Monday, October 20, 2008
100 Pounds Lost in Eight Months
Ever since I reached my 100 pounds lost last week, I’ve been inundated with emails asking me, “How did you do it?”, “What motivated you to finally do it?”, “What did you eat/drink”?”, “How many calories did you consume?”, “What was your exercise routine like?”. So I decided I would type a blog to answer all of these at one time. Please feel free to continue to sparkmail me with questions. I'm happy to help if I can. :)
Here is my story.
The first thing I say is, half of this battle is a mental decision.
The Motivation Part
I know how hard it is to find that motivation. When you live most of your life with a love of food, and a body that gains weight like nobody's business. I've been on diets, on and off, since I was 13. My pediatrician put me on these horrible diet pills (per my parents request) at age 13, and I was only like 10-15 pounds overweight. But it was a sign of what was to be. (My sister was always skinny as a rail. Durn her! )
Honestly, one day this past February, I just woke up, and it was, as Oprah would say, if you're an Oprah fan, my "aha moment". I just sort of got it. I had this knowing that I could NEVER eat the way I've always eaten again. I had to eat healthy, and could never make a habit of eating junk again. Not that I can't HAVE junk once in a while. But a lifestyle of eating that way, no more. If you are prone to gaining weight, you have to realize, it will never do you any good to go on a diet. Never. Because what happens is, we go on a diet, lose weight, feel great, then think, "Wow, look at all this weight I've lost. Good job. Ok, now the diets over, yea me." Then we go back to our old ways of eating, and BAM! We're overweight again, sometimes worse off than before. You need to have your aha moment where you come to realize that eating like crap when we were kids can't continue into the rest of our adult life. You've no doubt heard it before, and it's so true. It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change.
Now, coming to that point where you realize that is one thing. But actually choosing the healthy foods to make it a reality is another, I know. But I was so miserable, so unhealthy. I was so big and out of shape, I was, at least several times a week, thinking what my husband and kids would do if I died. Like, I was literally planning out in my head who would take care of them, how would my 3 yr old get along without me, since we are together 24/7. That should have been motivation enough for me to not have ever let it go this far in the first place. But it did. But now, I'm on the right path. Sometimes the Nike slogan comes to mind when I start thinking, "I don't feel like going to the gym to workout today." JUST DO IT! “Feel” has nothing to do with it. My time of the month, I feel like crap. Doesn't matter. Just do it. (And you know what, I DO feel better after working out in my TOM too, just like they say you will. And let me tell ya, I have serious female problems with my TOM, so if I wanted, I'd be perfectly justified in allowing that to be an excuse. But NO more excuses.)
There is a song by Carrie Underwood, (don't know if you listen to country or not,...) but part of it says, "I don't want to spend my life jaded, waitin, to wake up one day and find, that I let all these years go by, ....wasted....". I was listening to that the other day....and thought how that applied to me. I've spent 14 of my 15 years of marriage very overweight. I've not been able to take my kids to Six Flags because my rear won't fit in the seats, or teach my oldest to ride a horse, which was something I loved doing when I was younger. The list is a long one. I don't want to spend the rest of my 30's so big that I can't enjoy life with my husband and kids. I have red hair. One day I saw an older lady with red hair, very obese, walking with that walk that really fat people walk, like their legs are glued together...kind of a waddle. I saw her and thought, if I don't change, that will be me, and then I will have let my life pass me by. To be 50 or 60 and come to my "aha" moment. What a waste. Don’t get me wrong…not that it's not good to change at age 50. Anytime is better than never. But to have the ability to do something about it now, while I'm still fairly young, and not do it, would be a waste. It's like I got to look through a porthole or something, and see myself at that age, and think, "Oh, if I had only.....".
My “Diet” Plan
First I can say, if you're not ready to make a complete change of lifestyle, and if you're not ready to give up fast food, candy bars (cakes, cookies, etc), and if you're not ready to give up a lot of extra carbs, then you won't like my "diet" plan. And when I say give up, I mean about 95% give up. There is still room for an occasional treat, but for the most part, you have to be ready to say, "You know what, I want to be healthy MORE than I want to eat this food that's bad for me." Once you can reach that point mentally, it's really not hard anymore.
When I FIRST started, I told myself I would eat EXTREMELY healthy 5 days a week, and allow myself 2 days a week to eat a burger or some pizza, or a piece of cake, WITHOUT feeling guilty about it. Not two days to eat everything in sight. But two days when I wouldn't mentally punish myself for not eating perfect. This worked for me.
Literally overnight, I completely changed the way I had been eating. I cut out the obvious sugars: candy, cookies, sodas, high calorie juices, milk (while good for you, still has a lot of calories, and I drank a lot). I cut out cheese, high fat meats, white pastas and breads. I “went brown“, as I like to call it. Whole wheat, low-carb, bread, pasta, tortillas, bagels, rice, etc, and these, in moderation. I started eating more fruits and vegetables, and lean meats. And water! I finally started getting in my 8-10 eight oz. glasses of water daily, and I know that has helped tremendously.
