Friday, February 10, 2012

Healthy Living: How I Broke Off My Affair With Blue Bell and Took Up With Quinoa

At the end of last summer I found myself fat. I was six months postpartum and the baby weight hadn't "melted off" as many had promised. I'd also been eating obscene quantities of Blue Bell Ice Cream, never exercising in the deathcloud of humidity that was outdoor Houston, and feeling dark in general. My apartment only had two windows.

Before. Outside of a delish Texas steakhouse, appropriately.

On the way back to Provo for Nathan's last year of school, I devised a plan to de-frump myself and take charge of my health. Nathan was sweet enough to join in on the plan, as was my mother-in-law, Dana. Other family members also participated at varying points in the last five months.

In five months:
-I have lost 25 lbs.
-Nathan has lost 38 lbs.
-Dana has lost 31 lbs. (and that's in four months-she joined up a month in)
That's 94 lbs collectively!

During shots (because we aren't done):


Ooh lala.

But seriously ... what animal is this??!?!? Tell me.
 Ok ok:

Shirt is frumpy and angle weird ... I promise my torso is not actually a blue rectangle.

I'm still waiting for Dana to send the pics from her beach photo shoot. :)

Besides the numbers, I have more energy, I'm happier, and my skin is more clear. I fit in my pre-prego pants. Nathan no longer gets sharp stomach pains like he used to on a regular basis. Dana has developed the ability to read minds.

So, after much urging from dear Nathan and requests from a couple friends, I'm offering my plan to the public and waiving my usual fee of five payments of $14.99 and rights to the manual labor of your fourth child.

The secret sauce:

It's like Weight Watchers--but in reverse. You try to earn points instead of having an allotment to spend each day. The first several months, we had a prize pot that was divvied among the participants according to their scores at the end of the month (Dana won pretty much every time). This last month, though, we tried setting personal goals, and we only had to pay up if we didn't meet our goal. And if we did meet our goal, we treated ourselves to a prize of our choosing (Nathan bought a new office chair, I'm getting a dry blade for my Vitamix--we're pretty nerdy here).

The points:

There are a max of 14 points per day:

Waking up on time (don't sleep too late): 1 point
Breakfast: 0-2 points based on self-evaluated healthiness
Lunch: 0-2 points (same as breakfast)
Dinner: 0-2 points (ditto)
Drinking enough (self-determined) water throughout the day: 1 point
Taking whatever medicine you need to: 1 point
Going to bed on time (in order to get enough sleep--our mark is 11pm): 1 point
Exercise: up to 4 points possible (1 point per 15/minutes)
Treats: for every unhealthy snack or dessert you eat, -1 point (you get two freebies a week on this)

Our treat of choice.

I acknowledge the points awarded aren't a perfect representation of the role each element plays in your overall health. I also acknowledge that the importance of the "drinking enough water" element is debated--I've heard convincing arguments from both sides and figure it's not going to kill me to drink a little more water. Mostly, I acknowledge I'm not a dietician or any type of health care professional. I do enjoy learning everything I can about nutrition, though.

How do we know if a meal is a zero-, one-, or two-pointer? It's simple--we use our judgment. Yes, our judgment is fallible, but this keeps the system simple and sustainable. If I had to look up everything I ate in a health index I'd last about five minutes. Here's a basic explanation of what the different point meals might look like:

Sick. Also yummy.

0 points: Your standard junk food. It's processed, high in unhealthy fat, and low in nutrients. There are no whole grains in sight and any vegetables present are fried or covered in butter. There's too much meat, sugar, and/or salt. No fiber. It's delicious. Examples: Fruit Loops, balogna sandwich on white bread, Big Mac.

Yankee Doodle broccoli! Smothered in cheese ... not so great.

1 point: Typical American perception of a "balanced meal." There's some redeeming qualities to a meal like this, but not many. Any grains are probably still refined, there's still too much sugar, and if there's a salad it's drenched in salad dressing. Still not enough vegetables. Examples: Honey Bunches of Oats (my favorite), sugar-added peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread, spaghetti with white pasta.

Quinoa heaven. We love this with fish.

2 points: A near-perfect meal. Grains are whole, fruits and vegetables are aplenty and healthily prepared, meat is lean and served in small or non-existent portions. There are no refined sugars. High in fiber. This is a wonderful way to eat. Examples: unadulterated oatmeal, turkey avocado and romaine lettuce sandwich on whole wheat bread, salmon with quinoa and a huge green salad with healthy dressing.

At the end of each day, we tally our points and record them. At the end of each week, we report our progress to each other. The social aspect has been a huge help in staying motivated and committed. What would my mother-in-law think if I quit and went back to a diet of Blue Bell and Tex Mex? (I love you, Dana! Let's go get a burrito!)

I really like that if you decide to blow some points on a trip to Tucano's, you haven't "messed up." You just record the points and do a little better the rest of the week.

I could go on and on about this, but in closing I want to stress that health is so valuable. This little points plan has been a simple solution for us as we've made efforts to be healthier and treat our bodies right.


  1. incredible! I noticed that you had all but melted away! you guys are incredible! Aaron and I may need to do something like this - but I think I'm going to wait until after this baby comes...because i'm lazy! way to go!

  2. You guys are awesome! Way to take charge of your health while still so young. Keep it up!

  3. Hi Kimber,
    Since getting your Christmas card this year, I've been checking in every once in a while on your blog and saw this today. Congratulations! Baby weight is my NEMESIS. Or maybe I should say cookies and all chocolate are the real enemies. I'm 16 weeks pregnant now (due at the end of July), so maybe come September I'll give up my treats for quinoa too. Until then, congrats on your success!
    Becca Wright

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your experience! (That makes me feel like a support group facilitator...) I am so inspired.

    You seriously look incredible and I am so impressed with all of you guys. I love that this is about overall health and not just numbers and weight loss.

    Did you get to choose your results-superpower? Pre-pregnancy jeans are tempting, but the mind-reading appeals to me as well.

  5. Wow, I really like this program! I think I'm going to suggest it to my husband, Dave. We both want to lose some weight.

  6. This looks fantastic! I think we're definitely going to incorporate this into our lives. What a great program that encourages a healthy lifestyle. Thank you so much for sharing.


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