My dad, who is a heart surgeon, works with many adult patients who did not take good care of their bodies in their formative years. He is able to teach them how to break old eating and exercise habits and reshape their bodies, but not without a great deal of resistance. The thing is, once you've lived your life eating a doughnut for breakfast every day, a double cheeseburger for lunch, and steak and potatoes for dinner, it can be very hard to adopt a new eating pattern that includes more natural, raw foods and less processed garbage. Most of my dad's patients probably wouldn't change their ways if they weren't suffering and facing death as a direct result of their bad eating habits. The good news for us is this: we're still young. We haven't developed habits that are set in stone yet. Granted, we probably don't have the prospect of death from cardiovascular failure as incentive to change any bad habits we do have—but is that really a bad thing? It's relatively easy, and enormously important, for us to learn now the skills that will keep us healthy for the rest of our lives. By reading this far, you've already begun the process. So you're probably wondering who I am and what gives me the credentials to write such a book? As you might have guessed, I haven't been to grad school, and there's no M.D. after my name. I'm a recent college grad who just happens to spend her free time reading up on the latest in nutritional research and the various health-promoting practices of the day. Additionally, I grew up with a father and two grandfathers who are heart surgeons, and an uncle who is a neurosurgeon. My grandma is a specialist in homeopathic remedies and complementary medicine. (Basically, she knows a lot about vitamin supplementation, natural remedies, and proper eating.) And my mom is a practicing vegetarian and reiki master. With all these health experts in my family, I grew up hearing about what I should be eating, what I should be taking for vitamins, and how I should be exercising to maintain ideal health. Of course, what I should have done is not always what I did.
Even with all that medical knowledge surrounding me, from the time I was seven until I was seventeen I was overweight. At my heaviest, I was 5'8" and 175 pounds. I ate well, but in too large quantities, and I rarely made a concerted effort to burn off the extra calories. I'd beat myself up about being overweight, even though I had the tools to be in shape. Then I'd resort to an unhealthy diet to lose the weight that was making me self-conscious. Because being on a diet added to my insecurity, when the weight didn't come off or came off too slowly, I quickly fell back into old habits and food once again became a comfort. It sounds like a psychotic seesaw, but this is often the way insecurities feed off one another. Because I hadn't made a decision to change my lifestyle, it was impossible for me to keep the weight off. It was dieting itself that was keeping me overweight.