What I Know Works for Me
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
I've received several SparkMails lately from new members asking how I managed to go from 360 pounds to today's 176. After answering several people's questions, I thought I could probably blog about what has worked for me.
I want to preface this with an admission. 2010 was a year where there was very little progress for me with the weight loss. I honestly lost and gained the same few pounds over and over last year. Did some bingeing, ate in response to stress all too often and fell back into some old bad habits (eating fast food, not cooking enough at home, drinking diet Pepsi, eating processed foods, not getting enough sleep).
But as I looked back over the past year, it occured to me that I was also able to maintain some very good habits (I continued to drink plenty of water every day, ate a minimum of 5 fruits and veggies a day, exercised every day, came to SparkPeople nearly every day). I also was able to take away a few valuable lessons...those I will talk about in a future blog.
Now on to the real topic of this blog...what I know works for me. These are things that work for me, but may not work for someone else...only you can decide that.
The act that has lead to my greatest success has been using the nutrition tracker here at SP...tracking every meal, every snack, every nibble, every bite...and it works even better for me when I plan my meals and snacks for the entire day and enter them in my nutrition tracker. I've found it's so much easier to make the adjustments necessary to remain in range BEFORE I eat rather than after I've eaten. When I do this consistently, I lose weight. When I fail to track and/or fail to plan, then I struggle with the weight.
I find it's much easier to eat healthy when I take my lunch to work. And I'm not talking about taking a frozen meal. I'm talking about taking real food, food that I've shopped for, food that I've sliced, diced, chopped, shredded. Food that I've taken the time to prepare, to cook, to bake, to infuse with flavor and nutrients. I track my sodium intake and I absolutely can not remain under 2,300 mg if I'm eating restaurant food. But I can do it almost effortlessly if I'm eating food that I've taken the time to plan and prepare.
I eat breakfast every day. I would likely be considered boring by most folks..I tend to eat the same breakfast every day...2 slices of whole wheat toast, Smuckers natural peanut butter, skim milk, oj and hot tea with honey. I eat more calories at breakfast than at any other time throughout the day and the fewest calories at dinner. This works for me because I usually get home from work around 5:30 or 6 pm and try my best to be in bed by 9...all so I can get up at 4:30 the next morning.
I eat 3 meals and 2 snacks a day...staying under 1700 calories a day.
I exercise every day...usually before I go to work (which is why I get up at 4:30). I find my day runs smoother if I work out in the morning (and no, I'm not naturally a morning person, but I've trained myself to become one)...on the few days when I don't exercise before work, I find myself feeling tired and yes, dare I say it, grouchy! I take short walks on my breaks at work and try to get in a little extra exercise at lunch. Exercise is something that really has become an integral part of my day...that's one good habit that I don't ever want to see disappear.
I journal and blog about my journey. Admittedly, I often approach my journaling as a potential book (I frequently see most things in my life as potential books), but I do manage to think things through this way. Somehow, for me, putting my feelings into words helps me understand myself just a little better.
I weigh myself every day. I know this is very controversial with a lot of people, but it works for me. And let me tell you why...when I only weigh myself once a week I then (for some crazy reason...issues?) tend to allow myself to ease up for the next day or two, knowing that I won't be weighing in again for several days. Weighing every day gets rid of that kind of thinking and behavior. I do want people to know that weighing every day isn't for everyone...if you're the type of person who gets discouraged because of normal fluctuations, then I would tell you not to weigh yourself that often. For me, it's more like I'm simply checking in with my body on a daily basis, have I had too much sodium? did I not eat enough fiber over the past few days? do I need to drink more water? Again, this is one of those things you just have to figure out for yourself...when I first started this journey, I did weigh myself only once a week and it worked for me at the time. But this is what I know works for me now.
And one of the most important things I can do is come to SparkPeople every day and check in with my teams. Some days I have more time than others and am able to do more. But I do my best when I at least come here, log my nutrition and fitness and connect with one or two teams.
So...having written about what works for me...do I do this perfectly? Absolutely not...I still struggle, I sometimes have negative thoughts about myself and my progress, sometimes I question whether or not this is all worth it...but deep inside, that little spark is still burning. And I'll continue doing all within my power to keep it lit...because I know that I deserve health and happiness...I know I'm worth every ounce of effort I put into this...we all are!