Tuesday, October 04, 2011
I have been the heaviest sibling in my family for decades, and I'm used to picking out myself in the family pictures by looking at the largest one.
But this past summer I went to a family wedding, and in one picture with my sister, I'm actually slimmer than she is! What a shock - at first I thought I was looking at my sister, but then realized it was me!
I'm not the slenderest - another sister has been thin her entire life, but now we can share clothes - those clothes are on the larger side for her, and on the smaller size for me - but we're almost matched.
That is one of many things that motivates me. To "fit in" with the slender people, when I have always stood out. To not have to hide in the background of group pictures, hoping no one notices that I'm twice the size of the people around me.
But I have so many things that motivate me to keep going, and I have a difficult time responding to the many posts on the message boards asking for help with motivation. Part of me thinks that relying on others for motivation is helpful, but ultimately it has to come from inside. I have to want to do this for me, and my reasons have to come from inside, not from external support. I don't mean that supporters aren't helpful - they are - but at the end of the day I am with myself all the time, and my friends and family are only there for parts of the day. I have to be more healthy because it's what I want.
On the other hand, I'm not necessarily motivated to eat right and exercise. It's just what I do, like showering, laundry, paying my mortgage and going to work. I don't have to be motivated for those things; they are part of my life. So is eating right and exercising, although they aren't always the most pleasant parts of my life. Neither is making my bed, but I do it because that's how I want to live my life.
I think, at the end of the day, we each find our own motivation. For some, it's competition or a challenge they set for themselves, for others, it's because they are frightened of the alternatives. For me, it's doing what's right for my body, because it's the only one I have ;)
Sunday, September 25, 2011
I still get a thrill when I go to a clothing store and walk right by the plus size section. While I technically still fit into Women's sizes (I'm a size 14), the Women's size 14 is just a little bit too big for me.
I'm in normal sizes now, and it's such a pleasure. Although I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the choices - we don't have such a large selection in the Plus-size departments!
This weekend we had a neighborhood-wide yard sale, and as so often happens, we ended up buying almost as much from each other as we sold. I'm not entirely sure anything actually left the neighborhood, it all just moved around.
But one of my purchases was special. My upstairs neighbor brought out some of her beautiful clothes that no longer fit her, and several of us tried them on. At first I hung back, thinking there was no way anything would fit, but a gorgeous coat caught my eye. Holding my breath, I tried it on, and it fit! Not only did it fit me perfectly, several other of my friends had tried it on but it was too small for them. Wow! I'm actually smaller than these women, when I used to be much larger. Wow!
Buying this coat was such a triumph, as well as being economical. I have to replace most of my outerwear as winter approaches, and it's going to be expensive. But now I have a lovely, warm coat and I didn't spend too much. And it fits!
For anyone reading this who needs motivation, look forward to the day when you can try on clothes and they actually fit. Shopping can become fun again.
Monday, April 25, 2011
I thought I'd make a list of what I have learned in the past 18 months. I've gone from 310 pounds to 200, with another 50 pounds to lose. Maybe something will resonate with some of you who are just beginning your journey or feel stuck. This is what worked for me, but the number one lesson I have learned is that everyone has different needs, so you need to develop a plan that fits your life.
1. Don't be afraid to be hungry. I'm often hungry, but I don't let it get to me. In my head, I think of hunger as my body's way of telling me it wants more fuel, but if I don't give it some food, it will turn to the stored fuel in my body. Since I exercise often, I am keeping up my muscle tone, so my body isn't getting fuel from muscle, but from fat.
I think it's the fear of being hungry that prevents people from starting and continuing with an eating plan that allows them to lose weight. Being occasionally hungry isn't that big a deal.
2. It's not a diet - it's a plan. I almost said lifestyle instead of plan, but that sounds so overused. Unfortunately, lifestyle is exactly what it is. It's a complete change to your eating, every meal, every day. I can not consider this to be temporary - I will never go back to eating whatever I want, when I want - even though my calories will increase once I go into maintenance mode.
