Mindful eating, chapter 2

A year’s progress

One frazzled evening two weeks ago, I rushed home. I claimed it was to do dishes but it was actually to fall back into an old habit. The stress created by my hectic post-work schedule proved to be too much. I grabbed a bag of almost-stale tortilla chips and poured out some salsa into a dish. Estaba desesperada but that is no excuse.  Because after all I have been through in my quest to achieve wellness, I know crunching away on fatty food will only make things worse. So I stopped myself.  That night,we took the dog for a walk.

On the morning of October 3rd, the scale read 122.8. I haven’t been in healthy weight range since my early 20s. I didn’t believe it at first. I had accepted my typical weight of 131 as a fact that couldn’t be changed. I have justified the cycles of weight gains as a result of my age, hormones, busy schedule, culture, and genetics. But two different scale readings and the ever-increasing bagginess of my clothes told the truth. I did it!

The secret, as I have stated in previous posts, isn’t in getting your gallbladder removed or in starving yourself or in exercising non-stop. It is changing daily habits. During the work week, I pack a big salad for lunch.  It consists of Trader Joe’s Cruciferous Crunch, garbanzo beans, and any vegetables I want to add. I dress my my salad with a Trader Joe’s vinaigrette or simply balsamic vinegar mixed with Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute or lemon juice.  I make an effort to have home-cooked meals for dinner daily even if it means cooking two to three meals on a Sunday.  The freezer is my friend!  The Crock-Pot is a good friend, too. Perhaps the most significant change in habit is hydration. I fill my water bottle at least once a day but ideally twice a day and drink water consistently every day. It has made a difference. I have less cravings when I am hydrated and I feel better overall.

Hydration bottle by Hydr-8

My journey to wellness isn’t over. I plan to work on my overall muscle tone, strength, and endurance so that I can become a better runner and dancer.  I plan to continue to clean up my eating habits so that I have fewer flareups of my inflammatory condition and overall improved immunity. I got this!

Mindful eating, the first chapter

When I decided I would have my gallbladder removed this summer, I asked about diet changes.  I know four friends/colleagues who had their gallbladder removed and know of countless others. Some folks are back to eating as they did before their surgery; others decided to forever modify their diet. I am part of the second group.  In the month that has passed since my surgery, I am much more mindful of what I eat.
I am an emotional eater. Food has been a painkiller over the years. Recent example: June is a crazy time for educators.  End of year and graduation keeps you busy and stressed. Mix in characters that probably shouldn’t work with other people(especially not children!) and you have a volatile environment. 
One afternoon, after a long day that ended with an unpleasant meeting, I walked into the house, grabbed the can of Pringles my daughter and her older sister had saved after their sleepover, and sat on the couch for a solid ten minutes. No praying, no meditating, no strategies learned in CBT or DBT. Crunch, crunch, crunch.

 As if every chomp could eliminate the foolishness of others. As if my tendency to internalize others’ nonsense could be swallowed like so much salt and grease. I won’t be seeking comfort from binging on chips anymore. 
 My lifestyle change isn’t about solely about giving up processed snacks or fried food or avoiding emotional eating; it’s about an overall change to my cooking and eating habits.  At home, I am making more stews and soups with less chicken. When going out to eat with friends and family, I now choose different meals. Vegetable-based soups like tomato basil paired with salads with honey mustard dressing or vinaigrette make for a satisfying meal. Most Asian restaurants offer plenty of vegetarian options. The Bay Area boasts great vegan restaurants including one of my faves, Souley Vegan, and a new discovery, Gracias Madre.  Even a trip to the ice cream shop with the kiddo hasn’t been torture: fruit sorbets are tasty.

At the moment, my body is letting me know what is best. I still feel queasy if I ate too much animal protein in a meal.  Trying a piece of birthday cake at a party is probably not wise. Dairy is off-limits for now.  For the most part, I am back to my normal routine. I have resumed daily exercise, light morning cardio for now, and have begun taking a Zumba class with my dance mom friends. I look forward to running and dancing with SambaFunk in the next few weeks.  Yes, I am at my lightest weight in twenty years, 125, (lighter than the weight discussed during my last weight loss journey: )  I am committed to sustaining my health; that is the ultimate goal.