3 weeks ago I decided to start a wellness, "take care of me", journey. Last month Jay and I did our annual Vitality screening. Although, thank goodness, I have not yet had any health concerns, loosing weight after having 3 kids has been tough, so once again, my weight was flagged.
Weight is a sensitive subject for many. I am included in this group. I have always been quite self confident, however, believed my strengths have always been my mind, who I am and not what I look like. Over the years, I have had 3 kids and naturally gained weight. I am active, strong but I am not fit, certainly very different to my uber fit husband. I am so grateful to have an awesome husband who never makes me feel bad about my appearance and seems to love me as I am. I am not a daily hair-done and make-up kind of lady, I am a comfortable with my body but would love to fit into my older awesome jeans again. Most especially having a daughter, growing up in a world obsessed with appearance and assigning too much value to it, I am very aware of what I say and more importantly how I am with myself - I know she is watching. With this at front of mind, I know I want to teach her self confidence in who she is inside and to take care of herself physically - prioritising health - not looks. I have to practice what I preach. Going on a super restrictive diet has never been an option, nor do I go for fad diets and tonics. I do believe food can be medicine - long term - and always wanted to learn more.
As part of Vitality's offering, I was alerted to join the Vitality healthy weight program. I am not someone to try something and not commit wholeheartedly, so I needed to ensure I could logistically manage this. I decided to give it a go, not sure of what they will offer and how practical and difficult it would be. I also know I need to show my daughter that this is about Mom wanting to be healthier with the added perk of me getting into my favorite jeans again! Not about deprivation and suffering.
So, to the details. You agree to commit to 3 or 6 months and pay via debit order. You then download an App and get a dietician assigned to you on WhatsApp, mine is Sumarie. On the App you get a weekly program, with 3 meals and a snack every day, except Saturday nights and Sundays. Sumarie answered my questions and sends loads of tips and explanations of topics I raise, such as swapping proteins and foods, days and meal orders to suit my diary. As an example, she guides you on a healthy dinner plate, what to drink, what to avoid, braais, eating out etc. I think the program they send each individual is based on questions they ask at the start. In my case, I said I can make a lunch and do not need a packed lunch and I wanted the "budget" menu, to exclude foods we would not typically buy.
Every day I get messages from Sumarie. Most seem automated, then you can tell those that are more personal. 06h30 weekdays I get a daily reminder and motivation and we are asked to send pictures of all our food/meals for accountability. From time to time Sumarie will send a comment on my choices, fortunately I think she has had the right balance so far, not hovering, but attentive and positive vibes. It is a thing to remember to take a photo of everything I eat.
The App is less great and Vitality needs a 2.0. It shows the menu daily with each recipe when you click on it. You can look ahead but the app design is painful and not user friendly. It also has weekly shopping list, which could be way easier to read. I wish they would allow us to edit the meals and days, for instance, swapping suppers and breakfasts. I like to plan ahead based on what I am doing and time, sometimes I want to swap meals/days and I then have to go look for it in another day or week to get the menu. Now I take screenshots of all the meals recipes I like and blend myself. I have a birds eye view of our week and adjust.
So how has it been! The big question is how is the food and is it viable, long lasting???? Well, the jury is still out on some questions, but so far I can make some comments.
the recipes are generally really good and you are never bored, something I worried about, each day is different and variety is surprising.
the smoothies (2-3 a week for breakfast) are awesome, fantastic and I am so glad to have learned those recipes, in fact my kids have smoothies with me, they love them and they are super healthy
I mix and match with the family. They are curious and want to try my newer foods, Kahlan now does my breakfast and lunches, which is way healthier than either of us where befor with the main differences being:
we eat everything wholewheat
spinach is now a daily food group (mostly because it is so versatile), and the kids love it! I can also be well hidden in a smoothie and I add it to everyone I make
half the plate needs to be veg, quarter lean protein and high fiber/low GI carb
minimal butter and oils with more eggs and avo's than I would have thought!
It has not been surprisingly more expensive, much the same with far more variety
Wraps are the new bread
Cauliflower mash is good!
I have discovered a world of beans/veg and grains! Some are great, some are tolerable and most are surprisingly good. This has been great.
I can blend with he family meals better than I thought
So what is tricky. TIME. I need to plan and shop ahead and mix with meals and braais and dinners with friends (not feeling to obvious). I won't lie about that. It has been a commitment to myself to follow it as close as I can and prep everything. I still cook mostly normally for the family, they just have even more veg now.
Despite being so strict, it has not got me in my jeans yet, only been three weeks, but this diet does not feel restrictive. It feels VERY colourful and I absolutely feel healthier for sure. I am a foodie and I don't feel deprived at all, not yet. I do feel like I am learning new foods and substitutes, I do feel like its worth it so far. In fact, like when Jay was dealing with the Psoriasis and auto-immune symptoms and we discovered a world without sugar, gluten and dairy (although we did it so strictly temporarily), much of what we learnt then stuck. This can stick too. Many things I won't go back too and many new foods have been added to my cook-books.
I will update you on progress, but hope that you too will choose to take care of yourself better, in the spirit of Spring and new beginnings!