I don’t usually share much about my personal eating plan. Just like many of you, after menopause, I struggled with my own weight. Of more concern t me was my elevated cholesterol and family history of heart disease. On top of that were many stressors in my life including being a single parent, the loss of a loved one and a job loss that created financial challenges. Sound familiar?
In practicing what I preach, I continued to eat healthy to the best of my ability and focused on becoming even more consistent with exercise. I was up to doing 2 hours of strenuous Pilates and one hour of weight training and had just begun to add an additional 2 hours of walking per week. I felt like I was on top of the world. Finally, getting to exercise enough to feel as if I was really getting FIT when I developed over a period of a couple of months right knee pain. To make a long story short, I found out I have a torn meniscus and have to have knee surgery. Of course, this meant no walking (without crutches) and even no PIlates. I continued doing upper body weight lifting until I had a hard time making it to the gym.
So, I know what it’s like to feel as if you’ve worked really hard only to have something put a stop to your progress. On the good side, I found that my healthy eating and exercise had lowered my cholesterol by 90 points! My good cholesterol (HDL) is the best it’s ever been thanks to my exercise program and healthy eating. But, the overall numbers are still higher than normal. So, more work to be done.
I asked myself – as I sat on the couch with my knee packed in ice – how I could turn these lemons into lemonade. After a bit of self-pity, I decided to get even more serious about healthy eating and challenged myself to really get serious about the anti-inflammatory diet (www.drweil.com). I had been working my way up the pyramid for this way of eating little by little. Now, I decided was my chance to do it all the way. I have begun eating a more vegetarian-like diet. I am eating more fish and eating chicken or other meat only twice a week. I am actually learning to cook real whole grains such as barley and millet and couscous. I’m no longer eating “fake” whole grains or other processed foods. I’m eating 4-5 servings of vegetables per day and eating more beans, lentils, other legumes daily. I’ve been trying new recipes that have helped me shift my diet from meat protein based to non-animal proteins.
I’ve also learned a lot about myself in the process. For example, I learned that I was still snacking more than I needed to when I was stressed or anxious. (I didn’t realize how anxious I sometimes get!!) so, I had to reach for resources other than food to deal with these moments. And unfortunately, I couldn’t use exercise as a coping tool.
My new program has resulted in really effortless weight loss. I am waiting to find out if my cholesterol is lower. I am less hungry than I thought I’d be. I’m very excited about the new way I’m learning to cook. I found I even like eating vegetables for breakfast. Starting the day with a savory meal instead of a sweet one makes me less likely to crave sweets later in the day.
I never feel deprived. On my recent birthday, I had 2 desserts in one weekend without guilt and without any negative consequences; nor did I crave or feel the need to eat sweets after that weekend.
I’m excited to see where this is leading me. I know I couldn’thave gotten here without the years of healthy eating I’ve been doing…it would have been too great a leap for me. But given my success in eating a basic healthy diet, I’m thrilled now to take this next step that may allow me to reduce my heart disease risk without medication.
I’ll keep you posted. Happy eating to you all. Remember enjoying food is the most important of all healthy eating behaviors.