Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How I Did It

If you ask me honestly, it's really hard for me to believe that I've lost any weight at all. I know that I have. I can see the number on the scale, the number on the tape measure and the space in my pants. I know that weight, fat and inches have all been lost. But for a lot of people we get stuck in what's called the "fat brain". I consciously know that I'm smaller but it's hard to look in the mirror and see all of my hard work. It's hard to say that I've lost weight. The words, "I look good" have yet to roll off my tongue and I kind of doubt they ever will. But it's when someone asks me that magical question that I suddenly realize how far I've come. When someone says, "How did you do it?" it's like I become another person. How did I do what? Oh, you mean lose nearly 40 pounds, 5 inches from my waist and 3 pant sizes? Yes, that's when I know I've been doing something right. So here it is, how I did it.

I'm unsure where to start so I guess I'll go back to the beginning. Most of you know my story and if so, just skim these next few sentences. In 2010 after graduating college I moved to Dallas for a grown up internship (which is a complete oxymoron). I got to wear high heels, work in a downtown high rise, met The Colonel and this tiny soon-to-be mama and perhaps most importantly, I ate. I ate pasta, pizza and cheese quesadillas from Taco Bueno, I raided our subsidized vending machine multiple times per day daily and hoarded Cheetos, Doritos, Grandma's Oatmeal Raisin cookies, Twix bars and cheese popcorn. I drank a lot of sugary tea. Oh, and I sat. I sat in a chair, at a desk all. day. long. For the first time in my life I had one job and nothing else. Which means I also had no motivation. In May 2010 I ran my first and last marathon at 143 pounds. By August 2010 I was roughly 160. I moved back to Louisville and without Taco Bueno and a vending machine steps away, things still didn't change. I got another desk job. By April 2011 I was close to if not over 180 pounds. That fall I was over 200 pounds and had all but stopped weighing myself. I don't have hard evidence but suspect I topped out around 220 before all was said and done. There were long days, weeks and months of depression which of course lead to more eating (funny how that works...) until finally I decided I was going to do something about it.

My first step was to do some workouts on Exercise TV On Demand. There was no way I was going out in public and working out. I was vain enough to believe everyone would notice me and laugh. If you are reading this and are afraid of that happening let me tell you something, THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. I don't know anyone who is serious about their workout who gives two shits what someone else is doing or what they look like doing it, unless they're doing it well. My "fat brain" lets me believe I'm the biggest person everywhere I go. I'm always the fattest runner at the starting line, I was the flabbiest wannabe triathlete who ever lived, I'm the heaviest person to sit on a spin bike. (Sidebar: Did I ever tell you the story of my first attempt at spinning to try to lose weight and the spin bike literally breaking while I was on it? Talk about horrified. And STILL no one noticed aside from the person next to me who heard it and the instructor who set me up on a new bike.) Regardless of how YOU see yourself, you should know that no one is noticing you any more than they're noticing anyone else. I'm sorry, you're not special. Anyway, I pledged to myself to do something every day. It didn't matter what, but I had to do it. Whether it was walking my dog around the block, an organized workout with my tv trainers, 10 sit ups or jumping jacks before bed, I had to do something. That worked out alright, but it wasn't anything spectacular. I learned that it was going to take more so I decided to try out that whole "eating right" thing.

It sucked. It was hard. Some days I was hungry, some days I was cranky. Actually, most days I was cranky starting out. And I later learned that was because I had no idea what I was doing. I thought the starvation and excessive exercise workout was the way to go. It's not. If you're reading this and trying to lose weight, don't do the starvation and exhaustion diet. It doesn't work. Anyway, just like with exercise I decided to take baby steps with my diet. If I could change one misconception it would be this, being a vegetarian doesn't make you healthy. New vegetarians have a smooth road to becoming a carbotarian or even better, pastatarian. Just because we don't eat meat, there's still plenty of crap we can pile into our bodies. We don't eat burgers but fries are fine. And chips. And ice cream. And pizza...sweet lord, pizza. I love pizza. So you know what? I still eat it. Once I figured out HOW to eat I never once said "I can't have *insert delicious food here*" I still eat everything I want. I just don't eat everything all the time.

To answer how I did it I have to go with what every one of those cliche trainers and health people say. It really is 90% diet. My tip would be to learn to cook. Or live with someone who cooks. Or buy frozen vegetables that you can microwave. You've got to find a way to eat fruits and vegetables. Yes, AND vegetables. When you want sweets, eat a pink lady apple, then try to eat cake (you'll be super full from the apple and probably won't want it). But whatever you can do to get those veggies in, do it! As you know, I'm a fan of the smoothie. Greens are generally bitter so putting them with sweet berries or tangy pineapple or melon easily hides the taste. I also hide spinach in just about everything. It's really easy to put in with salad or pasta sauce. If you're making most anything in a crock pot, toss in a bag of frozen veggies. You'll be surprised how easy they become to eat. If you hate vegetables, do not eat salads. The worst thing you can do is try to eat bowls and bowls of a food you hate. It's like taking cough medicine when you're sick. You know it'll help you and you know you'll feel better but that doesn't make that plastic shot glass of molasses taste any better. A bowl of greens is boring! If you want to eat more salads, which of course, you should, make them fun! Add some color! Carrots, beans, salsa, cheeses, whatever you have to do aside from putting like...lard on top. The hardest part of the salad is changing the dressing. Raise your hand if you like ranch. How about bleu cheese? Creamy dressings are wonderful, calorie laden lubricants and salad ruiners. Try your best to stick to a vinaigrette if you can. I prefer sun dried tomato. You can also use those spray dressings. Just don't tear the cap off and pour it on when you get tired of spritzing. I'm guilty of that. Salsa is probably my favorite "dressing" because it isn't dressing. As you may or may not know, I love Mexican food. (What?!) So a fiesta salad makes my tummy smile. Greens on the bottom, black beans, corn, salsa, cheese...sometimes it's hard to control myself.

