A Mother’s Diet: Guilt, Shame and Brussel Sprouts

A few months ago I was getting dressed and my pants were tighter than normal. I looked down at my belly, my rolls, and thought, “Oh my God, I’m a f**king Before picture.” I wanted to scream. That morning I decided to lose weight. But it wasn’t that simple, nothing ever is. I almost immediately started to argue with myself.

“Why do you want to lose weight?” the voice in my head asked, “Are you insecure? You shouldn’t be insecure, everyone is beautiful.”

“Don’t focus on your weight, that’s one small aspect of who you are. You’re being vain.”

I started to spiral, worried that people would judge me for wanting to lose weight, worried people already judged me for not losing weight, but my biggest concern was my daughter. How could I consciously try to lose weight without setting a bad example for her? I remember growing up around women who focused on their weight, I remember thinking how silly they sounded, but what if my daughter didn’t think it was silly? At almost nine years old I know that she is already receiving those messages that weight is important, despite our best efforts to avoid them. How could I, her biggest influencer, in good conscience add to the narrative that thinner is better?

I remember her mentioning her stomach one time after coming home from school and my heart broke. Always, always with her we talk about health and what her body needs and wants. When she mentioned her stomach I told her it was exactly the right size for her. We talk about food we talk about eating lots of different kinds of food because that’s what her body needs to be healthy and grow big. When she gets an upset stomach from too much sugar, we tell her that it is her body’s way of telling her it doesn’t like having all that sugar.

I have been so careful about how ( and how much) we talk about health and diet, not only so that she grows up healthy, but also so that she has a strong sense of ownership that it is HER body, and no one else’s….. Why wasn’t I doing the same thing for myself? After years of breastfeeding, being pregnant, trying to get pregnant, my body finally feels like mine and mine alone again. So why did I feel my wanting to lose weight was up to anyone other than me?

So, I started to exercise and I started to diet. I’ve lost twelve pounds so far and I feel great. But honestly, that great feeling has so little to do with losing weight. I feel great because I’ve put myself first. For just a few hours a week, I am no one’s mom, daughter, friend, I’m just me. Focused on myself and getting stronger, and faster. And doing that for myself, caring for myself first, has made me that much more present for the people I love.

Today I walked farther and faster than I ever have before. I started to tear up. I realize, I’m not a Before picture. I will always be an After picture. After becoming a mom, after becoming a wife, after losing a pregnancy, after dealing with depression, after, after, after. It’s not Day One, or Day Twenty, it’s just another day. I won’t discredit where and who I’ve been before, because they’ve gotten me where I am today. Happier, stronger, and healthier.

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“Oh My God, I Actually Like Brussel Sprouts!” Recipe

Ok, so I’m trying to make healthier choices in my life. Exercise on a regular basis, eat better, etc. Surprisingly, one of the easiest changes I’ve made has been adding in lots and lots of green veggies. Turns out I’m not half bad at cooking veggies. At least, I’m not half bad after some serious trial and error.

The veggie I’m most proud of is the humble Brussel sprout. Because who knew they could taste so good? Also proud because I had to eat a lot of not so tasty Brussel sprouts before figuring out how to cook them the way I like them. My mom loves Brussel sprouts, and she throws a huge thing of whole sprouts in the oven, sprinkled with balsamic, salt and pepper and they taste great! When I tried to copy it they never cooked all the way through.

Then I tried making Brussel sprout chips after seeing them online. These too didn’t turn out for me. I don’t have the best knife skills so they cooked unevenly.

Undaunted, I decided to give up on the oven and the idea that my family will ever eat Brussel sprouts with me. So the following recipe is for a single serving.

Ingredients

  • 5-6 decent sized Brussel sprouts
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • garlic salt
  • lemon pepper

Instructions

  1. Halve or quarter the Brussel sprouts depending on how big they are and how quickly you want them to cook
  2. Warm up a medium frying to medium high heat
  3. Throw in your sprouts with some olive oil (I use about 1 teaspoon) and lemon juice (about 1/4 teaspoon)
  4. Season them with garlic salt and lemon pepper.
  5. Cover them for about two minutes, or until the sprouts are bright green.
  6. Uncover and continue to cook until they are as crispy and brown as you like them.

**** I always break my sprouts apart while I cook them. Not only do they cook faster, but the little “leaves” of the sprouts turn into crispy little Brussel sprout chips.****

The acidity of the lemon juice really makes these pop. And getting them nice and crispy makes me pine less for potato chips. They are also super filling without a lot of calories. In conclusion; Brussel sprouts for the win!