Saturday, September 25, 2010
I think for many (maybe most) of us here on Sparkpeople, this is not our first weight loss attempt. I know that I have tried to lose weight dozens, maybe even hundreds, of times. A few times, I was even successful--losing as much as 60 pounds. If you look at my weight over the last 20 years, it has steadily increased.
When I started losing weight on August 19, 2009, I thought it was just any other attempt. I really believed that I wouldn't make it through the day, let alone a week or month or year. I did not think that "this time is different" like I'd said so many times before.
And now, 57 weeks and 114 pounds later, I KNOW this time is different. I've learned so many lessons over the past year that have taught me what I need to know in order to keep the weight off. I've learned new habits that would be impossible to UNlearn. Knowing all that I know NOW, regaining all this weight just doesn't seem possible.
I'm not saying that it's going to be easy for me. I know that I'm going to struggle with this my entire life. But now that I've had a little taste of being in a thin body, I just cannot imagine letting myself get that overweight again. Physically, my entire life is different; my body feels so much healthier--the way God intended it to feel.
Anyway, I thought I'd share some of the things I've learned over the past 57 weeks, and hopefully help someone else who is struggling to make THIS time different...
*A sweet tooth CAN be trained. When I was fat, I couldn't get enough sugar. While "dieting" in the past, I used to eat oatmeal with 2 Tbsp of brown sugar in it! It didn't sound like a lot to me at the time. This time, I started cutting back on the sugar very slowly and now I can use 1 tsp of maple syrup in my oats, or even just a banana for natural sweetness. I wouldn't be able to gag down a bowl of oats with 2 Tbsp of sugar now! When I first consciously started cutting back on the sugar, things tasted a little bland. However, by keeping at it, I retrained my sweet tooth.
*A taste for salt can be trained as well. When I started eating less and less processed foods, I noticed that I could really taste the sodium in foods where I hadn't noticed it before. I very rarely add salt to anything now, and by eating mainly unprocessed foods, my sodium intake is almost always under the recommended 2,300 mg/day.
*You're not ALWAYS going to be motivated. Sometimes, it's really really tempting to quit. When I'm feeling that way, I think of what a childish attitude that is. The, "I want it now and I can't have it, so I'm just going to quit!" attitude. It sounds a little ridiculous to have a temper tantrum over food. I need to be a grown-up, and being a grown-up means taking control over what I put into my body, and doing what is RIGHT for my body.
*I get right back on track after eating too much. I always account for everything I eat, and once in a while, I eat too much (usually emotional eating). In the past weight loss attempts I've had, I would take that and run with it. I'd say, "I already blew it, might as well get the ice cream I've been craving, and the cookies, and the pizza that I haven't had in FOREVER. I'll just start fresh tomorrow." And you all know how that goes... tomorrow never comes! You keep telling yourself that just one day will not make that big of a difference. Now, since *I* am in control of myself, I realize that I ate too much and I just stop the eating for that day. I continue to count my calories, weigh and measure my food, etc. Even when I went to Minnesota to do the Ragnar Relay with my brother and I gained 6 pounds (yes, 6!!) from not counting my calories, I went right back into my routine. It took me two weeks to undo the damage that occurred in just 3 days.
*I will HAVE TO count calories for the rest of my life if I want to keep this weight off. I proved that when I went to MN. I tried to eat "intuitively" and make healthy choices, but I learned that I "intuitively" wanted chips, cookies, trail mix, etc. ;)
*I've realized that sometimes, LIFE ISN'T FAIR. I used to whine about how "everyone else" could eat a whole sleeve of Oreos, or fatty pizza, or drink fishbowl-sized margaritas and still be thin, so why can't I? Over the past year, I've realized that it's NOT fair, and I had to accept that. I've actually made peace with it now. Throughout my journey, people have told me, "But you have to treat yourself! It's okay if you do it once in a while!" There are a couple of foods that I refuse to give up--full-fat ice cream and regular sugar. I DESPISE sugar substitutes, and I will never use them. I do love frozen yogurt and low-fat ice cream, but I do have to have my full-fat premium ice cream now and again. Those things are my "occasional treats". Other than those two things, I am perfectly fine substituting foods--I make a whole wheat, low-cal pizza, Monster cookies instead of Oreos, light beer instead of margaritas, etc. Those are substitutes that I AM WILLING TO LIVE WITH. Sure, I would love to drink a margarita, but all those calories just aren't worth it to me. I'm happy with a light beer instead.
*A healthy lifestyle doesn't have to be all-or-nothing. In the past, I was either bingeing or dieting. I would either exercise every single day, or not at all. I would eat a whole container of ice cream, or none. I've since learned that the all-or-nothing mentality is what caused me to quit when it got tough. If I had a slip up, I would quit because my record was no longer perfect.
*Another lesson I've learned is that there are people out there who wanted me to fail. Even some of my "friends". If you want to see who your true friends are, lose 100+ pounds! For the most part, I've gotten a lot of support from my family and friends. There are a few people, however, who would try and tell me how to eat and convince me that it was okay to treat myself "just this once". When I started getting close to my goal, I could see the jealousy in their eyes when someone would compliment me. I used to be "the fat friend" and now, dare I say it(?), I'm more like competition for "the hot friend" :) I've gotten a lot of attention since losing the weight, and a few of my old friends have been bothered by that. The way I've handled this is to just surround myself by people that truly care about me. I don't care to be friends with people that don't have my best interest at heart.
*I've learned it's perfectly acceptable to say NO to people. When I first started losing weight, most people saw it as just another lame attempt that was going to fail... and who could blame them? I had started a diet God-only-knows how many times! When these people would offer me something I knew I shouldn't (or didn't want to, or chose not to) eat, I simply said "No thank you." Those three words will make or break the weight loss journey. I started making my decisions and not letting anyone else sway my decision, and that was that. At first, I could see the skepticism in their eyes, but after I lost 30, 40, 50, 100 pounds, they believed that I knew what I was doing. Now, 114 pounds lighter, *I* get the last laugh!
This was a hastily written blog, so I hope it's not too difficult to read!