Sunday, September 09, 2012
AT AGE 35, I set out to fix some long standing stuff about me that needed fixing. On my list was losing weight, big surprise right? Reading a law column one day, I checked out the author's credentials, which were highly impressive and saw there among all her publications that she'd written a diet book! It was so out of place that I just had to follow it up. The book was called The Case for Yourself by Susan Estrich. I bought it and read it and started walking almost everyday, often pushing a heavy double stroller up streets with inclines around my neighborhood in Montreal. Lots of good things came out of that book, and I often go back to it in my mind reminding myself that I've got to schedule my exercise in as if it's an appointment with my OB-GYN, something that you pencil in on your calendar and don't cancel for anything. *Disclaimer: I wouldn't take her diet advice since it involves making cabbage soup and eating it for three days! But in general, an interesting read from someone who was so accomplished and disciplined yet couldn't resist a stale donut...
Fast forward 8 years. I am at my lowest recorded weight since I was maybe 16 years old. I am exercising not more than I ever have but differently than I ever have. I have read A LOT on both nutrition and exercise and no longer feel that losing weight is a mysterious or magical thing. There are rules to this, and if someone tells you they are following those rules but aren't seeing changes, you gotta look again, there's something amiss. And that is what I told myself: if there are people out there who have done it, then I can do it too. There can't be a tried and true method that will only not work on ME. I can be successful at this too, I need only apply myself, and apply myself I did.
Basically, a year after my eighth child was born, - her by cesarean section after 7 natural births! - I was totally fed up and unhappy with the way I looked. I didn't want to buy bigger and bigger clothes. I didn't want to stuff myself into the clothes I owned or be pressing up against everything I wore. Nothing looked right because I didn't want to look this way! and the way I looked didn't reflect at all the way I WANTED to look. So I did what I do with everything, I began Googling weight loss after c-section , specifically because I felt my body composition had changed after the c-section in a way I hadn't felt before - the word 'spongy' comes to mind! That was terrible because the general consensus out there was 'don't bother just get used to it'. So I threw in the towel. Okay that's it. I just have to live with it, the extra weight and the body changes and deal. I did that for a half a day until I reformulated my question to 'how do you burn fat?'
That was the question that led me to all the right answers. Ultimately, I found myself reading reviews to an e-book sold on Amazon called Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle. There were over 900 reviews on this book and they were all by people who had clearly been changed by the contents of this book. A little further research led me to a more recent book that the author, Tom Venuto, had written called 'The Body Fat Solution' - not quite the tome that his first book was but with all the information certainly that I needed with which to get started.
Things I took very seriously from The Body Fat Solution were making a chart and recording daily weight (to this I added daily body fat and water content since my scale gives me that information. I updated my scale to a digital one and plugged my age, sex, and height into it. I got that weight loss occurs NOT in some magical and mysterious way but rather by creating a a caloric differential, meaning you take in less calories than you are spending. A huge component was registering on Sparkpeople.com and creating a profile so that I could track my nutrition. That is such an eye-opening experience it's hard to believe I ever undertook weight loss without this tool. It helped me not only in determining how many calories I was eating but also seeing the breakdown of those calories - how many from fat, how many from protein, and how many from carbs. I now plan what I'm going to eat next according to what I NEED to eat more or less of.
Of course I set out to do the workouts recommended in the book as well. Two workouts, alternating them with a day's break between them, sometimes two. Recording them on my workout sheet. Since I had a baby still sleeping in my room when I began these workouts, I often did them in the living room with the doorbell ringing and people walking past me, kids sitting on me thinking it was horsy-time while I was trying to do a plank or the bird-dog (an exercise that has you on all fours balancing as you raise one leg and the opposite arm, etc.). It was also three weeks before Passover, so a generally hectic time with lots of extra cleaning, organizing, shopping, and cooking involved. In other words, there were a lot of things you could say going against me here. But putting it off was no longer an alternative, a month from then, I'd still be busy, and there'd be ten more things that were pressing and making it impossible for me to put my plan into motion. I did just fine. Eventually, I got a mat and an exercise ball. I incorporated some dvds for extra cardio, walking videos, and HIIT dvds like Jillian's 30 day shred, or Biggest Loser cardio sets. I increased my weights from the 3-5-8 set to 5-8-10, then to 8-10-12, etc. Somewhere in there my baby left my room for her own so I could set up a space in my room with a lot more privacy, and a place to keep my stuff neatly and out of the way. My two year old has long been imitating me as I do my squats and pushups, even rolling on my foam roller like a pro - perhaps alleviating the tight fascia in her little thighs? jj BTW, I'm onto my 8th page of tracking my daily weight, water and fat percentages. Each page contains nine weeks in it. They sit neatly stacked in a bathroom drawer and they are my reminder of how slow and steady works.