I’ve moved around a lot because of my work and ended up in 4 different states in a 9-year period.
Every time I moved, I gained 30 pounds. As you can imagine, this this really added up over time.
Emotional eating to deal with the stress coupled with inactivity due to 60-hour work weeks really took their toll. I tried dieting and exercising many times but couldn’t seem to make the changes last longer than a few weeks. I would think about how much I had to lose (about 100 lbs.) and how long it would take and get discouraged pretty quickly. It took so long to see any results on the scale, I usually gave up before my efforts could be effective. Who wants to be on a miserable diet if it doesn’t even work? Might as well forget about it, or, my favorite, “start on Monday.”
The catalyst for my lifestyle change was a lot of failure and a lot of planning. Also, a particularly unflattering photo pushed me over the edge into the “I’ve got to do something—anything—about this” mindset.
I thought about making a change for months before I actually did. I read the healthy living blogs and focused on a few ideas that people who were successful with weight loss identified as important to them. For one, the stress I felt thinking about how long it would take to lose weight was overwhelming until I read a blog where someone wrote “the time is going to pass anyway…might as well do some positive things for yourself along the way.” This really hit home with me, since I could easily imagine being obese three years down the line just because it would take too long to lose weight. So I decided that, since the time is going to pass anyway, I might as well make some changes that at least open the door to the possibility of a healthy future.
I started by tracking my food intake without making any changes to my diet. After I got the tracking down, I started making small changes that I built upon over time. I use fitday.com and have tracked every bite of food I’ve had for the past 2 years. Other than a few days off for vacation and Christmas each year, it all gets tracked, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I try to eat healthfully, but there’s no food I’m not allowed to have. My goal for calories is to take in fewer than I expend, and that’s about it! Sometimes that’s 1,000 less, sometimes it’s 500 less, sometimes it’s 10 less. If the balance is in my favor, I call it a win. I have found that counting my calories and tracking is the most important factor in my weight loss. I think tracking the bad days is even more important than tracking the good days. I truly believe that knowing exactly how many calories I take in on a bad off-track day has helped me keep some semblance of control. There’s something powerful about just being aware.
The second most important thing I did was to start running. I did the couch-to-5k program and learned to run, albeit very slowly. I now run for an hour 3 times a week (still slowly), and try to work in some group fitness classes and weight lifting here and there. I built up to it gradually, but always pushed myself as far as I could. It was fun to watch my fitness improve quickly–much faster than the weight came off–and was a good way to see progress and feel better.
Now, at 80 lbs. lighter, I have so much more energy and I feel so much better physically and mentally that I go out of my way to find ways to move more in my regular life. When you’re so overweight it really is uncomfortable to be active, and embarrassing when you are huffing and puffing next to your thin walking partner. But after getting in shape (which, like I said, occurs MUCH faster than weight loss!) it really truly becomes fun to challenge yourself physically and move more, and those calories add up.
The third most important thing involved working with my thoughts around eating and exercising. I stopped thinking about weight loss, and started thinking about being healthy. When you have so much to lose, the whole process seems overwhelming. I had been trying to lose the weight for a long time, and I would go on a diet for a few weeks, see no change in my weight, and give up. The scale seems to register what I did weeks ago, and this can be really frustrating if you’re looking to the scale for motivation. Instead, I found some good mantras to focus on (No unhealthy decision I make in the future can take away the healthy choices I made today) and focused instead on how much better my body feels when I feed it healthy food and give it some exercise and enough sleep. And after a while, the weight finally did come off.
I’m nervous about reaching my goal weight, because I do think maintenance will be more difficult than weight loss for me. I have lost and re-gained weight before, and I know the odd aren’t in my favor. But I’m very hopeful about keeping this healthy lifestyle going. It’s still one day at a time, and will be something I have to work on for the rest of my life. I sometimes get a bit too anxious about missing a workout or eating something “bad” and I can be too obsessive, but if I’m worried that I’ll fall back into my old ways if I relax at all. Another thing I’m working on is body acceptance and being grateful for all my body does for me, regardless of weight. But I’ll never stop enjoying good food.
Thanks so much for listening, and for sharing your healthy living adventures online. I have learned a lot from many of you. Never in my life did I imagine that I would have a weight loss success story of my own. It’s unreal!
Best Wishes to All!