On 21 March 2011, I woke up, and not just in the literal sense. There was a different strength in me that I have never known, and whose origins I still ponder. After weeks of struggling to name this change, I finally stumbled onto a definition. Transformation.
I have struggled with food and my weight for as long as I can remember. ‘Struggled’ probably isn’t the right word, though, because I had totally given in to both. I hated vegetables, loved junk food, and didn’t think it was possible to fight either. This caused me no end of mental anguish, not to mention physical, but the more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that I did not have the strength to live what others would term ‘a healthy life.’ I knew I could not give up chocolate or bread or cheese or fast food, knew I could not stop snacking, knew I could not commit to a workout regime, knew I could not live the rest of my days continually sacrificing, sacrificing, sacrificing.
And then, March 21st happened. I woke up craving vegetables. But it was more than that, too. I somehow had this sense that this day was the first day of the new me. I had conviction that I not only wanted to change my eating habits for the better, but that I could do it. For the first time in my life, I knew (I know!) that I have the power to change my own life.
I immediately went to my parents’ house to use their medical grade scale. Okay, scary, but I had my starting point. Then I went grocery shopping, and instead of buying candy, I bought vegetables and frozen fruit. Instead of pizza pops and burritos, I bought vegan burgers and flavoured tuna. Instead of chips, I bought rye crisps and brown rice crackers.
I went cold turkey off all the crap I had been consuming, and it felt great. I lost 8 lbs in the first week. My family and friends couldn’t believe the drastic change in my eating habits. A couple of days after I started, I was telling my mom about this great snack I had eaten of a dill pickle and 1/4 cup of dry cottage cheese topped with fresh cracked pepper, and she started laughing at me! I asked her why she was laughing, and she told me that she just couldn’t believe that this was the same Cara.
I myself have really been amazed at this change, and how my thought process has simultaneously changed. I think about what a privilege it is to have the opportunity to mold myself into who I want myself to be, instead of being demoralized by the amount of work I have to do to get there. I rejoice in the ability and desire to choose nutritious food, instead of worrying about how I can possibly sustain the effort to keep making good choices. While I used to wish for a magic genie to wave all this extra weight away, it is now a source of joy and pride that I get to fight for the health and physique I have denied myself for so long. The most unbelievable thing to me is that I do not feel like I am sacrificing. I don’ t feel like I am missing out on tasty food- for the first time ever I feel like I am enjoying what good food really tastes like. And saying ‘yes’ to more vegetables, whole grains, soy and water, and ‘no’ to more sugars, fats, and simple carbs makes me feel stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally. I recognize that I am powerful enough to say no, and that gives me more strength to keep saying no.
It’s been just over a month since the first day of my transformation. The last time I weighed myself (April 20), I had lost 21 lbs. I have so much energy from all this great food, I had to join a gym so I have someplace productive to get rid of it. The gym, that I’m not loving so much (more on that later), but I am determined to keep going as part of this new life.
This blog is also part of the new life. I want to chronicle my successes so that if/when I get discouraged, I have somewhere to come to remind myself what it feels like to be strong and motivated. I also want to invite certain supportive people to be part of this journey with me, because I know they will encourage and spur me on, and more importantly, celebrate the positive steps along the way. I also desire to inspire others to the realization that you don’t have to be a victim to your body. I lived there for a long time, and I hope that refusing to stay there any longer will urge others to do the same. Finally, I look forward to contributing and receiving helpful tips, recipes, and exercises, and hearing about other peoples’ stories of transformation as we travel together.
Thanks for joining me as I explore this world of what it means to be healthy and sharing the experiences of my quest!