People often ask me what I do and what I have done to lose the weight. At first, the list was small, but now the list has grown and grown to be a set of life rules that I don’t even think about anymore. It’s like how I’m a vegetarian- I don’t even consider options on a menu that aren’t vegetarian. These are the things I do, without question, without fighting myself. Of course I fall down from time to time, but this is the consistent stuff that I try to stick to.
(And I’m not a doctor, nor do I suggest that you should do what I do. I’m only telling you what I do and did to lose 137 pounds.)
On a recent hike on the Lime Kiln Trail
Try to walk 10,000 steps per day.
Don’t let yourself watch TV until you’ve met your walking goal. If you’re dying to watch TV and haven’t met your goal, march in place in front of the television until you meet your goal. Then you can sit down. (Sometimes this is really hard to do!)
Get intentionally sweaty five or more times a week for at least 20 minutes at an interval. Longer is better.
The more consistent I am results in feelings of power over my destiny, control over my food and better mental health. I’m not usually depressed when I have a solid exercise routine… Hmmmm… Connection? I think so!
I don’t know about you, but I’m super disappointed in myself if I fail to meet a goal. Keeping my plan for the week and weekly goals in mind is a tremendous driving force as I keep moving forward in my health and wellness quest. I make goals for the kinds of foods I want to eat for the week, about keeping a food diary for a few days, about how many miles or minutes I want to run and also longer term goals like running the half marathon in June or getting below 200 by my 40th birthday!
Start slow. Do only what you honestly feel like you can.
When I started running I could only run for thirty seconds- and I let that be a celebration. When I first started taking control of my food, I let myself be weaned off of things slowly. Had I shifted over to what I eat now, I would have been miserable. It’s ok to take to things like a fish to water, but it’s also ok to ease yourself in and get used to it as it feels comfortable.
It’s ok to get scared.
I freak out all the time and worry that I can’t do what I think I can do. It’s ok for me to freak out and start again. Presently my brain thinks I can’t run long distances outside anymore. I’m not sure what is up with that, but my answer has been to run short loops over and over that keep bringing me by my house. That way if I get too tired or overwhelmed I can stop anytime. The good news is that I don’t need to stop, usually, so I just end up learning that I CAN do it and it rebuilds my confidence.
I knew I was changing my life when I began this project. This is not a temporary shift in behavior. When I’m done losing weight, I want to keep it off. I want to be active as a great grandma or at least alive to greet him or her. I have to work to maintain this, so I can’t go back to my stagnant, carb-rich diet existence. The shifts I’m making now are ones I’m committing to making for my life, not just to get skinnier.
Eat as much vegetables, fruit and clean protein as you want.
As a vegetarian, without investing in a bunch of highly processed fake meat soy meat replacements (which I love) it’s hard to go too wild. I think of clean vegetarian protein as stuff like plain tofu, eggs, beans and high protein yogurt. It’s hard to really go nuts and overdo it on any of that stuff so it’s not a huge risk for me. I’ve learned to LOVE fruits and vegetables in a whole new way. It’s been a really pleasant surprise.
Don’t deny yourself, control yourself.
I’m a chips and ice cream girl, so we buy chips and ice cream in serving sizes. We buy chips at costco in the lunch packs and eat those and are amazed at the savings in calories and cost. I buy the single serving sized ice cream and that keeps me in check.
I really try not to eat after 7:30.
It’s a rule I have that I break more often than I like. When I follow it, though, I really lose weight and feel in control.
Look cute even when you’re not at goal.
I am not making myself wait until I reach my goal to buy new, better fitting clothes- I want to look and feel good at every stage so I’ve bought a lot and left a lot behind. I miss them and when people I’ve given hand me downs to share that they’re wearing something I formerly owned it makes me so happy!
Start growing your hair out right when you start.
It may seem vain and silly, but I’ve never ever had long hair, and growing it out made me feel like a different person. It often helps me see myself as I am now, which is way harder than you would think. In my minds eye sometimes I’m still the short-haired 280 pound woman I was two years ago. The hair helps make the visual shift easier to process.
