Letter from the Editor: Taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle

Photo courtesy of Metro Creative Services

By Valerie Shelton, Editor

I’m not a fan of diets or exhausting daily exercise regimes. Like millions of Americans who struggle with their weight, neither method works for me long-term.

I may try something for a while, but it always peters out and any weight lost comes right back because there is no way I’m going to live without carbs forever and waking up at 5 a.m. five days a week to exercise is just not happening. Some people have the willpower to do that, but not me. Bottom line, “diets” don’t work—it takes a lifestyle change.

In the summer in 2014, I embarked on such a change. I ate smaller portions, I hit the gym when I could and I mainly just walked more. Those small but important steps caused me to lose over 20 pounds by October. The changes I made then were sustainable had I just kept truckin’. Unfortunately, I was completely derailed when I lost my job at the time. An emotional eater, I gained every pound lost back and then some within a matter of a couple months. When things improved and I found a new job those returned bad habits stuck around.

A few weeks ago, my husband (Ben) and I finally decided to give the healthy lifestyle another shot. Smaller portions, check. Walking, check. But this time, we’re trying to make it even more sustainable, tossing aside the lean cuisines in favor of actually learning how to cook nutritious meals that have flavor, and going sans scale. This eliminates the enemies we faced on our last healthy lifestyle venture: bland food and the dreaded weigh in.

I’ve never been passionate about cooking. My mom doesn’t cook often and my dad is not known for healthy dishes—he’s really good at cooking meat and potatoes and pasta. Ben doesn’t cook either, just grills. When we got married, that meant many meals were fast food or spaghetti. Already overweight, that didn’t help matters. So, in 2014, not knowing how to cook anything healthy, Ben and I ate salad, fruit, salad, sandwiches, salad, frozen lean cuisine-style meals, salad and more salad. It did work, mind you, but its no wonder I hit the binge button at the first sign of trouble. It’s not that there is anything wrong with salad, it’s that Ben and I are foodies. We need variety. We need flavor.

That is why this time around, I had to pull up those awful big girl pants and commit to learning a new skill. I searched online for recipes I was willing to try and begged hubby not to be harsh if they didn’t turn out. He also offered to help with prep sometimes and with cleaning. It’s been difficult. There are days I rework my schedule and come in earlier so I can go home and get started on cooking dinner. Other times, I prep meals the evening before. I also have to run to the grocery store more often for fresh produce. There is a lot of effort involved, but it gets easier as I continue to compile a list of recipes that work: Thai pineapple quinoa, copy-cat PF Chang’s chicken lettuce wraps, Mexican quinoa, fish tacos, avocado pasta, honey walnut shrimp, healthy Chipotle-style burrito bowls, balsamic brussel sprouts, herb mushrooms and Mongolian beef. Not all are super-healthy, but all are made in moderation and they taste so good, Ben and I haven’t really been tempted to go out to eat.

It may not seem like much, but not going out for a couple weeks is a huge accomplishment for us—when we dieted before, we went to Subway quite a bit and indulged in protein-style burgers from In-and-Out. Technically, we were sticking to our calorie restrictions, but we were setting ourselves up for failure being around too many temptations.

We can also feel it working, although we’re ignoring the scale, at least for now. The scale was a downfall of mine before. My mood for the day would be dictated by whether I had a loss or a gain, and if I gained I would beat myself up. Scales aren’t mentally healthy for me and too often I give up when I don’t see the results I want on the scale, even when there are other positive changes. So, this time, my goal is to stay away from the scale and celebrate the non-scale victories—better-fitting clothes, more energy, better sleep. Ben’s already snoring less and we’ve been waking up earlier on Saturdays so we actually have time to take a walk. And although I haven’t set foot on the scale, I think I’ve lost some pounds. I feel a little lighter on my feet and my pants are looser.

This healthy lifestyle change goes hand-in-hand with a project the Clovis Roundup is sponsoring this summer: Get Fit Clovis. Little did I know after Ben and I made the choice to change, that the Clovis Roundup’s office manager, Catherine Reeg—inspired by the success of the city’s Trail Fest—would present the idea for Get Fit Clovis the very next week.

The Get Fit Clovis challenge, which starts June 1 and will continue through the summer, is a campaign to encourage those in Clovis and the surrounding areas to make healthy lifestyle choices. Each member of our Roundup team will have his or her own goal—mine will be to go down a pant size this summer—and every community member who wants to participate can choose their own goal. Some may want to lose weight, some may want to build muscle and others may want to do something like walk 30 minutes everyday. It can be anything.

All those participating can post status updates on the Get Fit Clovis Facebook and at the end of the challenge, those who are the most active on social media and those who meet their personal goals will be eligible to win prizes. Get Fit Clovis will also host meet ups throughout the summer, where participants will try new workouts, get tips from local nutritionists, and just encourage each other.

I’d like to invite all Roundup readers to join me and other members of the Roundup team for the Get Fit Clovis challenge. For more information, visit GetFitClovis.com and follow Get Fit Clovis on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.