Halfway Ruminations and My Advice to a Fellow Sparker
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Guess what happened this past weekend? I reached 185, which is my halfway point! So in 3 months I've lost 21 pounds and am very ready to lose the rest of it! I feel great. Absolutely wonderful and never never never have I looked forward to a summer more.
OMG I'm going to wear a frickin' bikini! I'm going to wear SHORTS! I'm going to run on the beach and play volleyball! I'm going to do the swim portion of a triathlon with my coworkers, one of whom qualified for the frickin' OLYMPICS! I'm going to work at the farmers market and introduce people to new and different vegetables! I'm going to see my entire extended family for one of my favorite cousin's wedding and will even buy a dress for the occasion! Yes. Exciting times ahead. And you know what? When it transitions into Fall, I am going to wear some loud mustard yellow corduroys and a purple sweater with my fave doc martens and will finally don the style I've halfway-sported for years.
Ahhhh, half way... It's an excellent place to be! (But, you know, not for long :)
I felt completely honored today to be asked for weight-loss advice by one of my Sparkfriends. I then sent a ridiculously long email as my reply and thought I would share it with the rest of you as well. It probably isn't as dauntingly large in blog-form, though I say that before pressing the 'ol Ctrl-V. I was just thinking about my Sparkphilosophy while I was swimming today so coming home to this email was perfect. Here is my reply:
I'm honored you thought of me-- I'm still getting the hang of this whole lifestyle change thing, but today before I got your email it clicked that I must be doing something right because I'm starting to feel really great! My strategy has been to try things, take risks, walk like crazy, make an organized plan, have back-ups handy, set challenges and goals, and cook for myself. Exercise was the hardest to get into-- I actually signed up for Spark in November but didn't even get going until January. My Spark (har har) was discovering the classes at my gym, something that I was intrigued by but I'd never tried. I was nervous that I would make a fool of myself and didn't want to go alone. But one day at the beginning of January I stumbled into one and have tried about half of the ones offered by now. I need to WANT to exercise, to actually enjoy it and to feel like I'm spending my time well.
Try new things, Walk, Take Risks:
Like my gym class experiences above, try different ways of being active. Try walking more (I don't have a car so I put in about 3 miles each day). Also browse around on Spark and get some ideas from other sparkers about activities that would be fun for you. I had no idea who Jillian Michaels was 3 months ago and now I am a devotee. I also learned about C25K and trained for a 5K, and believe me, that was a huge risk for me. I HATED running, but after reading people's blogs about it, I got REALLY inspired and wanted to give it a try. After reading some articles on proper form, I realized I had just been doing it abysmally wrong. I risked putting myself out there and looking a bit of a fool at the gym, both in classes and on the treadmill, and I'm certainly better for it, both mentally and physically.
Make an Organized Plan, Have Back-Ups Handy, Set Personal Challenges and Goals:
I am lucky because I make the schedule at work and have flexible hours 3 days of the work week, but I also get called in all the time and my schedule changes from week to week. I have made a point to not schedule myself for the time of my two big gym-class days. Getting fit is such a priority for me that I will prioritize these 4 hours each week and just not be available. I look at it like I would if I was in an academic class-- the phone is off and I'll get to work when I can. Something that has really helped me has been to make a work-out plan each week. I write it in the notes section on each day's My Fitness page at the beginning of the week. I generally try to do some sort of exercise everyday. Check out my shared tracker and take a look! Now that it's sunny, I try and run outside once or twice a week. I do a Jillian Michaels video maybe 3 times per week (one with weights, because strength training is AWESOME!) and then walk a lot. But writing down "Run along the beach. Swim 30 minutes" rather than saying to myself "ok, Thursday I have to do something" makes it a lot harder to ignore and put off a workout. That said, I am flexible when something comes up and I can't do my scheduled workout. Life is life! So I rely on some back-ups to keep my momentum going and to get at least a little bit of a workout in. Now these are mostly the Jillian Michaels DVDs. The 30 Day Shred workouts are about 25 minutes, which can definitely be squeezed into a hectic day somehow.
Speaking of 30 Day Shred, here is where the now-familiar Spark mantra about goal setting comes in! I didn't realize this when before I started Spark, but I love working towards a challenge! When I learned about 30 Day Shred, I bought the episodes off amazon (for about $4.50 for the entire thing if you want to download it) and did them everyday, aside from my two huge gym days when I do an hour cross-training class. The c25K training was the same thing: A structured program that I would follow in a set time. The Done Girls team seems to have a lot of team challenges, too. It feels awesome to accomplish an undertaking like this AND you can definitely see and feel the benefits.
On the eating side of things, try new foods, especially vegetables. Also mentally stick up for yourself and your lifestyle change when other people are eating out or eating crap-- most of my friends don't even realize I'm on a "diet", I just don't nibble off their plate of fries anymore (about which they're thankful, I'm sure :-) and I drink a lot less when we go out. Risk asking the waitress about the caloric intake of different dishes and see if they can prepare a sparky meal for you. As someone who works in a cafe, I know that this is not a huge deal and that the waitresses probably have their own thin-n-delicious version of dishes that they prepare for themselves, so be flexible and try what they eat when they are eating healthy at work. It's usually awesome!
But cooking for yourself at home is the best way to go. You have so much more control over what you eat! Also everything I cook is real food and almost never out of a box. Processed food messes so much with your metabolism and health and is, for the most part, a lot less filling, satisfying, and tasty than the real deal. If you aren't much of a cook, learn! It's the most valuable skill you have in your weight-loss tool belt. Once you are familiar enough in the kitchen you will throw tasty meals together in no time. But it takes practice and effort. Go to the library and browse the cookbook section for a how-to book that calls to you. Most cookbooks have a bit that introduces you to different elements of cooking so you probably don't even need to look further than your bookshelf.
Phew! This was long but hopefully helpful. A lot of it is mental, as I'm sure you know! Just make sure that the You who is rooting for positive change and longs to be seen in a bikini this summer is the one who has the last say when you are trying to decide whether to exercise or not. Let me know if I can help you further-- I definitely had to ask for it, too and am so thankful for Sparkfriends!
I should have added to keep your goals evolving and try to incorporate things you learn from fellow sparkers into your routine. Right now a goal of mine is to have a fruit or vegetable every time I eat. It's just the thing I'm trying out this week and yes, it's working out deliciously! Who knows what will be on next week's goal agenda, but we'll see. I have big goals but the little things like this will be what turn into habits in the end. Yippee!