Pass the Kale, please

One of the most mystifying aspects of running to me is nutrition. I love to eat. What a minute, I don’t think you heard that: I LOVE TO EAT! I am a southern girl and I was weaned from mother’s milk straight to fried chicken, fried okra, cornbread, and chocolate cake. I have lots of happy foods, but some of my favorites are spaghetti with meat sauce (spaghetti of the enriched, white variety); pizza loaded with meat, cheese and extra thick crust; cakes of almost any variety, but especially birthday or wedding cake, red velvet, Italian cream, really moist chocolate. You get the idea. Happy food is whatever your go to food is when you’ve had a bad day, and most of mine is heavily drenched in fat, sugar, and enriched white flour.

For most of my adult life, though, I’ve been a fairly wise eater, indulging in the worst offending foods on rare occasions. I’ve never really been a health nut about nutrition, but I’ve tried to reign in my worst eating habits and have been fairly successful over the years. I’m not a fad dieter, never tried such diets as “The Grapefruit Diet”, or “The Cabbage Diet”, although those were (maybe still are) making the circles of my friends with varying degrees of success. I have done a variety of diets, including Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem, with great success, but inevitably slip back into poor eating patterns, especially during times of stress or really busy work seasons. Nutrition, it turns out, is a very personal issue. What works for one may not work for another, so I think that finding out the best eating plan for yourself is really a matter of trial and error.

Over the last few years, I’ve been on a journey to become the best person I can be, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I’ve shared a lot of that journey here. I recently listened to an Andy Stanley podcast that was a replay of a sermon he presented at the first of the year entitled “Just One Thing”, and it reminded me that I needed to provide an update to this year’s focus for me – my weight loss goal.

I decided at the beginning of the year that I was going to whittle my goals down to just one thing. The one thing that I felt would help the other goals become more manageable – losing the weight that has steadily crept up on me over the last six years. Weight management is one of those things that almost all human beings have in common. We obsess over it, micro manage it, and jump on every new bandwagon that promises “fast, easy weight loss with no dieting and no exercise”. We’re constantly looking for that magic pill or elixir that will have us bikini ready by summer, even when it is a detriment to our health. I’ve never been much of a bandwagon gal, but I’ve known my share of desperation and desire for a quick fix. I’ve learned that most diet plans work, but for me, a diet plan has never been a long term solution.

Enter my 50’s. A decade that was preceded by weight gain, then a return to fitness as I began to regularly train, then run, then a year that was devoted to training for a marathon in which I gained an additional ten pounds. The marathon weight gain is not unusual, and is a discussion for another day, but the pounds are there just the same and they are stubbornly refusing to leave their newfound home.

I know from past experience that any “diet” for me will have to be a life-style. The challenge has been in finding the right, nutritionally balanced eating plan that satisfies my appetite and is life proof. A plan that doesn’t require complicated recipes, hours devoted to meal planning and preparation, and that still offers food that tastes good and that I’m willing to eat for life. Gary has jumped on this with me, which makes it much, much easier, as I don’t have to cook something for me and something else for him. That makes life so much simpler.

We found a book with a life plan for folks needing to lose belly fat and enthusiastically set out. After four weeks of diligent work, I stepped on the scale and it had not budged. Not even an ounce. That’s the kind of thing that usually sends me straight to the Blue Bell Moo-lineum Crunch aisle, but God is blessing this effort, and He has kept my focus. I began tweaking my meal choices, and invested in another great book that helped me to really understand the role that food should play in my life. I’m not offering the names of either of these books here, because, as I mentioned before, nutrition is a hugely personal issue, and I’m tailoring the meal plans to suit our lives. If, however, you are interested in knowing which ones they are, put your e-mail in the comments section and I’ll be happy to share the titles with you.

The main gist of our eating plan involves eating whole, organic foods, prepared in my kitchen. We eat six small meals a day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with three snacks. Each snack combines a protein and a carb to help with blood sugar balance. There are lots of vegatables, some fruit, some meat, and some dairy. I’m not a huge fan of bandwagon science. What’s good for you today will be discovered to cause cancer next year. So, we just eat foods that are simple, organically grown (for the most part) and whole. My rule of thumb is I don’t prepare or eat it if it isn’t something my great grandmother would have served.

We are now seven weeks in, and I’m happy to report that I’m about five pounds down, and Gary is about eight down. I can tell a huge difference in my running and in the way that my clothes feel. Another exciting plus is that a couple of weeks ago, when I became sick with a sinus/ear infection, I got well very quickly and was running again within a couple of days. I have felt better, less “weighed down”, if you will. And, I’m cautiously optimistic that the weight will continue to come off, even though glaciers melt faster than this. One of the most precious things that age has brought to me is my ability to be patient. I’ve learned that slow is good, and the more slowly I do or learn something, the more likely it is to stick.

My happy foods have changed over the last weeks. I love a venti soy au lait sprinkled with cinnamon and shared with friends, a full bodied, smooth glass of red wine enjoyed while watching the sun go down off my deck with my man, the tart, pungent taste of ripe strawberries. Who knew? I’m trying to add one “super food” to our diet each week, and Gary is gamely trying them, although sometimes he only tries them once. If you have a recipe that makes kale a happy food, please share it. So, far, no happiness there.

I reblogged a post from a blogger that I enjoy because it touched something that is very dear to me. The fact that we have to push ourselves beyond our perceived boundaries if we ever want to grow and change. There’s another post in that for me, but, for now, I’ll just apply it this way – make your health a priority, push through the boundaries that limit you – the “I can’t lose weight, so I’m not going to bother,” or the fact that you don’t like certain foods, so there’s no point in eating them. We’re grown-ups now, it’s time to move past that, learn what works for you, then do that for the rest of your life. I want to face God with the knowledge that I didn’t let Him down by the way I treated ((or mistreated) my body. That’s my prayer for you, too.

“I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down.” Nehemiah 6:3


4 thoughts on “Pass the Kale, please

  1. Linda Pierce says:

    Thanks for sharing!! Bro. Hogan’s challenge to graduates last night – Keep growing! Never been satisfied where you are!!


  2. Linda Pierce says:

    *Never be*


  3. Jayne, I really enjoyed this post. I am so happy to see you going back to the basics nutritionally. This is where the answers lie – and the results – for most people. Keep it simple, keep adding nutritional foods to your repertoire, and stay away from fads – they’re not effective in the long run. And the long run is what it’s all about, yes?
    Oh, and I enjoy kale in my shake – it’s good as long as you don’t put too much in and you also include flavorful fruits – or sauteed in a little olive oil and pepper, onions, whatever, and served with vinegar. Just call it ‘greens’ and it’ll seem more pleasing to your southern palate. 🙂
    Best of luck on your journey. As for me, I’m thankful that it never ends.


    • jaynerich says:

      Thanks for the tips, Mary! I’m game to try the kale in a couple of shakes, although the thought kind of makes my lips purse a little.
      And, FYI, no self respecting southern girl would ever serve greens without cornbread, so I’ll have to pretend it’s spinach or something. 😉 Great ideas, though, will definitely give them a try.


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