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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Thoughts On Weight Loss

Losing weight is a very odd thing. I have now lost 80lbs and weigh just 5lbs more than I did in high school, I am in the final stretch, probably 10 - 15lbs more and I will be in maintenance mode for the rest of my life. But it is not just weight I have lost, I have gained many things along the way, some expected, some unexpected.
In March I was able to stop taking my blood pressure meds, this week I went to the doctor for a check up, my bp was 100/60, he removed the diagnosis hypertension from my medical record. I am glad I developed hypertension because it was the motivator for taking charge of my health and it is why I started my weight loss journey. I had some routine blood work, the nurse called me yesterday and said all was normal, and then went on to tell me that this time last year my cholesterol was 208 and it is now 167, she told me to keep on doing whatever I am doing. And, believe me when I say that I plan to for the rest of my life. The cholesterol took me by surprise as I never gave it thought, it was an unexpected bonus due to my weight loss and diet changes.
Exercise, I have always enjoyed walking and bike riding, and for most of my adult life have been active but oftentimes with months and months of inactivity. At my heaviest last year I took no exercise, I sat most of the day, and although I thought about walking that was really all I did, I ached and felt old and unmotivated. Now I find it easy to move around, there is a lot less of me to move around, I have lost a third of me, and my body craves exercise. Although I now weigh just 5lbs more that I did in high school I am in much better shape than I was then due to all of the walking and running, it has toned me and burned away fat and built muscle.
Diet, I eat so differently now, and I enjoy my food. So many foods I used to add butter, salt or sugar to, and now I wonder why, I find that my veggies taste just fine as they are. I used to add butter and brown sugar to sweet potatoes and squash, I slowly reduced the sugar over time and then stopped adding it, then I stopped adding butter, and you know what? These veggies have a wonderful flavor and I was totally covering it up with butter and sugar, I cannot not imagine adding anything to them now.
What does a typical day look like for me? Three days a week I run and the other days I walk, and I recently added some weight training to tone and strengthen. I try to do a minimum of 4 miles a day, but oftentimes do 6 or more miles. I make the time to exercise, it has to be a top priority, it is just too beneficial and cannot be neglected.

1 carton of Chobani non-fat plain greek yogurt (I love this stuff)
1 banana with 1 T of low sodium natural peanut butter smeared all over it. (Yummy)
(this is my favorite breakfast and rolls in at 295 calories and gives a nice proportion of protein/fat to carbohydrate)

3 oz baked boneless skinless chicken breast (I bake up several skinless, boneless breasts at time and then keep them in the fridge to eat through out the week)
broccoli - 1 head
half an acorn squash
(this is a filling lunch and rolls in at around 300 calories)

24 almonds
(160 calories and almonds are SO good for you)

4 - 6ozs of salmon
10 brussel sprouts
baked sweet potato
(300 calories, salmon is great for heart health)

Mug of hot milk
(120 calories, I like 2%)

This brings my day to about 1200 calories, I get protein at each meal, the vegetables and fruits provide vitamins and carbohydrates. Protein and fat make up about half of my calories and carbohydrates make up the other half. I have absolutely no problem in getting enough fiber each day, my goal is 21 grams, I usually get around 30 to 35 grams per day.

I would say that most of the above I eat frequently, other things I enjoy:
Bulgar, lentil, onion combination - high in fiber and protein
Oatmeal with almond milk
Baked beans and kale and a couple of poached eggs
xtreme wellness low carb, high fiber tortilla wrap with refried beans and kale and sometimes an added egg.
Creamy cucumber salad made with non-fat greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
No salt rice cakes - at 30 calories a rice cake is great, crunchy snack, good with peanut butter too.
String Cheese - a nice treat with an apple and only 90 calories and it is a pre-measured portion which is a nice bonus.
An occasional treat, but before I eat any kind of treat I check the calorie count so that I am well aware of what I am eating and how much I can have.
And MOST important, measure your portions, so you are eating 1 T, or half a cup, and purchase a small kitchen scale. I am careful to measure and weigh food so that I don't over indulge.

My philosophy is to count every calorie and make every calorie count.

Please note, 1200 calories is good for me to lose 1lb per week. The amount of calories you need will vary depending on your age, gender, weight and height. My thirty one year old son, who is six foot, six inches tall can eat 3000 calories a day for a weight loss goal of 2lbs/week. I am a 51 year old woman, 5 foot, 10 inches tall and weighing 160lbs, my caloric needs are much less than my sons.

Did I start out eating like this on day one of my weight loss journey? UHHH NO!!! At first I was just concerned about calories, not quality of calories. And I lost weight, it came of quickly at first, because I had simply been overeating for a long time and the minute I stopped overeating the weight came off. Once I started using the Myfitnesspal app I found that it provided information on the nutrients my food choices provided and gave a macro of the carbs vs protein and fat, this slowly trained me to make better choices. I find the macro a fun part of the app as I plan my menu for the day, oops over on carbs what do I need to change, or too much fat, or too much protein, over time it becomes easy to determine what you need to tweak to keep the ratios in check. So slowly I went from simple calorie counting, but not too much concern about the quality of calories, to slight modifications to diet that overtime became a complete overhaul of my diet. You will notice I eat very little in the traditional carbs, like bread, cake, cookies, white potatoes, and yet I easily eat enough carbs each day and have plenty of energy to exercise. I have never been a pop/soda drinker, but if you are ditch the habit even if you drink diet, you just don't need that stuff in your system. I drink water, a lot of it, black coffee, and a couple cups of tea each day. I have also started purchasing organic fruits and vegetables. Organic fruits and veggies don't keep as well as non-organic, this really got me to realize just how much the chemicals are a part of the cellular structure of the non-organic stuff and even if it is a banana with a thick skin, the pesticides etc. are still part of every cell of the banana. Bad stuff, I don't want it in my system. And, I really do not eat processed foods, I eat whole foods and keep things simple, this make meal prep a snap.

