Since I’m a personal trainer and very focused on nutrition these days, you probably assume that I’ve always been a healthy eater and maintained a healthy weight. That’s not the case.
I was raised by parents who were 40 years older than me and grew up themselves during the Depression. This made them very frugal, and my mother could stretch out a chicken like no body else! We were never in need, but we also didn’t eat “frivolously”. My father was a chemist and as such, very aware of additives in food so there were many things I wasn’t allowed to have. For instance sugared cereal, like Lucky Charms. Every once in a while, my mother would cave and buy me a box which I would devour in 2 or 3 days, eating it at every meal possible. A treat for me was a Coke (Sold the way they were then, in a small, glass bottle), and it was SO good. Once a week, on Sundays, we had a “meltaway” (I think that just meant it had frosting.) coffee cake which we picked up on the walk home from church.
Being a picky eater meant that I often wanted anything other than what was being served. Not having treats meant that whenever I had any money, I would go to the bakery where they sold candy and gum and buy as much gum as I could. I don’t know why I wanted gum, but Razzles and Bazooka were my preference. As I got older, I, of course, had more freedom to make my own choices. My family almost never ate out at restaurants so that became something I loved to do. Restaurant food was probably more healthful then, but since I was still young and not flush with cash, my choices then were Wendy’s and Burger King.
When I went away to college in Connecticut, it was much easier to order delivery than to walk to the dining hall in the snow and ice. The only place that delivered was an Italian place, so calzones and pizza were my choices then. I also ate lots of french fries because we had a “french fry bar” at my college cafeteria: unlimited fries with toppings to put on them and sauces to dip them in. I had 10 pounds on top of that Freshman Fifteen by spring of that year!
Towards the end of that first year of college, I saw a picture of myself holding a wine glass. I thought, that looks like me, but that is NOT my hand! It seemed so much bigger than my hand should be! That’s when I realized that my choices were putting pounds on me. I started avoiding the french fry bar, taking more dance classes and cutting out the calzones. (There was no way I was cutting out pizza! It’s an east coast staple.) The pounds started dropping off, and I lost 22 pounds that next year.
After two years at that college, I moved to Texas and stopped working out for a few years. It just wasn’t a part of our lives then. Drinking by the pool and eating whatever we wanted was. I also continued my education and worked part time there. No surprise that my nutritive intake was not so great. Even later, when I was pregnant, I craved Coke and had a Snackwell’s Vanilla Creme cookie binge that lasted for several weeks after giving birth. I could not get enough of those things!
Flash forward many years…..I’ve had two kids, been married for 23 years and had lots of fun (and not done yet!). I’ve also been a certified trainer for about 10 years and recently got my nutrition certification as well. That education has created a mind focused on new choices. Education is empowering, and the more I learn, the more I want to make different choices.
Restaurant menus and grocery store shelves are now loaded with ingredients designed to prolong the life of a product, make it blend better and look prettier and ultimately to sell better; not to provide good nutrition. These ingredients are not food. But that’s okay! Because I now have the knowledge to make better choices!
And you do as well. Every thing you eat or drink starts with your choosing it. We’re not going to be perfect, and we’re sometimes going to want stuff that we know isn’t so great for us. But that’s okay too. IF you indulge just once in a while. However, I suggest that the more you make choices to eat real food and cut out the fake ingredients, the more your body will crave real food. In turn, you will continually make new and better choices. I know I have. The more I know about the human body, nutrition and healthful foods, the more I want to make choices that will give me the best life ever.