Thursday, November 17, 2011

Living the good life

I think almost every culture has their version of "the good life." For the Italians, it's "la dolce vita," for Americans, perhaps it's the "American Dream." For Greeks, the good life means combining good food and fine taste to live a life filled with health and well-being.

As a foodie, I am, of course, intrigued by a culture that puts so much focus of "the good life" on food. Food is a major part of my life - and always has been. But it hasn't always been a "good" part it. You see, for years struggled with my weight. I equated food with happiness. The more food I ate, the happier I would be, right? Well.. obviously not.

When I met my now husband in 2005, my world view really changed. He was so kind and caring and fun and genuine - he made me see so many other ways life could bring joy. He accepted me exactly the way I was - overweight and unfit. And he encouraged me to get out there and take life by the horns despite that. For one of the first times in my life, someone didn't want me to be active and travel and try new experiences in an effort to help me lose weight. He just wanted me to experience the joy in those things. And so, I did!

In a period of about 3 years, I went from spending my weekends watching reality TV marathons eating unhealthy amounts of ice cream and chinese takout to taking off for hikes, running, tending a garden, making thoughtful meals with thoughful ingredients and even eventually blogging about my culinary (and other) adventures. Oh, and did I mention losing 70 lbs? Yes - 70 lbs!

I don't have any pictures of myself at my highest weight. But here's a "before" picture circa 2002 - probably 50 lbs heavier (excuse the bow on my head - it was Christmas!):

And "after:"

When I tell people how much weight I've lost, most think I've either had weight-loss surgery or only ate lettuce for a year. But I assure you that's not the case. Sure, I cut back on calories. I ate smaller meals, more fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. For lunch, I traded slices of pizza for delicious baked sweet potatoes. For dessert, I traded pints of ice cream for cups of creamy fat-free Greek yogurt. I got out more. I walked. I hiked. I biked. I ran. I swam. And, perhaps most importantly, I found the joy in not only eating good foods - but also in sharing them with others as I cultivated relationships and tried new experiences.

The weight has stayed off for over 3 years now. As far as I'm concerned - it's all thanks to living a version of the good life similar to the Greeks' - having respect for what the Earth gives us and what I put into my body, and being good to myself. As I've opened myself up to these things, I've gained confidence in myself, found both a career and a hobby I love and built a family I adore. That's my definition of the good life.

How about you? What do you think it means to live the good life? Leave a comment to let me know - and check out the link below to enter to win a trip to Greece to experience the good life for yourself!

As part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I have been entered for the chance to win a trip to Greece courtesy of FAGE. You too can enter to win one of three trips to Greece by entering the FAGE Plain Extraordinary Greek Getaway here


Rita said...

What a beautiful and touching post; congratulations on your weight loss!
It seems my whole life has been revolving around food; with 4 sons, you can imagine how much cooking and eating there was in my house.
For me at this point in my life; the Good Life is Doing my best and Enjoying while still being careful. I always try to make good healthy meals while trying to reduce fat. You are really doing good; hope you win that trip.

N.D. said...

Great post Amber! you're in the right place to stay active and eat well too and an inspiration for all of us!

Jenn @leftoverqueen said...

Wow, Amber what a wonderful and heart-felt post! For me the good life is much like yours, enjoying life and food and getting out and being active. Not because I HAVE to, but because I WANT to!