There are certain unwritten rules in #milspo life. Don’t introduce yourself using your husband’s rank, pretend that Space-A is a breeze and you totally understand it, and the granddaddy of all, the intention to use deployment as a time to finally get healthy. After all, your hubby isn’t there to suggest nachos, wings, or stuffed crust pizza after a long day. Deployment can be a time to focus on YOU and your health. And, OK, who doesn’t want to show off a smoking hot bod on the tarmac when you reunite with your Honey on homecoming day.
But the key word here is intention.
Because once Murphy (as in Murphy’s Law) comes around, you’ll be focusing efforts on plumbing catastrophes, ant infestations, and dead car batteries. The last thing you’ll care about is perfectly portioned broccoli. Pass the cheeseburger, amiright?
Now, if we were talking about a TDY or upcoming military ball, the focus might shift to a crash diet of some sort. There are plenty of diets promising rapid weight loss, and followed correctly, might get you the results you are looking for. For a minute. But a deployment is no time for a quick juice fast or other hold-your-breath-until-its-over diet. It’s a marathon.
"And while the popular hashtag #deploymentsucks is totally valid, the silver lining is the window of opportunity to gain traction on some real, life-changing, long-term nutrition habits."
Here are four things to consider as you jump on the path to reclaim your health.
Add Before You Subtract
This is absolutely counter-intuitive. But from a mental standpoint, cutting out food groups and restricting eventually leads to binge eating and shame. We’ve all been there. It’s the classic diet cycle. Instead, begin by adding vegetables to each meal and including fruit once or twice a day as well. The high-fiber content of whole fruits and vegetables will fill you up. Don’t be surprised if you suddenly aren’t hungry for after dinner brownies or an ice cream run. This might sound crazy, but that’s the magic (or science, rather) of fiber.
Eat the Rainbow (Skittles don’t count)
Simplicity reigns during deployment. It just does. As the sole caretaker of your home and possibly children and pets, your energy is at a premium. This is no time for fancy diet rules or counting calories. Who can be expected to do math when the garage door is stuck in the open position and nightfall is looming (raise your hand if this has happened to you while your husband was gone)? There are real problems to solve and a mountain of laundry to fold. The best news is that eating colorful foods at each meal will make the biggest impact on your health. This starts with grocery shopping. Utilize pre-chopped or frozen veggies for convenience, and don’t check out at the register until you have a rainbow of colors in your cart for the upcoming week.
One Thing at a Time
Instead of trying to overhaul your entire way of eating at once, remember that deployment is a marathon. Slow and steady, pacing yourself, understanding that results may not be visible right away. Once eating a rainbow of produce has become habit, sneaking spinach into fruit smoothies and choosing salads over fries (OK, that may never become habit, but a conscious choice), you are ready for a next step. Choose one thing at a time to work on. Pay attention to your eating habits and junk-food triggers and plan healthier alternatives. Maybe you mindlessly chomp on Cheetos in the afternoon or drink sugary sodas in the evening. Swap for veggie sticks and hummus or sparkling water. Pick one thing to focus on before moving on to the next. Set yourself up for success by listening to how your body feels after eating certain foods and honoring it accordingly.
Consistency is King
Above all else, consistency in good eating habits will make the biggest impact on your health. This is good news! The occasional slice of cake or third glass of wine will not derail your efforts. As long as you get right back to your colorful, high-fiber foods at your next meal. Give yourself some grace and affirm your commitment to loving your body and fueling it with foods that will nourish and sustain. Not only do you want to look good at homecoming, you want to feel your best. Knowing you made the best of your time apart and built habits to carry you from reintegration into PCS Season, or whatever lies ahead.
JOIN THE MOVEMENT!
We invite you to join us in creating a paradigm shift within the military spouse culture. We want to be at the forefront of creating a movement within our community that trades comparison for compassion. We want to replace the negativity that surrounds the MilSpouse culture with a positive image of personal fulfillment and success. We can be a group that raises each other up, building strong leaders and supporting new ideals. Join us by “liking” our Facebook page, subscribing to the blog, and linking us to your local “spouse’s” Facebook page!
Kara has been a Navy wife since 2001, marrying a sailor she met on the beach on a spring break trip. She is a Pacific Northwest native currently living the California dream with her husband and 3 kids in sunny San Diego. She is a freelance writer whose work can be found in a variety of publications serving the military community. As a mentor and blogger for the Military Spouse Advocacy Network, she connects with new Navy spouses to guide them in their own journeys. As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Kara can often be found reading cookbooks like juicy novels and is usually thinking about what's for dinner. Connect with Kara on her blog where she writes regularly at https://karaludlow.com, and on social media at https://facebook.com/karaludlownavywife and https://instagram.com/mskaraludlow.