4 Apr 2012
Weight Loss Wednesdays focus on hearing from people currently on their weight loss journey or who are maintaining weight loss as they share their stories and write about topics related to keeping it off. Uncle Sam customer, Jillena shared with us that Uncle Sam cereal helped her on her weight loss journey, which she shares here. She writes the blog Eat Well, Live Free with a focus on seasonal simple foods that are locally-sourced.
Growing up, I was a healthy and active kid. My brothers and I were always running around, bicycling, roller skating and running after the dog. My high school years were filled with varsity level sports year round, including track, cross country and soccer. My mom had high standards for the food that was brought into our house. No white flour, no white sugar, and we only ate meat 3-4 times a week.
All of that changed when I went to college in 1995. My strategy for putting myself through school was to work in food service. I would never go hungry! By the end of my freshman year, my doctor told me that I was obese. I didn’t believe the extreme standards of his weight chart. I was a vegetarian- I ate avocados! I also did not think twice about bringing home a medium pizza all for me or finishing a liter of soda.
Looking back, I actually had so many life challenges, that I can see how I ignored my personal health. My best friend died in 2003. Six months later my Mom passed away from cancer after an eight year battle. Things were understandably tough for a long time.
In December of 2007, I got onto the scale and at 5’4″ weighed 220 pounds. I wore a size 22. It hit me hard that I had been in serious denial about my health, weight and general happiness. The fear was overpowering that if changes were not made immediately, I was going to die at the ripe old age of 29. Actually fearing for my life came as a sudden and jarring wake up call. I panicked. I had never even been on a diet.
Driven by a terrifying self-awareness, I sat down to make a checklist with all the changes that needed to happen. I taped the list to the wall and got to work. I threw out almost everything in my refrigerator and went to the store to buy high fiber foods like Uncle Sam cereal and some cans of soup. That afternoon I went for a walk and I remember crying the whole way, experiencing great relief.
In three years, I lost 90 pounds and kept it off.
The journey was not always easy. As I adapted to an ever improving lifestyle and learned more about nutrition, my strategy evolved. That said, there are 5 very specific guiding principles that I adhered to throughout the entire process.
Top 5 guiding principles:
1) To live a healthy life, eating well is priority #1.
2) No extra food for a daily workout. Reward myself for eating well over an entire week instead.
3) Write down everything that is consumed. End the denial about what I am eating.
4) Never write off an entire day after losing control at one meal. Get back in control.
5) Never, ever give up flavor. Learn about non-fat based flavors including spices, herbs and fresh vegetables.
My life has never been so wonderful. I am never going back.
Jillena writes Eat Well, Live Free, a Sacramento blog that focuses on healthy vegetarian and vegan recipes influenced by the seasons, locally grown food and family traditions. She and her husband Marcos believe that by eating healthy, humanely and in season, our minds and bodies are healthy and we live free. You can also follow her on twitter @eatwelllivefree or on facebook.