Hi friends! Here is a sneak peak at my upcoming book, which will be released by BloomingTwig Books in the spring of '11.
Ever since I went to college I have been struggling with my weight, yo-yo dieting, and obsessed with trying new fad diets. I have done extreme calorie restriction paired with exercise, raw food, veganism, and macrobiotics. I have fallen off the wagon, and eaten pizza (many slices at one sitting) and ice cream. Whole tubs of it. Entire packages of pasta. And my personal weakness, Thai food. Lots of it.
A couple years into marriage, I experienced such hunger pangs during my first pregnancy that I ate almost on the hour, round the clock. After all, this was the proverbial time of life that one could simply eat and eat and not be judged, right? Plus, it was a great excuse to enjoy food, right? Well, by the time my second child was born, I was the heaviest I'd ever been, but hey, I was a mom, right?
I was starting to feel really badly about myself, so I vowed to watch what I was eating. That is, until the next hunger pang came along (and I didn't exactly feel like giving up my bagels or pasta!). I was starting to get disgusted with myself so I got serious about dieting, but was constantly hungry, and along with that came irritability. I managed to lose a tiny bit of weight, however, at one point my body wasn't budging. I tried a bit of exercise, but was tired all the time, and couldn’t seem to stick with it. What was wrong with me? My mother would say, "You have two young children, give yourself a break. That's how mommys look!" But I wasn’t sure that was the case, as I would see other mothers with young children, back to their skinny selves, and wonder to myself, if they were naturally thin, or if they were actually disciplined about their diet and exercise routines.
Sheepishly, I asked a few of them how they did it. I was still looking for some magic pill, or to be told that it was genetics, and not something they actually worked at. They'd tell me different things such as, "Just walk!" or stuff like, "Yeah, I just breast-fed, and I snapped right back!" Or quips such as, "Well, I've always been thin, and I only gained 20 lbs when I was pregnant," or, "If I want to lose a little weight, I just watch my carb intake for a few days and weight just falls off." I even went so far as to jokingly ask my super-skinny not an ounce of fat visible ribs-sticking-out seven year old daughter what her secrets were. She took my query quite seriously, and made a list that is displayed prominently on our refrigerator. It says,
"How to Get Skinny, by Lara"
1. Don’t eat a lot
2. Walk up and down the stairs lots of times
3. Do exercise bike every day
4. Run or walk or jog places
5. Do grown-up gymnastiks
However, no matter what answers I got, much of it just seemed too simplistic, somehow. (Ya think?!) I knew in my heart that there was more to it than that. I thought about joining a gym, but the idea was worrisome... I had never done well at gyms, and I already had invested in an exercise bike and weights at home, so why spend the money? So I got on the bike. I’d turn on the tube, or put up a magazine, and turned off my mind. But somehow, psychologically, because I was exercising, I also allowed myself to eat more. So when the nice lady next door came over with some holiday baklava, I had three pieces in a row. Uh oh...
The next day, I hesitantly stepped on the scale. I was shocked, but I knew then that I had a problem. A serious problem, that wasn't getting better, it was getting worse. Not only was I obsessed with losing weight and dieting, but I was failing, AND GAINING weight. This scared me. No matter how much people kept saying not to go by weight as in, "It's all inches, and muscle weighs more than fat, so go by the way your clothes fit!" I knew in my heart, that my weight was way, way, WAY too much for my 5'3" frame.
All those skinny women out there... there must be something to it... it couldn't all be just genetics. I thought to myself, well, people write about what they are obsessed about, so why not go ahead and just ask all these women for their secrets? Their real secrets, and not just a little piece of advice they could pass off to me while waiting for our kids to come out of school. I would ask A LOT of women a LOT of questions. I would find out the real deal. I would find out if there truly was no way around what I knew the truth to be (diet and exercise, anyone?!). I would only interview the women with ideal body types —the ones that looked like yoga instructors who look like they only consume wheatgrass and tofu. Because from my vantage point, that was the body-type that I was desiring. I desperately wanted to be thin again! I even had a cartoon icon of myself drawn to look like me at my ideal weight. Having someone draw you at your ideal weight is a lot more pleasant than diet and exercise—LOL! But how exactly to lose the weight?
