Thursday, June 28, 2012
… who’s the most honest of them all?
Whether it’s your first attempt to lose weight or you’ve actually lost count of them, every time you are on square one, you are likely to feel determined and ready to shed those pounds once and for all. But if you want the outcome to be successful, you should start by facing your biggest ally and at the same time your worst enemy on this journey: yourself!
So, stand in front of your mirror, be honest to yourself and answer three simple questions.
1. “Do I really need to lose weight?”
Over the past few months that my weight loss became obvious I heard comments like “How did you do it? Why can’t I succeed?” voiced by perfectly normal-sized people and sometimes people that one could easily call skinny! There are thousands of influences out there that could cause us to have a distorted opinion of our body image. Of course the important thing for everyone is to feel good in their body. But if you don’t, think about it again. Don’t just count on weight charts and indexes. They might be indicative of our overall size but some flexibility is always accepted even by experts. Who do you usually compare your body image to? Are you really overweight or are you being a very strict judge of yourself? Give it a second thought. Then go on and set realistic goals based on a real-life, ideal body image of yourself.
2. "Who am I doing this for?”
You might be doing this for your husband because you’ve noticed the way his eyebrow raises at the sight of your skinny, fit next-door neighbor. You might be doing this for your wife because she keeps “reminding” you how handsome you looked when she first met you. You might be doing this for your best friend who’s getting married in a few months and wants you to be his best man or her maid of honor and would like you to look your best. All these may sound like great motivation – and they are, as long as they’re just a motivating occasion and not your actual reason. Otherwise, you’ll be taking orders from someone to start something you might not be ready for. And the chances of failure begin to rise.
You have to do this for you! In other words, you must want this badly! And such a strong desire can only be yours!
3. “Am I ready for the changes involved?”
Let’s face it. Any big life change requires sacrifices. When you decided to go into university, when you moved far away to another city to pursue the career of your dreams, when you took the big step of getting married, when you accepted the huge responsibility of becoming a parent, you had to leave some of your habits behind. Well, now you’re about to change yourself. You’re about to change the only thing that has been with you ever since the first second of your life and will carry you through to your last breath on this planet: your body! Does this sound like an unimportant change compared to the ones mentioned above? Then why wouldn’t it require sacrifices?
Focus on your goal and make these sacrifices worthwhile. Embrace them and they’ll lead you to a new version of yourself!
That was easy, wasn’t it? You practiced your first lesson of honesty to yourself. It might sound simple but it isn’t. If you think about it, you’ve lied to yourself many times. You’ve found ridiculous excuses for not exercising or for overeating, haven’t you?
But honesty is the foundation for any successful and productive relationship. And only if you have established such a relationship with yourself, will you reach your goal one day.
Face yourself, face your fears, face your challenges. Get ready for change!
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
In my last blog, I announced the launch of a series of blogs concerning my weight loss journey. So, what is this all about? Let me explain.
Next September I will have been a member of Sparkpeople for three years. During this time I spent lots of time reading and learning new things about nutrition, exercise and healthy habits. It took me almost two years to actually start losing weight and be successful. So, you’ll assume that’s all you need to do. Spend hours reading, learn everything you can about all these subjects, literally “soak” your brain in the sea of information and articles you can find here on SP and on the internet and you’ll be ready to reach your goals.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple…
I’m sure most of you have seen the film “Matrix”. Do you remember the way they “downloaded” any information or knowledge they needed directly to their brains? Wouldn’t that be great? Do you need to learn how to fly a helicopter? Just “plug” yourself in and in a few seconds you’re a pilot! Do you need to be a nutritionist, a personal trainer and a fitness expert, all in one? Wait a few moments, until the “loading meter” is filled and… that’s it!
Even if we could use this fictional technology – which could prove really useful in other areas of our lives! – we wouldn’t have solved the puzzle of weight loss. The information would be really important but the secret is not in some “highly confidential” nutrition facts or some “top secret” training techniques.
The secret lies within!
