When I was a kid, my mom was always very wary of artificial sweeteners. Even in the 1980's, she was talking about how she didn't think it was healthy and was pretty much convinced it was a carcinogen. To be honest, I kind of thought she was off her rocker! Where was the scientific proof? And would the government really allow a known carcinogen to be so widely consumed without any warning label (a la cigarettes)?
But then every so often, I'd hear about a new study involving artificial sweetener, especially the now-dreaded aspartame. There were negative studies involving aspartame and rats. Then when Splenda came out, everyone was all excited because this meant you didn't need to consume aspartame. But I thought aspartame wasn't bad for me?
The real clincher for me came about 10 years ago when a second cousin of mine - in her late 30s and the vision of health - developed bone cancer. She was a beautiful, slim woman. We soon discovered that she consumed vast amounts of diet soda. She'd visit for the weekend and you'd have to buy at least a caseload. This is not even close to a scientific study, but when a healthy 30-something who drinks vast quantities of diet soda develops a fatal form of bone cancer, you begin to think about things.
I'm not much of a soda drinker and I hate fat-free, sugar-free yogurt (it's like creamy jello. Gross!), but I very, very rarely will consume artificial sweetener now. If I consume it, it's usually by accident. The jury is still out whether artificial sweetener is really that bad for one's health, but really, why even bother taking the risk?
I am a 27 year old non-profit worker who lives and wreaks havoc with my husband and two cats. I have recently discovered the inspiring and educational world of food blogs and realized, after much deliberation, that I want in on that! Alas, this blog was born.
I have an ever-growing interest in nutrition and healthy eating and a not-so-growing interest in fitness. Perhaps this will change. Perhaps it will not. In any event, I will talk about it!
Like most, my body size, self-esteem, and healthy habits have endured quite a bumpy journey. Unlike most, my weight and health issues began when I was 6 years old! Childhood wasn’t always easy, but no one ever said it would be, right? And, in many ways, I feel like my early experience as an overweight child has helped (not hindered) me in adulthood. Not many people can say that they reached their highest weight when they were 12 years old!
So my story goes something like this…
When I was 6 years old, my family moved to a new city. I made a couple of new friends, but it was nothing compared to the constant jump-roping, bicycle-riding, and doll-playing I had with friends in my old neighborhood. Instead of playing, I sought entertainment and comfort with – what else? – television and food. Specifically, I Dream of Jeannie reruns and processed cheese slices.
My earliest memory of feeling overweight occurred in grade two. Yes, grade two! For a science experiment, each student had to weigh him or herself in front of the class. This was more like sadomasochistic torture than a science experiment! I was petrified. Already I was aware that my body was much larger than my peers and I didn’t want my number to stand above the rest (so to speak). In grade three, my class photo showcased my thighs. Forget the 25 other students! All I saw were my gigantic, spandex-encased thighs. I was 8 years old.
Fast-forward a couple of years to grade 6. 11 years old. Not a pretty age for anyone, really. It was awkward and uncomfortable. There were sweaters with kittens on them. It’s all a blur. My afterschool routine changed so that I now had a couple of unsupervised hours before my parents came home from work. I would eat a tiny breakfast and lunch and come home from school famished. I’d proceed to gorge on ice cream, pie and cookies (yes, all three) and then have dinner and more snacks. I went to bed each night loathing my body and promising to diet the next day.
At 12 years old, I reached 207 pounds. I am 5’ 8”. I was officially obese.
Life began to turn around when I turned 13. With braces came a sugar-free diet (that only lasted four months; a life with chocolate is worth stained teeth. Am I right or am I right?). Along with the diet came a 20 pound weight loss. I didn’t stay sugar-free for long, but it gave me the impetus to continue making strides towards health. I joined the YMCA and then my high school rowing team. I was still overweight, but I gained muscle and confidence. In my experience, you can’t have one without the other!
My second major weight loss came at age 21. I joined a great aerobics class and fell in love with my husband. I lost another 20 or so pounds. Since then, I’ve kept my weight between 165 and 175 pounds.
The big kahuna of life experiences came at 25 years old. I had a miscarriage that led to a type of cancer called Gestational Trophoblastic Disease. It’s a highly curable type of cancer. After 3.5 months of weekly chemo sessions, I’ve been in remission ever since. This experience taught me a thing or two about appreciating one’s health. You can say that again! (This experience taught me a thing or two about appreciating one’s health).
So now here we are! My goal with this journal is to keep my thoughts away from body hatred and move my thoughts toward total health. I don’t want to count calories or scale numbers; I want to count protein and fiber grams! I want to fuel my body with powerful food and I want to move my body with exercise and sweat (although I am really not such a fan of sweating. Why would I want my body to voluntarily leak like that?!). With this journal, I hope to connect with other like-minded individuals. We are given one life and one body and I don’t want to waste either!