My (Leah’s) Story

It’s amazing to me how early in life food becomes something more than fuel for some people. For me, it was in 6th grade. I remember my friend Nicole and I deciding the summer after 6th grade that we were going to go on a diet. We gathered up all the money we could find and walked up to CVS. I believe it was slimfast bars that we bought, and the plan was that every day we exercised, we would indulge in a meal replacement bar for dinner or dessert, or something absurd. Nothing happened, we didn’t follow through and I don’t think we cared, but the fact that as, 6th graders we though this was appropriate and/or necessary behavior, blows me away.

Fast forward a year later and I was very conscious of my weight and body shape. I would attempt to eat only parts of my lunch or cut out certain food groups, or even insist on walking to and from school because I knew it burned calories. I remember being called into school counseling one time because my friends said that I had an “eating disorder”. I definitely didn’t, but I guess that incident just proves that 7th and 8th graders are not emotionally or mentally mature enough to have beliefs about food and body image.

By 9th grade, I was looking for ways to be more active, I would walk 3 miles after school 4-ish times a week. I would do light weight lifting (I’m talking bicep curls and squats) in my basement while I would be down there watching T.V., and I had some favorite workout DVDs. I would attempt to eat salads for lunch as well as at any family events that I would go to. The scale became my friend and my waist was not. Over all, I think my early life in terms of health was pretty normal. I heard the whispers from society about how I should look and I gave them my attention. I don’t think I did it in some inappropriate way, in fact I think I responded well for my age. As I said, I know that I wasn’t mentally or emotionally mature enough to have the beliefs, views and opinions about health at that age that I did. Never the less, I did and my perspective was in no way perfect.

When I look back at pictures of myself when I was younger… I don’t think I was fat; I think that I am build like much of my family is. I have my dad’s nice strong broad shoulders (these bad boys are linebacker material) and thanks to my grandmother, I’m a bit vertically challenged. I am my mothers daughter in terms of curves and all in all my features are feminine. So why does all of this matter? Because it’s the beginning of my story. My introduction to the world of nutrition, health and wellness.

I don’t exactly have the best genes when it comes to my weight… in fact, I don’t have a single female cousin who does not struggle with her weight. We have all been on quick fix diets for prom, weddings, milestone birthdays and we are the type who dishes out the moolah to make it happen. We have done diets with each other, making it a family affair, we have worked out with one another and even indulged with one another.

I once had my chiropractor tell me that perhaps, I though the problem was nature, but in fact it’s actually nurture. That maybe my idea and ways in which I pursue health are the reason’s I struggle with my weight and maybe that’s why I can’t reach my goals. I don’t buy it… my mom NEVER gave us two sandwiches for lunch and getting something that resembled a fruit snack was as difficult as remembering to change your oil every three months. Possible? Yes. Likely? No.

Currently, I live with my grandmother – who raised my mom and her sibling, who raised my cousins and myself… she knows I attempt to eat healthy and live well. She will often make dinner and when  say I’m not going to eat it because I need to eat as healthy as possible, she responds with…. this is healthy. To her, a breaded pork chop, corn on the cob and bread topped with butter is healthy. So what do I expect? This way of living and eating is normal to my family. This way of eating and living was almost normal to me.

Every day is a struggle for me… I have to make a decision in the morning to eat healthy. Not just for the sake of my weight, but for the sake of my health. Leaving things such as dairy, yeast and main stream wheat out of my diet is no fun. However, I’d rather be without broken out and swollen skin, headaches, indigestion and bloating. It’s also a daily decision for me to exercise every day. For me personally, once I get into the swing of things… I really enjoy it. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.

I think my main struggle is learning to  enjoy people and life without going “over-board”. For me, events, parties and get togethers are a lot about the food. I often feel like I either indulge and feel guilty about that, or I don’t indulge however spend much of the time thinking about what I could be eating. This is something I am really re-training my mind concerning. And honestly, lately… I’ve been realizing that food isn’t worth this. It isn’t worth the mental energy that I give it that could be doing greater and better things. It definitely isn’t worth the stress and it isn’t worth not enjoying the life that is in front of me and happening.

Since the new year, I have been running 3 miles a day whenever I can… and if I can’t, I have been exercising in other ways. As far as food goes, I’ve been enjoying it. I L-O-V-E juicing, so I have been juicing. Not at specific times of the day or everyday but when I feel like having a juice in stead of one of my meals. I’ve been craving warm things like soup and hot sandwiches… so I’ve been eating them, just half though, with a small side salad and trying to make sure I’m eating slowly. Guess what? I’ve lost 3.5 pounds… no diets, no stress, no spent money. I feel better, have more energy and am enjoying the people and life that’s around me. Except I’m not enjoying this wedding planning nonsense…. but I have a feeling that their isn’t a lack of or enough food in the world that would help me enjoy this.

I’m not the prettiest, the heaviest, the smartest, the thinnest, the ugliest, the most fortunate, the least fortunate, the funniest (although I kind of think I am), or the most daring. I’m just a girl… trying to live a healthy life and trying to convince other people to do so with me. I write this blog because I think you can benefit from the hours I spend reading, researching and trying new things. I don’t have it all together, I make mistakes and I hope I never “arrive” because I don’t ever want to stop trying.

I’m just like you… living in a world whose priorities are a little off. I’m trying and I really believe that that is what counts.

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2 thoughts on “My (Leah’s) Story

  1. Loved reading this, especially about family dynamics. I’m in that family too, after all. 🙂 And it’s tough when someone like Aunt Gerry is cooking! What happens in my own little family is that I have to fight equating food with love…the not-good-for-you food, I mean. It’s my instinct to reach for the cookies or the soda or the cruddy cereal, thinking how much my boys would love it. And they would. But that feeling is fleeting, unlike good health. I’m working on it. Thanks for helping inspire me. 🙂

  2. Pingback: The Story of a Grandma | THE KITCHEN REVOLUTION

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