It’s a process of changing your frame of mind and the way you think about food, exercise, diets, health and all the subjects concerning weight loss. It’s about you becoming a self-taught psychiatrist of yourself and only. Every day you’ll have to sit yourself on the couch and ask and answer questions. You’ll have to find what helps you in your progress and boost it or what halts your progress and fight against it. The secrets are all in your mind and you’re going to have to discover them. YOU are the only one who can do this.
So, I’m here to share my changing process. Hoping that you can find a helping hand in your own. At the same time, I’ll be standing by you, exploring new ways of staying healthy and discovering if I can really practice what I preach for the rest of my life. Remember that each and every one of us is different. But we have the same goal: a change of lifestyle that will lead to a healthy, long life.
We are in this boat together.
Let’s sail to the ocean of success!
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
This blog was supposed to have been posted yesterday but certain things came up and I only found time at about 2 am! Being too sleepy to type and upload pictures, I postponed it for today.
19th June 2011. That’s the day my serious attempt here on Sparkpeople began. I had already been a member for almost two years but with no success. The date wasn’t chosen by chance. My husband is the person who talked me into seriously trying hard to reach my goal. He is the one who made me believe that if we really want something, we can work hard and achieve it. So I chose his birthday to start my journey. And finish with this weight battle once and for all.
19th June 2012. One year later. Let’s see my progress in numbers.
Weight: From 87 kilos to 69. From 191 pounds to 152.
A total loss of 18 kilos – 39 pounds.
Waistline: From 99 centimeters to 82. From 39 inches to 32.
A total loss of 17 centimeters – 7 inches.
Resting heart rate: From 94 to 66.
Blood cholesterol: From 254 to 220. (I still have to work on that one!)
Size: From 16 (occasionally 18!) to 10. From XXL to M – and sometimes S!
But the things I’m really proud of don’t involve numbers. They are the non-scale victories, my fitness achievements, my strength and health proofs that I trade for nothing. All these things that a year ago I couldn’t imagine myself doing and I couldn’t actually do more than one or a few no matter how hard I tried. I’m talking about pushups, jumping jacks, lunges, planks, reverse planks, bicycle crunches. I’m talking about jogging all my way to my kids’ school. I’m talking about running up three floors in my apartment building. I’m talking about chasing my kids in the park. About health. About endurance. About strength. About freedom.
The benefits of exercise are the invaluable gift I got from my fitness journey. My strength is much more important than reduced sizes, clothes that fit or the number on the scale. Not that these didn’t make me happy of course! But what makes me even happier are all those everyday moves that I can do freely now. I can bend and tie up my shoe laces without feeling that the increased pressure will make something burst! I can run if I’m in a hurry – no, I couldn’t do this simple thing before! And numerous other things that I know many of you can imagine.
This is how I looked before:
And a before-and-after picture:
The picture on the left was taken on the day I joined SP in 2009.
I haven’t reached my goal yet but I really don’t mind. It just seems so difficult to lose any more weight and to break through this plateau and I’m not sure I want to go to extremes in order to see a smaller number on the scale. After all, I feel happy with the image in the mirror. And those few things that bother me can either be fixed with exercise or can never be fixed! They are just “time and experience marks” as I usually call them - just like face wrinkles. The only thing that bothers me is this cholesterol which is still a bit high and my doctor is sure that a few more pounds lost will definitely make a difference. I’ll just keep on with my healthy habits, wait and see!
What I really hope is that in 2013 on my husband’s birthday I will be able to post a blog here with the same maintained numbers and maybe some fitness accomplishments. Until then, I decided to launch a blog series about my journey. I’ll remember and share with you my thoughts, my struggles, my feelings, my success strategies. If I can help just one person to find the key to their own success, it will really be worth this journey.
I’ll just spread the Spark! That’s my new mission.
Friday, June 15, 2012
When I first joined Sparkpeople back in 2009, her story was the first inspirational success story I read. I was amazed by her courage, by her struggle as a parent, by her choices and her hard work. She became one of my first Sparkfriends. Without knowing it, she’s been one of my best sources of inspiration. She became a runner. I would always read her training blogs with enthusiasm because they would always help me find the strength inside me to follow her example and find the athlete in me. Her race blogs would bring tears to my eyes. Tears of pride and happiness for a friend I’ve never met, I probably never will but has made a great impact on my life.
