Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Eating healthy when your partner doesn't want to...

I remember the reaction on my wife's face when I told her of my decision regarding the eating habits 7 years ago. Shock and surprise...maybe even amazement. After the shock wore off, she asked me the big question.

Why? I was what you would call a steak and potato man. Literally. I would eat a plate of a 16 oz steak with a heap of potatoes and still ask for more. What did it? I had read somewhere in Reader's Digest that it was not beneficial to eat red meat all the time and I was getting desperate about my ever-expanding waistline.

I despise the idea of diets because the people who went on diets had wildly varying degrees of success and failure. People would lose 5, 20, 100 lbs and gain some of the weight back or all of that weight loss...or even gain back more than was originally lost. She asked the next big question.

How? I had a radical thought - why not call it "lifestyle change" instead of "going on a diet"? To me, the "diet" phrase meant a temporary measure to lose weight...and maybe gain all that back or more. By calling it a lifestyle change, you are committing to making the way you eat as part of your life.

My wife was intrigued by that concept, BUT...

She felt that it was too much to ask of her to commit to this change and did not want to make that jump with me. I told her that I understood and hoped that she would make SMALL changes to help me ease into this radical idea. She asked what I meant about the small changes and I said "we eat food with low or no fat and drink skim milk".

She did make the small adjustments necessary to help me with the transition, but she didn't really commit to my concept until she saw that I had lost 20 pounds without ever visiting the gym and I kept that off for 1.5 years without any effort. No gym, no daily exercise regiment, nothing. I even found myself waking up with more energy than before.

There is that weird side effect of not eating meat anymore...I discovered that my body couldn't handle much of meat anymore...not even at 6 oz. The meat would sit heavily in my stomach for hours and I found out that by walking for 30+ minutes, that helped alleviate the unpleasant feeling. I even was surprised to learn that by drinking water on scheduled intervals, that had effectively put an end to my ice cube habit...my body used to CRAVE for water and I associated that craving with the need to eat ice cubes.

With all the profound changes that were making a visible and positive impact on me, my wife realized this would not only benefit her but our family as well if we all committed to this lifestyle change. Our girls do not consume soda beverages or junk food on a daily basis. They wake up full of energy...sometimes too early in the morning. Hehe.

Sometimes, it's a good idea to incorporate the small changes in how you eat and drink if you want to make a major lifestyle change. What do you think when you hear "lifestyle change" instead of "diet"?


MommyLovesStilettos said...

I hate the word diet. In order to be successful in eating healthy and BEING healthy, I think lifestyle change is more appropriate. I struggle with that EVERY single day. But it's worth it in the long run.

Working Mommy said...

I used to work with a guy who would starve himself all day - literally - and not eat until the sun went down (or around 6p - whichever came first)...when he finally did eat - it was all meat and carbs. He called it his "warrior diet"...I don't know if it ever worked, but it made going out to lunch odd.

Anonymous said...

Luckily, my parents raised us with a healthy eating lifestyle. We ate meat, poultry and fish, but not always, and not a lot of it. It was always the smallest part of the meal. This is somewhat ironic given that my mom grew up on a cattle ranch. However, my father had a P.H.D. in nutrition. We had dessert & things that weren't strictly "healthy" occasionally, but small portions and in moderation. During the summer, our entire dinner frequently came from our large garden. The first time I ever had a large piece of steak on my plate was when I had dinner at my future in-law's house.

A balanced diet was pretty much 2nd nature by the time I was a teenager. My husband had somewhat different eating habits (i.e. more meat). There have been adjustments on both sides, but after 19+ years, he doesn't complain when we have meatless dinners. However, if he doesn't have a stash of candy and sodas in the fridge, he doesn't think there is any "food" in the house. He does a lot of household chores, but generally doesn't buy the groceries or cook. That gives me a little more control over what we are all consuming. We have never had to be on a "diet" as a result.

