Last week, I took a break from posting for a trip to Maryland to visit a new momma, my dear friend from my time living overseas in Thailand. Our visit was short but so sweet (no pun intended for the title of the post) and her two-month baby girl is her mini-me for sure.

As we were chatting, she asked about what changed in my life, specifically why I was differently shaped now. She had met me at my heaviest and most unhealthy weight and she has seen me CRAVE sweets. For one of my birthdays, she made me three, homemade, beautifully decorated cakes and then encouraged other women on our team to make me two others…5 cakes for one person. I think I shared a few pieces with others…I think. So what better time then right before Christmas to share my story and my struggle.

Throw back to mullet haircuts and bangs

By the time I was in college I was allowing my decisions to be formed from my beliefs in God’s Word is the truth and plum-line for my life. EVERY TIME someone would talk about secrets, sins, or struggles, my addiction to sugar would plague my mind. Not that it was really a secret. FIVE cakes, remember!? Sometimes I would buy a sweet “treat” because I deserved it for…studying? …working? …being a child of parents that could afford it? …being? The reward system was ingrained somehow in my mind since childhood. Looking back I don’t remember my parents rewarding me with food, but I think it probably came from what was modeled at home, as well as being privileged to have access to three meals a day and dessert when desired.

Photo Credit: Earnest Brillo

I struggled (struggle) with lots of other issues, but this was the area that seemed most heavy (pun intended). Not that weight was the biggest issue.  I know many beautiful women who are not petite but very healthy and in shape. For me it was the bloated, swollen appearance. My flexibility had gone out the window, my back was in constant strain, and my joints were under more pressure than what they were created to bear.  It was an area of bondage for me. I had no control. I was addicted. Eat to feel happier. Eat more to try to numb, maybe? or find comfort, definitely! Eating lead to guilt. Guilt, well you know the answer…lead to more eating.

There were two red flags for me. The first I noticed in high school. I would go to the refrigerator, open the doors wide and stare inside looking for food.  It was a stocked refrigerator, there was food, but it wasn’t quick or sweet enough so I closed the door, only to return a little later. The second was when I started obsessing over college cafeteria food in a third world country. Trust me it wasn’t THAT good, not even for the locals. I was more focused on devouring my plate and thinking, “What’s for dessert?” than I was in the conversation with the person sitting across from me. Food, especially sweets, had been ruling my thoughts and actions for my entire life. Something had to change.

Thankfully there were a few other women at the time that were struggling too and more inclined to a disciplined diet than I had ever tried.  We chose to record our calorie intake (we lived in Asia so we modified for foods not on the list) with an app and exercised regularly. We shared our progress and our failures. Accountability and making it a communal “game” helps tremendously in all goals we set in life. Another blessing marriage to Tom brings as well.

It was slow progress, but progress nonetheless. During our “game,” I learned what foods nourished my body, kept me satisfied and energized. High-calorie foods ate up my options for other meal times. Cutting sweetener and creamer out of my coffee allowed me to lose seven pounds and not starting the day with sugar reduced my cravings for sweets later in the day. Lastly, I learned to be OK with a plateau of weight.  After all, it was more about a long term lifestyle change and not a yo-yo diet. For me to lose weight and keep it off, I needed a good two weeks to a month of maintaining the same weight. During the plateau, routines were ingrained and new recipes learned, which were keys to establishing a healthier diet as a lifestyle.

During the plateau, routines were ingrained and new recipes learned, which were keys to establishing a healthier diet as lifestyle.

Someone once told me that after three bites of something, you don’t really focus on the flavor anymore. Super helpful immediate strategy to implement.  Three bites and RUN the other way from the dessert table 🙂

Over time my taste buds have been revived! It’s taken some serious dying to the cravings and SOUL SEARCHING of what was behind the reason for my overeating or eating unhealthy foods to get to where I am today. I enjoy food again. I don’t feel like I have to eat something that’s not tasty just because it’s on my plate. It isn’t a waste of food or money to train your mind to discern. It IS A WASTE (or rather waist) to eat foods full of preservatives, sugars, and corn syrup that work against my bodies natural ability to regulate my appetite and cause me to overeat.

Now my body craves nourishment. My mind LIKES nourishing options and I can taste FLAVOR in foods again. I can also taste preservatives, sugar, corn syrup, etc. now and have the ability to discern if the meal will give me energy.  I know my body as I was created to know it. No more bloated puffiness. More flexibility and energy. Seven months postpartum and I’m below my pre-baby weight with a goal to get back on track by lifting weights and running in 2018.

*True Confession: We stopped tonight at a local restaurant and I enjoyed a burger and sweet potato fries and bought a cookie to bring home.  It’s Christmas time so my mindset is sort of back in the dark ages of eat whatever, celebrate. Why? I’m human and a SLOW learner 🙂 The cookie looked much better than it tasted. I ate it all anyway because I paid $2.25 for it and felt guilty for not eating it. Worth it? Probably not. Because it wasn’t satisfying in flavor I’m probably going to end up searching for something else sweet to eat that tastes better.

Whether your New Years resolution is to eat healthier, gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free, start drinking a fad replacement shake, etc. I hope that you will do some SOUL SEARCHING too.  What is your mindset about the foods you’re choosing or not choosing? What habits have been programmed over the years that need to be broken before a new lifestyle can be practiced? Who will come alongside you in your journey? My hope is that we enjoy the blessings of flavors over the holidays and exercise our freedom to say, “No thank you,” to that which does not satisfy and energize, because I surely need all the energy I can get for the busy days ahead.

Photo credit: http://laoblogger.com