Healthy Eating in the New Year

It is time again, time for that most recycled, reused and repurposed New Year’s Resolution: it’s time to lose some weight!

I understand that most of you know me because of my cooking, because I’m the Headbanging Hostess. But once upon a time, I was just a struggling, starving actress. Literally starving. I weighed 105 pounds for most of my adult life. Sure there were some temporary weight spikes, but my diet of yogurt, high fiber cereal and candy bars served me very well, well into my mid-30’s — until I learned how to cook.

25 pounds in two years, that’s just over a pound a month. Each pound is 3,500 calories. So that’s 87,500 calories I need to cut from my diet this year to get back to my fighting weight by my 40th birthday in November. (If you ever needed any evidence that I wasn’t like most women, there it is. Who tells their weight and their age? Me. I don’t care.)

The average woman should take in about 1800 calories a day… Roughly 300 days until the big 4-0, that’s 540,000 calories, minus the 87,500 I need to cut to lost the weight… Carry the seven… That’s 452,500 calories I can take in between now and November. That’s about 1500 calories a day.

Crap. That looks like nothing. I’m hungry already!

All right, calm down, Vanessa. How hard can it be to cut 300 calories a day from your diet?  Just skipping the Simply Caramel candy bar saves 250 calories. You can live without the chewy-sweet caramel covered in a smooth chocolate finish. Can’t you?

I think I’m having a panic attack.

In my mind I know exactly how to lose the weight. The numbers are all laid out for me. I know I need to eat more fruits and vegetables and less meats and cheeses. I know I need to take in 30 grams of fiber a day. I know I need to limit my saturated fat intake, less butter and more olive oil. I know I need to snack less and eat smaller meals. I know if I stopped eating when I was full and stopped worrying about wasting perfectly cooked food I’d have to lose weight!

Maybe I’m onto something here.

Of course, I also have to exercise. Power-walking has always been my only form of exercise, but these days there’s way less power in my walk. I just don’t do it as often. I went through a jogging/walking phase this summer but quickly grew bored of the routine. I do yoga once a week with my yoga-instructor-neighbor. That has helped me build some strength; I can definitely see the difference. But I don’t think yoga alone will help me burn 2,100 calories a week. That’s alotta yoga. I’m going to have to commit to more physical exercise. Where did I put that Wii Fit?

My husband also wants to shed some weight, so he’s in it with me. This makes planning our meals much easier. We think we want to try large lunches and small dinners instead of the usual reverse. A big dinner can render us useless for the evening, unable to do anything but sit on the couch. Maybe a lighter dinner will leave us energy for actual nightlife. Dare I say a walk down the street to see a band?

What’s with all these paragraphs that end in question marks? I guess I’m a little unsure of myself. For two years my weight has gone nowhere but up. And I’m not complaining, it’s just a fact. I proudly own every one of those calories that entered my system.  Every chocolate covered bacon bit, every deep fried nugget, every braised bundle of juicy joy; I enjoyed every minute of it – from creation to consumption. Now I just have to figure out how do cook healthy and tasty. Aye, there’s the rub.

I’ll have to put away the deep fryer and take out the slow cooker, maybe even the George Foreman Grill. I will seriously increase our vegetable intake, minus the butter. I’m going to have to find a whole grain we will eat on a regular basis, something to alternate with the polenta we already love. Lunch will be the big meal and dinner will be smaller and light, and not always salad. Salad gets boring quick.

Giving up candy will be the hard part. If I can figure out how to replace it with whole grain baked goods and fruit desserts I may be able to satiate my sweet tooth and increase my fiber intake in one swell foop.

Can I do it? Of course I can. Will I do it? There goes that rub again.



  1. You don’t have to count calories to attain a healthy weight. But you touch on a couple things that will:

    “if I stopped eating when I was full and stopped worrying about wasting perfectly cooked food”

    “I also have to exercise”

    You don’t have to give up candy, bacon or anything. But know what’s in these things and think of how often you should really be eating. Maybe swap out the candy for a bangin’ chocolate and have a few squares after each meal.

    Counting calories and monitoring what you eat is a guaranteed recipe for crazy. But feeling when you’re full, eating well and exercising is really a good way to live, and one of the effects is reaching a healthy weight. You may never go back to the 105 pounds – but as you said, you were starving, and that’s no way to be a Headbanging Hostess. 🙂

  2. Yes, you’re right on the money. I’ve lost touch with what my body needs. I’ve also been infected with a good case of apathy. I’m married…I don’t want to be an actress anymore… It helps that my husband and I are doing it together. We’ll see – maybe I’ll do a monthly check-in or something. It helps me if I feel accountable to someone 🙂

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