My other tip, eat early and often. Less is not more. I start taking in calories early in the day and continue until dinner. Why? Eating gets your metabolism going (or so I hear). I like to workout in the mornings so if I workout at 5, I'm finished by 7 and HUNGRY. So I eat. By 10 or so, I have a morning snack. Noon is lunch, followed by an afternoon snack around 2. If I'm working out in the evening (and a lot of times even if I'm not) I'll have another snack around 4. Depending on my plans for the evening, that determines what the snack is. Dinner is later and usually followed by dessert. Told you I still eat what I want. Here's what a day might look like for me:

7:30am: Apple cinnamon oatmeal with flaxseed and almond milk (occasionally with juice)
10:00am: Half a large homemade smoothie (spinach, kale, pineapple, berries, apple, Plant Fusion protein powder, honey (seasonally))
12:00pm: Butternut squash soup and grapes with water
2:00pm: Remainder of morning smoothie/Mixed nuts/apple slices/chips (again, eat what I want)
4:00pm: *evening workout* half a pb&j on whole wheat, *no workout* granola bar
7:00pm: Veggie burger with no bun and french fries/vegetable egg rolls and asparagus spears with salt and pepper/vegetable rotini with alfredo and edamame
7:30pm: Minute Maid Frozen Lemonade icee (Oh those tiny treasures...)

That obviously varies quite a lot, especially since I've learned to enjoy cooking so much more but hopefully you don't think that is a terrible menu that could never be followed. Throughout this whole process I've really wanted to focus on making it doable and sustainable. My weight loss has been slow. Much slower than I want it to be, but I have yet to gain a pound back (knock on wood). Even when I splurge, the next day I may be up a couple pounds of water weight, but by the end of the week, it's generally gone again. Exercise helps tremendously because I've learned how certain foods make me feel during a workout and it's important that I feel at my best. It's a nice little motivation to keep eating well.

To sum things up, I hope you understand that what has worked for me does not necessarily work for for everyone. Some people can be more restrictive. Some people can count calories. Did I mention I despise counting calories and tracking my food? You have to find what works for you. And you can. And you will. It might take a bit and you may have setbacks but once you find it you'll feel great! Eventually you might plateau (like I have, ahem) but that's ok. When you know what works, you'll know how to step it up just a bit to get over the hump. Learning to maintain when you're losing weight is just as important as learning to lose. Yo-yos are only fun when you're talking about toys. It's much easier to see a "bad" number on the scale when you can look back and know exactly where the problem was. I spent 3 days eating chips and pizza. On the 4th day, my stomach was upset, my run sucked, my sweat was super salty and I was up 2.5 pounds. Another couple days of normal living put things back into perspective. If you're trying to lose weight, either 1 pound (you lucky duck) or 100 pounds, I want you to know that you can do it.

Now I will unveil some photos that have never before been seen by eyes other than my own...and The Colonel's (that's why he developed an astigmatism. I kid, I kid).

Before (Somewhere between November 2011 and February 2012)

ImageImageImage


After (Today!)


ImageImageImageStill a work in progress obviously but at least a bit of improvement. Right? .....RIGHT? *nervous laughter* Can't believe I just posted these pictures...


Stay tuned for my Hangover Classic Race Recap!

6 comments:

  1. I am so proud of you and all the progress you've made! Your dedication is seriously inspiring. After I pop this little guy out I know I'll need to make some serious effort to get back to where I want to be, and you gave some awesome tips here I need to remember. Great job girl!!!

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  2. You have done such. Great job! I'm right there with you about it being hard to notice changes in yourself, even when others see it. I'm here to tell you, you've done some great work & it definitely shows!

    I love hearing how everyone loses. I absolutely have to track or I go nuts.

    I can't wait to see how you keep progressing! Keep kicking ass!

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  3. Thanks for posting! And you are kicking some serious a$$ my friend. I am so jealous of your dedication!! Keep on keeping on because you've already come so far and I know you'll be back where you want to be in no time! And next time you are in Lex, you need to show me how to make a smoothie that I will like. No, I can't do it from instructions. I need you to show me. lol.
    Side note: I was thinking last night about the first time we met at Friday's and how our perceptions of each other were totally off. Inspiration for a future post for me!

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  4. Thanks so much! You were tiny to start and popping out a baby is quite the trauma! I think you'll be back to normal in no time. Thanks for reading :)

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  5. Thanks so much! Right after I posted this I just kept asking my sister if she could see a difference and she informed me that I look a lot less pregnant. So that's an improvement I hope!

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  6. Thanks so much! And the dedication really comes from me wanting to actually be able to wear a trisuit one day to race in. The first (and last) time I tried one on I looked eerily similar to a sausage. Take me to a local fruit store and I will smoothie it up in your freshly remodeled kitchen :)

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