I Used to be Fat(ter)

This is going to be my story. Not my complete story. But the story of my battle with food, obesity, exercise, and clean living. I think I intend for this to someday become an actual work of writing somehow, but in the meantime I’ll just collect my thoughts.

(This will be a long post, I have kept these notes in a Word document until now.)

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I decided that I needed to start remembering my journey to a healthier being on the comment of a coworker. We were discussing some of the thoughts I used to have as a fat(ter) girl, and saying them out loud, was comical and almost whimsical. Sure, it was funny now to think about, but I also felt sad. I know that what I was doing to myself seemed normal, and I just had no idea that there was a different way to live. I figured I would always be fat, that I would face the same struggle that my family and so many other Americans are facing right now, that that was the norm. It never even crossed my mind that I could change, I just assumed I wasn’t like other people. “It’s genetic.” And there are so many teenagers and young women and men and even older women and men that are having these same feelings and thoughts.There’s this whole “obese sub-culture.” Fat people marry fat people and have fat kids. By nature, fat people even associate with other fat people because its more comfortable, less judgmental.

Someone I know who is only 18 years old is gaining weight like crazy, ending up at near the weight I was before I started losing. It makes me sad to hear she is on THREE medications already for high blood pressure and cholesterol. It makes me want to help her.

I visited with my mom and grandparents last year. They were kind of dumbfounded when I said I don’t eat meat, dairy, or anything artificial, and really little oil. My grandma commented that it doesn’t leave me with many choices. But really, what I have found is that you explore the possibilities of what real and whole foods can give you instead of staying limited to meat and potatoes or grilled chicken and steamed vegetables, and all of the snack foods and candy, etc that are so prevelant. Sure you have a lot of options if you eat the standard American diet but there’s no nourishment or really, variety of flavor in anything. Everything tastes like bread, or oil, or sugar. There’s no real pizazz or flavor. Nothing even close that the natural flavors of vegetables and enhancers like date sugar or fresh herbs give a dish.

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Last night, though, I got into a few heated conversations (political, social, relationships.) One that did come up was the sustainability of a plant-based diet. Gosh, I love talking about that. I am so passionate about it, it just makes so much sense. Honestly, and people may not like that I say this, but animal welfare is not even in my top 3 reasons for choosing a vegan diet. (Okay, I feel a rant coming on, and I’m sure if this were in person, it would cause some heated debate as well. My views are ever evolving and this is kind of just me working it out.)

1) Health – eliminating excessive cholesterol and calories, being able to fuel workouts better, feeling lighter and not bogged down, feeling nourished instead of bloated or sick after eating, and the proof that a plant-based diet allows us to live longer and healthier with less of these American self-induced diseases.

2) Sustainability – do I really need to get into details? With diminishing land and diminishing resources, it’s only logical that a field growing plants that are going to be fed directly to humans is less detrimental than a field being consumed by livestock. I learned on the farm last week that certain foods need a more nourished soil to grow heartier (which makes completely logical sense since foods like kale are so high in nutrients and phytonutrients, and foods like garlic and onions are not.) So the crops are able to be rotated to sustain and make the most of the soil. I’ll admit I don’t know everything about raising animals for food, I don’t know all that much, but I have pretty good deductive reasoning. If plants contain energy from the soil and from the sun, and a cow consumes that grass, breaks it down and uses the energy to exist, what nourishment (besides a huge hunk of unnecessary and hard to assimilate protein) is left for us to consume when eating that meat? I think it’s unreasonable to expect a meat-free, dairy-free country, I understand that you’re taking a really big industry out. But there’s obviously changes that need to be made. And this whole 2012 “End of the World” debate is hopefully a shift in our consciousness which will bring about some of these changes. Enough people, hopefully, are finally going to realize that we can’t continue living this way.

3) Food advocacy – wrap those 2 thoughts all together to kind of be summed up with food advocacy. For health, for sustainability, for clean eating, for a better earth, for more support of local, for taking the time to appreciate food again. Maybe this shouldn’t count as its own reason since its kind of a summation.

But that’s the ultimate bottom line. I don’t care if you eat meat or dairy, I really don’t. Because honestly, I feel like the joke’s on you if you can’t at least understand the cold hard facts. I would be hard pressed to find a health professional, or any moderately-educated professional, who would advocate a meat-strong diet. There’s no nourishment, and obviously cholesterol enough to kill. But that’s part of the problem is that we LOVE meat as a country. The cheaper, the better. And so many people don’t have a choice. With families to feed, you can’t expect to compete with a $1 double cheeseburger. That’s why I am really excited about the Farm Fresh RI project “Healthy Foods, Healthy Families” to bring education and better, nutritious foods to lower-income areas and families. And that’s what’s important: not just the food, but the education. You don’t have to be college-educated to grasp eating healthy. You just have to be willing to not conform to the standards that meat is the center of every meal.

