(Rhythm: a regular, repeated pattern)
If you wrote a story about my journey with food it would fill an entire novel. It would be a story with twists and turns, ups and downs, and mystery. I've often shared my struggles with having a positive self-image in my teens and twenties. I now read cookbooks for fun and have been surprised lately at how many other women my age say the same thing, but are doing something about it. Confessions of poor self-confidence are now giving space for conversations about kale and crunchy chickpeas. It seems a whole host of women are figuring out that the low-fat options we fed ourselves in our younger days aren't the substance we need for a healthy body and mind.
As I've gotten older I've noticed women have all different health goals, none of which should affect me. Before I go sounding snobby, let me explain. I used to destroy my self-confidence every time I saw a mom posting her workout results, or weight loss, or "before/after" shot where the before looked completely normal to me. I felt like I didn't measure up, like I wasn't doing enough to stay "skinny enough". Realistically I actually do know exactly how to eat and exercise for the next six months to lose about 10-15 pounds. This would require lots of weighing and eating tiny meals and subbing a shake/smoothie for a meal. Yet allowing myself to sink back into the scale hole would take away so much else from my life that needs me right now. When my thoughts are completely focused on "get skinnier", that's literally almost all I think about.
So I've taken myself away from the race to be thin and I've told myself this verse "Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart" a million times, and I've instead, tried to focus on my health. Am I eating real foods? Am I eating lots of fruits and veggies? Am I moving my body and being active? Am I turning to God instead of emotional eating?
These are my measures for success.
A few additional things are helping my healthy mindset flourish that I'd love to share with you.
One is our garden! By planting our own food and getting the girls involved we are really giving ourselves a ton of healthy and delicious options to eat. Plus it's way more fun to dig your own potatoes up than it is to grab them from the grocery store bin.
Another part of embracing health as a family is to learn control. We don't really cut any one food group out of our diet, although we do try to limit junk food or not eat it at all. However, we still eat bread, pasta, and good chocolate. But in moderation. We teach and put into practice the importance of protein and drinking enough water, both game changers for the rest of our healthy habits. When we feel full from the right things, we're less likely to reach for something unhealthy.
Next, we eat at home three meals a day, with the exception of possibly one meal out a week. I've been keeping a food log of all the meal ideas/snacks we've tried that everyone has liked. If it's tasty, it goes in the book. This makes it so much easier when trying to figure out what to make for dinner!
Another great tip I have is to meal prep! I usually take one day a week and do some or all of the following: slice veggies for my own stir-fry mix, cook a whole chicken and take the meat off the bone/pour the broth in jars to save in the freezer, cook dry beans, boil eggs, bake granola, bake muffins, etc.
I was baking my own bread but kept having trouble getting the consistency right and it wasn't getting eaten. So for now it's back to buying store-bought bread and just keeping an eye on how much we eat.
I've also really been enjoying starting to cook dinner early. We eat later than most families so by starting dinner earlier the flavors in our food really have time to simmer and taste fantastic, especially with this homemade spaghetti sauce with garden tomatoes!
We have recently embraced the world of poached eggs and there is no turning back for us. This was a weekend breakfast that consisted of a piece of sausage, a poached egg, and some cooked kale. YUMMY.
This little sandwich is another favorite of mine. Mashed avocado with lemon juice on whole-wheat toast with a poached egg on top. If you're feeling really wild you could spread goat cheese on the bread before the avocado.
And probably my favorite way to eat dinner is like this. A big bowl of goodness.
This particular night we had cooked kale, roasted sweet potato and regular potato, a dollop of goat cheese, poached eggs, chickpeas, and turkey sausage.
My last tip (and biggest one) is to have fun with it!
So many women go through life completely tortured by food. I don't mean not being able to eat certain foods because of allergies, illness, or health concerns. I mean thinking that food is the enemy and having some meat on our bones is bad. I have been so freed up by allowing myself the pleasure of enjoying my food. There's almost nothing better than sitting down with a stack of inspiring cookbooks and browsing away. My favorite type of cookbooks lately lean towards a vegetarian diet, but not all the way. They are the books with page after page of real food. Nothing processed or fake. Recipes that use delicious ingredients, taste great, and are meant to be enjoyed, not used as a stop on the weight-loss road.
Being mama to two girls means several things. One is that they're picking up on the fact if I'm happy with my body or not. As far as I know they've never heard the word "fat", at least not in context of describing how I feel. Instead, we embrace healthy choices and say "Look how strong you are!". Healthy and strong are our words of choice and we've linked those with "energy" so many times the girls are starting to understand we eat well to feel well.
Second, it means that as mama I have many needs dependent upon me. If I'm a mess emotionally and reaching for peanut m&m's my energy suffers, which leads to every other area in my life suffering. Of course eating healthy isn't a cure-all. I still get tired just like everyone else. But I've learned how fun food and cooking can be and that these tools can lead to freedom.
Have any thoughts of your own to share on this subject?
I'd love to hear.