For two weeks, I made this plan for myself:
Tues==normal foods, but keep it all low cal, low fat
Wed===all fruits and veggies day
Thurs=== my free day. I used Thurs because hubby is off on Thurs, and I wanted more freedom to eat out if I wanted
Fri===all fruits and veggies day
Sat===normal, low cal, low fat
(Then repeated it one more week. But I wouldn't do it more than two weeks at a time, as you'll need more calories than that, especially if you're working out. )
For two weeks I did that as a way to jump start my weight loss. I think I lost about 15 pounds those first two weeks. I was so excited I was ready for more. But as I increased my activity level, I had to increase my calories. You can't live that way too long. But I was SO heavy, I needed that initial boost. I tweaked this initial plan, and it just kept evolving. I soon gave up my two days to splurge. I was desiring to eat super healthy because I was having such great success. But what it eventually evolved to, is what I still do now. Eat really healthy, but have an occasional treat. WITHOUT guilt. I plan for it, I allow room for it in my daily calories, and I enjoy it. In the past, if I ate something that was "off" my diet, I would feel defeated, think there's no way I can lose all this weight anyway, and then just give up. This way, I planned for it and allowed myself to have it, but I know it's a treat, and not a normal food I can eat all the time.
For liquids, I would pretty much have lots of water, chicken broth, even tomato soup, low cal or sugar free pudding, sugar free Jell-O. My theory was, anything you can swallow without chewing that didn't have a lot of calories was ok. I know pudding isn't really liquidy, but it fell into my category. :) Mind you, I wouldn't eat a case of pudding, but you get the idea. Mainly broths. I made my own chicken broth, since the store bought kind has so much sodium. Just basically cook some chicken in water, with some onion, garlic, spices. If you make it, make a big batch. You'll want it often.
My Exercise Routine
When I started, all I was doing was a very light exercise routine, which consisted of walking around my neighborhood, and bouncing on an exercise ball at night while I watched tv. In April, we joined a gym, and I began exercising three days a week. I would walk and do weights. Once the pool opened in June, I began going in five days a week. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I would ride 3-5 miles on the recumbent bike, swim for about 20 minutes, then do an hour of water aerobics. Tuesdays and Thursdays I would walk, ride the bike for 7-8 miles, then do weights for 45 minutes. By the end of the summer, I had lost around 80 pounds.
NOW.....I am up to 12-15 miles on the bike. I do intervals between the bike and the arc trainer. Then I do a ½ to 1 mile walk around the track, using dumbbells to do arm work while I walk. Works my arms AND keeps my heart rate up. Then I do about 25 minutes of weightlifting, alternating days with upper and lower body. Then, I finish up with stretching. (Don’t waste a good weightlifting session by not stretching your muscles afterwards.) I try to vary my routine up a bit, week to week. Even if it’s just the amount of weights I use, or the order I do the exercises in, or the intensity. Your body gets used to the exercises you do; changing it up keeps it burning calories more efficiently.
Tips and things I’ve learned along the way:
Remember, with veggies, corn, potatoes, carrots, a lot of the lighter colored veggies have more starches which convert to sugar. So limit those. I don't EVER ban a veggie, starchy or not. But I do try to limit them. The green veggies are your best friends. Plus dark reds/purples.
Lettuce---the greener the better. Iceberg does nothing nutritionally for you. I use it on sandwiches some times, and as a filler. What I mean by that is, I make a spinach salad, and toss in some iceberg for bulk. Baby spinach is what I use most of the time, but there are lots of green lettuces to choose from. I like spinach on my sandwiches, and in pita pockets, and wraps too.
Grilled Chicken---I like to grill chicken with this awesome Lime Pepper spice. I always grill extra. Then I cut the extra chicken up into small strips, put it in a small snack baggie and freeze. I’ll usually have about 3-4 of these small baggies to freeze when I do it. Then I use them in chicken salads, or in a whole wheat pita pocket, or in a wrap for lunches. They are SO yummy this way, and beats the monotony of a sandwich every day.
Veggie Steamer---If you don't have a steamer, I highly recommend you get one. I use mine all the time. It makes steaming things so much easier. My favorite is broccoli, or a mix of broccoli with onion, zucchini and bell peppers. It's a definite must have.
Breads---Look for the words, “enriched“ whole wheat flour or white flour, and look for “high fructose corn syrup“, or “sugar“. If any of those are high up on the list, toss it and look again. I have found a bread that is only 50 calories, the lowest I've seen. Is it homemade tasting?....no. But I can have a sandwich where the bread only equals 100 calories, so that's worth it to me. It's Nature's Own Double Fiber Whole Wheat.
Bagels---Again, check the labels. I have found one called Nature’s Own Carb Check (Whole Wheat). It only has 150 calories in the whole bagel. I like to eat one of these with peanut butter and honey before I go workout. I eat breakfast at 6:30 with my kids. I start my workout at 8:00, and don’t get around to lunch until noon. This breakfast, with it’s fiber and protein, keeps me satisfied through my workout until I can have lunch.
My Top 4 Tips:
1. Drink your water.
2. Log everything you eat.
3. Exercise (whether you want to or not)
4. Get support from your friends on spark! :)
Life will ALWAYS throw curves at you. There will ALWAYS be something to get stressed at. That's why you need to make it a HABIT of choosing healthy foods, and not turning to food for comfort. You have time. You CAN do something about it still. But remember, it's not a diet. That’s why I always say, Half this battle is a mental decision. Once you make up your mind that this will be a new way of life for you, the hardest part is over.