So, in typical investigative fashion, I went about gathering the myriad profiles contained in this book in order to uncover and divulge the secrets of the super-slim. I wanted to know exactly what people ate, how much, when, were they always thin and if not, what they did about it, what their water intake was, did they use supplementation, what were their exact exercise routines, did they include weight training, what fitness routines and attitudes, and anything and everything else I could think of to ask them about. I wanted to find out if their skinniness was a force of nature, luck of the draw, or discipline at work?
What I started to realize, was that yes, although there are woman out there who are and have always been thin, many rely on daily exercise and healthy eating habits to maintain their weight. Even the women who said things like, "I've been thin my entire life, I'm just lucky, I guess!" Upon further investigation, I came to find that they exercise as a matter of habit, everyday, avoid dairy, wheat and sugar, and rarely drink soda or eat after 8pm. Now, that sounds like discipline to me! Now, perhaps after a while these disciplines become habit-forming, and ends up feeling natural to them, and this, I believe is what these women mean when they say they are naturally thin. I learned that many women all over the world think about their weight every day. And whatever their disciplines or habits are, it has become a way of life. Whether it's yoga, or going to the gym, or eating only fruits and veggies, or never drinking soda or taking vitamin and nutritional supplements, avoiding chocolate like the plague, doing daily ab exercises or jogging a few times a week come hell or high water, they do something about it regularly because having a healthy body is a priority to them.
As the stories poured in, I slowly got both the information, and the inspiration I needed to move forward toward my own weight loss goals. I realized that I was not alone, and that the problem was a combination of what I was putting in my mouth, just how much and when, insurmountable cravings, and lack of variety in my exercise routines. I could not deny it any longer. But I was excited because there were solutions! During this time, I was introduced to three things. First, a 5-day plan that reset my blood sugar and insulin regulation, so I was not as hungry, had diminished cravings, and as a result, ate less and made healthier choices. As well, I was introduced to a video series that was based on muscle confusion, as well as an anti-oxidant blend that gave my body the energy I hadn’t had in nearly a decade. So between beating the formerly impossible cravings, having the energy to commit to daily exercise and enlisting an online-coach that held me accountable to my workouts, I decided to commit to succeeding in losing weight. I had to have blind faith that these things were the keys to changing my body forever.
My goal was that I would be able to proudly contribute a story to this very book. I prayed for the strength to remain disciplined. I prayed for health, and for my body to change shape. And I purposely reserved a spot for myself, because I was visualizing success. I am proud to say that I have now claimed a spot in this book. And today I feel more empowered and successful than the thought of weight loss itself, because I feel better than ever before. I am both exercising regularly as well as putting good things into my body, and taking the correct nutrients to battle those crazy cravings!
Discipline is not an easy road. Far from it. But worth it? I know that it is! I want to thank every woman in this book for helping to educate us about the importance of correct nutrition and supplementation, and for inspiring us to incorporate exercise into our lives as a lifestyle choice. And just as I suspected, these disciplines have begun to feel natural to me, as well, over time. My wish is that you, dear readers, will receive the same inspiration as I did from these honest, forthright, heartfelt, caring and disciplined stories. Each woman in this book has opened up with a very detailed account as to how they maintain their beautiful frames in order to help us all and for that I am eternally grateful!
So, as for the query in the title of this book- Naturally Thin, Or Discipline? I have found my answer. The answer is quite clear – and that discipline eventually turns into a natural way of life. Kudos and love to this hard-working and focused group of ladies that are an inspiration to us all!
A VERY special thanks to Victoria Dunkely, Suzy Stauffer and Dr. Joe Rubino, without whom I never would have been able to be in this book.