How I Lost 40 Pounds and Regained My Active Lifestyle
I had allowed myself to become the proverbial stick in the mud. I didn’t feel like doing anything, or going anywhere. I had no energy. I was content to sit at home and read a book – and eat, of course. My fat clothes were stretched to the limit and I was going to have to buy a new wardrobe or do something, what that something was, I didn’t know. I looked longingly at commercials that said “if you just buy this pill, you can lose weight without changing your diet or exercise.” I gazed with envy at friends who didn’t have a weight problem, wondering why it was so “easy” for them. I was even tempted to go into network marketing (although I am a terrible sales person) just because people on Facebook were doing it and losing weight while promoting their products. I felt stuck and thought, “I just need to accept that this is my new reality and be fine with it”, but I couldn’t. Finally Michael said, “why don’t we just make up our own weight loss program and do it?” But before we could make it work, I had to do one very important thing.
I had to change my way of thinking.
Michael had dragged me on diets before, but I had always sabotaged them, or rebounded from them and immediately gained back what weight I had lost. I had always thought, “I just need to lose a few pounds, then I can go back to eating whatever I want.” This was not working. My metabolism has changed. Justin, Camden, and Gavin can eat four brownies and not gain an ounce. I can look at the brownies and gain a pound just by imagining how good they taste! I will never be able to just eat whatever I want without gaining weight – there, I did it. I changed my way of thinking! Was it easy? No way, Jose! I don’t have a sweet tooth… I have sweet teeth! Every single one of them! Battling my desire for sweets is like fighting off a horde of invading Vikings! It is a spiritual battle of epic proportions between good and evil! My name is Randi and I am a sugar addict! Now what?
I had to change my way of eating.
I did this in 5 (not always so easy) steps. These 5 things have worked for Michael and I, and I think they would probably work for you too (if you are able to fight off those invading hordes).
1. Plan and prepare your meals ahead of time.
When you are hungry is not the time to decide what you want to eat. Hungry people usually make bad food choices. You intend to get a salad, but the hamburger and French fries just look too good! We made up a meal plan for breakfast, lunch, and two snacks. Our breakfasts usually alternate between oatmeal or two eggs with yogurt (or sometimes a slice of bacon – shhh!). For a midmorning snack, we will eat a protein bar. For lunch, we have 3 oz. of chicken salad made with low fat ranch dressing, one serving of low fat crackers, and a vegetable or fruit. Another snack we like is 4 oz. of deli ham or turkey and yogurt. My personal favorite is low fat cottage cheese with mandarin oranges. For supper, I try to plan lower calorie meals and we have a normal human sized portion. If we get hungry after supper, or in between meals, we eat an apple instead of cookies or chips. We keep our lunch and snack foods already prepared and packaged in the right size so that when it is time to eat, we just grab it and we’re ready to go. Slowly but surely, I have retrained my taste buds to enjoy healthier foods.
2. Count your calories.
With the technology we have today, this is incredibly easy. We like to use the mobile app from myfitnesspal.com. It is a little time consuming the first week, but once you start repeating the same foods, they are easy to find. It also has a bar scanner so you can just scan the package to enter your food. You can tell the app how much weight you want to lose a week, and it figures up for you how many calories you can have a day. This is the easiest way to keep your eating under control. You have to budget your calories carefully, but if you are planning your meals ahead of time, it becomes easier to stay on track.
3. Eat on a schedule.
Spread your food out into 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day. This will keep you from getting hungry and making bad food choices. Michael takes a small cooler with him to work so his snacks and lunch are ready when he needs them. Set a timer if you have to. It is hard to get hungry when you are eating something every 2-3 hours.
4. Don’t keep tempting foods in your house.
There are certain foods that I cannot leave alone. They call my name – loudly! I cannot have these foods in my house. I don’t care for barbecue chips, and my kids love them, so I usually only buy barbecue chips. The boys love pop tarts and I can leave them alone, so they are safe. They complained at first that we didn’t have snack food, but now they eat more fruit and healthy snacks too.
5. Exercise to burn calories.
This is the best way to get to eat a little bit more and to tone up that flab as you start to lose weight. At first I had to make myself exercise; now I look forward to it. It is best to include both strength training and aerobic workouts throughout your week. I have almost finished training for a 5K using a free C25K (couch to 5K) app. Next, I will move on to the C210K app.
It took me 9 months to lose 40 pounds (Michael has lost 20). I could still stand to lose about ten more, but I already have so much more energy. I started to brag once about being more agile, but only got halfway through my sentence before I tripped on a rock, so that is a work in progress. Now I can enjoy hiking with the family again instead of always panting, red-faced, trying to catch up. See you outdoors! It is so much more rewarding than being alone in the house with my book!
What habits have you found useful in maintaining a healthy lifestyle? Please comment and share your ideas. I’d love to hear what you have found helpful in staying active.