Carbohydrate is a dirty word. Who knew that a simple carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecule could cause so much frustration in twelve days? As you may remember, last week after going to the doctor for the first time in eight years, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and chose to adjust my diet and lifestyle in place of medication. The choice itself was a little outside of my usual operating procedure, usually, I would opt for the most direct route to a solution, and in this case it seems as though that would be medication. That is, if you assume the solution is to just relieve the symptoms and side effects of my hormonal imbalance.
On the surface you could categorize relieving symptoms as a success, but if you take a deeper look into the route that landed me in the position to make this choice in the first place, the solution is not just to stop the symptoms. The solution is to live so that the cause of the symptoms is eliminated and the only way to do that is to overhaul my lifestyle. While I am surprised at my initial choice, I am proud for choosing the journey instead of the easy fix.
There seems to be a cycle that anyone goes through when trying to change their lifestyle, specifically when trying to move to a healthier diet. In my experience it has looked like the following:
- EXCITEMENT: “Yay! I’m going to do this!”
- PREPARATION: Search healthy foods and recipes on Pinterest, shop, take pictures of meal prepping. “Look at me being healthy!”
- INITIAL PUSH: High self-control, trying new things, feeling good, continue researching. “No cake for me! I’m being healthy!”
- WHINY: Limitations begin to get boring, tracking food intake is frustrating, you’re starting to miss old foods. “I miss french fries!”
- ONE BAD DAY WON’T KILL ME: The downfall as I gorge and eat a bag of fun sized Kit Kats and half a pizza for dinner. “Ugh. I’ll start again tomorrow.”
- OVER IT: Back to old habits. “It’s too much work. I just want to live my life”
This has been my process for the countless times I’ve taken it upon myself to attempt making a change. Always back where I started, even after losing thirty pounds. The slow road to gratification in an attempt to lose weight is not enough to sustain my motivation. Food tastes too good, laying around in my pajamas all day is too comfortable, and getting take out is just too easy to replace it with cooking all day, everyday.
All of that seemed to change when I had a medical professional looking me in the eye telling me it was now affecting my health in noticeable ways. Not that it COULD, not that it WILL, but it IS affecting my body’s ability to function properly. Changing my habits no longer required as much intrinsic motivation, I had a tangible reason to hold onto that keeps be from moving beyond the WHINY phase. It doesn’t matter if it’s boring, frustrating, or not as delicious, it is necessary.
The direction I was given was to try a low-carb diet and incorporate exercise into my daily life. I took my preparation phase seriously, looking for information in PCOS, the purpose of carbohydrates, standard foods for a low-carb diet, and recipes that could replace the carbs in the meals I typically make for dinner. Week one was about figuring it out and finding some things I like, week two has been about solidifying the process. I dabbled in the whiny phase this week, but the difference is, instead of coming home and digging through Justin’s side of the pantry, I drank some water and dove into making dinner. One small choice at a time, that’s how I’ll be keeping myself out of the ONE BAD DAY WON’T KILL ME zone.
One of the reasons I was able to avoid digging through our stock of junk food was because I had put together a delicious recipe earlier in the week and was excited to make another batch. One for dinner, and one for Saturday morning breakfast. Below is my recipe for Baked Eggs with Sweet Potato Hash, please keep in mind that I create meals as I go so I do not have exact measurements.