Sunday, 13 January 2013

Jamie Oliver has Changed Our Lives

The title of this post is not an over-promise - - Jamie Oliver's recipes have literally changed our lives.

Let me back up.

In the dark times, before we started cooking regularly, we used to eat out.  A lot.  And you can imagine the result - - lots of high fat meals with huge portion sizes full of carbs, fat and sodium.  Add to the mix the fact that I was an inactive lump, and you have a recipe for 300+ pounds and a whole host of health issues.

Last November the Nerd picked up Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes cookbook after watching Oliver's 30 Minute Meals on the Food Network.  The Nerd liked the idea of the show, and particularly loved the idea of the cookbook - - full of complete meals, with all the ingredients (and more importantly, the instructions) together on one page.  We didn't have to guess as to what vegetables to serve with the protein, we didn't need to flip back and forth between pages in the cookbook, and we didn't need to worry about all the food coming together at the same time.  Jamie Oliver had planned all that out for us.  Oliver even planned how the ingredients would work together - - if one part of the recipe called for half a lemon, you knew that another part of the recipe would call for the other half of the lemon (no sad orphan half lemons here!).

Our first step was trying some of the meals from this cookbook.  Eventually, after a few months, we started paying attention to the intended portion sizes (ahem).  "Serves 4" had always been extraneous information, a mere suggestion.  Eventually we began to take it to heart, and actually held back 2 of the portions if we were eating 2.  It was a revelation.  Instead of gorging on healthy food, we were satisfied with normal portion sizes, and we even had leftovers for lunch or dinner the following day.  Amazing!

Over time, as the Nerd and I began to eat most of our meals out of the Jamie Oliver cookbook, we began losing weight.  Sure, I had begun adding exercise to my lifestyle last January, but as the weight came off it became easier for me to be more active.  I had more endurance for my workouts, and I could begin to do things like walking to the office or walking around the neighborhood without discomfort.  I had more energy, too, and felt less depressed.  I was eating 3 great meals a day, so I wasn't hungry and craving food like I had in the past. 

Even the Nerd was losing weight.  One day he hopped on the scale for a lark, and what he saw there blew his mind - - he had lost 20 pounds simply by eating healthy meals out of the Jamie Oliver cookbook.  The Nerd had not changed his lifestyle at all - - he was still doing the same things he had done the previous year - - but here he was, suddenly slimmer.  His eating habits were the only difference, and it was all thanks to Jamie Oliver.

And that opened up a window of opportunity for the Nerd.  Suddenly he saw the potential for something new - - he saw that he could weigh less than 200 pounds for the first time in many years.  When he started out (pre-Jamie), he weighed 246.6 pounds, and 200 pounds looked like an impossible goal.  At 220 pounds, however, it was attainable.  And with that, the Nerd began working out now and then on the elliptical machine, and joining me on walks through the neighborhood. 

Of course cooking well takes preparation.  We typically shop at least twice a week, and our fridge is full of vegetables, fruits and yogurt whereas last year my fridge was - sadly literally - full of nothing but Long Island Ice Tea mix, salted butter and shredded cheese.   Our freezer now has a variety of frozen fish fillets, scallops, fruit and vegetables, bread and bacon, for cooking.  The junk food has largely been purged from the house so it's not there to tempt us - no more nacho chips and popcorn lurking in cupboards.  And there's also the investment in time required to cook Jamie Oliver's way, to plan out the meals we intend to cook in the upcoming days, and to draw up the shopping list.  But frankly, it's time well spent.

Through this whole past year I was gradually changing my entire lifestyle.  I went from sedentary (and virtually housebound) to active, working out 6 days a week for 50 minutes a day.  I added free weights (and recently boxing) to my exercise plan, and I feel great.  I have learned, with the help of Jamie Oliver's delicious meals, to eat sensibly every day.  I drink 8+ glasses of water each day (rather than Diet Pepsi).  I bring my lunch and dinner to the office (usually leftover Jamie Oliver meals from the previous day) instead of ordering something in or grabbing take-out. 

The Nerd has changed his lifestyle, too, by working out 6 days a week.  He started tracking what he is consuming and is more attentive to portion sizes.  He went from being "Mr. I Never Measure" to understanding the importance of portions in his cooking and in the food he prepares for me. 

And we have both seen the benefits.  As of last Friday, we had together lost over 147 pounds (58.8 pounds for the Nerd, and 88.4 pounds for me).  200 pounds has come and gone and the Nerd is within a whisper of the 185 pound target that he once thought he would never see again, while I am well on my way to hitting 100 pounds lost.  We have both gone down several clothing sizes and have lost dozens of inches as well.

One of the unexpected side benefits is that we have rediscovered meals together.  The Nerd really enjoys cooking his Jamie Oliver meals, and we each enjoy eating them together and sharing some "couple time" over the meal.  It's just not the same when you're shoveling down take-out food. 

I realize that our weight loss has not been the sole result of the Nerd and I eating meals from Jamie Oliver's cookbook.  It's only one piece in the overall lifestyle change that we have undergone and are continuing to undergo.  But the food is sure a major piece of the whole plan, and without managing the food, none of the other stuff would have been as simple or effective for us. 

I also have to say that we have been personally responsible in a minor book sales boom for the Meals in Minutes cookbook amongst our family and friends who have each seen how fantastic we are looking and feeling and who want a piece of that action.

So from the bottom of my heart I say "Thank you, Jamie Oliver.  You have helped us change our lifestyles and become happier, healthier people".  The fact that we eat like kings is a nice side benefit. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I love this post. It's really inspiring to hear about all the positive changes the two of you have made.
    I've recently been perusing amazon for cookbooks with quicker meals, because I realize that most of my cookbooks and favorite recipes take hours in the kitchen. We don't always want to spend hours making dinner, so on lazy nights (which happens two or three times a week) we go out to eat or get take out. I'm definitely going to check out this book- my library has it so that'll make it even easier.