Let’s talk about a weighty topic: the weight loss culture and health. Like many women, I have seen my metabolism steadily decline through my 20s and have reached a point in my 30s where I am very conscious of what I eat – both for weight maintenance and for overall health. I have read a great deal about healthy lifestyles, experimented greatly with different diet and exercise regimens and have landed on one that is stupidly simple: move more and eat more vegetables.
Before I dive too deep into our personal health story, I just want to say that I’m not here to sell you any products. I’m also not a medical professional. You should consult with your doctor before making any changes to your lifestyle. I’m just sharing a bit of what has worked for my family.
In 2017 my significant other, received doctor’s orders to reduce sodium intake, paired with a prescription medication for high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a high risk factor for heart disease. Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. Blood pressure is not caused solely by diet – it can be genetic and affected by stress, as well. A diagnosis like high blood pressure caught us off-guard. Being in our late 20s/early 30s, we began to question if the diagnosis was a life sentence, or if we had the ability to change our lifestyle to determine our own health future.
I, on the other hand, was fortunate to have the right ‘numbers’ on my yearly lab work, but continued to lose and gain the same 15 pounds on and off for years. I was in the overweight BMI (body mass index) range and wanted to lose weight to feel better in my clothing. I was overwhelmed by the amount of fad diets and supplements and couldn’t find an exercise regimen where I saw results and enjoyed myself.
In mid-late 2018 we committed to a healthy lifestyle change that focused on just a few simple things:
- Cooking 3+ meals at home each week, from scratch, using whole food ingredients.
- Incorporating super foods that are associated with heart health into our diet.
- Committing to exercise regimens that were diverse (so we didn’t get bored) and holding each other accountable to them.
It was really, really hard at first. I cried multiple times because I felt chained to the kitchen and couldn’t get used to the time difference between our prior life quick “meal prep” of a frozen pizza or food from the deli to spending an hour+ on one meal. I would try workouts and quit them, liking something for a week or two and then growing tired of it. I didn’t lose weight noticeably for months and went for four whole weeks without bothering to exercise at one point because “what was the point”? It was a struggle, to put it lightly.
Fast foward a year and I’ve learned that habits stick much more easily over time. We cook at home and experiment constantly with new recipes. While we don’t eat some things, no food items are “banned” in our kitchen. We approach meals differently, we don’t (often) use the excuse of “we don’t have time to cook” – rather, we build our life around our health as our top priority. I’ve found exercise regimens that I don’t despise. We move significantly more and we encourage one another (without judging) to be active. I’ve made intentional changes to reduce my stress and improve my sleep.
I’m not here to brag. I’m here to share what worked for us and prove that you can be healthy and happy without buying into a pyramid scheme, spending a small fortune, banishing carbohydrates or starving yourself. I’m here to share my vulnerabilities and our successes, as well as recipes, tips and strategies that have helped us reach a place of happiness and health.
We are NOT perfect. But our goal isn’t perfection. Our goal is to be okay with being works in progress.