Today I have the privilege of sharing an amazing guest post from Elisha – the witty, wonderful, and smart woman and mother behind “My Thunder Thighs”. Elisha and I met at Fitbloggin last September. I had no idea who she was – and she had certainly never heard of me or my fledling blog. But she introduced herself, started asking me questions about myself, made a quip about her curvy bottom half, aand by the end of the weekend, a friendship had been formed. One of things that I adore most about Elisha is her straightforward approach to life… she openly shows her personal struggles, her faults and failures without making excuses or justifications. I asked Elisha to share with ya’ll how she handles making the healthier choices when her family doesn’t. I believe her words will inspire you….
By way of introduction, let me start out by making you feel a little better about yourself: I’m 32, 100 pounds overweight, divorced, in debt, and I live with my parents. (You’re welcome.)
I have got a couple of things going for me though. For instance, I am Mommy to the World’s Cutest, Smartest, Bestest 4-year-old. I have a job that I actually like, which pays me enough to cover my bills. And I am determined to change my life for the better, no matter the obstacles set before me.
One of the biggest obstacles I face, ironically, is my generally supportive family. You see, while they all want me to achieve my goals and be happy, they don’t always agree with me on how that’s done. And they’re nowhere near healthy. There’s a reason I wore a size 16 in junior high, and it has something to do with a steady diet of frozen french fries, Hamburger Helper, and tuna noodle casserole.
Not that I blame my being overweight on my parents, because I don’t, exactly. After all, I have an older brother who was served the same meals that I was, and he’s slim and muscular (grumble grumble grumble), so there’s got to be more to it than the food. But let’s face it, the constant availability of unhealthy food can be challenging.
My parents’ diet hasn’t changed much in the years since I was a teenager, except maybe they eat more fast food than they used to. And me, with a history of going on every diet under the sun–for about 3 hours–I’m trying to build healthy habits for myself and my young daughter, and even for my parents. I’ve finally managed to shift my mindset from “What diet will help me lose the most weight?” to “What is the healthiest, most sustainable, and most pleasurable way for me and my family to eat?” Believe me, it took a long time to get to this point, but now that I’m here, I’m not letting go.
My mother is, for the most part, supportive of my efforts. Granted, she’s still serving my daughter (and herself) microwave chicken nuggets with ranch dressing for lunch, but she always says, “Good job!” when I tell her I’ve lost a pound or two. My father generally falls on the side of simply ignoring whatever it is I’m doing, or not noticing at all, as long as he likes the taste of what’s on his plate.
Sometimes, though, the conversation goes more like, “Almond milk? I bet you paid more for that than for real milk, and it probably tastes gross,” or, “What kind of stupid diet doesn’t let you to eat beans?” More recently, it’s been, “I talked to your trainer, and I’m taking over. Go run up the hill and then bring in some firewood, then you can pay me instead.”
I stopped trying to explain things long ago. Arguing with their chosen way of life only makes it more likely that they will argue with mine.
But, as I said, I am determined, and I am therefore finding ways to deal with a kitchen full of junk food, and even with argumentative parents. Right now, I am doing the Whole30 Program, which is by far the most restrictive diet I have ever undertaken. No grains, no sugar, no dairy, no legumes, no random additives, no white potatoes, no alcohol. Strangely, it’s also been the easiest, and I think part of that is because I stopped trying to fight with my parents’ diet.
There are a couple of things that have made sticking with my decision to healthify my life easier. I have been doing most of the cooking, which isn’t exactly new (my mom never did like to cook), but it allows me to control what goes into our foods. Sometimes I will fix a different side for me, or an additional side for them. For example, the other night I made spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce, spaghetti squash for me, and conventional spaghetti noodles for them. They had some garlic toast with their meal, and I did not. On a different night, I made homemade potato wedges, using white potatoes for them and a sweet potato for me. They had a cheeseburger on a bun, while I had a hamburger wrapped in lettuce.
Also, I’ve been trying a lot of new recipes over the past couple of weeks. In my family, if it tastes good, they’ll eat it, even if it is healthy. Since I’m doing the cooking anyway, I’m making an effort to make delicious meals that all of us will enjoy. We were all fighting over Whole30-compliant leftovers the other day, so that strategy has proven effective.
Sometimes it still comes down to me eating a salad while they’re eating cheese and crackers (one of The Old Me’s favorite snacks). Sometimes they eat chocolate or ice cream or cookies, and I don’t. And you know what? That sucks. I won’t lie. Sometimes it’s really inconvenient for me to fix two separate meals. It’s frustrating to say, “Hey Mom, can you watch my kid for an hour so I can go to the gym?” and have her roll her eyes in response. Sometimes it’s really stinking hard to live with people who do not share your goals, especially if they do not always approve of your methods.
But I know I’m getting a lot further by making an effort to accommodate them, by not asking them to change, than I ever got by trying to convince them to see things my way. Proof: a few days ago, my mom called me at work to ask if I was allowed to have BBQ sauce on my “special diet.” She was going to put some chicken in the crock pot, but didn’t want to douse it all in the sauce if I wouldn’t be able to eat it. I don’t recall my mother ever being so considerate of my dietary concerns before. I thanked her profusely for checking with me, and then proceeded to tweet about it and exclaim to my boss what had just transpired, it was such an event. (For the record, no, I can’t have BBQ sauce on Whole30, at least not the processed kind she was referring to. I told her to simply leave a few pieces of chicken out for me and I would cook for myself. She ended up making a different meal, and using a seasoning mix that contained sugar–which she had no way of knowing, as I had mixed it up months prior–so I couldn’t eat it anyway. Still, small victories. I am giving her credit for that one.)
So yes, it is an effort, and yes, it is inconvenient. Yes, following a healthy diet and lifestyle would be easier if we weren’t exposed to unhealthy food at all, and if everyone we encountered was following the exact same diet as we are.
No matter how supportive our families are, we can’t get around it, and we can’t escape the challenge. It makes no difference what our circumstances are; it’s not going to be easy. Easy got us disordered eating.
We’re changing our lives, and that’s going to take some hard work.
The only way to make it work is to decide that you are worth the effort. You are worth the extra time it takes to cook an extra dish, or a separate meal, or a new recipe. You are worth turning down the ice cream. You are worth standing up for yourself, even if that means accommodating others. You are worth being healthy, whatever that means for you.
You change your life by deciding, by believing, by knowing that you are worth changing.
And you are.
Didn’t I tell ya’ll Elisha was awesome? Ya’ll show her some love by clicking over to her blog!