Sunday, May 21, 2017
In April of last year, I bought a Fitbit.
As a mom, I do a lot of unaccounted-for activity throughout the day; I wanted to know how many steps I was taking. But the Fitbit needed access to an app to tell you how many steps you had taken.
That app had a calorie counting feature. Maybe that would have meant nothing for some people. For me, it was a trigger. I fell. Hard.
I spent the next year obsessing over the numbers. I know, right?? After all that progress I had made in 2015, only a few months before? Gone!
I lost 15 pounds. I felt good about my body. I was finally where I always wanted to be. I felt like I was attractive. People noticed me when we were out, sometimes looking twice. It was awesome.
You know what wasn't awesome? My face lacked color. I frequently snapped at my family. I was tired. My period had stopped almost immediately (I'm still breastfeeding, so no one is too worried about this).
After the first few months I stopped losing and started eating more, which helped a lot. However, I was at constant war with the scale, working to keep it down.
In November, I ran a half marathon distance around my neighborhood. That was awesome! I felt so good that month.
Switching gears, I'd like to talk about WHAT I was eating around this time. While calorie counting, I ate my normal foods - whole grains, beans, lots of fruits and veggies, with a little bit of nuts and seeds. I just restricted how much I was eating. Shortly after my half marathon, however, my diet took a higher fat turn. I mean, I was eating TOO MUCH fat. Some of my readers haven't studied up on how this taxes the body, but when I realized I was getting more and more run down (so much so that I stopped exercising as heavily in the month of December), I knew something was up. I discovered that fat clogs insulin, trapping any sugars in your body from being able to fuel your muscles. Now, some people on a high fat, low carb diet might not suffer from this as much (though I far from suggest you try that, since it's very detrimental to the health). However, I was eating high carb AND high fat- and that doesn't work very well.
I finally found my "magic number" for fat intake and reduced low enough that I got my energy back and went back to my usual high-energy exercise routine.
By then I had gained almost all the weight back. It's taken a couple more months of me slowly letting go to completely regain all the lost weight. I am more muscular than I used to be at this weight, but I am far more aware of my belly than ever before - because I spent over 6 months without it!
So, here's a breakdown.
Skinny me: restricting food intake on a whole foods, plant based diet. Running completely on grit. Cranky. Brittle. Hungry. Self focused. Anxious. Turning heads of others.
Me now: eating as many whole, healing plant foods as I want! Tons of energy! Super happy every day, cheerful with everyone, fun for my family to be with. When I'm around others, I've started reaching out more and trying to connect with them, give them a huge smile, my attention. I watch their face change, their day get a little better. I have energy to make the world a better place! Oh, and my acne finally cleared up (hahahahaha). And I have a belly.
Seriously, which of these is better?
Now, I want to talk about something for my readers who are coming from plant-based Facebook groups. In many circles, there are suggestions that we need to purposefully eat by lower caloric density, filling up on vegetables and potatoes. We should never eat nuts or dried fruit if we want to lose weight. We should try potato-only diets. We should eat only 1-2 pieces of fruit a day.
I say this is baloney. You know where this left me? Cranky with an irritable bowel. Your gut NEEDS fruit. Chef AJ has all these crazy restrictions to her diet, and then she ended up needing to supplement soluble fiber in order to resolve it. Do you know where soluble fiber comes from? FRUIT! Her problem was her body needed more fruit.
I don't care what Dr. McDougall says about fruit and nuts. Your body has its own happy spot for what it needs from both of those food groups, and it will feel better with the right amounts of each. Right now, I'm eating 15+ servings of fruit, and 1-2 servings of nuts/seeds a day. Not to say this is right for everyone. Some people like to eat way less fruit, and that is fine. Just DON'T RESTRICT!
Because what happens when someone is restricting their body from what it naturally craves? Well, here was me, feeling guilty for bingeing on half a jar of peanut butter because my body was craving both fats and sugars, which are both present in nuts. By eating as much fruit as I crave, I cured my "nut addiction" that seemed so horrible at the time. Now, I naturally eat the right amount of nuts, have resolved my blood sugar issues, and enjoy all the delicious fruit I want.
It's really sad to me that people are coming into plant-based eating with these obstacles before them, slowing their body's healing progress with these unnecessary complications, feeding their previous dieting mentality of deprivation.
Needless to say, I don't spend time in Facebook groups focused on these restrictions any more. I have since found a few places where I can feel normal for having a belly at the end of the day because I "indulged" in so much healthy, healing, high fiber, whole, plant foods!
For goodness sake, please don't restrict yourself from any foods that can be considered whole, nutritious, and healing! Your body needs the nutrients, and IT knows how much it needs! Once you take out man-made foods that are unnaturally stimulating, there's no need to worry that you'll eat more than necessary; you will eat what's right for your body. Please have faith that God designed your body to thrive.