Thursday, March 17, 2011
It is quite frightening and humbling to be told you are an inpiration to one person because of your lifestyle change and weight loss. It is ESPECIALLY terrifying when multiple people tell you!
I am still a "work in progress" with regard to reaching my weight loss goal. Since January I have been on a weight-loss plateau. (I am still losing inches and gaining VISIBLE muscle tone.) But, especially in the past few months, a surprising number of folks have approached me about how what I have accomplished thus far has motivated them to take more control of their food and lifestyle choices.
This is especially true of my co-workers in my immediate work area. Lunch time is pretty much a group affair as we have worked together as long as 20 years in some cases. We truly have grown into an extended family and our interpersonal dynamic includes every facet of interaction (pleasant and not so pleasant) any family I know goes through on a daily basis. My lunches, it seems, are of particular interest to my work "family." They regard my lunch bag as the equivalent of the bag Mary Poppins brought to the Banks' children's nursery...it looks deceptively plain and "normal" but amazing things keep coming out of it.
I LOVE to cook and one of my forms of "entertainment" is to take "mainstream" recipes and find ways to make them low in calories, fat, and sodium and higher in fiber whenever possible while still remaining flavorful. Fortunately, I have LOTS of cookbooks (probably a couple hundred and continously increasing in numbers) and I am not afraid to use them! Having been raised in a household with a mother who also loves to cook and was always willing to try new things, I developed an eclectic palate so variety is definitely the spice of life! Thankfully, I married a man who is at least willing to try new things and has found, over the years and frequently to his surprise, that those new things can be pretty darn good! So one day it will be Italian, another Indian, the next traditional southern or southwestern, or some combination thereof. This is reflected in the food that comes out of my lunch bag during the week at work. I have learned to bring extra spoons/forks and before starting to eat offer up a taste of the latest concoction to my fellow table mates.
As a result of my sharing a number of interesting things have taken place...
Questions about the nutritional value of the food I am eating are asked...heck, I am even asked about the nutritional value/calorie count of the foods THEY are eating! (Thank you SparkPeople for the food tracking app on my iPhone!)
We read the nutritional labels on the packaged foods that are brought to the lunch table and ALL learn interesting things about what is being eaten (e.g., sodium content (WOW!), fat levels, vitamins (or lack of), numbers of servings per package (THREE! No way there are three servings in this bag!) and, of course calories per serving.).
Some table mates have learned the name and taste of new and exotic spices and herbs (fenengreek, chana dal, cumin, tumeric, cilantro...) and ACTUALLY found out they like the taste!
Others have learned that full fat sour cream can be successfully replaced with fat free strained greek yogurt.
And, WHO KNEW, that while spaghetti does not really grow on trees it does grow on vines in the form of spaghetti squash and it is the foundation of a great quick meal with the use of a microwave.
In December, we had a cooking lesson at the home of one of this group where I shared a number of my favorite "go to" recipes. We made SEVEN different main dish items in under two hours, ate our a bit of everything (the first time for some to have had squash soup, spaghetti squash with meat sauce (made with fresh ground chicken breast), or broccoli soup) and then took both the recipes and "to go" containers of what we made. (More cooking lessons/food fests are planned in the future.)
I have noticed a subtle shift in our conversations as well...how many calories equal one pound (3500), how much sodium should we consume a day (ideally 1500 mg for most of us at the table), what activities can we do to be more "fit" that work with our hectic lives/schedules, if I have "x, y, and z" at the house what can I make with that and still be healthful?
I have also noticed more of us take the stairs rather than the elevator, we get up from our desks and come speak to one another rather than sending an email or picking up the phone.
Some of my collegues are going from "I need to do something about my weight" to actually DOING something about it by making different choices about food or fitness activities.
The SCARY part of this is that, somehow, it keeps coming back to me..."You are such and inspiration;" "I am so proud of you;" "If you had not talked about what you ate and the nutritional information I would not have known that I was eating so much sodium."
Being and inpiration or role model is not something I seek out...selfishly this is about ME. BUT for each of us it is about "ME" from the perspective we each can control only what we can control and our individual choices are what make us successful.
SOoo, I now am sharing recipes, looking up nutritional information on my iPhone, walking with a neighbor to help her prepare to walk a marathon with her daughter this fall, and focusing on the strides I am making in my fitness and lost inches while I wait for the weight loss to start again. All the while reminding myself to remain humble and FOCUSED on my goals.
Who knew 14 months and eight days ago I would be here actually helping others identify their goals and even helping them achieve them all because I was in the right place at the right time for another (now fellow) "Sparkie" to share the Spark!