As a follow-up to my early January blog I wanted to sit down and evaluate if I’ve actually learned anything by Going Places, following my heart and opening my mind to some new ideas. My January calendar picture advised me to Go Places. My initial thought about this was that I was going to “Go Organic” and try to eat more wholesome foods.
I can never be accused of being an early adopter of any new idea. No sudden movements from me. I’m a plodder. Organic foods fell into the general area of suspicious characters for me. I’d really always relegated them to the arena of over-priced designer foods purchased by people with too much time and money on their hands.
I decided to open my mind when my maintenance plan which had been failing miserably for over 18 months really started to disintegrate into the void of space and time. Having regained close to half of the weight that I had lost, I decided that I needed a new plan because the plan of eating the same unsatisfying foods that I had been eating was clearly not working.
To be fair to the conventional foods, other factors were involved in my failures. I had lost the weight on what was pretty clearly an unsustainable vegetarian diet. There is probably a way to successfully “do” low-fat vegetarian and keep the weight off but being the impatient sort, I never bothered to really learn about the diet I was eating and was completely stumped when at my lowest weight, I felt completely run-down, tired, drained, unable to work out at a level that could move me toward my ultimate goal, let alone maintain the weight loss. If it worked for 2 years, why mess with it, right?
Even when my body was screaming at me to eat more protein and healthy fats, I just kept right on feeding it carbs, carbs, carbs, carbs. You really can over-eat allegedly healthy foods. Then the hunger just took over despite the fact that I was blowing by my calorie intake limits every day. If there is one thing that is relentless it’s the feeling of hunger. Hunger will not be denied. My body was not going to quit asking for food until I fed it something it wanted and that is clear to me now.
When nothing changes then nothing changes. Something had to change. I think that the reason I was so loathe to give up my basically conventional vegetarian diet is because fruits and vegetables were supposed to be the good guys. Meats, fats and processed foods were what got me into this mess in the first place. I know lots of people who are basically vegetarians that are accomplishing some pretty amazing fitness goals. However, it seemed that no matter how I tried to tweak it, my hunger continued to plague me.
In what I think was a final act of a desperate maintainer on the edge of losing complete control of their diet, I decided to give organic foods a try for a month. I would continue to purchase organics for the month if they made me feel more satisfied and as long as I measured it, weighed it, tracked it and liked it, I could eat any organic thing that I wanted. I did still eat some conventional foods during this time but my emphasis was on seeking out healthy foods with limited fertilizers, additives, preservatives or other chemicals. I know, I know, everything is a chemical at some basic level. Apparently, all chemicals are not equal.
Once I got myself over the fact that my husband was going to freak out when he saw the grocery bills for this wonderful fare priced as if it contains phoenix feathers, unicorn horns and all other manner of wondrous nutrition, I made some discoveries and some surprising further moves in the organic direction.
1. I discovered that quality really can and does trump quantity when it comes to high sugar fruits and vegetables. Organic bananas and apples taste better to me and are much more satisfying than their conventional counterparts.
2. Organic eggs look more colorful and have a different texture when you crack them open. The yolks look kind of awesome and make conventional egg yolks look rather anemic and sickly. No idea why this is but I like the look of organic egg yolks.
3. I tried my hand at cooking 2 types of fish that I never would have attempted at home before. Last Saturday I made swordfish and today I made sea bass. Yum. Never would have done that if I hadn’t given up my conventional vegetarian diet.
4. I got nuts and dragged my husband to a community garden meeting where we entered a lottery for a plot in our town’s new organic community garden. Musing about the cost of the organic groceries, I decided to go to the meeting on a lark and now I need to start thinking about filling a 100s.f. plot if we are successful in getting a plot.
5. I was feeling really open to suggestion one afternoon and accepted an out of the blue offer from my health insurance company for free health advocate coaching and even talked them into letting me talk to an exercise physiologist. I usually don’t like to talk to anyone about my rhuematoid arthritis condition which is what they were primarily interested in. I didn’t get everything I wanted because I was hoping for a dietician that could give me some insight into what I was doing wrong. But the exercise physiologist has shared some suggestions and I’m trying to work on strength and flexibility now in addition to burning calories.
6. Organic Produce is not really that easy to find all year round in the western suburbs of Chicago. Although I had always believed that organic produce could be had any day of the year at the big healthy food store chain I was surprised to find only a few organic vegetables and no organic fruit other than bananas on my last visit. I never think of the local grocery store as a place for organic produce but clearly the “health food” store has marketed a perception that does not always match reality, at least at the store I was shopping at.
7. I’m not hungry as quickly afterwards when I eat a sandwich made with organic bread. I literally feel full all afternoon when I have one of those treats.
8. The heals of organic bread make great salad croutons. Hey when your bread is approaching the cost of colored printer ink, you aren’t wasting it on the garbage pail gods, the dogs, the birds, or the squirrels. I joke about the cost but in reality, the organic bread does not cost that much more than the conventional 12 grain that I had been purchasing.
I think this experiment was worth the time. It was more money than I thought I would spend. I’m currently down 8 pounds from where I started. I’m working out at a challenging level and I don’t feel starved. Eating organic fish, meat and eggs has put protein back into my diet. Was it worth it? Well, I’ve lost weight I’m feeling much better and feeling motivated to do more.
Is this diet maintainable? It feels like it is. I like the fish I tried at home and the bread. I’ll have to do some additional research into organic produce and which stores around me have the best prices. I’d prefer to eat this way but going cold turkey is like buying caviar on a beanie-weanie budget. I think if I continue to introduce things incrementally, it won’t feel unapproachable.
Looking forward to flipping the calendar.