Promise to keep the promise that I will really do it this time and I won’t break the promise.
I realized that I would readily break commitments, deals and promises that I made to myself. I decided that if I was going to see myself and a capable person who was truthful, dedicated and hard working, I was going to have to actually follow through. I haven’t broken my promise yet and don’t plan to. My belief in myself is so different and has altered my confidence and willingness to work on deeper issues within myself.
It’s all on me to do this.
My will drives this dream, not my belly or my laziness- my will. I use the word determination as my driving force. When I feel weak, I always remind myself that it’s my determination to power through that makes this possible. No one else can force anything. No one else should need to motivate me (though I do appreciate motivation) , determination is taking responsibility to myself, waiting for motivation is passive. Thank you Katie from Runsforcookies.com. 🙂
Be honest with yourself.
I lied to myself all the time, telling myself it was PCOS that did this to me, that my insulin issues made me pack on the pounds… But truthfully, pizza and donuts make it easier to pack on pounds. The PCOS and insulin resistance just really enjoyed the fodder and I became a highly functional fat making and storing machine. It’s amazing what I am capable of hiding from myself and justifying. Saying no to those lies was a huuuuuge step for me.
Journal your food.
Do it a lot at first and then as you need when you fall off the wagon. This just helps to remind you of what serving sizes are and you have to put that honesty thing into practice pretty fiercely here. I would journal even nominal amounts like eating three Cheetos and stuff like that. 100% honesty really helped me to see what I was really eating. Hint: it was too much.
Let people know what you’re doing. You will succeed very publicly, and falling back down, publicly, will be hard. You have no idea how important this website is. Sometimes my runs are photos opportunities because I need something for a post, but then I forget to even do a selfie. 🙂
Use an exercise tracking device for your smartphone.
As you rack up miles you’ll be impressed with yourself. I found the mileage counter to be incredibly exciting as I wracked up miles!
Buy real exercise clothes and a few really good bras.
That way you’ll feel like a real exerciser. I find that if I’m wearing my gear I’m self conscious if I’m walking. I run harder when I’m dressed for it.
Drink lots of beverages with meals.
When I want seconds, I really want a glass of water. I drink the water and don’t want seconds anymore.
Celebrate success with tangible rewards.
For some reason I like to dangle the carrot even more than I like the prize when I get it. The reward of meeting a weight goal always surpasses the boots or whatever I’m getting, but I still do it. I suppose it’s for those moments when I can’t feel the excitement of what it will feel like when I weigh whatever…
Build up your lean muscle mass.
I know that this is an uphill battle after 40, but I feel like it’s one worth waging. It’s difficult to build lean muscle mass now, but if know it’s possible and I feel like spending time lifting and getting stronger will do a lot for my health as I age AND lean muscle mass burns a lot more fat. I also have fantasies about plumping up with muscle to fill out my loose fleshiness.
Get the kids involved.
I realized that my lifestyle will influence my kids. I don’t want them to have the battles I’ve dealt with, so I want to teach them these skills now and have them imprint as a blueprint for the care and keeping of their bodies. So far, so good. She wants to be a personal trainer or fitness instructor of some kind (not as a PE teacher, though) and he is starting to run like greased lightning.
Do whatever seems interesting in the quest to move forward with health.
If I get motivated to continue to exercise by signing up for a race then I definitely need to do that. If I have an interest in an online weightloss contest, it’s ok to take the risk and try for it. While those events may not help after the event is over, leading up to it gets me to a good spot.
I’m not perfect. It’s ok if I fall off the wagon in any capacity. What is not ok is to let myself stay down. This is not a battle that is won over a year or two, it is a battle that is won by the second. I may have screwed up and eaten something I wasn’t planning for or I might not work out as hard as I was hoping, but as long as the next second or minute or hour is turned back around I’m ok. I don’t wait until tomorrow or Monday or the new year to get a fresh start anymore. A fresh start can happen immediately.