Her name is Jess. In the Sparkpeople world, she is known as WANT2BEFIT10.
Tomorrow she’s running her first marathon. I really wish I could be there to support her, to tell her how much I believe in her, to celebrate her successful journey in the runners’ world. But since I can’t do that, I thought I’d write this blog to offer wholeheartedly my best wishes for good luck.
So, Jess, this is for you. A little inspiration for tomorrow. For YOUR day.
You can do this. Your mind and your soul have been ready for this for a long time now. Your body has no other choice but to follow.
I’ll “see” you at the finish line!
Thursday, June 14, 2012
During all those past years that I had been experimenting with weight loss and different kinds of diets, me and my fellow-dieters – some friends that had been in the same time-consuming, energy-draining, frustrating and disappointing dieting nightmare – would always keep in mind the same word: maintenance! Why? Simply because in the mind of a veteran dieter that would mean the end of the torture! Going into maintenance means we have reached our goal weight and we are finally allowed to indulge on some of our favorite treats that we were forbidden to even look at during all those months of dieting! What a huge misconception!
The truth about maintenance is far from this. And there is one single, ugly truth about it that if you have adopted the way of thinking mentioned above, you probably don’t want to hear about. But you’d better realize it now before you go into the above kind of maintenance and ruin all your hard efforts to lose weight.
Maintenance is not the second part of your diet. It’s not a specific period in your weight loss attempt.
Maintenance is actually the rest of your life. Period.
If you persuade yourself that now that you have reached your goals, you are actually allowed to go back to your old habits, you’re literally fooling yourself. It’s like having quit smoking. After a year of being smoke-free you decide that it’s ok to have a cigarette at this high school reunion. After all what kind of harm can one do? But one leads to another and before you know it, you find yourself purchasing a brand new packet of cigarettes. And you might be thinking right now that the example is not very successful because smoking is an addiction. And I’ll agree with you. But think about when you started your weight loss journey. Do you remember how hard it was to quit on that every day soda or how difficult it seemed to resist those tasty hamburgers at the fast food restaurant at the corner? Didn’t it seem like an addiction back then? Do you remember how hard you had to push yourself to go to the gym or get out the door for that run or push in the dvd and do a workout for 30 minutes? Do you know how easy it is to allow yourself to “take a break”? And this break could actually become so long that it could easily bring you back to square one!
And at this point you might be wondering: “So, what? Do I have to diet for the rest of my life? Do I have to run a marathon every week in order to maintain my weight?”
Of course not.
While on your weight loss journey, you should always keep your mind on maintenance. No, I’m not kidding here. You should do exactly as I did when I was on diet after diet but you should look at maintenance from a very different point of view. It shouldn’t seem like the life-saving oasis at the end of your strict and depriving dieting desert! It should be your guide to choosing your new way of life. Maintenance in your mind should be the equivalent to lifetime habits. Every day of your journey you should take small steps into changing your bad habits with new healthy ones. And before establishing it as part of your healthy lifestyle, you should consider: “Is this a habit that I will be able to maintain when I reach my goal weight? Is this something that I can do for the rest of my life?” And make the right adjustments where necessary.
It will take time. Lots of time actually. But you’ll be fighting with the right weapons. Strict diets and exercise schedules designed for Superman can bring results fast. But you have to choose if fast is more important to you than long-lasting. If you want to lose weight and keep it lost forever, you just can’t choose the fast way. Because it’s just changing the surface not the roots of the problem. So, at some point you’ll have to do it all over again. Albert Einstein once said that doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. It makes sense, doesn’t it?
So, if you’re just starting out with your weight loss journey or if, for some reason, something is just not working out and you’re not getting results, rethink about your battle. Choose your weapons wisely. Lead yourself to victory. Succeed. Because you can.
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