I used to feel trapped in the body I had. The flabby stomach, squishy arms and frightening thighs.
I’d start a diet only to indulge a week into it. The number on the scale crept up and my hopes would plummet. Is there any escape?
I lived that struggle for 10 years.
Back in college I trained for marathons and had an active job as a personal trainer, often running the 3 miles to work and back. That active life, along with a fairly low calorie diet, made it easy to maintain a weight of 118.
I graduated a semester early and then, a couple months after turning 22, got married. B and I immersed ourselves in our new business and found comfort in Chinese takeout, late night breakfasts, fatty style burritos and chips, and milkshakes from the Jack ‘n the Box down the street. Though we indulged often we still exercised everyday and I continued to run marathons.
Within a year my weight was close to 130.
Another year passed and I became pregnant with our son, Andrew.
Pregnancy was just the excuse I needed to eat any and everything imaginable. And to stop exercising. The most activity I got in those 9 months was our nightly strolls through the neighborhood, often doing a small loop around our street so I could run in to pee each time we passed the house.
My weight, while being admitted to the hospital to give birth, topped off at 185. On my small frame it did not look or feel good.
When we left the hospital something clicked in my mind. I would drop the extra weight –fast.
We worked from home at the time, so I would nurse the baby and leave him in daddy’s care, taking to the road for hours at a time. At my 6-week check up I was daily running 9 miles and my weight was back down to 130.
Two years later I was pregnant with our daughter, Chloe, and despite my attempt to eat cleaner, the scale at the hospital once again hit exactly 185 on the day I gave birth.
Ugh. Leaving the hospital with a beautiful newborn daughter I felt gigantic and uncomfortable. At home things were different this time. B was working from an office away from the house and I had a 2 year old and an infant to care for, as well as work to do from home and a brand new house to move us into.
No more leaving on 2 hour runs. No more rapid weight loss.
The next few years I exercised sporadically, trained for marathons sporadically and dieted sporadically. My weight inched down to the mid-140’s where I then gained and lost the same 10 pounds about a dozen times.
By Chloe’s 5th birthday I had brought my weight down to 140. 118 was only 22 pounds away, but it may as well have been 200. I was stuck.
Enter my real food journey…
Food has been a passion of mine since I can remember. I started baking when I was around 10 years old, and since then my most tranquil, pure-enjoyment moments happen when I am in my kitchen, in the zone, making magic happen.
Baking and cooking really is magic. You start with an assortment of ingredients, each nothing special alone, and in no time at all you create something delicious. I love the way the house smells when I’ve been cooking – walking in from outside in the cold to a warm kitchen that has swirls of yummy aromas in the air – that is heaven.
In 2009, as the mommy of a 4 and 2 year old, I had a huge ah-hah moment while doing research on an article I was writing about the harm of sugar. As I read about the way sugar strips nutrients from our bodies tears streamed down my face. How come no one told me that sugar was so awful? I was feeding my kids sugar – and had just shopped for Easter candy that day.
In a passion-fueled twenty minutes I took a garbage bag to the kitchen and threw out every item that contained sugar…even the brand new bags of Easter candy. B came home to find me, tear-streaked face, ravaging around with my garbage bag – lol! That year the kids ended up with dried fruit in their Easter eggs.
A seed had been planted. I had begun my real food journey.
Fast-forward to December of 2012. I was eating about 80% real food, with a continued weakness for diet soda, popcorn and ‘skinny’ cocktails. My weight was 140, still over 20 pounds from my goal weight of 118.
My son, 7, came home with a bag of chips given to him from one of his friends. I felt irritation rise up inside of me. How dare people give my child harmful, processed food! How dare the Doritos advertisers make the bag look so fun and cool, compared to my home-packed healthy lunches.
I started to tell him that it was NOT OK to eat chips like that and he looked at me, with the beautiful innocence of a 7 year old, and said “But mom, you eat Pirate’s Booty.”
Gulp. Son, you have a point. I do eat Pirate’s Booty.
In that moment I realized that even though the bulk of my diet was real, wholesome food, my kids were paying attention to the exceptions that I was allowing into my life.
It was time to practice what I preach, and to say goodbye to processed food completely.
I was in for a surprise at how fully and completely this simple decision transformed my life. Not only have I had the immense pleasure of sharing my recipes with thousands of amazing people, but I now live life at my ideal weight (124!), in a healthy, vibrant way.
Cooking with whole foods is so enjoyable. When your ingredients are fresh, organic and have delightful natural flavor then you’re bound to make culinary magic happen.
In the past I would center my meals around grains, which would result in a heavier, starchy meal. Now my cooking is all about fresh vegetables, meats, fruits, nuts and seeds and the end results are delicious yet light in starch so you aren’t left with a bloated, full feeling.
Today I have a simple, whole food dinner recipe for you, one that will get you on track for your very own real food journey. It cooks all day in the slow cooker, so you get home to a house that smells amazing and a hot dinner ready to dish up!
Real food dinner for you —> Real Food Ground Beef Spaghetti Sauce
Happy Cooking 🙂