Monday, May 16, 2011

I’d Rather Be Healthy Than Skinny

“I’d rather be healthy, than skinny…” It’s a thought, a revelation really, that came to me on one of the many occasions where I was doubled over in abdominal pain from my severe gastro-intestinal issues; magnified (I later realized) by an excessive intake of aspartame—the chemical sweetening ingredient found in Splenda and diet sodas.

I was at a point where I’d become obsessed with my caloric consumption, limiting myself to only 1200 calories per day (which was perfectly healthy, and recommended by a licensed dietitian), but cheating myself by substituting “easy” things (that were ultimately not good for me) for healthy ones. “If I just use Splenda instead of sugar…” I thought, “..I can eliminate calories in my hot beverages.” As if this wasn’t damaging enough, I committed to only drinking zero calorie sodas. Really? The saner approach would have been to just drink water, and/or reduce the amount of natural sugar I was using (which is what I do now).

My weight has been up and down a lot over the past few years—mostly due to doing insane things to drop it—like obsessive calorie counting--then feeling so great that I’d fail to continue monitoring my diet and stop exercising almost altogether. I am someone who has to monitor what she eats, and has to exercise consistently in order to even maintain her size—never mind losing anything. Despite knowing this, I’ve allowed myself to get lazy and fall off over and over again. Though carrying some extra unwanted pounds, I’m by no means obese, and the formula to my solution is simple: diet + exercise = ideal size. When I work out and eat right, my body conforms; when I don’t, it doesn’t. So why continue to the cycle of weight gain, and loss of self-esteem?

The race to skinny belies a bit of self-loathing--a feeling like I’m not good enough unless I weigh this much or fit into that size right now; in addition to extreme guilt over “letting myself go” and hurrying to repair the damage. But I’ve finally come to my senses, and changed my attitude. Ultimately, it’s more important to take the time to work with my body and to feed it the right things—consistently; then it will be easy to ensure that my body is exactly where it needs to be. While it’s okay to have goals, it’s better to set up proper diet and exercise as a way of life, even after goals have been attained.

So I’m back on track. I’ve re-joined my running group on the pavement, have committed to hitting zumba once per week, and am spending the extra money on the foods my body will best respond to—which includes packing a healthy lunch daily, instead of trying to scour the net in search of nutritional labels before buying pre-made foods.

There were a couple of posts around the web today that reminded me that I’m doing the right things. If you have some time, check them out. Hopefully you’ll find something that inspires you too.

Is The Idea of Motivation Merely A Myth?

“I wanted something to inspire me. Something other than me to tell me what I needed to do for me. I didn’t want the responsibility of telling myself to just pick my behind up off the couch and go, for some reason, as if that would’ve been too much ownership of the situation. I needed to wait on my epiphany. I needed to wait. And while waiting, I was doing nothing. Wasting time. Doing what I knew I shouldn’t be doing… while I waited on the thing that would come tell me to do what I knew I should be doing.”
Excerpted from Is The Idea of Motivation Merely A Myth? A Black Girl's Guide To Weight Loss. Read More

Is Black an Antonym for Healthy? 

“When unhealthy habits become embedded in culture, it perpetuates unhealthy behavior. Not only is it common for African-Americans to indulge in unhealthy food, but also eating healthy has become somewhat a cultural anomaly. Other than First Lady Michelle Obama’s mainstream push to get America to “move” and adopt a healthier lifestyle, how common is health advocacy within the black community?” Read More


NinaG said...

Can totally relate. Last fall, I began working out and calorie counting in an attempt to gain weight. A couple of months ago, I decided that my health was more of a priority than gaining weight

Anonymous said...

I've been steadily losing but verrryyy slowly because I'm eating better but not necessarily counting calories or exercising. After watching "The biggest loser" today I feel so many of the things the contestants said resonated with me. This is one battle I just feel so ill-equipped for

Kim Jackson said...

Glad you can relate, NinaG. We have to stop trying to force our bodies to do things that they don't need to do; and start holding ourselves accountable for just taking care of them in the best way possible.

Jess, I'm going with big sis tough love on this one: equip yourself. Do the research, and stretch your emotional muscles. You know how to do the work--everything you need is already inside of you. Just pull it out. I have faith in you!

Nish said...

Thanks Kim! I'm right there with you on this topic... so much back and forth with diet (getting the exercise routine down)! Just found a new doctor and I'll be discussing the whole sugar substitute issue. I have the same concerns about it and want to find more natural sugars, but have no clue how that looks on food labeling. Thanks for the post- very helpful!!

Kim Jackson said...

Nish, it is very wise of you to work with a doctor on your dietary needs. Harmful ingredients like aspertame and high fructose corn syrup are hidden very skillfully on labels, so it is vital to know what you're looking for. Best of luck to you on your journey!

Kim Jackson said...

Nish, it is very wise of you to work with a doctor on your dietary needs. Harmful ingredients like aspertame and high fructose corn syrup are hidden very skillfully on labels, so it is vital to know what you're looking for. Best of luck to you on your journey!

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