Sunday, March 26, 2006

the amazing shrinking Catherine

Well, Kai asked me in a comment about the weight loss I alluded to in a previous post, and I thought I'd detail that for anyone who's interested!

Let's see . . . it's kind of tough to figure out a good place to start. Well, a little about my family and history might help. I am of "hearty" stock -- my ancestors came mostly from Germany, Poland, and Ireland, and I grew up in Wisconsin, which (I believe) is one of the most unhealthy states in the country. My family cooked a lot, we were offered lots of veggies and I ate them, but we still ate a typical American diet -- meat, (mostly refined) grains, cheese, veggies, fruit, and some junk food. My mom is a super-budgeter, so some of the fruit we ate as kids was canned, and most of our veggies were frozen (sometimes frozen from our garden, but still frozen.) Note that I'm not blaming my family for being overweight, because we were eating what was "normal" for the time, but it still wasn't the healthiest diet.

When I moved off to college, I didn't gain the requisite freshman fifteen (due in large part, I think, of the sheer size of the University of Minnesota campus,) right away. Around my junior year, I started putting on weight and continued to put on weight until I was nearly finished with graduate school. I topped out at the age of twenty four at 165 pounds, and I am five feet two inches tall.

The trouble was, since I am so petite, I was only a size twelve at my largest. None of my friends ever thought I needed to lose weight, and no one ever mentioned weight loss as a possibility. I felt icky, though -- I looked at photos of myself and thought, "am I really that fat? I don't feel that fat on the inside!" It was sort of like the reverse of what happens to some people who are anorexic -- I actually believed I was skinnier than I was! Strange. According to my BMI, I think I was right on the border of obesity. Scary!

I decided to take matters into my own hands. I came to the conclusion that I was far too young to be that overweight, and researched different "diets." I chose the Reader's Digest Change One plan, and lost ten pounds. I found the "diet" easy to follow and stuck with it for several months. The "diet" actually helped me change some of my eating habits -- I got a better handle on portion control, I became a label reader, I ate more veggies, and I started eating breakfast. I kept the weight off, but I still felt like there was more I could do -- and I was still considered overweight.

A year ago last Christmas, (um, Christmas 2004,) I decided to make some major changes to my diet and lifesyle. I had read "Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy" by Walter Willett, and realized I now had the tools to overhaul my eating habits and get healthy. I cut out all refined grains, cut way down on sugar, cut out most saturated fat, and virtually eliminated processed foods from my life. My goal was to lose 25 pounds by my birthday, which I nearly accomplished. During this time, my friend Lauren coined the nickname "the amazing shrinking Catherine." It was great! I dropped from a size 12 to a size 8 in five months, I felt great, and knew I was just so much healthier for it. I was eating when I was hungry, stopping when I was full, and was eating "whatever I wanted" (within the new food pyramid outlined by Dr. Willett,) and still lost weight!

Somewhere during this time, I virtually stopped eating meat. I considered it a "treat" for a long time, and then realized that was stupid -- I hadn't really ever cared for meat. I'm not exactly sure when I started calling myself a vegetarian, but I haven't eaten meat since this past Christmas. (And I hadn't eaten meat for months, and the few bites of chicken salad I had made me sick.) And since then, I started really exploring veganism. Although I don't consider myself a vegan, (I eat cheese and/or eggs from time to time, but only away from home,) I cook vegan at home and keep a vegan kitchen. (Well, I think I have a small piece of parmesan WAAAAAY in the back of the fridge somewhere. Come to think of it, I should probably dispose of that! I bet it's pretty old.)

Now, my new nickname is "the bottomless pit." With the near-vegan diet and the enormous amount of activity I get on a daily basis, my metabolism is such that most days, I need to eat, oh, every hour and a half or so. Inconvenient, but healthy. I have kept off all of the weight I lost, and am now a healthy, steady 130 pounds.

I tried on a pair of pants at Target today, (size small, thank you very much!) and my friend Ann who was with me said, "gosh, those pants make you look TINY!" While I'm not tiny, I'm glad I'm a healthy weight for my height.

And that, my friends, is the story of the amazing shrinking Catherine, turned bottomless pit.


Flo @ Yielded Heart said...

>> and then realized that was stupid -- I hadn't really ever cared for meat.

I feel the same way!

Thank you so much for sharing your story. This should be an inspiration to many. I am so happy for you:) I have posted mine also.

Flo @ Yielded Heart said...

Oh, and isn't it awesome to be a "bottomless pit" and yet feel healthy and not worry about getting "fat"?