Thursday, July 12, 2012

Junk-Aholics Anonymous (JAA) - Week 1

So last week I decided that I need to clean up my diet. Like most moms of school-aged kids I have a lot of pre-processed snacks and treats in the house. Unfortunately I recently came to the realization that I'm the one consuming most of it with undesired results. Slowly, over the last couple of years, my weight has been creeping up despite various "diets" and exercise programs. My health has been going downhill due to an increase in minor ailments and I've had more unexplained problems like an increase in hair loss. My depression has also gotten a lot more severe and all-encompassing whereas I used to have well defined "bouts". I can't help but think all my problems are related to diet in some way so I guess its time to do something about it in the hopes that I get at least somewhat healthier.

Don't get me wrong..I know how to eat properly. I've been an armchair nutritionist since puberty and, before kids, I used to be very strict with my diet. I love to cook from scratch and experiment with many different food cultures. My kids eat very healthy compared to a lot of their peers. They vastly prefer home cooked food over preprocessed and will eat almost any fresh fruit or vegetable that I put on their plates. But, for me, not so much. I think a lot of moms are in the same boat..not being able to apply all the healthy, common-sense eating principles that they follow for their children to themselves. I have a hard time with eating fresh fruit and raw vegetables especially because I grew up fairly poor and didn't have access to much that wasn't canned or frozen. Old habits die hard.

In the media we (women especially) are plastered with images of smiling, healthy people exercising and eating wonderful healthy meals like salads loaded with fresh produce and grilled chicken breasts or exotic grains. In reality being this perfect and wonderful is not as easy as it seems. For example I live in a northern climate where fresh produce is hard to get sometimes and it is very costly. In Canada food costs are much higher to begin with, never mind fancy imported goods. I'm sure, too, that there are lots of people out there like me who live in a suburban area where there are no fresh fish markets or even that many places to get fresh, in-season fruit and vegetables. We don't have unlimited budgets so we have to make do with the local grocery store or big box places like Costco and Walmart.

So, getting back to the point, last week I decided to cut off my supply of snack crackers, cookies and chocolate bars in an effort to stop feeling so crappy and old. My results, so far, are pretty crappy. Its funny how no-one talks about the reality of cleaning up your bad diet habits and its effects on you. Instead every magazine and online article focuses on how great you'll feel and how you'll see these amazing benefits almost immediately. Ha. Here's how my last week has been:

On the first day I felt pretty good. All enthusiastic for the project..eagerly cutting out the goodies. No problem I thought. When I woke up the second day I felt like complete crap...migraine, tired, the works. I was also incredibly irritable. I spent the whole day obsessing over chocolate and constantly feeling hungry. This kept up for the next couple of days until I reached the point where I wanted to cheat, thinking to myself "why am I doing this? No one cares but me. Its not making any difference anyways" I did. I had a few bites of  my emergency chocolate bar. And it sucked. It didn't even taste good and made me feel worse. The last couple of days I have felt a teensy bit better but nowhere near the fabulous energized state I had been promised by the media. Interestingly enough I haven't lost a single pound but my clothes do fit the tiniest bit better.

I have also learned a lot about myself in the last week. Somewhere along the road I have become an emotional eater. I reach for the sugar whenever I feel headachy, stressed or upset. Like a junky I say to myself "Just a little nibble...just to take the edge off". Its amazing how much I fall on excuses like this during the average day. Its like I've been using refined sugar as a crutch to help me deal with pretty much everything. I also snack fairly heavily when I'm bored or in front of the computer. And I get really hungry around an hour before a meal and tend to load up on junk rather than wait it out. I'm hoping to use all these things I have learned to really change my habits. I am trying to do things like only snack on a piece of cheese and a few crackers between meals and incorporate more fresh fruit into my diet. Its really hard right now but I'm cautiously optimistic that things will pick up next week.

In the meantime I have been trying to get back on the knitting bandwagon as a way to distract myself from the munchies. I'm starting another pair of socks today out of Zauberball in pinks and purples. I feel kind of lame just knitting socks right now but, damn, its hot out! Too hot for big, lap-filling wooly projects. I have also been spending my afternoons at the local community center while the girls have various fun day-camps and sock knitting is the perfect take-along project. I am planning on joining the Ravelry "Summer Games" this year, though, with a more challenging project. Details will be coming closer to the start date.

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