Healthy choices are becoming a habit
So, we had a peanut butter crisis at our house recently.
I was preparing my morning smoothie and realized I was out of the almond butter I usually add. I grabbed peanut butter from the cabinet and, out of (a newish) habit, glanced at the nutrition label.
IT WAS ONLY 90 PERCENT PEANUTS. And that's not all! It also had sugar and molasses in it. I'd picked it up awhile ago because it was "natural." But it turns out it's only "natural" because it uses cane sugar.
We eat a lot of peanut butter in our house, so I had to run to the store for an acceptable one. But before I did that, I spent about a half-hour online researching different brands.
Who even am I?
Well, apparently, I'm now a person who does peanut butter research.
I used to be really good about reading nutrition labels, but I'll admit I've slacked off the past couple of years. For a while there, I mostly just made sure there wasn't any form of anything seafood or seafood-adjacent in something.
But here I was, actually researching a healthy option. It's interesting how quickly but quietly better choices have become my M.O. over the past several weeks since I started the Fittest Loser challenge.
I'm certainly much more careful about reading food labels. I'm a lot better at choosing what to eat, and I'm especially conscientious about (OK, obsessed with) whether I'm eating enough vegetables.
Meals, which could sometimes be a minefield in our house -- and by "minefield," I mean a whole lot of "I don't know, what do you want to eat? OK, emergency frozen pizza it is!" -- are now carefully planned and prepped.
I'm also so much more active.
Of course I work out daily, either with my trainer, Push Fitness owner Josh Steckler, or at home on the treadmill. But I also throw in extra activity throughout the day to make sure I'm never sitting still for long. Like when either Brian or I get home from work or errands or hanging out with friends, instead of just plopping down on the couch, we've started doing something I like to call "Sorkin-ing."
If you're an Aaron Sorkin fan, you know and love his trademark walk-and-talks. And that's what we do to catch up on our days (although I'm not sure our walk-and-talks are nearly as interesting as Josh Lyman and Sam Seaborn's on "The West Wing").
All of it is paying off, too. I've now lost nearly 30 pounds and most of my clothes are too big.
While that's great, there's so much more than just the cosmetic changes. I started this challenge with a low blood count and, as a result, zero endurance. Exercise (and sometimes just staying awake) was difficult.
During workouts with Josh or at the Push Fitness boot camp on Saturday mornings, I had to stop pretty often to rest and there were a lot of things I just couldn't do, including getting to a reasonable speed on the treadmill. Whatever workout I did, I usually needed a nap afterward.
These days, however, I come home from Push Fitness workouts -- where I can do so much more than I could at the beginning -- and jump on the treadmill right afterward. At a mostly reasonable speed, too.
Of course, there are a few things that seem more possible but only matter to me. Like not worrying if I have to be rescued from an elevator stuck between floors (I could probably climb my way out now!) Or if I somehow stumble into quicksand, I would … I don't know? But I bet fitness would help me get out.
Here's the thing: This is my second time doing the Fittest Loser challenge, so I've been on both ends of the spectrum -- fit and not fit. It's been a lot of work changing the unhealthy habits I'd slipped back into, but I can honestly say I like where I'm at right now a lot better.
• Melynda Findlay is a multiplatform editor at the Daily Herald, where she's worked for 19 years. She's pretty happy about her new, acceptable peanut butter.
Melynda Findlay, 49, Arlington HeightsStarting weight: 226
Current weight: 197
Weight lost this week: 5 pounds
Total weight lost: 29 pounds
Total percentage lost: 12.8 percent