There are so many contributing factors that gave me my own personal success that I can't just lump it into one single change that made it all happen. It was a process and one that required patience, understanding, and a swift kick in my own ass on a daily basis. Many paths I took over the past decade were perceived failures, but truly they were all part of the process. Much like getting fired from a job ended up being the best thing that happened for my career aspirations, failing at a diet taught me so much about what losing weight is really about.
Since I can't possibly write everything out in a single blog entry, I'll outline the basics of what I have done, some things I learned, and I encourage anyone reading this to ask questions. Let me know if there's something specific you'd like me to talk about and I'll try to touch on those issues in future entries.
Please note that I am not any kind of professional dietitian or health expert. If I'm talking about eating more mixed nuts and you have an allergy to nuts, obviously don't take that advice. I only know what I've gone through and what has worked for me.
First off, I have weight/size goals. They change once I reach them, because goals are good motivators. I keep them realistic. When I was 250lbs my goals were simple:
- Goal weight: 200lbs
- Be able to wear a size 14
Once I reached that 200lbs mark my next goal was set:
- Goal weight: 160lbs
- Be able to wear a size 14
But it did not successfully happen. I dropped down to 188lbs after attempting to cut my calories to 1,200 a day and working out at LA Fitness 4-5 times per week. It was not enjoyable for me as I was always hungry and I did not find joy from being at the gym. It wasn't a practical solution to my problem. I couldn't wrap my head around how ANYONE lost weight unless they became a fitness fanatic and I was starting to feel like maybe I wasn't ever going to reach my goals because of my lack of interest in "living at the gym".
I discovered that I wasn't interested in a diet anymore. They were always impractical to keep up with for long periods of time, and inevitably, the weight always came back. I rested around the 200lbs mark until I saw the right documentary at the right time in my life. It is a film called "Fed Up" that I found by chance on Netflix. I have always been interested in learning about what foods should be avoided, but this one hit so close to home, I felt like they were interviewing my childhood self. I was in the same boat as the kids from the film, having been raised in an era of sugar-laden, highly processed foods. I learned that I had been eating junk food my entire life and was completely and utterly addicted to it.
My new goals were born from the moment that film ended.
- Be healthy
- Work to help my body reflect the kind of woman I see in myself.
I use weight goals as a guideline and there is certainly no rush on getting to 160lbs. I'll get there when my body is ready to get there. In the meantime I focus on what I am putting into my body every day. If I'm going to feed myself garbage then I can't be surprised when I feel like it, too.
Simply put, I am on what is commonly referred to as "clean eating". I don't eat anything that was processed or has added sweetners on a daily basis. I can eat anything under the categories of: meats, vegetables, fruits and nuts.
Personally, I'm a bit sensitive to dairy, so I am very careful to avoid any extra dairy products other than a few small cubes in my salad. I had ice cream yesterday from a place that makes their own and they were so awesome to offer a size called "the Izzy" which is basically a tablespoon of ice cream on the tiniest cake cone I've ever seen. It was about the size of my thumb. It ended up being the perfect amount. The craving for ice cream was satiated and I didn't feel sick afterward.
Cutting the sweetners was the hardest hump to get over. Like, way worse than when I was weaning off of a caffeine addiction. It was horrible. I was irritable and complained a lot. I was tired and unmotivated. It was hell for about 3 weeks. And then it changed. I remember equating it to feeling like a little cloud had been over my head for years and it just drifted away. I was able to think clearer. Looking back from an outside perspective, I am now terrified by the power of sugars. It's not that I can't eat it at all anymore, but there's a HUGE difference between how I feel after a tablespoon of ice cream versus how I felt after eating a pint of Ben & Jerry's Phish Food.
That's when I knew definitively that I was on the right path. I no longer battle with being hungry and then feeling immediately guilty about what I had just eaten. That was a thing for me.
I discovered many things about myself that I didn't know before. For example, I discovered I was a binge-eater. I didn't really think of myself that way before, but I can definitely see it looking back on it now. I would get stressed out and eat a box of cereal with rice milk in a day. I would go through a half-gallon of ice cream in a matter of 2-3 days. Halloween was awful, too. If we didn't get rid of the bowl of candy by the end of the night I'd be binge eating it all night.
I also discovered that I liked to make excuses for my bad choices... to myself. I was literally lying to myself every day and then being upset when things didn't improve. Those behaviors were big hindrances in my path to success. I would not have progressed to this point had I not admitted that I was wrong in my thinking and needed to change it.
I still admit that I make excuses and try to justify my lack of improvement for one reason or another, but I am confident that I will continue to make adjustments and better myself every day.
This is what I have done to drop from 200lbs to 173lbs:
- Clean eating / no processed or sweetened foods.
- Do not go out to eat.
- Walk every day.
That's literally it. It's not fancy, but it works. It doesn't sound like a lot... but it's hard as hell to maintain. My husband and I go grocery shopping an average of twice a week so that we have enough fresh food in the house.
Next entry I will be talking more specifics on what I eat on a day-to-day basis and the realities of clean eating. It is not easy, but then, nothing worthwhile ever is.
At the end of every entry I will include a little note that I took while going through the transition from junk to junk-free. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's sad, but mostly it was a learning experience. Thanks to the kind suggestions of strangers on Reddit, I agreed to keep track of the experience. I will also be reporting back to Reddit with an update on my progress after 6 months (which will be in October).