Tuesday, September 03, 2013
Something strange and lovely happened to me last week. I was minding my own business, procrastinating on Facebook, and I got a message from a girl who lives in a completely different city than me. We had no mutual friends, there was literally no connection I could find between her and me. Her message simply stated "Hello, I was wondering if you could give me some weight loss tips".
While flattered, I still felt weirded out. My profile on Facebook is locked down, and due to my battle with insecurity, nearly all photographic evidence of my previous body have been removed from Facebook. So I inquired as to how she knew me, and she told me the name of a person I'd never heard of before. So, delving further, I discovered that her friend goes to the same dance studio that I do, and months ago had seen the post that studio had done highlighting my weight loss story. The girl who messaged me joked "see you have an online following and you didn't even know it!"
It was surreal, that a stranger would feel so impressed with my story that they would blindly recommend a friend to contact me for tips. It was a great feeling, and of course I referred her friend to Sparkpeople and told her how I lost my weight.
So beyond that little self-esteem and motivation boost, I also realized that I have serious beef with salads (and I don't mean a large steak- bwahahaha- god I'm lame).
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE salads. I eat a salad almost every day of the week now, for pleasure. My problem is how other people view salads, how I used to view salads.
When I was young, salads were my mortal enemy. I choked on some iceberg lettuce when I was little, so for years I was convinced the tasteless vegetable could only do me harm. And my mom, well-intentioned, thought the only solution was to let me drown my lettuce in a half a cup of fat free dressing. Every time we had a salad, it was simply lettuce, tomatoes, and an assortment of fat free dressings. I was taught that romaine and tomato with lite dressing was just about the healthiest thing you could do.
Fast forward to the overweight version of myself, trying to figure out what I could eat and still have 'enough calories for dessert' (I KNOW you've had that conversation in your head, too). So I would order/make the plainest salad possible, and dump a large amount of 'lite salad dressing' on it, which I know now is just a bunch of chemicals artificially flavored to taste like honey mustard.
This still might not sound so bad, right? I mean, I have awful taste in salads, but that's not the end of the world....but all of this is building up to this: my night at Chili's.
In 2008, Chili's still had a super lame excuse line-up of 'health items'...I think maybe only 2-3 menu items that were under 500 calories a pop. Trying to be calorie conscious, I had started in the salad section, and hot damn did those salads look good. But, they weren't on the diet menu. So, I abandoned a plate full of assorted vegetables, fruits, and nuts for a meatless burger on a wheat bun with a side of steamed rice simply because the latter was less calories.
5 years later, I have finally realized the error of my ways: a good salad is not necessarily a low calorie salad. The salad should not be my 'out' so I can eat a cupcake later. These days, my lunch salads are often 300-400 calories a piece, as opposed to the creepy 60 calorie salads I would begrudgingly eat in the name of weight loss 5 years ago. The salads of today have crumbled goat or bleu cheese in them, pine nuts, peas, corn, avocado, sprouts, spinach, arugula, dehydrated veggies (for that crouton-like crunch!), and salad dressings that you have to buy from the refrigerated section because they'll spoil on the shelf. REAL FOOD.
I could write odes to my salads. They are that good. I also make a delicious taco salad using a special oven mold to make a baked whole wheat tortilla shell.
I don't eat dessert anymore. You know why? Because for the most part, the foods I eat are satisfying in themselves, so I don't feel like I need to 'splurge' on something that I actually enjoy the taste of at the end of the day. I look forward to my salads, to all my meals really, because I only prepare food that I LOVE.
I still count calories, don't get me wrong. But rather than the 'salad mentality' of ordering things that are just going to have the least calories, I now also make decisions based on the overall nutritional value of the food, and how much I think I will truly enjoy it.
It's taken me so long to realize that calories aren't everything, they are just one piece of the [healthy and delicious] pie. :)