My experience with eating healthy has been different than my husband’s because of one major factor… I was already thin when I started this journey. In fact, those that know me can attest that I have always been considered thin. Even during classic weight-gain moments like the first year of college, or the first year of marriage, I gained weight but not significantly enough to be considered over weight by any means.
This factor, although a blessing because I have a genetic gift, has affected people’s perceptions of the benefits of my journey. You see, most people make the decision to eat a different way because they are overweight or unhappy with their bodies. Since that is the driving force behind these diets or lifestyle changes, it is quite difficult to understand why you would make that change if you ARE happy with your body!
I’ve been clear about my motivations: although I have the genetic gift of being skinny, I’ve also been granted the genetics of a long history of different illnesses, including cancer. I never really realized what my family genetic background looked like until I filled out my questionnaire the first time I was pregnant and they asked me to name the illnesses in my family. The list was extensive and targeted both sides of my family. My husband, on the other hand, has been battling with his weight for over 10 years but has the best genes one could ask for. Regardless, I digress…
So I make the decision to change the way I eat, I implement the changes, and within 3 weeks I lose 15lbs. Not desperately needed 15lbs, but 15 very noticeable, grab everyone’s attention, 15 lbs. The result: my friends and family were concerned instead of impressed. Everyone, including my husband, questioned my lifestyle. My husband received daily comments from colleagues at work or friends asking if I was sick. Ironic, all I wanted was to avoid getting sick on the inside and I looked like I was dying on the outside!!!!
If we were at a family event and I served myself grilled chicken with black beans and a big serving of salad, my husband would urge me to eat the rice and say please Caro, you really are too thin, just eat the rice. (Orlando had seen my doctor and had definitely started piling on more greens, but really only the seed had been planted…he wasn’t ready yet to make all the changes he needed to make.)
I finally called my doctor, my mentor, and told him what was going on. I told him I was too thin and I was afraid to lose any more weight. I felt better than ever and I really enjoyed the way I was eating but everyone around me that loved me was concerned for me. He then explained to me that what I was going through was a process of detoxification. It was such a detoxification that I even broke out into a serious bout of acne, which I was not even prone to. (I was a seriously unhealthy eater, so if I could change my ways, anyone can!) He assured me that I would not look this way forever. He even told me, Caro, if you do nothing at all and eat exactly the same way you are eating now, in about a year you will gain some weight. I didn’t understand why and he explained that we are meant to store fat, especially women. So the only way to avoid storing fat is to trick your body every couple of years by changing your methods. (There are healthy ways to do this!) So if I didn’t try to trick my body, and I just ate healthy, after a while he promised me that I would gain a couple of very much needed pounds, and I would get my glow back.
I finally sat with my husband one day and had a very serious talk with him about my views and my decisions, and what I wanted for our children. Being the supportive husband that he has always been, and not really knowing where this was leading us, he decided to trust in the process and back me up. And by back me up I mean no more pushing me to eat unhealthy food, no more comments about my weight and more important than all… beginning his own process. He was sick of being overweight, but he changed the way he ate in large part to support me. I can’t thank him enough for always being on my team.
If you would have told us then that today Orlando would be 50 lbs thinner, we wouldn’t have believed you. In fact, after he lost about 10lbs he went for some blood work and Dr. Sanchez told him if he kept eating this way he could break 200lbs. Orlando said, no doctor, I am big boned, I haven’t been under 200lbs since highschool. I’d be happy at 205. My doctor’s response was, alright then let’s shoot for 205!!! That was 20 lbs ago. Orlando today weighs 185lbs!
Because Orlando needed to lose that weight, he has received a much more positive response from his peers than I did (even though his friends are sure that he is depriving himself from delicious food and suffering). Some friends of mine were even worried when I got pregnant that I was too healthy for my pregnancy.
I’ve analyzed this and I think this is because we live in a society where we are all on average, about 20-25lbs overweight and that is what is considered normal. So just like being too obese makes us feel uncomfortable, so does being too thin. We associate health with a certain look. If you are over that or under that you are not perceived to be healthy. The truth is that health is totally relative. You can be 50lbs overweight and not have the genetic makeup to ever be a victim of diabetes or heart disease. And you can be considered “healthy” because you appear to be normal weight, but you do have that genetic makeup and your diet further fuels your propensity for heart disease. We just don’t know. So my theory is, since we don’t know we do the best we can. We eat right but understand that exceptions are perfectly fine. We exercise, we try to keep a positive attitude and we try to stay balanced. If we do all that, then we do what is within our control. There will always be factors beyond our control. Even if we do everything perfect…life is not perfect. We can still get sick, our kids can still get sick, life happens. But what I am not willing to do is use the unknown to excuse myself from doing the things that ARE within my control. Because when I do that, all i’m doing is increasing my odds of getting sick instead of helping my odds, and the truth is that I feel that my kids need me and deserve to have me around as healthy as I can be.
The other problem is that there are so many fad diets out there and crazy ways to lose weight, that when you see someone very thin you naturally assume that person is doing something radical. Not eating enough or not eating enough balanced foods. And you definitely feel like a person who has had significant weight loss is depriving himself in some way or another. But the reality is that both Orlando and I eat delicious food and in large quantities. We enjoy our lifestyle which makes it so much easier to keep up with it. We don’t have to do crash diets or eat 500 calories a day for 40 days. If we want a guilty pleasure we indulge, all the while knowing that our next meal will be filled with veggies and nutrition. Getting thin and staying thin has never been easier or more fun!
But my point is don’t worry only about your waist size. If you eat right and exercise, your body will achieve the weight that is right for you. Get your blood work done and check your cholesterol, your vitamin D levels, your liver function, etc. The blood work will tell you a lot more about how you’re doing than your weight. Make a decision to be a healthy person and everything else will fall into place. Let’s create a community of health and positive attitude and let’s support each other. We will all look and feel better if we work together.
And like Dr. Sanchez always says….let’s spread the good word!!!!!