So with about a month ’til “The Big Move”, it’s time for me to get serious about what I put into, and do with, my body. I bet you thought I was going to say it’s time to pack. Or clean our current living situation. Or start preparing in any sort of way for a cross Atlantic/Caribbean move that would be of actual value.

But nay, I am getting ready to move to a place where I will routinely be clad in minimal clothing – potentially often bikinis – so my main focus right now is, in fact, diet. You may say I’m using this renewed focus on my midsection as a way to avoid doing any of the necessary move stuff. I may say you’re at least partially right.

Here’s the thing. In the past two-and-a-half years, I’ve lost about 40 lbs by introducing exercise and reducing my calorie intake (revolutionary, I know). But that 40 lbs was split almost directly in half by life events. As in, while I’m not a crash dieter by any means, I work better with a purpose. Purpose one, and the first 20-ish pounds, was our wedding. Nick and I both gained weight when we met (me, about 20 lbs, him, closer to 50. He was tiny when we met.) It’s that whole fall in love + never leave the house + eat a lot of takeout/hearty home cooked meals = fat equation. I didn’t realize how much weight I had gained until I went to buy a wedding dress. And accidentally ordered the wrong size, which was a size too small (I legitimately wasn’t a “I’ll work out and fit into it!” girl. I didn’t have that much faith in my ability to lose weight. They didn’t have my size in the dress when I tried it on, so we estimated, and then couldn’t get into it when it came in. Rather than send it back, I took it as a sign that it was time to get my fat ass moving). We both worked out, and ate carefully, in the six/seven months following what I like to refer to as “the dress catalyst”. I refused to crash diet, and other than a one week partial cleanse (still involved eating, y’all. I wasn’t willing to go that far), we did it what I consider to be the right, sustainable way. Obviously, what’s right for me may not be right for others, but there you have it. I never reached my ultimate goal weight in that first round of weight loss, but I did walk down the aisle in my backless dress back-fat-roll free. And that, my friends, was enough at that point.

We continued to work out some, and eat mostly healthy, during our first year of marriage. But when we realized that the pounds were starting to creep back a little, we started running. In the morning. Blech. I have never been, nor did I ever have the desire to be, a distance runner. I can no longer say that I will never be one, though. I may not be to the love it point yet, but I do enjoy it. And running, paired with a renewed vigor for watching what I ate, got me down another 10 – 15ish pounds.

Then Nick left for Grenada. I honestly felt like I had fallen apart, and in the past, that would have meant lots of pasta and ice cream. But, with my ticket purchased for an April visit, I decided to focus on looking great when I got there. So I started doing ab routines in the morning, going to the gym at lunch some days to lift, and training for a half marathon. Until I tripped over a curb and fell out of my high heels, hurting my left foot, in my first week of training. Six long weeks of no running. Bye, half marathon. Hello recumbent bike. With the reduced activity, I decided to give up “dirty” eating for Lent, or, add “clean” eating to my routine. Let me first say that I am not Catholic, although I did marry into a Catholic family (and was living with the in-Laws during this period of time), so while I didn’t have a true commitment to God to make sure that I didn’t lapse in my Lent goal, I did have people that got the whole Lent thing to hold me accountable. And to try to break my resolve on Sunday for a “cheat” day. I did the clean eating for a few reasons – to feel better, to see if I could, because I wanted to give my body better fuel, blah blah blah – but mostly, it was because I had a feeling that sugar, and processed flour, and all that “dirty” food I was eating, was what was keeping that last layer of fat from coming off, no matter how much I watched my calorie intake or how many crunches I did.

And you know what? It worked. I went to Grenada feeling confident in my body. Sure, my boobs were now virtually non-existent, but so was my persistent tummy. For the first time ever, I felt good in a bathing suit, because not only had I reached my original goal weight, but because I felt strong. I come from a line of athletes, and I feel like I’ve tried to fight that body type, tried to be skinny without muscle, but now I realize that it’s the way my body is made and that is OK. It’s better than OK, it’s good. My chest may have shrunk away, but my legs are long and lean with defined muscles, and my shoulders are strong. I feel powerful.

And then a few weeks later, Nick came home. And after four months of deprivation of his favorite foods (no McDonald’s! No Mutt’s! No Chow’s! No Cow Calf-Hay!), Nick was ready to eat. And eat we have. I’ve tried to stay kind of careful, so I’ve only gained about 3 lbs. since his return, but that gross fatty layer is back on my stomach. It doesn’t help that with him here, the desire to wake up early to do crunches is gone. And that I am easily talked out of going to the gym.

So, it’s back to the clean-ish eating for me. Starting today, July 1st, I will be eating my approximation of clean for a month. No refined sugar, no fake sugar substitutes (bye, diet soda), no refined flour, no ingredients that can’t be easily identified, no alcohol. Except on special occasions. July is my birthday month, and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to have a drink, or tasty treat, on my birthday. It’s also the fourth of July, so there’s that, too. And our anniversary is on the 11th, so I may have a break then, too. But other than that! Let’s do this thing.

I’m nothing if not a planner, so in addition to making sure I had one last sugary treat last night, I’m also going to be making a crap ton of healthy, sugar free treats to have on hand so I’ll be less likely to break. I’m not so sure that Nick will be going along with this dietary plan (other than the not drinking part, he has that down pat). The one other time I tried to force a radical diet change on him it was Lent two years ago, when I decided to give up red meat, and everything was going great until I mentioned it. I mean, we had made it two whole weeks with no red meat without him even noticing (this is actually a lot easier than one might think when you’re the one doing the meal planning), but as soon as I said anything about it, he needed a hamburger. I got something along the lines of “give up red meat! No way! We’re having beef tomorrow!” (edit – I’m apparently less sneaky than I thought and he totally knew what I was up to, he just really started to crave meat at that point). So we’ll see how this goes. It’s easier to do when the people you live with are doing it with you, but it’s not impossible if they’re not. No one in this household (Nick’s mom, dad or aunt) were eating clean with me this spring, and I managed. Mostly with being the weekday meal planner/chef of the house and finding healthy and tasty recipes while avoiding the fried pies they brought home to enjoy themselves/tempt me with.

Wish me luck. I’ll be posting my healthy snack swap outs soon. As soon as I can figure out which board I Pinned their recipes on …

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