My biggest concern is that we start our kids off right by teaching them healthy eating habits. Sadly, there have been times in our lives where we have eaten out more than I would have liked due to lack of time and/or planning. We have really made a concerted effort to keep that to a minimum in the past few years. It takes more planning and effort but the benefits are definitely worth it. I have also been teaching our son (9) & daughter (15) how to cook, and how to convert recipes to lower fat versions when needed. That has been nice, because they can now produce the occasional meal on their own. :-)

Just Jules said...

I only keep good things around the house. If there is something in the house that isn't a healthy thing it was brought in from or by someone else - i.e. halloween....

However, I notice when I clean my hubby's truck out he still finds a way of consuming his ration of crap on a regular basis. sigh.

funyuns and soda, gatorade (no it is not good for you), and candy bar wrappers, chips and remnants of other horrible things are fished out.

I can only do so much. I am in charge of my kids and myself when we are in the house - that is the only control I pretend to have.

Nolens Volens said...

ShellSpann - always worth it in the long run...I've been told that I don't look 42 at all, let alone be in the 40's. :)

Working Mommy - it won't work...his body will consume the remaining proteins in the muscles instead of the fat. Oh well.

Mountain Gal - that is something to behold...veggies being the main entree than the minor entree. Good for you.

Just Jules - sounds like your hubby is either a junkie or just doesn't bother to look for healthier options. Do you pack his lunch?

DGB said...

A handful of years ago, my doctor suggested that I lose some weight. And by suggested it was more like prescribed. I hired a nutritionist and three tightly scheduled months later I had lost 20 lbs. WonderWife™ did too. She soon got pregnant and all food bets were off since.

Lifestyle change is definitely better than diet. But it's harder to do.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

A lifestyle change is what I told people when I went on weight watchers! U see my problem is I LOVE food...meat being one of my favorites!

But...you figure out exercise makes you feel good, but changing what you eat makes the biggest difference and fast!

Just Jules...how in the helk do you go without! I'm even hungrier when I just think about that!!!

Luckily I found stuff that I love to do that helps me stay down, in my mind though I can always lose more, it's a forever battle!

Great post NV

Anonymous said...

You da man. I can't do it. I just can't. Since I refuse to wear dungarees bigger than a 36 inch waist I just wear em lower and lower!

Sahildeki Ev said...

How I wish my husband could adopt some of these changes. As he is naturally not inclined to gain wait, he did not want to hear the word of diet or healthy eating..You made such a wonderful tranformation..

Nolens Volens said...

Daddy Geek Boy - I want to make sure that I understand what you are saying. Are you saying that you spent all this money and gained the weight back?

Shelle-BlokThoughts - funny thing about Weight Watchers...you have to be on THEIR diet regiment...when you have the free will to make your own lifestyle change. I gradually phased out all the bad food in the pantry. Thanks for the kudos.

Southern Sage - at least you're honest and if you had your way, you'd go nude all the time. ;)

Turquoise Diaries - oh thank you. Glad to know that an idea can be the impetus of momentum you need.

April said...

I didn't read all of the comments, so I don't know if someone has written this already, but Weight Watchers calls it a "lifestyle change" too. So when you wrote that, it wasn't anything new to me. I think in your case, it's the true definition of a lifestyle change. In Weight Watcher's case, it's a diet, regardless of what they want to call it.

But I digress. I think it's important for both of you to be on board to set good examples for your children. Especially when they see other kids stuffing their faces with junk. I try to limit the amount of junk my son eats. He only gets soda on special occasions and I pack his lunches rather than let him eat the school's lunch. Although their lunches meet certain standards, those standards do not meet mine. I always pack him a healthy sandwich on whole grain/wheat bread, some fresh fruit (not canned or pre-packaged little cups) and a usually somewhat healthy "desert". But we do eat meat nightly. We do beef/steak, pork, and chicken. We're eating a lot more fish since I was finally able to convince my son that not all fish tastes like canned tuna. Now he LOVES it!

I don't think I could, or would want to, give up eating meat completely. I've done a lot of research on the effects of meats on the body and there's very much conflicted information. Some good studies, some bad, some indifferent. So I feel that as long as we eat it in the proper amounts, and not big huge pieces, then we're good. You can still be a healthy eater without giving up meat.

But good for you guys for eating healthy and passing those habits onto your kids!