I have been thinking (always thinking, probably over thinking). Up ‘till this point in my career, as a weight loss writer, I have started my story with the end. “My husband and I lost a bunch of weight, and now I write a blog.”
However, my story started long before the happily-ever-after. My story starts with a chubby little girl, siting on her couch, watching way too much TV…
I have been delighted by food for as long as I can remember. My mom likes to tell the story of finding me in the backyard mixing the contents of her spice jars into my mud pies. However, my early exposure to cooking isn’t your typical, at-my-mother’s-apron-strings story, though she did cook, and I did pay some attention. No, I first learned to cook by watching cooking shows on PBS.
I was fascinated by the way the television chefs chopped with precision, splashed some oil in a pan, and transformed their ingredients into amazing meals. I was probably 12 years old when I sat riveted while Jeff Smith demonstrated step-by-step how to make a perfect omelet on his show, The Frugal Gourmet. I spent the rest of my summer vacation perfecting my version of a French omelet stuffed with herbs, buttery sautéed mushrooms, and topped with a generous scoop of sour cream. But most television chefs were notorious for their generous use of butter, oil, salt, and sugar. By following their instructions, I was learning how to cook, but I wasn’t learning how to eat.
More than a decade later, I began my mission to lose weight. My love of cooking helped me embrace the more difficult stages of change. Each recipe presented a new puzzle. Reducing the number of fat, sugar, and calories in a dish required me to think critically about every ingredient I chose. I began to ask why a recipe needed so much oil or sugar. I experimented with reducing or removing ingredients to lower the calorie content. I had a lot of “interesting” experiences. The more weight I lost, the hungrier I became to learn about new vegetables, grains, and sweeteners. I was on a mission to make the list of what I could eat as vibrant and exciting as possible.
At first, I stopped imitating cooking shows, and focused on experimenting on my own. As my confidence and knowledge of ingredients grew, I looked again to television for new ideas and techniques. I experimented more, and scribbled pages of notes. My husband cheered on my successes, and offered constructive criticism when things didn’t turn out the way I expected. My joy of cooking and my love of puzzles propelled me to achieve extreme weight loss.
For many obese people, food is a comfort and an enemy. Making abrupt changes to eating habits can strike fear in a deep and scary place. Through my journey I have found a way to love myself and love food more than I ever dreamed was possible.
In the early days of my weight loss, I built a strong foundation for myself and learned never to stray far from the basics. Now I can live at a healthy weight and deal with life in all its messy and imperfect glory.
There is no one way to lose weight, but I passionately believe that all life long healthy habits have to be rooted in a positive foundation. Extreme change can happen while you are doing what you love, layering in small changes until they are as normal as brushing your teeth. It all starts when you make a decision to step out in faith, and say “yes”.
This is what I live, and if you’ll keep reading, this is what I will teach.
p.s. I still watch way too much TV but, I have now been a cook on television – four times!