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I don’t usually talk about this very much on media because I am a lot more focused on writing poetry, some prose, and of course, taking care of my small online business with selling body butter. However, recently I have observed differing trends, like people doing many different diets like whole30, keto, etc. I felt a need to share this because of differing public opinions regarding how to take care of our bodies… inside and out.
When I first began college at 18 years old in the year 2013, I didn’t eat healthy at all. I went from weighing 110 pounds to 122 within a short period of time. Not to mention, my acne was getting worse and my face was bloated. I got a figurative slap in the face around spring of 2014 when I realized I did not want to keep gaining weight, feeling bloated, and having bad skin. I had to make some serious and dramatic changes.
One of the biggest reasons I began gaining weight was because I was eating out all the time and when I didn’t eat out I just had junk food at home. I began doing the paleo/adkins diet that semester and as annoying as it was, walking half an hour to get to a grocery store, then coming home and cooking at the dorm community kitchen… I did it. Why? Because I knew it would be worth it. It totally was! In 2014, I was thriving! I lost all that unnecessary weight, my acne was so much better, my face wasn’t puffy anymore and I felt good! I so badly wanted to get healthier that I was actually asking God’s help to keep me disciplined. I began enjoying cooking and realized the true beauty of when my mom would always make our meals for us growing up. However, Even though I had gotten much healthier, I began losing too much weight and not eating enough. Why? Well multiple reasons:
- STRESS: I was working, studying all the time, and walking everywhere (because I didn’t have a car). That all added physical and mental stress. Therefore, I was skipping meals without realizing it, and to be honest… I liked the weight loss a little too much.
- LACK OF AFFIRMATION: Ever since I was young I was very self-conscious about my physical appearance and in all honesty, I didn’t have much affirmation from those around me. Yes, I got compliments every once in a while but genuine affirmation and just a few words on “Hey, good job for being healthy,” were always lacking in my life. I was alone in college and battling body image alone is never easy. Support and affirmation is important.
After “I Do”
When Ryan and I got married, we had also just graduated from college and Ryan’s eating habits were much different from mine. For starters, I had lost way too much weight senior year and the stress of planning a wedding and graduating were a big burden to bear. Now Ryan’s eating habits were different from mine because well… he’s a guy and ate anything. However, I was super determined to maintain my eating habits by cooking for us all the time. Now, if you have ever met my husband you would know he’s a big guy, he looks good but he also needs a lot of food. Mainly protein and carbs. Two things I was never good at eating when doing paleo. I began tweaking our diet to make sure both of us were getting nutrition that our bodies needed. Alongside veggies, I was adding red meat and good carbs like potatoes and rice… oh and a ton of fat. Both of us agreed on this: all meals must have fat, butter, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, you name it!
So I have given a explanation of how I cooked, now I am going to tell you what truly made me even more healthier:
- AFFIRMATION: Ryan from the very beginning was and is a very affirming husband, he always made sure to communicate he loved me no matter what and that he always thought I was beautiful. The support was already there without me changing anything.
- WORKING OUT: Ryan loves working out, he has worked out ever since I met him and he always tries to find some time throughout the week for running or going to the gym. Now, I liked exercising too and I kind of did it in college but I was walking all the time, I didn’t feel like going to the gym or doing workouts after all of that walking throughout the day. After graduation and having normal jobs with normal schedules… I had more freedom to pursue passions like that. Ryan is also super knowledgeable about working out so I knew I could ask him for pretty much anything and he would help me out. We began working out together, then I got my own gym membership and got on a schedule myself.
- ACCOUNTABILITY: Whether he realizes it or not, Ryan being there held me accountable. I’m around him most of the time in the mornings and always for dinner. So if I skipped meals he would notice. He also always reminds me “Mariam, if you want to built muscle… you need to eat protein.” So, my red meat intake became much better (grassfed/organic of course). I knew he needed protein, carbs and veggies throughout his meals so I would eat it too. I cooked for us both after all. Also, I would give him lunches for work and in turn I was motivated to prep a lunch for myself. Therefore, I wasn’t skipping as much meals anymore.
So what are your views on diets like paleo/keto/adkins/whole30?
I believe that our society eats way too much sugar and carbs and too little goods fats and veggies. By all means try out those diets to start living a healthier lifestyle but be careful how your body reacts to them. At end of the day, all bodies need carbs, protein, veggies, some sugar, and fat. It's also true that if you want to gain muscle and see results, you need FOOD protein, grass-fed meats, chicken, turkey, eggs, etc. Protein powder is okay but your body is not meant to have protein powder all the time, food protein is the best way to go.
So wait… then how do you get healthier to begin with?
I’ll be honest, I believe that you can eliminate a lot of health issues by simply buying food from a grocery store and cooking at home. I am realizing that people actually struggle with that in of itself. I didn’t struggle as much as I could’ve with cooking at home in college… why? Because my awesome mother always made home cooked meals that we hardly ever ate out. So, I would say, start there! Begin disciplining yourself in saying "no" to eating out and "yes" to home cooked food. After that, start tweaking your diet, maybe you do eat too many carbs, lessen that. Having sugar everyday? Say "no" to that. But you have to start with eating at home.
Do you and Ryan disagree on things when it comes to eating habits?
Yes! we so do! Ryan thinks that if your blood sugar is too low, you need something really sugary like soda or a candy bar. I disagree, I think that you may need to raise your blood sugar but having something like fruits or dark chocolate or some bread with butter can do the trick too! Ryan's sugar tolerance is way more than mine. I hardly ever buy sugary things for us and almost always try to find healthier alternatives when craving something sweet. Ryan is fine with ice cream, cookies, cakes, etc. Even though we disagree on some eating habits, I end up cooking all of our meals so he loves it but when he wants something really sweet like ice cream or cookie butter, I get it usually just for him.
So, are you still paleo?
I would answer that question by saying it’s the same thing with my relationship with Gluten-Free. I am I would say 70-80% gluten free. I don’t regularly eat white flour breads, I bake a lot more than buy when it comes to flour based foods. Do I still be somewhat be careful with carbs? Yes! Do I eat processed meat like bacon, ham, etc? I hardly ever buy it, bacon is a treat for us once every like few months.
Moral of the Story
Be careful when completely cutting foods out for certain diets. It’s probably good in the beginning but watch how your body reacts to it as you keep doing it. Also, get support and affirmation in your life. Let people IN! Food and health are real struggles, maybe more for some than others but it still can be super difficult.