Monday, August 19, 2013

Aspiring to Inspire

When I was trying to figure out my career path I looked long and hard at becoming a nutritionist. There's not much I enjoy more than talking about health and fitness, but ultimately, librarianship won the battle. I relish any opportunity to speak with people about my weight loss and the way I feel about food and exercise. Part of why I started this blog was to share that journey with others.

I've had quite a few conversations recently on this topic. It feels good to hear positive feedback and get the "there's no way you could have been fat" comments, but it's even more rewarding when someone reaches out to ask for help. One of our student workers in the library came to me on Thursday and asked if I lifted weights because I looked like I was in shape and she wanted to get some tips for how to get started. I shared my story with her, and it took off like wildfire through the staff that were there. I sent her an email with some resources and must have spent an hour of my day talking about my relationship with food and my weight and exercise.

My biggest takeaways from conversations like this are:
1. Significant weight loss takes time and can be maintained.

2. Make small changes one at a time - adapt to them before you try the next one. My first suggestion is to cut out soda and/or fried food depending on their predilections.

3. If you want to lose weight, you need to change the way you think about food and you do NOT need to go on a diet. "Dieting" (as we understand/manifest it in our culture) isn't sustainable. Learning more about food is crucial to understanding how the choices we make impact our weight, our bodies, and our overall wellness.

4. It's more about replacing than removing. I don't see my plant based diet as "Oh no, I can't eat cheese" but as "Oh yes I can eat as many vegetables as I want!". Admittedly, this attitude has taken years to cultivate but I started small. I realized that baked sweet potato chunks taste better than deep fried ones. I learned to pay attention to my body's feedback - eating junk makes me feel like junk, eating well makes me feel like the Energizer bunny.

On a related note, this weekend we went to our first Meetup and I got to talk quite a bit about my diet with some new people. People are fascinated by veganism. I used to get ridiculous questions about my queerness, but that has died down a lot in the last few years as the queer experience is better documented in popular media. Veganism is still an unknown other, and people ask some great questions but also have a tendency to say silly things to me about it.

Inevitably, the protein question comes up. Someone always says "I couldn't live without XYZ food (usually cheese)". I try to make the best of these questions/comments, although I am tired of them. I always stress that I eat a plant based diet for health reasons, and this seems to go over well although in our society people don't seem to grasp the connection between what we put in/on/around our bodies and our well-being. I did get into some interesting conversation about politics/ethics vs. health concerns and I hope that I've been able to at least get people to think past the standard American message about food.

Lastly, I've become addicted to Instagram. I never jumped on that boat but now I see the value of posting endless photos of my food there and not clogging up my Facebook for uninterested parties! I have also found this to be an amazing way to get inspired by others and to do the same in kind. If you want to check me out on there, I'm digitalcarrie.

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