Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Learning a Healthy Lifestyle...
There's a Learning Curve

Shawn turns forty in a month. He decided that he would like to face the next forty years without encouraging one of the myriad of familial illnesses that plagues his gene pool. So, he is willing to try eating healthier. A serious commitment from someone who has spent the past forty years fine-tuning the delicate skill of vegetable-avoidance.

But, I'm on-board! I would love to eat healthier and have a buddy to help encourage me when I don't feel like encouraging myself. Also? If this is his version of a mid-life crisis and it doesn't involve a girlfriend, ridiculous sports car, or plastic surgery, I'll eat bok choy every day for the rest of my life. So, I signed us up for a meal plan on-line. It counts our calories. We sit down every Sunday and choose what we want to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. It gives me a grocery list. I shop. We eat.

I've only had to yell at one of the children one time when he wouldn't stop calling this "your diet." We had a discussion about what people think of as "diets" are just radically changing your eating habits for a temporary time to lose weight and then going right back to eating like crap (I didn't use that word, I promise). And, that this was Mommy and Daddy learning how to eat healthy. Forever. He said he understood. Although, he really may have just wanted the lecture to stop...

I hang my head as I tell you how foreign it was for me to buy healthy food - like fresh fruit and vegetables. (I think the first trip to the grocery store took me an hour and a half.) And how eye-opening it was when I started comparing labels to decide which brand of different foods would be the healthier option. (For example: Wheat Chex. A "whole grain wheat cereal." Must be healthy, right? Second ingredient? [And, we all know ingredients are listed in the order of predominance, right?] SUGAR. Straight up "sugar." In "healthy" wheat Chex. Damn.)

But, it's amazing how much we're learning already. After a week, I can already cut up a cantaloupe like a pro. Learning portion control has been huge for us, too. Turns out a 12-ounce piece of meat isn't in anyone's healthy diet. We've also learned how bad some of our "go-to" options are. Pizza? French fries? Salad dressing?! Oh my. But, with the variety this meal plan offers us, there are lots of things that we like that, eaten in the proper amounts, are good and good for us. And, there are healthy ways to prepare some of the ol' favs like hamburgers, pasta, etc.

We have stumbled upon one meal that made us throw up in our mouths. Luckily, it wasn't one of our first meals. We already had enough good dinners under our belts (no pun intended, ba-dum-cha) that we didn't ditch the entire "healthy" concept altogether and run for the nearest Mexican restaurant. But, that meal made it to the "Never, Never, Never, Again" List. We do already have three on our "Put in Heavy Rotation" List. So, the ratio of good to bad is quite acceptable.

It's actually been kind of fun to work along-side each other in the kitchen, too, measuring and cooking. And, I send Shawn to work with his "snack" every day. It's very Donna Reed.

But. (And, we all knew there was a "but," didn't we?) Here's the thing. He gets many more calories than I do. He gets so much food, that many days he can't eat it all... or feels like he's being force fed if he tries. Me? Not so much. I want to kick him in delicate places when he says things like, "I just can't eat my cheese and crackers."

And, then? The first week? He lost seven pounds.


I'm just bitter.

And, hungry.


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