3. Don't deprive yourself. I will not succeed if I'm thinking of foods that I'm not "allowed" to eat. I eat whatever I want, but some foods require planning. I adore pizza, but I have to make plans for when I have it. I can not live without chocolate and I work it into my plan so I don't miss it. I might only have two Hershey kisses every week instead of an entire chocolate bar, but I get my chocolate fix and keep on my plan.
4. You have to think about food all the time. This is an irritation, but I have to be aware of what I eat all the time. I have some friends who would love to lose weight, but they have no interest in logging their food - too much trouble for them. It is annoying to have to be thinking of food so often, but I'm not thinking of what I can't eat, but rather planning what I will eat. I usually have a fairly good idea in the morning of what I will eat that day, except for when I travel, but even then I try to make a plan for what I will have while eating out.
5. Exercise or eating better don't work by themselves - the combination is the only answer. I was exercising with a trainer for nearly two years before I changed to my present eating plan, and while I was getting in better shape, I wasn't losing much weight. The reverse is also true - reducing calories is not enough to lose significant weight without also exercising.
6. Be honest with yourself. This is not meant in just a negative sense. It's important to be honest to know your limits and what food you have to keep in your plan. At the same time, it's critical to be brutally honest when you're not seeing the success you're expecting. Have you exercised enough? Have you eliminated enough calories? Are your goals realistic? You have to recognize those times when you are just rationalizing your poor choices or when you are finding excuses to go off the plan.
7. Forgive yourself if you slip, and get back on the plan. You will fail occasionally and either skip exercise or eat more than you should. It's just a matter of when, not if. When it happens, let it go and get back on plan. Don't use a slip as an excuse to give up. Just because you made one bad choice, you don't have to continue making bad choices. One meal, one day of over-eating or even one weekend is not going to make you gain all the weight back. It's not the bad choice that puts the weight back on, it's the way you react to that choice. Get back on the plan and move on.
8. Don't freak out over the scale. I measure my progress in several ways, and my weight is just one. I am tracking my blood pressure, my waist and hip measurements, and my weekly fitness/cardio minutes. My weight fluctuates often because of the weather, water retention, altitude and my travel schedule. As long as I see an overall downward trend, I don't get upset if I go up and down in the short term.
9. Know what motivates you. Some people can give up carbs and lose weight, while others need more balance. Atkins works great for some, but not everyone. Some people have to choose a method that takes the choice out of their control, like Nutri-System or surgery. It's important to understand what plan will work for you and your lifestyle. If I didn't travel so much, Nutri-System would probably be a great option for me since that plan offers pre-packaged meals that have the right nutritional balance. I know I would never like Atkins because I would miss bread too much. My sister can lose weight if she cuts out bread and sweets, but that would not work for me.
You might need to try several approaches before you find what works for you. If something doesn't work, however, be sure to take the time to understand why it didn't work. Was it too restrictive, or did the plan eliminate something you missed, or did it include foods you didn't like? What was the reason you determined it didn't work - was it because you kept forgetting to log your food, or were you confused by the system? With the internet, there are dozens of weight-loss plans at your disposal, so keep at it until you find the plan that works for you. But remember item 6 above - it's important to be honest with yourself about why something does or does not work.
10. Read labels for everything. I check labels for four key items - serving size, calories, fat and sodium. Serving sizes are critical - will you be satisfied with 1/2 cup of cooked pasta? It's important to know whether a serving will satisfy you, and many serving sizes have been reduced to keep the other numbers low. Once you start reading labels, you might be surprised by how much sodium there is in food. I love cottage cheese, but I can't even have the low-fat version because it is very high in sodium. I will get it occasionally to calm the craving, but not nearly as often as I would like :(. I only eat 30-35 grams of fat per day, about half the amount in a typical daily allowance, and I have to be careful to stay within that limit. I have been surprised by the fat in some foods.
11. Don't be afraid to throw food away. Restaurants are notorious for huge portions, and many of us hear our mother's voice in our heads, reminding us that wasting food is bad, especially when there is so much hunger in the world.
