Many moons ago, some would say I was kind of a hippie. *Kind of* a hippie because I still made more garbage than I should have, and ate things like Taco Bell Bean Burritos (they were only a buck!). But I was a little bit hippie because I wore multi-colored beanies, planted a vegetable garden in Environmental Science, volunteered to be a camp counselor for full weeks in the redwoods with screaming sixth graders, and spent my weekends in Santa Cruz, studying banana slugs and elephant seals. Here’s a picture of me at 19, oh-so-hippily wearing cornrows, rose colored glasses, a cloth purse, and standing in front of a Bob Marley statue.
Then I went to college, and I shed all of the thematic personas I had adopted (from punk rock, to a little bit gothy, to rockabilly, to hippie). I became just me, just Alyssa, a little bit crunchy. I still loved being outside, and that’s a trait that I hope never leaves me. Even while it rained this weekend I was out in my planter boxes, plucking caterpillars off my chard and transplanting some tomatoes. However, in my young adulthood, I was decidedly uncrunchy in one way: I had no awareness of the chemicals I was putting into my body. Some of you might be groaning right now, but there’s been a big paradigm shift for me in the past year — I am WAY more conscious of the ingredients I willingly put into my body. There’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about chemicals the end up in our food. How about the same material used in yoga mats, ADA, that can be found not only in Subway bread, but in Little Debbie, Jimmy Dean, Pillsbury and White Castle? Then, let’s not forget about BPA, which isn’t directly in our food, but is in the lining of canned goods, water bottles, and the trays of frozen meals? And… the one that pains me most, not only because I still feel the pull of my dark passenger (Ala Dexter) when I’m craving caffeine, but because I have to admit I was wrong, is Aspartame. I didn’t think anything of guzzling two cans of Diet Pepsi for day, and would snap at my husband when he’d warn me about what it did to lab rats. “Well, I have no choice. If I drink regular, I’ll gain weight. So I’ll either get fatter on real soda, or sick on diet,” would be my conjecture. I willingly say to the whole interwebz today, that I was wrong, and cutting diet soda, in addition to all artificial sweeteners has now helped me lose over 17 pounds. (Down another 1.4 at Weight Watchers last week!)
I didn’t really put any of these things together until I finally started losing some weight. Processed foods are OUT. I occasionally have a frozen Weight Watchers SmartOnes, or a few peeps. But for the most part, processed, low-fat foods are rare in my diet now. I’m actually using REAL butter, instead of I can’t believe it’s not butter. If I want a little bit of sweetness in my tea, I’m using real cane sugar (a teaspoon goes far). I don’t eat fast food. I don’t crave this stuff anymore, other than the occasional pull for caffeine, which I satiate with a cup of strong British tea. But is all this natural stuff, possibly the reason for the weight finally coming off? Is it because instead of focusing on CARDIO, I’m now focusing more on decreasing stress, opting for an hour of soul-soothing yoga instead of heart-pounding running? Is it because I’m not really taking my allergy medications anymore, and instead, treating them with acupuncture and allergy shots? When my family first moved to California from the Midwest, I remember my parents curiously observing some of the new “California” things around us. Things like soy milk, yoga, acupuncture, reusable grocery bags and spring mix with baby greens (instead of Iceberg). These things were so “California”, and we’d find ourselves smiling, not mockingly, but curiously, about the new “California” habits we were adopting. I can say proudly today that I am very “California”, as I’m a yoga-going, acupuncture-having, organic-tea-drinking, non-soda drinking chick. Part of it is definitely due to the ladies of Mamavation, who educate me on things I didn’t even know existed, like Obesogens. (That’s a real thing. And it’s scary.)
I’m really working on attacking my weight loss this year with a new perspective. One that’s more holistic, more integrated. That doesn’t look at the weight problem, the obesity, as just one thing to treat and control. I’m trying to integrate all aspects of wellness into it this time, and focus less on “LOSING WEIGHT” and more on “Getting Healthy.” Hopefully, weight loss will continue to be a happy side effect. This is kind of what I’m thinking: If I reduce my stress level, it helps my sleep. Quality sleep = a more fine tuned metabolism. Less aspartame? Less false insulin resistance. Regulating insulin = correct usage and storage of calories. Low thyroid? Take thyroid medication. Balanced thyroid = balanced hormones. Crackly back and popping joints? Yoga. Yoga = limber muscles. I’m no scientist, but I think I’m on to something.
Today, I want to hear about a small change you’ve made that feels a little bit crunchy granola, because let’s face it, some of these changes can feel a little bit awkward, and if we talk about it, it’s less awkward and more awesome. Come to the dark side with me. Let’s go plant things in the garden, do yoga, and get crunchy!