I lost 17 pounds this year.
I know, I know...in a year. That equates to approximately 1.7 pounds per month. Agonizingly slow, especially when I was eager to see results. But after a full twelve months, I'm really excited because 17 pounds is significant. It's not twenty, but it's better than fifteen.
I went from this:
I'm not to where I want to be yet, though I am thankful to finally be on the right path. I'd like to lose another 10% of my body weight before we ring in 2013 and maybe complete my first full marathon. (maybe...)
My BMI is a healthy 24.2. I can run a nine-minute mile. All of my clothing is fitting much, much better and I've even dropped a size in pants. But most importantly, I feel good. I feel happy, not stressed, and not laser-focused on dieting/food/working out. I didn't use pills, protein shakes, or meal replacement bars - just good ole portion control, better food choices, and exercise. There were no programs, websites or apps - just me, my sneakers and a whole lot of apples (my new favorite food).
So if you are like millions of Americans, getting ready to make some healthier resolutions for the new year, let me share with you what worked for me. Maybe this will be helpful, maybe not, but I'm excited to share my progress.
It's 80% food, 20% exercise
This was startling to me. If you are not going to change your diet, you will not lose weight. Or at least, it will be very, very difficult to do so. This occurred to me in October, when I realized I was working out practically every day (as evidenced by our giant piles of laundry) and the fact I was waking up at 4:45am to get my miles in - and then heading to boot camp at 6am. I didn't lose one stinkin' pound that month. I don't believe the "my body was storing fat" theory - no, it wasn't overexercising, it was the massive portions of Kit-Kat bars and Almond Joys I was shoveling in my mouth on a daily basis. (Mmm, Halloween candy.) It dawned on me I was eating an extra 2,000 calories a day in mindless mini-bars, negating any level of fitness I had done earlier. Subsequently, the scale stayed the same. I omitted the Halloween candy and boom - five pounds gone. Instantly.
Eat for performance, not weight loss
This was a tough thing for me to learn, too. If you told me I couldn't eat potato chips so I would lose weigh, I would fight you all day and night to get those chips back. And then probably eat them when you weren't looking and then feel badly about it.
But if you said I had to run say, 10 miles, in the morning, guess what? Those chips sound downright awful. The salt, the bloating, the greasiness of it - yuck. I would much prefer to eat light - and healthy - because of the run. It's kind of weird mind trick to play on yourself, but it worked for me. And it made choosing better foods that much easier.
Food is mood
Going along the previous idea, I realized there is a big difference between eating what I think is good versus eating what is good for me. Yes, the cupcake is delicious - for about 3 seconds - and then I'm left with a minor tummy ache, a sugar high (and subsequent crash), and the guilty feeling of eating crappy food. It takes an enormous amount of maturity (at least, for me) to recognize that this food (say, almonds) both tastes good AND is good for me. And then to have the strength to pick the almonds over the cupcakes while telling myself, "I want to be in a good mood, not a bad one." It's hard in the short-term, wonderful in the long-term.
I can't remember who said it, but I remember reading that eating a giant meal is anything but transcendental. It's fun while it lasts, but then you are left feeling stuffed, gassy, bloated and uncomfortable. When you think of it that way, it really takes the fun out of it. So why do it? A fancy dinner out every few months is one thing, but every week? You are just left with all of the above symptoms...and a growing tummy.
So what is transcendental then? For me, the best feelings I've had have been finishing Hill Day or running 12 miles without stopping. Now that is euphoric. In a lot of ways, you are choosing how you want to feel by picking one behavior over another. Want to feel good? Go run three miles. Want to beat yourself up for the rest of the day and feel gross? Eat the cupcake.
Take it one day at a time
I have to repeat this to myself a lot. Today is the only day that counts. I'm not going to stress about Saturday night or what I'm going to order at the movies (popcorn? Diet soda? Splurge or no splurge?). I just need to worry about today - lunch, dinner, what have you - and make the best decisions in the moment. That's it.
And no one meal is going to make you fat. It's a whole bunch of bad choices combined together that causes a person to put on ten (or more) pounds. You won't take the weight off with one meal; you won't put the weight on with one meal. It's a pattern and a history that gives you results. Make today count.
Find something you really like to do
Who knew six months ago I would really dig running hills with a bunch of strangers before the sun had even risen? Or rolling around in bird poop on a basketball court, doing the millionth "burpee" or Harley hold of the morning. (don't ask). But I do. I LOVE it. I love boot camp. It's challenging, it's a phenomenal workout, and everyday is different. I love, love, love it. And right now, I miss it.
Since boot camp has been on break, I've been bored to tears at the gym. I hate feeling cluttered down with stuff - my towel, magazine, water bottle, iPod that I schlep over to the cardio area. And wearing cotton socks again is not that exciting. I'm looking forward to the days where we are running the Super Loop again after completing a circuit of death carts. See? Fun.
But as my friend Sandy said, as I attempted to hard-sell her on joining boot camp, "Kim, I think you and I work out very differently." She's more of a "camp out on the elliptical with a good TV show on" kind-of gal. And that's cool. My friend Tara is the same way - but she loves to get lost in a good book. The fact is, whatever causes you to break a sweat - death carts, Hill Day, or books on the treadmill - do what you like. And do it a lot. :-)
I hope this was helpful to some of you. I'm going to post my (very, very) beginner tips on running tomorrow. It's never too late to get started!
Disclaimer: I am not, nor do I pretend to be, a physician, nutritionist, dietician, trainer, or even vaguely athletic. Therefore, my advice should be taken with a grain of salt and is provided mainly for entertainment purposes. If it does help you, that's wonderful. If it doesn't, this disclaimer prevents you from taking legal action against me. Thank you.