This makes the third year in a row that I’ve felt the need to update the world on my struggle with my weight and body image. Here it is again: I’m still not fat.
If you’re new around here, feel free to catch up from the beginning. Here’s the first time I talked publicly about my weight and here’s the update from 2013 with lots of info about what we are doing and not doing to keep this lifestyle going.
Since April, 2012, our family has been on a plant-based diet (i.e.: Dr. Fuhrman, Engine 2, Crazy Sexy Wellness, and Oh She Glows). About 90-95% of our calories come from plant sources. More now than in the past two years, we throw in the occasional cheese or ice cream or eggnog (especially when we are traveling or celebrating), but the vast majority of our calories still come from beans, fruit, vegetables, and grains.
Has anything changed since last year?
Yes, a few things have changed.
First, there are eggs in our house now for almost six months out of the year. During our CSA (community supported agriculture) season, our farm gives us a dozen eggs each week for free as a thank you for hosting a drop-off location for their produce. Scott and I have a few eggs here and there, but it’s the kids who seem to love them. Brynn gets up early in the morning to go to school and she scrambles eggs for herself before I’m even awake. If we didn’t have the eggs, she’d probably make toast with jam instead, so when looking at those two options, I’m glad we have the eggs around. (Sidenote: the eggs come from pastured hens who are treated almost as well as household pets, so we don’t feel guilty eating their eggs.) When CSA season ends in December, I’ll have to figure out a better breakfast for Brynn. She seems to love coconut quinoa, so that might be it…until she gets tired of it and I have to figure out something else. She’s my picky kid.
The second change is Trader Joe’s. Colorado Springs finally acquired its own TJ’s location and it happens to be very close to our house. Dangerously close. While we have avoided fake meat up until now, TJ’s has an unfortunately large and cheap (and probably very GMO-heavy) selection of fake meat. I’ve already bought their soy chorizo twice and I’ve bought two packs of veggie hot dogs. The soy chorizo has been great with beans. The veggie dogs have made a supreme base for mountains of sauerkraut (sometimes I can’t control myself around sauerkraut). As long as it only happens once in a blue moon, I don’t have a problem with including processed soy in our diets, but it’s not something that I want to take over our food lives so I’m trying to be super intentional about not letting the availability of it change the way we eat.
The third change is our attitudes toward meat. All four of us have taken a turn toward more compassion for farm animals. Callie and I already struggled with the cognitive dissonance of loving animals and eating animals. It never totally made sense to us, but as long as we were eating them we found ways to justify it (i.e.: spending several years only eating local, humanely-raised animals). Not eating animals has had a pretty interesting psychological effect on all of us, though. Even Brynn, who used to eat meat whenever we weren’t at home, usually makes vegetarian choices now. Scott loves to eat fish when he has the opportunity (although he’s serious about choosing sustainably-caught options), but he’s just not a meat guy anymore. It’s been an interesting change to observe, actually, and I think some friends and family still assume that I’m bossing my family around and that when they’re away from me they gorge themselves on pigs and cows and chickens. But I don’t think that’s true. I think we’ve all come to a place where we don’t feel great about eating animals. Like, I can count on one hand the number of times when we do: Callie eats carnitas at Chipotle, Scott eats fish when he’s on the coast, both girls will eat a salmon burger as an alternative to a veggie burger, Brynn will sometimes choose something with meat when out at a restaurant. And both girls will eat meat if they’re a guest somewhere and meat is served to them. All of us are willing to eat meat when we’re traveling and it’s an important element of the local culture. Skyline Chili in Cincinnati, for instance. But only a few bites lest we barf.
And this is why we try not to label ourselves as vegetarians or vegans. While we generally avoid eating animals and animal products, they sneak into our diets here and there. I loosely call us plant-based because it seems like a broader, easier to squeeze into label. But when forced to adopt a traditional label, like when flying internationally, we call ourselves vegan. That way we’re not stuck with a meal of pasta and cheese.
Vegetarians end up with cheese lasagna. Vegans get veggie curry. I’ll take the curry, thank you very much.
While things are going well for us now, I do see room for improvement. For me personally, it is probably time to start getting more serious about how I exercise. I walk a few miles a day (briskly, of course, and up hills) but as I start to move from my mid-thirties to my late-thirties, I know that I need to begin to ramp up the strength training and cardio. You won’t see me in a traditional gym anytime soon, though. For me, increased exercise will probably come in the form of adding more building projects around the house or maybe some rock climbing classes or choosing more challenging walks and hikes. I find that when I’m building furniture or remodeling our house I’m in great shape, but it’s a lot more expensive than a gym membership. And a lot messier.
I also need to set aside time each week to grocery shop and meal plan. It’s my tendency to fly by the seat of my pants. I’m always surprised by how surprised I feel at 2pm every day when I realize I have to figure out what we’re going to eat for dinner that night. You’d think…since it happens every day…but that’s beside the point. There are so many great resources available for plant-based eating and I need to start taking advantage of them.
What are you doing to improve your health these days? Have you found something that works well for you?
Pssst…I just got my annual cholesterol and glucose results back yesterday. All of my numbers look great, but what I love is seeing my overall cholesterol down to 153. When I was only 25 years old and eating the Standard American Diet, my doctors were considering putting me on cholesterol meds because my cholesterol was in the high range. It seems silly to me now! I wish they’d recommended that I go plant-based instead!