In 2013, we moved from the city, gave up our gym membership and moved to the country to establish our homestead and raise fresh produce and our own meat. Although we finished a lot projects, we also gained some extra weight because we thought we were burning more calories by working so hard. As it turned out, we ate our way out of our most comfortable jeans and put our health at stake. It could happen to anyone! Our new year’s resolutions not only includes completing the projects we didn’t get to in 2013, but also getting back to a more healthful lifestyle so we can literally enjoy the fruits of our labor longer and be physically able to keep up with all there is to do on a homestead.
Life on a farm can make you fat. As with most of the earth’s population, staying fit and healthy is as much of a challenge on a farm as it is in a city. When you have livestock that requires daily feeding and cleaning, as well as tending to gardens, fences, household repairs, and other unexpected emergencies or occurrences, you can burn a lot of calories and expend huge amounts of energy. It also creates a healthy appetite for the honey and eggs you collected, the beef, pork, or chicken you raised, and the wonderful comfort food that we identify with on a farm or ranch.
The calorie count can quickly get out of control and turn our hard-working body into a pudgy round-shaped creature that you don’t want to see in the mirror. We still drive to our office job during the week (for a few more years) and although our jobs don’t require a business suit or dress, our daily attire might consist of very comfortable jeans and a stretchy shirt. What it doesn’t mean is that we have to keep buying a large size every year. Some days the only eyes that will see us belong to four-legged creatures, but we won’t let that keep us from watching our own weight. With access to fresh produce and high quality meats on a farm, our cooking skills can create a wonderfully healthy and delicious menu. We’re thinking of it as a numbers game that can be won by keeping score. Although we try not to keep track of our calorie count every meal, we’re aware of how much food we are actually consuming and how many calories are being burned in our daily activities. It’s also a good way to avoid buying a bigger size every year if you enjoy baking and frying like we do.
First, we decided in advance how many calories we need to consume to keep our body at its optimal function depending on our level of daily activity. There are some days when we burn more calories than others, so we plan your higher calorie meals on days when our activity is also higher. Portion control is a big factor too, especially if we eat meals alone or in front of a television or computer. If you’re like me, you cook larger portions so you can enjoy left-overs for lunch the following day. It makes for good planning and it’s an efficient use of resources. By packing tomorrow’s lunch before I fill my dinner plate, I can control the portion size and avoid eating more than I planned both days.
The way you can fresh produce can also have impact on how much you eat. I was using quart sized jars, but we were more apt to consume the entire contents at one meal. I am considering canning in pint or half pint jars since we’re only cooking for one or two people. Also, canned goods taste fresher, and we won’t be prone to over eat or waste the leftovers.
Losing track of calorie consumption and getting too comfortable in your stretchy clothes can impact eating habits and ultimately your health. My husband and I are no exception, and we are committed to finding more ways to stay healthy and lose the 2013 weight that found us and can’t seem to go away on its own.
We gave up the gym, but we have 5 acres of walking room along with two high-energy Rottweiler puppies that will require lots of training. The weather in central Texas is mild enough to be outside most days and with the approaching time change, we can start working the soil for the spring garden. We are fresh out of excuses for not losing weight. Our biggest challenge will be the amount of food we consume and keeping track of the calories. Good luck to all of you homesteaders who are working on improving your health in 2014!