It's Been a Year and I Still Don't Look Like Gwyneth PaltrowAndrea Howe
It doesn’t feel like it’s been a year since we dramatically changed the way we eat as a family, but indeed it has. What started as mild curiosity into this world of “clean eating,” ripe with sarcasm and snark, has turned into a full blown lifestyle change that has taken me on wild goose chases for kombucha on tap and magical white chia seeds. I’ve always been mildly curious about eating healthy, and my aunt likes to recount a story from my young childhood of me, digging through our fridge, looking for items to make a salad. While I don’t know how true that story really is, I can confirm that while I always loved my mother’s and grandmother’s cooking, as a grown woman I was anxious to venture out on my own and stray off from my standard childhood fare of frozen lasagnas and greasy Mexican food.
That’s why when Gwyneth Paltrow’s book It’s All Good came along, promising to guide me through the ways of eating dairy-free and gluten-free in a pain-free manner, I was quick to jump on board. This idea of ditching processed foods and increasing more whole foods including grains and vegetables seemed so complex and overwhelming, considering all the back and forth among the health professionals. Was fat or carbs the enemy, or is it sugar? But not all sugars and carbs and fats are equal, so it’s all about learning which ones are good and which ones are bad, right? It all seemed overly complicated, and I needed something simple, and this idea of just eating real food seemed to be what I was searching for. Plus, the cover of the book promised it would help me feel good and look good. I can’t lie, there was a part of me that was hoping to come out on the other side of this journey with legs as amazing as Gwyneth’s.
Well, it’s been a whole year since the change, and I don’t have Gwyneth’s legs, nor do I have her thin arms or the flat belly she flaunted in Iron Man 2. My skin does look pretty decent, and while I’ve trimmed up all throughout my body, as evidenced in my ability to fit back into old clothes, the number on the scale hasn’t changed much more than roughly 3-5 pounds from where I was when this all began.
Am I pissed about this? Did the book lie and over promise? Do I want to say “the hell with all this” and go back to my old ways of rolling through McDonald’s when the mood strikes?
Not for one single solitary second. I wouldn’t change a thing, and while I may not have the body of Gwyneth, I have so much more to show for this year-long journey than a jean size or a number on a scale.
The truth is, while I’ve eliminated so many things from my diet over the past year, including fast food, soda, and processed foods, I have never counted a calorie or limited my portions. I eat till I’m full, and I eat when I feel hungry, no matter what time it is. I workout consistently but do not follow a grueling schedule week after week. I’ve cut back on how much wine I drink, the amount of tortilla chips I eat, and I can’t even remember the last time a fry has touched my lips. I feed myself nutritious foods, many of them vegetarian, and I fill half my plate at every meal with vegetables. These have all been positive changes and improvements that do not leave me feeling deprived, but leave me feeling full, nourished, and energetic. Much more though, and this would start to feel like punishment rather than just a change. I could do more, I could workout more, I could restrict more, but truth be told, I don’t want to. I’m happy right now, the happiest I’ve ever been with myself and my relationship with my food — and especially with my body. And I don’t want to jeopardize that. There’s balance to my life, and that’s a good place to be. No, it’s a great place to be.
For now, after all the changes I’ve made, this is the body I am left with, and it’s a body I’ve never been happier to be in. While being thinner and more tone (with legs like Gwyneth) may have been part of the original plan, the plan has now changed, and I’m continuing to eat this way just for the sake of health, and that’s a damn good reason on its own. If my physical body continues to change and “improve” as a result of this way of eating, well that’s cool I guess. But if this is where I stay, well then that’s cool, too.
Gwyneth, I still want those legs, and dang girl, that stomach, but I’m content to keep eating well and stay in the body I’ve got. It’s helped me bring three beautiful babies into this world, it completes yoga challenges, and partakes in bootcamp. It’s a good body and knowing that I’m treating it right is good enough for me.