with healthy choices. (My parents' secret for getting me to eat veggies? Serve them frozen, as a snack. It's still the only way I really like peas.) My advice is to get a simple cookbook (I'm a particular fan of Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything) and stop thinking that cooking has to be some massive, high pressure gourmet undertaking. Really. Bunging a salmon filet and some cauliflower in the oven is hardly difficult--but if you bake the salmon on a couple of slices of lemon, and roast the cauliflower in some olive oil until it's brown and crispy, you'll have a great (simple!) dinner.

    Here's a list of what's generally in my fridge and pantry: 1% milk, salad mix, salsa (Herdez, which has no sugar), V8 (which also has no sugar), eggs, almond butter, apples/pears, frozen berries, frozen fish filets, plain non-fat Greek yogourt, maple syrup, sliced almonds, canned tomatoes, canned beans, canned tuna, chicken broth, curry paste, chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, olive oil, vinegars--so essentially a lot of ingredients, but very little ready-made stuff. Omelets are great last minute meals...

  • I don't eat a lot of "white stuff." You know--refined sugar, flour, rice. That white stuff. I'm not a dietician, and my iconoclastic side rebels at diet books and anything that tries to tell me what to do. For me--and this is highly, highly personal--I found that eating less pasta, bread and sweet stuff helped take off the weight. This is akin to a death sentence for some, so you may have to find your own eating habits that you can live with. I've never been a carb-craver (although I have a weakness for grocery-store birthday cake) AND I found any cravings I did have went away eventually. My go-to dinner these days tends to be roasted fish or chicken, roasted veggies and plain Greek yogourt with maple syrup and almonds for dessert..

    Now, I polished off a plate of spaetzle tonight, so it's not like I've conquered carbs completely--which leads me to the next point.

  • If I'm going to splurge, it had bloody well better be worth it. Today I was out for dinner with my dad, and we were at Zum Linzer, a great little Austrian place here in Hamilton. Their spaetzle was divine--and I enjoyed every single doughy buttery bite. Far healthier, physically and mentally, to truly enjoy good food shared with family, than to shamefacedly scarf down a jumbo bag of Doritos on your own and then beat yourself up about it afterwards. Empty calories and solitary shame? Don't do it! Make your splurges matter, and, ideally, make them feed your spirit as well as your belly.   
Look--everyone's different. What works for me may not work for you. And please, please don't beat yourself up if you've got other priorities in your life right now that don't involve exercising and changing the way you eat. (Just keep in mind that exercise will help you cope with those other priorities...) Change happens when it happens. For me, it started happening about three years ago, and it's still going on--so stay tuned. I may have other nifty little tips--and roadblocks, and setbacks--to share. And there will definitely be more cooking posts...

And please--feel free to share your own tips in the comments section.


Popular Posts