Over the past two years I’ve received messages from readers asking, “How did you lose the weight?”
I shared the start of my weight-loss journey with you, but since weight loss hasn’t been a focus on the blog, I haven’t formally checked in much along the way. At this point, I have lost 16 pounds in total, about 2 dress sizes, and am feeling back to “normal” and confident in my own skin. My ultimate goal is to lose 10 more to get back to my pre-Hoboken weight but I’m no longer being aggressive about it. As I am sure you well know, there is no magic formula, only hard work, but here are some important truths I have embraced in the last 22 months.
Set achievable goals.
When I decided to make a conscious effort to live a healthier life, I was outside my healthy BMI. My body was carrying more weight than it ever had on its 5’6″ frame. My clothes no longer fit. I felt sluggish and uncomfortable. I was frustrated. I had tried upping my physical activity level alone, but my habit of over-eating seemed to render my efforts useless. I used Weight Watchers to kick-start my weight loss over a three-month period and lost 10 pounds, but ever since I have simply held myself to the goal of working out (mostly by running) 30 minutes a day, three times a week. While it would be wonderful to do that seven days a week, that goal is not realistic with my lifestyle. It’s amazing how even moving from a mostly sedentary lifestyle to moving 60-90 minutes per week has made a tangible difference.
Discipline is everything.
One of the crucial keys to my success in elevating my exercise level to three times as much as before has been using the Red X method. The theory is to keep the chain of red X’s going as long as possible without breaking it. While I don’t have a goal to exercise every day, as silly as it might seem, as a visual person, this has really worked for me. I keep a calendar on my fridge (tacky alert!) and I cross off the day each day I exercise with a red X. It helps me keep on track with exercising 2-3 times a week and every month I try to up (or at least match) my total days exercised from the month before.
I am absolutely guilty of not paying full attention to what I eat. I notoriously eat when I’m bored, to self-soothe or reward, or because I’m in a social setting and it’s simply there. Eating mindfully means fighting this pattern and actually considering what I’m putting in my mouth. I try to eat in a balanced way, anchoring meals with protein and adding carbs or fats in moderation. I still haven’t found counting calories to be a successful method for me. Instead I’ve cut back on excesses in my diet such as bread carbs, even though I was used to eating a sandwich for lunch almost every day of my life. These days you’ll find me happily eating salads of every variety for my mid-day meal. Eating mindfully requires me to remember I am greater than my desires, and that I can choose healthy options instead of whatever my taste buds (and emotions) demand.
You are stronger than you think.
Perhaps the most important realization has been how much I limited myself, and how much that pesky negative inner voice has always told me I shouldn’t try because I’ll probably fail. I have run more, and harder and faster than I ever have before and now find myself excited about the next challenge. I am trying to learn to appreciate and care for the body I was given. I think about how I want my future children to be proud of what their bodies are capable of, and lead by example in this. I want them to know at the core that they are beautiful and their bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made, built for incredible possibilities.
Give yourself grace.
You will sometimes fail. You will eat crappy food and not exercise and feel like you ruined all of your progress. You will be tempted to send yourself in a downward spiral of shame. You may gain a few pounds back and then lose them again. Don’t listen to those voices that tell you it’s all over! A few bad food choices or a week off from exercise doesn’t have to be the end of the road. Commit to picking up where you left off the next meal or next day, and you can get back into your healthy routines.
What motivates you to get or stay fit? What methods have helped you live a healthier lifestyle?