I love food! In fact, I might go as far as to say that food is one of my love languages. At least, that’s partly how my husband won me over. He made me his delicious veggie lasagne and tuna casserole and home made BBQ. I would go over to his little bachelor pad a couple of times a week for dinner and we would eat on the couch in front of the TV with the dog staring longingly at our plates. Then I would wash every dish by hand in his tiny kitchen because there wasn’t a dishwasher. And, I think he would use every single pot and pan just so I’d have to work for my supper.
I was fit when we met, running almost every day and food wasn’t a huge priority for me. I ate it so that I wouldn’t be hungry. I could have tuna salad and crackers for dinner and be perfectly happy. I still loved food, I just didn’t have the same relationship to it then as I do now.
I gained a lot of weight over the years with my husband. I think the term Fat and Happy really did apply to us. Cooking and eating was always a well-loved hobby of his, and so it also became mine. When we first started dating, I could make one meal. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Now, my confidence in the kitchen has grown immeasurably. I have recipes that I’ve created, baked goods and comfort foods. I can make pie crust and can tomatoes and jams. I can tackle any recipe with confidence, although it still takes me a long time to chop veggies. I am a perfectionist after all.
I’ve never been one to weigh myself and haven’t owned a scale once in my adult life. I’ve always just been active and healthy and never really had to worry about it. It snuck up on me though, and one day, I didn’t recognize myself. My clothes just kept getting bigger and each time I got out of a chair, I would hear myself grunt like an old person. I could feel my gut pressing into my pants every time I bent over to put my shoes on. I realized I avoided having photos taken of myself. I just felt off, not myself, uncomfortable.
So, I made some changes. They weren’t drastic really. I didn’t do any fad diets or kill myself with counting calories. I committed to working out five days a week and I started eating healthier. That sounds easy, and it was for me, but this wouldn’t work for everyone. I have a flexible work schedule that allows me to spend an hour or two at the gym five days a week. I have time to plan and prepare meals. And, I have a partner who was committed to helping me reach my goals.
The Diet Plan
Because so much of our social life revolves around going out to eat and having drinks with friends, I didn’t want to eliminate anything from my diet 24/7. So, I committed to following strict rules Sunday evening through Friday morning. That way I could still have cocktails and pizza and cake.
I eliminated sugar, breads and most dairy from my diet. I ate whole foods whenever possible. I stopped drinking beer and wine and switched to spiked seltzers, and I limited these drinks to just a few during the week. We make all of our meals during the week, so it wasn’t difficult to manage these rules.
Every Sunday morning, we plan our dinners for the week. We look at our schedule, create a calendar and make a grocery list. Then we do all of our shopping for the week that afternoon. This has always been our way of doing things. It works well no matter what we have going on in our lives. Breakfast and lunch are almost always the same. Oatmeal with two tablespoons of natural peanut butter and fruit for breakfast and a salad with a hardboiled egg and home made dressing for lunch. We go all out for our dinners though, making really creative and special dishes as much as possible.
We also have our best kept secret, the one thing that makes our lives simple when we need it most. Our deep freezer. We have a large pot, almost big enough to sit in, and we will make a huge batch of chili or pho broth or spaghetti sauce and freeze it in pre-portioned containers. We have enough food in our freezer to feed us for over a month. On nights when we have some sexy fun planned, we eat something from the freezer to cut down on prep time. Last night we used some spaghetti sauce to make a casserole with mushrooms, spinach, eggplant and a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese. While he had me naked, tied up and blindfolded, our dinner was happily bubbling in the oven.
My diet plan allows me flexibility, which works for my gluttonous side and my healthy side. I can indulge on the weekends without feeling guilty. My weekday meals are structured and easy. I don’t have to worry about numbers or amounts because what I’m eating is naturally full of nutritional value.
The Exercise Plan
When trying to lose weight, a balanced diet is going to most affect the numbers on the scale. Being that I like to indulge on sweets and cheese and french fries, I need a rigorous exercise plan to combat those treats. He created a detailed plan for me that was so difficult at first, I thought there was no way I would be able to keep up. Now, it’s like a habit, easy and almost a little boring!
Two days a week, I run a timed mile followed by a quarter mile walk and a three quarter mile jog. I do three different arm and shoulder exercises, four sets and the reps and weight depend on the particular exercise. Then I row 2200 meters and end it all with about twenty minutes of abs and back exercises. The other two days, I get on the stair climber for 28 minutes. Starting at a lower level, I increase the level of resistance every three minutes until I max out and then decrease every three minutes. I do three different leg and thigh exercises, like squats, and again, I do four sets with varying reps and weights. Then I get on the Jacob’s Ladder and do five one minute intervals as fast as I can. I finish off with the same ab and back workout. The fifth day is dedicated to a class that we usually take together. We have taken tabata, kick boxing and most recently, spin class. It’s fun to do an activity like this together, and it helps push us to work harder.
I have lost 25 pounds sticking to this plan. I lost the bulk of it in the first five months and have kept it off for well over a year now. I feel great and am probably in the best shape I’ve been since I was a teenager. I’m strong and I feel it. I no longer grunt when I stand up, I can bend over without feeling like I’m going to pop a seam and I actually like photos of myself again. I’m not perfect, and life happens and I slip up. I definitely enjoyed myself over the holiday season starting with our trip to Croatia before Thanksgiving and rolling right into my friends wedding last weekend. I might have gained five pounds over that time, and I honestly don’t even care. I recognize that balance is important for me, and that means that sometimes the scales will tip in the direction of frosted cookies and fancy cocktails and pasta with cream sauce. I’ll never give that stuff up, not for the best body in the world!