Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Losing It

I recently lost 10 lbs.

Yay me.

”Recently” may not be the right descriptor for this process, as it took me 3 MONTHS to do it. Let's take a moment of silence and allow that to sink.


A normal, healthy person can usually lose 1-2lbs. per week.

I lost an average of .8 lbs. per week.

And in reality, I lost most of the weight the first 2 weeks. By this time, I was hoping to double my loss, and trumpet my results with a shout to the heavens and a new pair of skinny jeans.

Instead, I am heaving a sigh of frustration and rehashing the difficult moments with both my blog readers. As irksome and painful as the last 90 days have been, I’ve decided to gift myself with some perspective and consider the lessons learned.

It Can Be Done. This entire journey was something of an eye-opener to me. It’s not that I thought I was special, or that the age-old formula of diet-and-exercise applies to everyone but me….. But I had begun to reach a point where I was resigned to living with the reality of an abundantly curvy body. Now that I’ve experienced a taste of progress, I can see that change can happen for me. Exhaustingly slow change.

The Formula Works. Yep, it’s true. Less calories in + more activity = a drop on the scale. But I got lazy and forgot to consistently execute both parts of the equation, so that drop slowed to a turtle’s pace. See above.

Exercise Is Key. It’s not that I dislike exercise. Once I get going, I generally finish what I started, and feel 1,000% better (hooray endorphins!). I definitely found it hard to commit to a consistent time & program. Joining the local Y (which includes childcare) helped tremendously, as did finding a few workout videos to do on busy days (30 Day Shred & Biggest Loser Sculpt). I also battled a calf strain and the realization that an ankle filled with bone fragments isn’t conducive to a running program. I continue to struggle with consistency and lack of motivation, but generally manage to work out 4 days a week - if I am at the gym by no later than 10am, otherwise it is exponentially less likely I will get there (or do anything else) that day.

Food Is Good. Food, glorious food. My Achilles heel, my weakest link. I once had a friend who told me his 4 favorite food groups were fat, salt, sugar, and butter. Mmmmm…. Butter. There’s a reason I just love Paula Deen, and it’s because she and I share an appreciation of the above. While I still hold this to be true, I’ve learned that those 4 food groups really are best saved as “once in a while” treats. My sweet tooth is still intact, but is now more frequently satisfied with fresh pineapple chunks or mango sorbet instead of chocolate covered pretzels. Other than a shaky start over the first few weeks, I didn’t really deny myself anything – I just kept track of it. PS – new favorite breakfast: Special K Red Berries with fat free milk and blackberries on top. I could eat it every day.

Inform Yourself. One of the very best things I did for myself was to sign up for Dailyburn. This site allows you to track your workouts, your progress, AND your food. For free. I considered doing Weight Watchers online, but I was very put off by the local TV commercials in our area, the cost, and the general “Food is Evil” impression I was given by reading feedback from past participants. I generally don’t think cupcakes are bad, I just think they’re bad for you when you eat 12 of them at a time. Dailyburn has been tremendously helpful in allowing me to track what I eat and see how it adds up. Consequently, I have been much more thoughtful in the food choices I make. I also read labels more consistently, and often look online for nutrition information before eating out. A regular chocolate shake from Sonic has 568 calories. A Jr. Candy Sundae with Oreo has 199 calories. Which would YOU pick??

Quantity Counts. It took a while for me to get used to measuring out my food. But after learning that people often underestimate calories by 50%, I realized how critical it was to make the effort. I don’t take my measuring cups with me to a restaurant, but I do use them consistently at home. A little anal, but it works.

Improvise. There were days when I couldn’t (didn’t want to) make it to the Y. That’s when I turned to my DVD collection, or streamed a workout from Netflix. Sometimes I just grabbed a resistance band and improvised a quick 10-minute workout of some basic exercises. Not my finest effort, but something – and I didn’t beat myself up about it.

Get Creative. I bought a protein powder to ingest after workouts, hoping it would help to build muscle and meet my nutrient goals. Not sure that it helped accomplish either, but it hasn’t done any visible harm so I’ve continued to use it. Too bad it tastes like drinking a glassful of mudpie from my backyard. I’ve gotten around this by adding ½ of a frozen banana (magic!) and a few ice cubes to the blended mix. Suddenly it’s a tasty treat! Instant milkshake for around 200 calories.

It Does Not Have To Be Expensive. Yes, a new workout wardrobe is fun to wear, and new trainers can put a bounce in your step. But what you have is a good place to start. No equipment? Walk around the block & bust out a set of pushups at the end. No gym? Queue up at the library for some workout DVD’s. And speaking of DVD’s: for the cost of a Value Meal, you can go home with a new workout DVD. Yes, you may end up with something that’s not a good fit (I always read Amazon reviews before buying), but then see if a friend wants to trade.

Life Happens. Some days were just THOSE DAYS. When the kids woke with fevers or were up vomiting all night. When the list of errands seemed never ending or the drivethrough was the best dinner I could muster up. I used to view those days as another check mark in the column entitled “Why This Will Never Work For Me”. Now I see them for what they are – challenging moments. Sometimes they win, sometimes I win. But when it’s not my day, I realize that tomorrow is another chance to make better decisions and move forward.

Net/net of all of the above: It’s a long, slow road. Success takes consistency, information, a sense of humor, and the knowledge that there will be bumps, roadblocks, & potholes on the path. I know that every day I am lowering my risk of diabetes and heart disease, increasing my knowledge base of nutrition, enjoying 40 minutes of free therapy, and building a nice set of biceps.

But I still have my eye on those skinny jeans.


Kelly said...

Hey that is something to be very proud of!!! Way to go. Last time I attempted to lose weight it took my double that to lose 10lbs. I am very impressed.

Chrissy Jo said...

Way to go, Amy!!!! I may bookmark this post and use it as a reminder to take it slow and not stress after baby #3 comes. :-)

Mom said...

I think I've put on the 10 you've lost - way to go - I'm proud of you- Love, Mom

Liz said...

What a great post, and guess what! I recently joined a gym too. I'm Body For Life-ing it right now. I have so much more energy and I feel great. The big difference for me is planning with flexibility. On Sunday night I plan all my meals and workouts for the following week and then go with the flow if things happen to change. For example: had to take a free day nutritionally speaking yesterday because I was at Adventureland and I NEEDED a funnel cake. I'm not beating myself up.

I miss you!

Ashley said...

10 pounds is SUCH an accomplishment. And it's HARD to do. I get so discourage that it takes SO much discipline to loose even a little weight, and Boom, one week of brownie eating and I've gained back double. It's hard to maintain and way to go you for loosing double digits ;)