From Oreos and Frappuccinos to Quinoa and Roli Polies…the Art of Staying Healthy in DFW
I’ve always been active so even with a serious sweet tooth, I’ve never been too concerned with my health. There may have been some indicators that I had improvements to make, but I ignored them all. Things like balking when a teammate described their diet to me once, including eating things like rice with no butter. What?! The book Skinny Bitch (which I thought would be a fun girlie book, but turned out to be the vegan manifesto), offended me. There was also the time that I donated blood for a cholesterol experiment that a friend was doing. I jovially said, don’t bother telling me unless it’s over 200, chuckle, like that would ever happen. She came back nervously chucking in giving me the bad news. I brushed it off, thinking maybe I’d had a hamburger for lunch that day. Even as my belly has clearly taken an official pooch/muffin top over the last several years, I have not been concerned. The major changed in my fitness really came when I said farewell to the lab and hello to a corporate office job and at the same time, moved from Boston to Texas. I went from a lifestyle where I walked close to 2 miles each way to and from work, then spent the day zooming around a lab, running up and down stairs, and not snacking since no food was allowed in lab, to a completely sedentary existence, where exercise or even movement had to be schedule in. While certain neighborhoods that promote walking and biking are springing up here and growing rapidly, in general, walking is not a major form of transportation here. In fact, I know several people who have been offered lifts when walking in the summer because some well-meaning soul thought they were stranded. My new weekday lifestyle involved walking into the garage, driving 40 miles (up to an hour and a half) to an office, a short walk to my desk from the parking lot, then sitting at a desk all day until I drove home. Not surprisingly, my fitness began to deteriorate and my so-so diet started taking more of a toll. I was literally sitting all day long (luckily, this has vastly improved since started to work remotely).
In the middle of my soft leaning transformation, I had a baby. I wholeheartedly embraced “eating for two” and baby nutrition, and ate a LOT of everything, especially dairy, happily indulging until our son was over 1 year. I had zero worries about my new soft shape or indulging in starbursts and Easter candy and the list goes on. I said to myself, yeh, I need to get on getting healthier and in shape, but it’s not too bad and I’m in the family making years of my life….I’ll work on getting fit later.
Then, my company jumped on a current corporate bandwagon and started encouraging us pay attention to our health and in doing so, offered a biometric screening. That sounds like fun, I thought. Off to the lab I trotted. I’m not sure when, if ever, was the last time I had my fasting cholesterol tested. When the results of my recent test came back, the numbers weren’t eyebrow rising, they were gasp worthy and it was clearly time for some changes. The lack of activity other than concerted exercise, in my day-to-day life and lackadaisical attitude towards eating healthy had taken its toll and my total cholesterol was pushing 300 and LDL pushing 195. While my outward appearance was only a so-so motivator (sad, I know), the thought of my arteries getting clogged swept me into action fast.
First step, hired a trainer, who went through a plan with me that involved cutting out dairy, most meat, sugar, and processed foods, and most of all, make exercise a priority even if I only had 10 minutes, do some situps and pushups. I balked at the nutrition, but got on board (as much as possible – it is TOUGH to cut out processed food when you are used to incorporating it in everything) and so did my husband. It’s been hard, but the biggest surprise is, not that hard and most of all, it is working! In 8 weeks, my total cholesterol and LDL have come down significantly and I have been able to stay away from my two biggest vices – soda and Starbucks. Other than a horrifying/exciting moment when a roli polli crawled out of my leafy greens from the garden, it’s been great! More to come.
Things I have learned so far:
· How to properly pronounce quinoa (a kind-hearted friend filled me in upon hearing me excitedly talk about my new lifestyle)
· To stop poking fun at people who eat quinoa and drink almond milk
· I can make it through crazy deadlines without soda and Starbucks (a huge liberation)
· Fruit is a delicious and sweet treat and actually can be dessert (previously, fruit for dessert always disappointed me as I desperately looked around and hoped for the chocolate cake)
· Raisins are REALLY sweet
· When it comes to exercise, a little bit is better than nada (hence, if you have 10 minutes, do pushups and sit-ups, it is better than sitting in a chair all day)