New Years Resolution #1: Lose the 35 pounds I’ve gained since I went plastic-free in 2007.
Here’s me in January 2007, minutes after completing my first marathon and 6 months before I decided to go plastic-free. Look at all that plastic crap, including (gasp!) bottled water. Well, I’ve lost a heck of a lot of plastic weight since then!
But instead of keeping it off, I seem to have just transferred the weight to my hips, my butt, my tummy, etc. Here’s me in March 2013 after living plastic-free for almost 6 years. All natural, organic clothing. Water in a stainless steel bottle. Yet I am 35 pounds heavier.
This image is from a talk I gave with Danielle Richardet and Bonnie Monteleone at UNCW in Wilmington, North Carolina. I was recovering from what would turn out to be only one of many colds I came down with last year. And while I’m really proud of the talk, I was so embarrassed by my appearance (having gained so much weight over the years) that I never posted the video for anyone to watch. (I know, that’s probably pretty shallow of me, but I’m human.) Feel free to watch all or part of it here. The talk went great, despite the cold I had.
Wait! Wouldn’t Giving Up Plastic Help You Lose Weight?
Why would I gain so much weight after giving up plastic? It doesn’t make any sense at first glance because over the years, studies have linked the hormone-disrupting chemicals in many plastics (Bisphenol-A and phthalates, to name a few) to the rise in obesity and diabetes. Last year, Professor Miquel Porta of Spain and Professor Duk-Hee Lee of South Korea conducted a review of 240 scientific papers and concluded that the evidence suggests chemicals in plastics and other surfaces play an important and avoidable role in obesity and diabetes. (You can read the entire review here.)
So, you would assume that reducing my plastic exposure would have helped me lose weight. And I guess it might have if everything else in my life had stayed the same. But you know what happens when you assume. Everything else was not the same. In June of 2007, I started blogging about plastic. And researching plastic on the Internet. And a few years later, writing a book. I stopped running and started spending many hours–whole days in fact–sitting in front of the computer. Staring at it. Not moving. And not paying attention to what and how much I was putting into my mouth at the times that I did manage to tear myself away from the computer long enough to eat something.
Doesn’t Reducing Plastic Packaging Reduce the Amount of Junk Food You Consume?
When you reduce plastic packaging, you inevitably find yourself relying on more whole foods and fewer processed foods. So the quality of the food you eat gets better, for sure. But I gotta tell ya, the bulk bins are full of high calorie treats. Chocolate-covered almonds, for example. And then there’s plastic-free bread… plastic-free cheese… Even the healthiest foods (nuts, seeds, grains) are not so healthy if you eat too many of them and don’t exercise.
So, this year, one of my goals is to get back down to a healthy weight… what I weighed in 2007, which was not particularly thin but was within the healthy range for my height. And before you start telling me that I shouldn’t be relying on numbers on a scale, let me stop you right there. I’m an accountant. Numbers are my life. And the only way I have ever found to manage my weight is to pay attention to the numbers (number of calories in, number of calories out, number on the scale). I can so easily lie to myself otherwise.
My friend Mark and I have been using an online program called My Fitness Pal, which lets us see each other’s numbers and daily diaries and encourage each other. If you’re a member, please friend me. I only have 22 more pounds to go (well, 23 after my birthday dinner Tuesday night) because I actually started this project on November 1 and have already taken off 13 pounds in 10 weeks. I think that’s a good pace.
Can Losing Weight Help Reduce Plastic?
I don’t know if losing weight can help reduce plastic, but there are certainly ways I have found to reduce the plastics that might be involved in diet and exercise programs. Synthetic workout clothes and technical gear, for example. Running shoes. Shoe inserts. Anti-chaffing products. Sports “foods” and “drinks”. not to mention all the bottled water I consumed back then. Check out all the synthetic crap I brought with me to my marathon in January 2007 (yes, I was so proud of it, I took a picture of my stuff all laid out in my hotel room the night before the race.) Most of it, I have discovered, is unnecessary.
So, I’ll be blogging this year about strategies that are helping me lose weight and reduce plastic. And I’ll have a few guest posts from some people who are managing to focus on fitness as well as their environmental impact. One of them is coming up this week.
I’ve got several more resolutions to write about for this year. What are yours?
(By the way, Danielle wrote a beautiful new years resolution post. Check it out and get inspired.)