Friday, April 5, 2013

How I Lost 30 Pounds and How I Plan to Lose More

The first 5-10% of weight loss plays the biggest role in health benefits. There are all kinds of scientific research explaining why, but I'm not going to get into all that. What I will say is that I'm 30 pounds down, and I know that I have done something really good for my body.

How I Lost:

I've lost 30 pounds. It took a while for that to sink in, but now that the scale isn't moving up every time I step on it, I can finally believe it. People have noticed and I have been loaded with compliments this week! I cannot wait to see what 50 pounds down feels like! I've had lots of folks ask me how long it took me and the truth is TEN YEARS. Literally. I have wanted to lose weight ever since I started gaining, which was in 2003. The more I obsessed over the THOUGHT of losing weight, the more I gained. I gained until the scale topped 300 pounds.

 I decided to get serious in January of 2012. I gained a lot of weight when I moved to Nashville in March of 2011. I'm not sure exactly how much, but it was about 20 pounds in 8 months. I was MISERABLE with my new job that I had JUST moved here for, and I definitely emotionally ate my way through the days... one at a time. Luckily  I got a wonderful new job in November of 2011 and after about a month of being happy with work I was able to let myself focus on my life a little bit. By the end of December I decided that 2012 was going to be MY year. Well, even after completing two triathlons and making a LOT of very big changes, I did not see the results I wanted to. I made a lot of behavior changes, but not the weight loss I wanted.

In November 2012 I joined Iron Tribe Crossfit and it was the best decision of my life. For whatever reason, weight loss just clicked once I started it. It is exhilarating, different, competitive, and exactly the kickstart I needed. I make myself get up at 5:30am five days a week, drive across town, and workout with my "tribe." So, that is definitely helping.

I have learned to utilize the power of a tiny little two letter word: "no." I have had to tell myself no and force myself to stick with that decision. It's not easy to deny yourself something you want, but after the fact it is so rewarding.

Tracking calories is crucial. I've been doing them via myfitnesspal. Even if I don't stick to my daily goal exactly, knowing what's going in my body helps put things in perspective in a big way.

I went to fat camp. I went to Hilton Head Health for 7 days to submerge myself into a healthy lifestyle program. This got the last 8 pounds off.

I went to the doctor. I went to the doctor to address my weight and see if there was anything she could do to help me. Turns out I have a hormonal imbalance that is a contributing factor to weight gain. I am taking medicine to even it out.

Support. Having great support is one of the most important elements to weight loss. It doesn't have to be a lot of people, or even people at all. It can be an online forum with people experiencing the same struggles. You, my readers, are my support group. Your encouragement keeps me going.

The scale. I've forced myself to use the scale and face the numbers. There were days when it wasn't pretty, but hey- the truth hurts!

Most importantly: what it boils down to is that I had to TAKE CONTROL. Control is the best word to describe my success thus far. I had to learn to control my cravings and make myself get on an organized exercise routine.

How I Plan to Keep Losing (and keep it off!):

Planning. Planning my meals and knowing what I'm going to eat makes a huge difference for me. As long as I can utilize that control I previously mentioned, this works well for me.

Self Monitor. This is where the fun part comes in. I have a new toy called a FitBit. It's kind of like a pedometer on steroids. It's small and I clip it on to my bra all day every day. It monitors my steps, floors climbed, how many calories I've burned, and it even monitors my sleep. It syncs to my computer and is just the coolest thing. I especially like the sleep pattern tracking. I have sleep apnea, so it helps me keep an eye on it. I also have an app for my phone that gives me quick access to my daily tracking. I log my food, just like I did with MyFitnessPal. It has a graph for caloric intake and I noticed that I was slowly consuming more calories each day this week, so I checked myself and regulated that today.

                     For the sleep monitoring, you can see how many times you wake up and when:

This device makes it easy for me to see how much I need to move my feet, especially since I have a completely sedentary job. The only time I get to leave my desk chair is to use the bathroom.

I'm going to work on managing my stress and letting myself relax. That is my biggest weakness (besides pizza). I never let myself relax, which means my body never gets to rest, which throws my metabolism for a wild ride.

Limit slips and incorporate lapses into my routine. I cannot tell you how many almost slips I have saved myself from this week. For example: I got off work the other night and I don't really know why or how, but I ended up at the grocery store. Remember it's 10:30 at night when I get off work. I remember telling myself to go, but I couldn't really figure out WHY I was there. The monkey chatter stated sounding off like CRAZY. Get some chips and salsa to snack on, you deserve it, get it. Get some ice cream. Get a pizza. AGHH!!! Shut up! What the hell am I here for? Coffee creamer. Thank God. No surprise there, right? Of course it had something to do with coffee, right? I walked straight to the creamer, picked it up and ignored the monkey chatter all the way to the checkout counter. I was not hungry, but because I COULD eat, I wanted to. Pitiful. I got home, did my nails, drank some green tea and watched The Hobbit. I wasn't hungry. This is how tricky emotional eating can be. Know when to stop it.

Exercise. Continue to keep workin' it. I love to exercise. I will not let laziness or emotions get in the way of something I love to do.

Water. Drink a shit ton of it. Having a cute Tervis helps. This is probably a total girl thing, but it helps.

I will eat a healthy, balanced diet built on the foundation of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein sources, and low and non-fat dairy or soy products.

Here's a meal breakdown per the Hilton Head Health Meal Plan:

Breakfast (250-300 calories): Fresh fruits, whole grain breads and cereals, along with non-fat dairy and soy products. Occasionally eggs, french toast, and waffles. A balanced breakfast is one that includes a whole grain choice, a good source of calcium, and a piece of fruit.

Lunch (250-300 calories): Soup, salad, sandwich, or casserole

Dinner (300-350 calories): Lean protein source, vegetables, and a whole grain OR a starchy vegetable.

2-3 100 calorie snacks throughout the day: fruits, vegetables, non fat dairy, or occasionally whole grain pretzels, edemame,   soy nuts, or rice cakes.

Again, planning is key

Simple is better. Eating the same way everyday is the best strategy for controlling your calories. 

Establishing food rules. My main food rule is NO eating when I get off work!! Since this is my biggest challenge, it is my number one rule. In fact, the way I ensure that it doesn't happen is leaving my debit card and any cash I have on my counter before I leave for work. I live a few blocks away from my job, so it's not like it will be a huge deal in the case of an emergency. I'm literally within walking distance. If I can get through the first 30 minutes after work, I'm good.

Mindful eating. Admit it, you've done it before- you're watching a movie and look down and realize you've eaten the ENTIRE bag of chips without even meaning to. This mindless eating is detrimental to health and has to be controlled. There is absolutely nothing wrong with eating in front of the tv. The wrong comes in when you devour 4,000 calories just out of habit. My suggestion is to fix a plate of tv snacks in the kitchen and tell yourself that's it. This is all you can have. Snack on it, take it slow, and enjoy it. Habits can be changed; they can have a life span.

Tweak my environment. A GOOD kind of mindless eating is the kind where you are being healthy without having to work at it! Planning your meals is a perfect example. Grab your lunch, eat it, enjoy, wipe your hands- boom you're done. You just ate 300 calories of healthy yumminess and you didn't have to work at it. Have small plates, bowls, and cups in your house- you will automatically eat and drink less without even realizing it!

This is a lot of stuff, but doing a lifestyle 180 requires a lot of change.

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