How I Lost 10 Pounds

Well, now that I've been sitting here at my new weight for a couple of weeks, I finally feel like the 10 pounds I lost are really gone.  I thought I'd take a minute to share some of what I learned.  Keep in mind that I'm no nutritionist or doctor or therapist...or expert of any other kind.  This is just what worked for me.

1.  Hit "bottom".  A wise man once told me, "No one changes until it's too painful for them to stay the way they are".

Momentum...it can be good or it can be bad.  It all depends on the direction you're headed.  For the past few years, I've had powerful momentum headed in the 'getting bigger' direction.  It wasn't until I realized that I weighed ten pounds MORE than I did when I went into labor with my second child that I hit the spot where it was finally too painful to stay where I was.  I wanted to be healthy.  I wanted to have energy.  I wanted to feel strong.  I wanted to look good.  In that moment of pain, I found the motivation to stop and turn in the other direction.

2.  Got help.  Somewhere along the way (probably during pregnancy, during which I ate lots of ice cream and chocolate and nachos...for the baby), I'd forgotten what moderation looked like.  I needed a giant red flashing "re-set" button.  How much food should I be eating?  What sorts of foods?  What impact does fat and sugar have on my diet and the way I feel?  What about exercise?  In the intellectual part of my brain, I knew what I needed to do...but it seemed overwhelming.  I needed help.  I broke down and joined Weight Watchers.  I counted points, I measured portions, I paid attention to my body.  It was just the "re-set" button that I needed.

3.  Suffered.  Losing weight...turning the momentum tide...it's painful.  The first week was really difficult for me.  I had intense cravings for all things sweet, salty, and greasy.  Until I tried to cut back on sugar, salt, and fat I didn't realize just how "hooked" on those things my body had become.  And holy cow (I mean COW), I was accustomed to eating GIGANTIC portions.  I was used to eating far more than even my husband, who's a broad-shouldered 6'2", muscular man! I don't think 200 pounds would look nearly as good on my 5'8" slender frame as it does on him...but I was well on my way to finding out for sure!  Eating healthy portion sizes left me very hungry (and grumpy...sorry sweet family).

4.  Settled in and listened to by body.  Once I made it through that first week of withdrawals, it became much easier.  I missed my greasy nachos and super-sweetened coffees, but not nearly like I did that first week or so.  And I  really learned what it felt like to be truly hungry...not to have the munchies or a craving...but HUNGRY.

5.  Found substitutions.  I still have my daily coffee, but I use a sugar substitute.  I still have my salsa cravings, but I eat it with a whole grain cracker instead.  I still have a sweet tooth from time to time, so I chew a sweet gum.  Olive oil instead of butter.  A dash of basil and garlic in my eggs instead of cheese.  One rich piece of dark chocolate instead of a handful of m&m's.  Balsamic vinegar and seasoned rice vinegar instead of creamy ranch.  I found lots of little ways to affect the number of calories I was consuming, and they added up to make a big difference for me.

6.  You've heard it before.  Yup, eat lots of veggies, lean protein, and whole grains.  I know.  It sucks.  I had this realization when I had a day during which I found myself out of my daily "points allowance" by noon!  What...was I supposed to not eat for the rest of the day?  No.  It was during that desperate day that I concocted a delicious soup...made with broccoli, squash, carrots, celery, brown rice, lentils, chicken broth, and some spices.  It was hot, it filled me up, and it was virtually zero points.

I've never run out of points by noon again, but I'm glad I did that fateful day.  I learned the value of foods that are nutritious and filling (and I've found ways to make them really delicious).  I now eat an incredible amount of veggies compared to the "here and there" vegetable philosophy I used to have.  On a weekly basis, I polish off  1 1/2 heads of red leaf lettuce or romaine, 2-3 bell peppers, an onion, about a pound of mushrooms, 1 1/2 cucumber...and that's just for lunches!  I also have broccoli, cauliflower, beans, carrots at dinner times.

(keep reading...some of my most vital changes are coming up!)

7.  Got fed in all areas of my life.  I read once that our body is easily confused.  Tired?  Dehydrated?  Emotional?  All of these deficiencies can result in us feeling like we need...something...so we go for food.  I know I did.  I still do.  But I'm trying harder to make sure that I'm sleeping enough, drinking lots of water, taking the time to pray and worship, and even letting myself just have a good cry from time to time.  It's just who I am. When I'm taking good care of myself in all these areas, I'm much less likely to binge on "feel good" foods.

8.  Exercised.  Calories in vs. calories out, that's what this is all about.  It's possible to lose weight without exercise, but you'll have to eat much less food.  I love food.  I mean I LOVE food...so I exercise.  

Keep in mind that not all exercise is created equally.  Do some cardio, but also lift some weights.  The cardio will help you to burn calories while you exercise, but if you take the time and energy to build some muscle, you'll see even bigger payoff.  Muscle takes more energy (calories) to maintain.  Just sitting there doing nothing, muscle will consume more calories than fat.  The trick is that you have to use muscle to keep it around.  God made our bodies pretty darn smart.  "I'm not getting enough calories here...better get rid of the muscle since it uses up more than the fat"...use those muscles and your body will be more willing to get rid of the fat because the signal you're sending is that the muscles are necessary to keep.

Don't ask me where I get this stuff.  Please remember I'm not an expert...

9.  Found something fun to do.  For me, boredom and loneliness have me running to the pantry for something salty and crunchy.  Or maybe sweet.  Maybe both.  Instead, call a friend to say hi.  I pray more.  I also try to have a good book going at all times.  If I have some down time I'll take a nap or read.  I also love to crochet - keeping my hands busy making dish scrubbies keeps me from using them as m&m shovels!

10.  Decided to be nicer to myself.  If I had a friend (or saw a stranger for that matter) who was 25 pounds heavy, would I look at her routinely and say "Sheesh, what a hog you are!"  "Are you seriously going to eat that?"  "Like you need help looking ugly!"  "Where's your self control - just look at yourself - disgusting!"  "No, you can never eat your favorite foods again.  You're too fat."

Of course not.  So why do I say these things to myself?  Why is it so much easier to be kind and compassionate to a stranger on the street than it is to my very own self?  So, I'm eating everything I love...just in moderation.  I'm exercising and getting stronger.  I'm working to be healthy.  I'm setting a good example for my kids.  I'm doing my best.

If I had a friend who was doing these things and working hard at being healthy and strong, I'd tell her that I am proud of her.  That I think she's doing a good thing and to keep at it.

Now...on to the next 10 pounds :-)

Craig and Bethany  – (4/29/2010 11:57:00 AM)  

Great job, and great tips! Seriously, those are like tips that make sense and work. Thanks for sharing.

The Toll House Cookie  – (4/29/2010 12:13:00 PM)  

Just fabulous!!! And thank you for your guidance and tips!! I'm printing them out. I've been on a weight loss program now for 3 weeks and although I've lost ONLY (yeah--I know I'm hard on myself!) 6 pounds, I know my inches lost are so much more. Just another addition that may help those on the journey to losing weight. Accept your losses. And embrace them. I may only be 6 pounds lighter, but I've got an entirely different additude....and I'm dressing, walking and putting my act together with a positive attitude. People think I've lost so much more than I have---and if they are noticing, why shouldn't I?

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