In 2015 I played with food. I made a commitment at the start of the year to step out of my food box and try new things.
I didn’t want to lose weight. I wasn’t interested in a fad diet. I wasn’t looking for a magic pill. In fact, I didn’t want to “diet” at all. I just wanted to find out if I could feel better by making a change to my diet. At 43-years-old, I was still eating like my 23-year-old self. Differences between me at 23 and 43 include:
I worked out 20-30 hours a week.
I didn’t have a kid.
I didn’t have a conventional job.
I work out 5-10 hours a week.
I have an almost-4-year-old.
I have a real job (and more!).
Here’s how it went down. I enlisted my husband, Tim, to join me so I would have a partner-in-crime for dinners (the big meal). We decided that we could realistically try something new every other month. We couldn’t get our crap together in January, so we started in February. We also decided that we would not do any calorie-restrictive diets because the goal wasn’t to lose weight (or go insane). The goal was to monitor and measure how our bodies felt and performed throughout the year.
Loved this month. It was easy to implement, especially living in Boulder which has 100% Gluten-Free restaurants and many GF options in all grocery stores. Plus, one of my great friends owns a GF Bakery and makes the most amazing cakes you’ve ever tasted, Kim & Jake’s. Main takeaway: I don’t have a gluten-intolerance, but I may have a little gluten-sensitivity. By eliminating gluten, I could tell that my body simply felt better, including this important positive effect… I “went to the bathroom” every single day. It makes sense that without gluten, my GI system could more easily process food. Nice!
No Dessert April
This month was a disaster. The premise was to break the habit of major dessert binging after dinner. The problem is that we started purposely eating later so we wouldn’t get hungry. The bigger problem was that I started eating dessert during the day! April confirmed that my dessert habit was strong. Main takeaway: I would rather eat a smaller dessert than overeat a late dinner or eat chocolate all day.
Vegetarian June with a Vegan Challenge Week
This was a great month. I love vegetarian eating. I also love bacon, cheese, burgers, butter and other animal products, but since I also love vegetables and I’m not afraid to cook with spices, being a vegetarian was easy. I started as a lacto-ovo-vegetarian which means that I ate dairy and eggs. As the month went on, I attempted a vegan week (which was not easy when half of it was during a work trip in Pittsburgh). Main takeaway: Vegetarianism in some form could be in my future…
Food-tracking September (I skipped Aug due to a lack of imagination and a busy life)
I did not love this month. Food tracking is logistically difficult and mentally tough. I used MapMyFitness food tracking app and did my best to input every bite and sip of the day. I am widely known to be a snacker (especially at work). I wanted a reality check. How many calories did all those bites add up to? Was I eating a balanced diet of carbs, protein and fat? To be honest, there were days when I forgot to track my food and other days when it was just too difficult to figure out what ingredients were included in certain foods. Main takeaway: Tracking food sucked for me. Whatever future approach I decide to take, it can’t include tracking or restricting of calories since that sends me (and most people) to crazy-town.
Engine 2 Challenge October
This was it. A true challenge. The Engine 2 Diet is a plant-powered way of life. The E2 Challenge takes you through elimination weeks until you are down to the beautiful basics of plant-based eating. The coolest part about this challenge is that I got my blood work done before and after the four week program and I showed a strong improvement in the areas that presume chronic diseases including heart disease and more, namely cholesterol and glucose levels.
In 2015, I learned that I am a plant-powered girl by nature. I gravitate to this way of eating. Before the E2 Challenge, I thought I would never give up my cheese. Don’t make me give up my bacon. And I might die if I can’t have cream in my coffee! After E2, I feel better than I have in years. My clothes fit great even though I didn’t lose any weight. My body is leaner and my blood is “cleaner.”
Main takeaway: I feel so good after the E2 Challenge that I’m moving forward indefinitely with a plant-powered philosophy. I’m not a purist. I’m not perfect. I will eat birthday cake and have cream in my coffee from time to time. I won’t turn away food that touched a griddle with meat on it. I’ll probably have an egg from time to time. But I am very aware of how my body reacts to a plant-powered diet. It’s happy and healthy. The only reason I would go back to my old ways is if I didn’t like the taste of a plant-powered diet. And so far, I love it.
So there it is. I’m newly enlightened at age 43, after a year of eating experimentation. I’m healthier, leaner, and fitter than I’ve been in years. My advice is to follow your gut (literally!) and if you think you could benefit from trying a new routine, do it. You have nothing to lose. If you don’t like it, you can always go back to your old ways or simply stop what you’re doing.
As we get older, our bodies change. I believe that we should constantly explore the world around us and adapt new philosophies that jive with our ever-changing bodies and minds. At 43, I’m now a typical Boulderite; a natural-food-junkie, former pro athlete, vegan nerd. And I’m not afraid to say it! If you have any questions or want to bounce ideas around, feel free to contact me anytime. Happy eating!