I travel almost every week for work and stay in a hotel, so taking my leftovers home from the restaurant is not an option. I nearly always order just an appetizer and a salad or soup and salad, and rarely order entrees anymore. When I do get an entree, I've learned to be OK with walking away with food on my plate.
12. Learn not to finish everything - a couple bites can be enough. As a long-time member of the Clean Plate Club, I have a hard time leaving food on my plate (also see item 11). But if I want to taste something, I can have a couple bites, satisfy my taste buds, but stay within my plan. It's hard and I have to consciously remember not to eat everything, but it helps keep me from craving my favorite foods. Of course, it takes a lot of control, and I often have to throw the remaining food away instead of saving it as leftovers. I've read on some message boards that people dump a bunch of salt or vinegar on the remaining food to remove any temptation!
13. Give yourself time for the plan to work. I know it's a cliche, but your weight gain probably took months or years, and taking it off will require at least as much time. You won't see results in a week, but usually in a month you will begin to notice a change. You will need time, but also remember you're not on a diet; the changes you are making are permanent lifestyle changes.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
I scraped through the holiday season with clothes that no longer fit. I wore the now too big satin pants with no belt loops to the work holiday party, praying they would stay up. I wore the red corduroy trousers to the casual work party, tightening my belt until the waist bunched up and I had to cover it with my sweater.
But not it's Spring and my special occasion outfits have gotten so big on me that I can't wear them in public. I can't even wear them at home.
My company is celebrating a big anniversary, and we are lucky enough to be invited to Las Vegas for a work/fun weekend. The party is at the end of March, and suddenly today I realized I Have Nothing To Wear.
The weekend will be a mix of work and pleasure, and I have one free afternoon that I plan to spend at the marvelous pool. There's a celebration party Saturday night.
I have work clothes since I've been replacing them while they get too big. I have some jeans that I bought this winter. But the last time I wore summer clothes I was almost 40 pounds heavier. I haven't worn a bathing suit for at least three years and 100 lbs ago. And my party clothes have been donated to charity.
Today I dug into the back of my closet and pulled out all my shorts and capri pants. It's still winter where I live, but Las Vegas in late March will be warm enough to wear shorts and capris. Almost all were way too big. I tried on my bathing suits and the results are the same. Who has ever had bathing suits that are too big? I can't possibly wear any of them in public, much less at a work event.
Today was a good day, despite the fact that I now have to buy at least one bathing suit, a party outfit, shorts and capri pants. I haven't even started thinking about T-shirts!
Sunday, October 31, 2010
There are groups of people in my life that I only see once a year - extended family and other members of my profession. In the last three months I saw those two groups for the first time after my 90-pound weight loss.
My family was great - telling me I looked great and congratulating me on the hard work. Many shared their own weight struggles, and we had fun discussing diet plans, exercise routines, and the best way to stay motivated. We had a great time, swapping stories. One cousin was motivated to join Spark, and we exchange e-mails about our progress.
My professional colleagues' reaction was similar, but in many cases they looked right past me and did not recognize me. I had to call out to them to say hello. The best reaction was someone I worked with for 9 years who I now see only once a year. She actually had to look at my name tag to figure out who I was! I loved her instinctive reaction "My god, you've lost a lot of weight!" I have indeed, and I'm glad that others have noticed.
I don't mind anyone telling me I look good as if I looked bad before - I know I was not looking my best with 90 extra pounds. I know I look better now, and I'm glad that other people notice.
When I am complimented, I say thanks, that I've been working hard, and I still have a ways to go. If people ask, I tell them I did it the old-fashioned way, with diet and exercise, and if they continue to ask, I tell them about Spark People and offer to share my nutrition plan.
I do notice that at work, my image overall has improved. My expertise seems to be more valuable, and while I haven't gained skills while I lost the weight, I know that subconsciously people are attributing more value to my contributions because my physical shape has improved. I knew that when I was heavier - that my abilities were overlooked or diminished because of my size.
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