It is no surprise that my personal blog involves food given its name and that’s because I believe wholeheartedly that food is the foundation for so many things in our lives. And just like anything, our dependency on it can get a but out of whack at times. Just look through my pages and you will see vastly different posts about the different ways food influences me. From finding Jones Valley Teaching Farm to adapting my diet when I got gestational diabetes during pregnancy to my love of cooking to my Weight Watchers stint to everything in between. My work is about food. My hobbies are closely tied to food. We mourn, celebrate, heal, comfort, and care for each other with food. And we have to have it to survive. So for those of us who have a tendency to SWING on our own little wrecking balls (okay, maybe pendulum is a better description?), food can sometimes swing right along with us.
Let’s go back to 2019, shall we? It was an interesting time on that pendulum. I launched a capital campaign at Jones Valley Teaching Farm to build a sustainability plan for the organization — buying the downtown campus and then building a Center for Food Education on it. I had two kids in elementary school. Then…COVID hits. Just as most of you did, I put my head down and laser-focused on just getting through. The kids had to learn. The organization had to survive (after all, we were BUILDING A FACILITY during COVID so, you know, no pressure). The food we grew on our farms had to get to people. The kids we taught through our Good School Food educational model needed us. And there was this virus circulating that nobody knew anything about. And so, I did the best I could with what I knew then. I think most of us did.
When I looked up in February 2022, I could see and feel the toll those years took. I didn’t feel good most days, but I put on a good show. I was worried about the level of lemon pepper chicken wings fried hard with ranch dressing I was consuming on the regular. I was consuming more than my fair share of adult beverages . I was avoiding decisions that needed to be made across so many levels. I forced myself to look up and out. It wasn’t easy.
I took a two day retreat gifted to me and spent two nights at Pursell Farms and made a decision to change. I called Christiana who I had secretly watched for 4 years lose weight and keep it off. Truth be told, I was just waiting on her to gain it back and she NEVER did. So, I called her and I said, “Whatever you did, sign me up coach!”
A week later, my Optavia box arrived and I committed to just ONE month and in that one month I lost 15 pounds. Now, here’s where I know you are going and I was right there with you, so there is NO shame in that game. Did I think it was a hoax? Yep. Did I have trouble explaining this to people — me, the person that runs an organization that grows food — who will suddenly be eating packaged food mailed to my door? Yes, I did. But here’s the thing: In all of that was a hidden desire to change. I also made the decision to shift my adult beverage consumption and when I say shift, I mean not have any at all (by the way, this is not a requirement to do Optavia).
Did I hear the concerns? Yep. Did I question this decision? Of course. But, here’s what I also knew: I could NOT continue to funnel lemon pepper chicken wings fried hard with ranch at the levels I was consuming. That wasn’t working either. So, how could I question this program if I was actively engaging in large levels of consumption that also wasn’t doing me any favors?
I had to reset, restart, relearn, re-everything. And I did. I never once got off plan for 6 months. There was something about the discipline and structure that I needed — for my health, but also for my clarity and work and home life. Here’s how it went: Well, I can’t because… COVID. Well, I can’t because… I’m busy. Well, I can’t because… life.
I’ve lost 54 pounds since February 6th. I have not had a sip of an adult beverage since then. On this plan, you have to eat every 2.5-3 hours, five of those times are a fueling provided to you and you learn to make one lean and green meal a day. Even though I can honestly say the weight loss has been motivating, I’m here to tell you I’ve gained so much more than just that.
I found myself making everyone’s meals first and me snacking (more like scavenging) at the kitchen island. I tried the mantra, “You are not a garbage disposal, Amanda” but somehow that never really clicked. I was eating stale goldfish (the snack, thank you very much) for no reason, random turkey pepperonis that fell off someone’s plate, and left over peanut butter found on spoons left and right. I was taking meetings during lunch and barely eating, never drinking enough water, never actually visiting the restroom because of the water situation, and just running running running until I could get home to raid the stale goldfish and my glass of wine. Brilliant plan.
Let me tell you what forcing yourself to commit to 5 small meals a day every 2.5 hours does for you: It forces you to prioritize YOUR needs first and foremost. I got used to pulling out my bar to eat in the middle of a meeting or fill up my water bottle (did I mention you need to drink at least 100 ounces of water a day?), and I had to LEAVE MEETINGS TO GO TO THE BATHROOM because…well, water. I had more energy. I was sleeping better. My skin looked better. I was fueling and keeping to a schedule. Most importantly, I was re-imagining how to center MY needs in EACH day. That may be something you already do and congratulations if so, but for me, this was a complete game changing moment.
It was weird. There were really awkward times. I fumbled all over myself to make these choices and gave too much info to friends, hosts, waiters, and chefs (note to self: turn the glass over if you keep getting asked if you’d like wine over and over and over again at a dinner). I traveled with my waffle maker, fuelings, and tablespoons on every trip. I stayed focused even when a lot of people didn’t want me to (remember when I said I second-guessed my own coach for years?). I get it.
We are entering a new journey on Food Revival — one that involves growth and change (that’s nothing new, right?). If you noticed, I didn’t really blog about it this time. I would answer the question if asked, but I didn’t spill my guts on social media or my blog. It feels a bit strange to be doing it now, but I’m learning that it’s important to tell your experience because you never know who is sitting in a room like I was ready to make a change. Oh, I’m also coaching a few folks now and it’s been a gift to share what I’ve learned.
This is where I am today. I made some pretty big decisions to change my routines and choices. I started working on focus and consistency and discipline (which are all in the bottom five of my Clifton Strengths Finder results, by the way). I am most proud of my decision to choose me — even when it was hard — because if I don’t do it, who will?
I’m starting my transition to exercise and maintenance this week, which is a big deal and it has me in my feelings a bit. You see, the pendulum can still be an issue for me and I’m really working on that balance part — not having anything be so extreme that I’m constantly swinging back and forth. For example, it can’t be me with my head in a bowl of queso every night to a ground turkey bowl every night. I’m seeking to find where to land in all of it and maybe that will also be helpful to you?
We don’t really talk about how COVID affected every part of our lives and bodies and minds. We should. It was (and is) hard. We did the best we could with what we knew then. As Dr. Maya Angelou says, now that we know better, we can do better. I’m trying to do better.