Did I start exercising right off the bat? NO! For the first several months of weight loss I did not exercise at all, just eating less was all that was needed. By January I was down about 40lbs and feeling better, feeling antsy, I wanted to get out and walk and so I started to walk outside weather permitting and doing the treadmill on poor weather days. By springtime I was walking at least 3 miles a day and easily walking at a 4mph pace for the entire time, that is when I started to add a little bit of running into each mile. The running incorporated easily as my cardio endurance was built up from the long, fast walks. So slowly, over time I went from no exercise, to short walks, to long walks, to long, fast walks, to running.

Other benefits of losing weight. Self confidence, I don't feel like hiding, I don't feel embarrassed by my weight. Clothing, I like the way clothes fit me, I have always shopped at thrift stores and have had fun finding that I have so much more choice when I don't need plus size clothing. Compliments, many kind, encouraging comments from family, friends, and most of all my husband. I don't feel invisible anymore.

Odd things I have found. For the most part family and friends have been super encouraging and I am so very grateful for them as they have played a huge part in my journey. Some people are not so encouraging, they are generally struggling with their own weight issues, comments like you have lost too much, oh just go ahead and eat this one piece it won't hurt you, don't lose too much or you will look old and haggard (yes someone did say that to me), when will you be done with this. I find these comments odd, and the answer to "when will you be done with this?, well never, this is a lifestyle change and it is my lifestyle to be fit and healthy for the rest of my life. The reward of losing weight and exercising for the health benefits is that you end up slim and fit and healthy because you are treating your body the way it was designed to be treated.

I am NOT on a diet! I cannot emphasize that enough, a diet has an end, a journey to health and fitness has no end. I have people who complain to me that they cannot lose weight no matter what they do, I find that hard to believe, you see I used to be fat and overeat and I said the same things while sneaking a cookie that would turn into five or six cookies, and then eat dinner, but think wow that was yummy I will have just a little more, and before you know it you are eating thousands of calories a day and the weight just won't budge or only goes up.  I have learned some things about myself, I would use others to justify buying candy, cookies, chips, baked goods. I would think oh the grandchildren will really enjoy these gummy bears, of course they would enjoy some of the gummy bears but I was really just buying them for myself and I would eat most of them. But I was never buying them for myself, or so I would convince myself. I still think like this, but I catch the thought and tell myself don't use the grandchildren to justify a craving, leave the candy on the store shelf and move on, and you know what I do. Training your self to recognize justification behavior is a challenge and once you recognize the behavior you then train yourself to respond to it appropriately.

Many people say, "Oh I wish I was thin, I wish I could lose weight, I want to lose 60lbs by summer", or things along those lines. Well guess what, wishing you were thin does nothing, planning how you are going to get fit and healthy and beginning to count calories and making modifications to your diet will start you on the journey to a healthier life, and one benefit is that you will become slimmer. Oh, and the chances of losing 60lbs in a couple of months is just a dream, you didn't gain 60lbs in a couple of months. But counting calories and slowly adding in exercise and you will find that the sixty pounds will come off a couple of pounds at a time, and like me you will find all of sudden that you have lost 80lbs and still are losing, which makes me realize just how seriously deluded I was about my heavy weight. I would never have said I was 80lbs overweight, and I never, ever, ever, in my wildest dreams would have thought I would be one of "those people" who lost over a third of their body weight, it is very surreal.

Other things I do, I like to read success stories, I like to read about how people lost the weight and then maintained the weight loss, everyone has a story and everyone experienced changes in all areas of their life because they started to take care of themselves, put their health and well being first. I like to read books about people who did extraordinary things, like hiking the Appalachian Trail at an old age, hiking across the USA, things like that. I have discovered that the human body is wonderfully and beautifully designed by our creator and if we treat it right we can find that we can do so many things and live life to the fullest with strength and vigor. No matter how poorly we have treated our bodies it is amazing how quickly they respond and bounce back when we begin to treat them properly.

So my friends if you are struggling with your weight remember it is 80% diet and 20% exercise. Start today by counting calories, there are many great, free, weight management apps available, get one and use it, and be honest, you have to log everything, that spoonful of cookie dough, that "bite" of something or other, all the little things add up quickly and can sabotage your efforts. As the weight starts to come off begin walking, or doing an exercise that you enjoy, the important thing is that you just get moving, maybe you can only walk a quarter of a mile, so do it, soon you will be able to walk more. Don't get frustrated if after losing a bunch of weight you suddenly plateau, this is normal, just continue on, at least you aren't gaining :), use it as a time to reevaluate your eating, have some old habits crept back in, make sure you are eating clean, the weight will begin to move again. I had one plateau last almost 4 weeks, and have had a couple shorter ones on my journey. A plateau is not a negative, even if you are stuck at that weight it is still SO much better than the weight you started at!  And remember there are no magic bullets, you can't eat the cabbage soup diet for the rest of your life, or do the hard boiled egg diet for life, or take a supplement, or drink slim fast, or drink some ancient elixir, or whatever the latest fad is. To be fit and healthy you need to eat, but you need to eat what is good for you and remain within your calorie budget each day and you need to get up and move, this is all you need to do, and you will see results.

If you are ready to start this journey I am excited for you, I am glad you will be travelling the same path as me and many others, and I know you will not regret the journey and I hope you fully understand that the journey never ends because you are not on a diet, you will be embracing a healthy lifestyle.



Michelle-ozark crafter said...

I am very proud of you. I miss being able to take long walks.

Bean said...

Thank you Michelle, and I hope all goes well for you at the doctors today.


Pen Wilcock said...
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