What do you picture when you think of a vegan?
Unless I’m the only vegan* you know…you probably think of vegans as skinny, waif-like creatures. That is certainly the stereotype I had heard before going vegan.
And some people do lose weight when they go vegan. Their bodies naturally respond to the lower-fat, higher-fiber diet and they lose unwanted pounds effortlessly. Allow me to be the exception to the rule. I have never found that going vegetarian or vegan has had any impact on my weight, in either direction. Maybe it’s because I’ve always loved peanut butter and eaten it in generous quantities. Maybe it’s because I love vegan cupcakes just as much as I love that healthy hummus and veggie sandwich pictured above. But I am not one of those who has effortlessly lost weight as a vegan, and I know plenty of others who are in the same boat.
Like countless other moms, I have retained some “baby weight” from each of my three pregnancies. Recently when I’ve looked in the mirror or at photographs of myself, an unfortunate thing has begun to happen. I have thought, “who is THAT?!” I don’t look like the “me” that I remember. I gleefully walk through life feeling exactly like that thin person I always was pre-babies, and then every now and then I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and I think, “whoa, what happened?!”
I’m not hugely overweight, by any means. I am right on the cusp between the “healthy” BMI range and the “overweight” range. (I checked it by plugging in my height and weight into this handy little calculator.) My BMI is about 25, where it used to be in the 21-22 range. I’d like to get back there!
So, as cliche as it sounds, I’m making weight loss my new year’s resolution. First off, I should acknowledge that I’m already doing a lot of things right. I have a ton of healthy recipes in my repetoire. I love vegetables of all kinds, I snack on fruit, and I enjoy brown rice, whole wheat pasta, lentil soup, and other healthy foods. When I eat sauteed kale with garlic and pine nuts, I’m literally saying “mmmmmm…” with every bite. As for exercise, I’ve been taking dance classes 3-5 times per week, and I have three kids to keep up with, so I’m definitely not sedentary.
However, there are a few tactics I am using to really get the ball rolling:
1. Cut down on baking vegan goodies. I think decadent vegan chocolate chip cookies are great on occasion, but for me baking has become more than occasional. When I do bake, I’m going to go for healthier recipes, like those of my favorite cookbook author, Dreena Burton!
2. Watch the portion sizes, and pay more attention to being hungry or full.
4. Get more sleep, which is already happening naturally for me as I wean myself off coffee! Check out this Web MD article about how sleep affects weight loss.
5. Add cardiovascular exercise (my dance classes don’t really qualify as cardio). I’m starting by taking my toddler for stoller walks – which will gradually turn into runs as soon as I get a jogging stroller!
Tactics I’m not trying? Tracking every food I eat, calculating calories, or eliminating my favorite treats completely. As Kathy Freston says, there is a lot of power in simply setting your intention. When you are focused on your goal, you will naturally make choices that push you toward your goal, rather than away from it. I’m setting an intention to lose weight this year.
Is weight loss one of your new year’s resolutions? If so, what tactics are you using to reach your goal?
* If you’ve followed my blog (or you know me), you know that I haven’t been consistently vegan in the past few years. Always vegetarian, sometimes vegan, but not always vegan. I’ve recently committed to being completely vegan, which isn’t technically part of my weight loss resolution, but it certainly can’t hurt!