And just as a side note: why are we selling a TWENTY piece chicken mcnugget anyway? Who needs that many? Why do we have sandwiches made from two pieces of fried chicken with more chicken in between? If we want to get this country out of debt, we need to get rid of these disgusting options. Maybe it’s time for the FDA to swoop in and make some limits on caloric and fat content. They regulate everything else, but let these chains get away with slow murder. And the opposite side is, of course, no one is forcing you to eat that fast food. But with the ever-increasing amounts of pressure and stress that we’re all faced to endure, with limited time and limited money, we lose our options. We need more education on eating well on a time and financial budget. Hopefully, I can do that with this blog eventually. That’s where I would like to see it head.
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I’m watching a cooking show right now on the natural or healthy channel or whatever it is. She just said tempeh has more protein than beef! I had no idea. I need to use more marinades and make more marinaded tofu, veggies, and tempeh. Even seitan once in a while. But I’ll probably only use those dense kind of meat substitute-y things a couple times a week. I feel much better and energetic and light with a more produce, nuts, and beans-centered diet and much less of that and grains too.

While watching TV also there was a commercial for a diet pill, with tons of claims about FDA approved and scientific studies that show that this pill allows you to lose a pound of fat without changing your current lifestyle whatsoever. These commercials are so ridiculous, and give people such false hope. I honestly think that we should get to the point where these diet aids and diet pills are not legal and are not allowed! Anyone can lose weight by changing their lifestyle, ANYONE. It doesn’t have to be an immediate change, it can be slow, subtle, and you can have ups and downs. But the journey is the BEST part. And these products will only provide temporary weight loss and continue causing damage to your metabolism.

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I’ve finally sat down to continue reading “Thrive: A Guide to Vegan Nutrition” by the creator of Vega. It’s so interesting. It’s so exactly how I used to feel. He explains about the pH balance of your body and how the foods you eat will contribute to acidic or alkaline levels. It makes sense when you think about it.

Something that always comes up when you explain a vegan diet to someone who has only known a standard conventional diet is CALCIUM. It really sat with me what the author had to say in this book. Tell me this doesn’t make sense to you: “The blood will always remain neutral – this is imperative for survival – so if the body is consistently fed acid-forming, dentaured foods and supplements, or encounters stress from other sources, it must take measures to ensure the a neutral pH is maintained. In doing so, the body pull calcium, the mineral in our body is that is most alkaline, from the bones. Over time, the bones weaken as a result of this survival mechanism.”

Now guess which foods are highly acid forming? Refined flour, white rice, almost all meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products, white sugar, coffee, synthetic supplements, protein isolates, rX drugs, etc. And guess which ones are alkaline-forming? I won’t bother listing, you know where this is going. And essentially, all these acid-forming foods are causing the tissues in our bodies to swell, which is where the joint pain, fatigue, and other common health issues associated with the standard American diet come in. Claimed in the book, it’s “impossible” for cancer cells to grow or thrive in an alkaline environment. (I’m not doubting this fact, but I want to double check for scientific proof.)

After reading all this and really getting an understanding of it a little deeper. (I feel that pH is not a commonly understood topic when it comes to health, and I’m only barely scratching the surface on what it means myself.)  I realize how intimidating finding your path to this nutritarian lifestyle must be if you’re not submerged in it. Working where I work, especially having my particular job as a Healthy Eating Specialist, I basically spend all my time talking about food. But when I think about trying to explain this to someone who works a 9 to 5 in an office building surrounded with nothing but coffee and pastries, it seems like teaching rocket science to a poodle.

So I think the best advice I could say is that make slow, gradual changes. It’s taken me almost 2 years to get where I am. If I had buckled down, I probably could have reached this place in 9 months to a year. But, I still wanted to enjoy life too. I think the key is finding balance. The more your daily routine fluctuates around health and well-being, the more “off” the days that are filled with glutton and laziness will feel. You will find it more difficult to recover and get back to speed when you do nothing with a day and overeat than you will if you are productive and following a good nutrition schedule. Eventually, you’ll tilt where this lifestyle IS your lifestyle and it feels good. I’m almost there, but I still have a bit of my journey to go.

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One Comment on “I Used to be Fat(ter)”

  1. Wow! This is an amazing story that I can truly identify with. Congratulations on your weight loss. I am in the process of removing weight myself – no more fad diets, I am looking at healthy changes for life. There are many benefits to a vegan lifestyle and I explained to someone that the “in-you-face” animal rights tactics may not move people. However, when people are enlightened about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle change may occur & the result is that they eat less meat so it contributes to the animal rights position. Great blog!


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