First a little information about my family. I’m a wife and a mom of two tiny boys. One is 15 months old; the other is 3 months old. We live in Kentucky, and grew up in the suburbs just outside of Cincinnati. These facts each play a role in the health journey I’m about to share with you.
When I was pregnant with my first son, I didn’t gain much weight until the very end of my pregnancy. I slapped on a whopping 30 lbs in the last two weeks, and my blood pressure spent some time going much higher than it should. After battling blood pressure the entire pregnancy, the doctors started to talk about preeclampsia and induction. Luckily, it stayed just barely under control and my cute (not so) little guy was born weighing 9 lbs and 7 oz. Just a few short months later, I was pregnant again with the second baby. The first trimester was brutal, but again I gained almost no weight. I ate everything I felt like eating and scoffed at those who ate organic foods and turned up my nose at anyone who’d go out of their way to eat healthily. “We just can’t afford it,” I said. “I don’t like vegetables,” I complained.
Then something changed.
My baby (the one not in utero, obviously) started to crawl. That little sucker was FAST! So I started to chase him. Chasing a crawling baby while 5 months pregnant isn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I was worn out. I was tired. Something had to change. So I started doing prenatal yoga, but that didn’t seem to be enough. Then, one random day, I noticed something. My dear sweet husband was eating a TON of peanut butter. Jif creamy reduced fat peanut butter. It was his favorite snack. A spoonful while preparing a meal. A spoonful after a meal, “just to top off.” A spoonful as a snack. I’ll spare you all the gory details, but a little research quickly showed that reduced fat peanut butter had almost the same number of calories as the regular peanut butter, and a lot more sugar, not to mention the copious amounts of synthetic ingredients. Then we calculated the number of calories he was eating in peanut butter every day.
Almost 2000. (See? I told you it was a TON of peanut butter!)
It was time to make a real change. He went to the grocery store and bought some natural peanut butter. Within a week, his cravings for peanut butter were completely gone. After we realized the change, I started doing some research into making healthy changes. I started with wordofwisdomliving.com. The blog lists a healthy change for every week to make over your diet. We did the first two right away, and went straight to healthy change #3. It says, “Cereal products must be made of whole grains, and have more grams of natural fiber than grams of sugar.” In order to make this change, we opted to shop for new cereals at Whole Foods. While standing in the cereal aisle at Whole Foods, my husband started talking to me about Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. Katrina mentioned him here.
Then and there, in the cereal aisle at Whole Foods, we decided we were going to completely overhaul our eating by following one simple rule.
Do not eat any ingredients you don’t recognize on the label.
We began to eat only real foods. We went home and threw out everything that wasn’t clean, (don’t worry! I hadn’t grocery shopped in far too long, we didn’t waste much!) and packed our kitchen with healthy ingredients. In less than a week, we felt 100% better. More energy. Better brain function. We were eating vegetables and enjoying them! We started visiting local farmers’ markets on the weekends. Within two months, my husband lost 30 lbs without even thinking about exercise.
It stayed off.
My blood pressure stayed in a normal range.
Then it got harder. I was still pregnant, and hadn’t lost any weight, in fact-I’d gained weight! I was starting to get discouraged, but then just a few weeks later, I gave birth to my sweet second baby with one easy push, and a very quick recovery. I felt much better than I ever had.
In the few weeks that followed his birth, I discovered that I weighed less than I did on my wedding day. I noticed that I had more energy than I’d had as a new mom with my first. Postpartum depression faded much more quickly the second time around.
The key to keeping up with these changes was an easy one; it was never a diet, it was a calculated lifestyle change. It was hard work. At the beginning, grocery shopping trips felt like they took years to complete. I had to spend more time cooking. It was a challenge. Then I learned which items at the store were clean. I started to enjoy cooking. The foods without preservatives, artificial colors, and artificial flavors tasted better!
It’s really not hard to keep up and continue making new healthy changes to the routine we already have, because every little change we make helps us feel even better than before. So we’re off on a new adventure in 2012-
What a difference a year can make.