Friday, April 13, 2012

In The Beginning

In The Beginning

When I say that my experience losing weight was an "adventure" I am not exaggerating. If I could have been a more unhealthy eater two years ago I am not entirely sure how. I ate fast food for at least one meal every day.....often went hours without eating and then gorged on unhealthy, prepackaged snacks....skipped breakfast...drank too much was a recipe for any number of health problems. I said that I didn't care but I really did. I had put on over 80 pounds since Brennis and I had started the gallery and I weighed more than I had ever weighed in my life. I was embarrassed, tired, depressed and ashamed....but I also had no idea how to stop traveling the path that I was on.

I've been asked a lot what made me stick with my weight loss plan this time as opposed to the dozens of times I had started before. The answer.....I don't really know. Partly it was because I found something that really worked for my lifestyle and partly it was because I really understood that if I had just kept up with my previous efforts to lose weight I would have already lost most of it. You know that saying "Think about how good you would look if you had started this a year ago"? Well I had started a year ago, two years ago, six months ago, yesterday.....but I had allowed small failures to derail all of my forward progress. In the end that just seemed stupid to me.

I want to say for the record....not everyone who is overweight has a problem with it. For some people having a little extra weight is something they are comfortable with and they love their bodies and are comfortable with who they are. I honestly admire those people because I think there is everything to be gained by having great self esteem and a positive attitude about yourself. I am not one of those people.....not because I think being overweight is terrible....I just don't feel comfortable and I don't feel "well". I also didn't gain weight by gorging on oatmeal and lettuce. I gained weight because I was feeding my body too much junk.

So the adventure began with walking every day. It was that simple. I just did up a half hour early and walked. I hated the thought of it most mornings but when I was out there doing it I really enjoyed it. I allowed myself to really FEEL the joy I was experiencing while I was walking so I could remember it the next time I had to force myself to get up early. That seemed to work. As soon as my brain tried to talk me out of getting out of bed my heart reminded me about how much fun it really was when I just got my butt out the door.

While exercise is part of the solution I knew that I would have to also change the way I ate. I had no idea how to do that. Not that I hadn't tried a billion times before...I just wanted to be smart this time. So at first I changed nothing about my diet. I just observed myself (I would have journaled but I knew that I wouldn't have followed through with it). I really payed attention to what I was eating, when I ate, what seemed to trigger me to over eat and what made my body feel good or bad. I did this for about two weeks. I didn't particularly think about changing my eating habits but the simple process of paying more attention to what I was putting into my mouth made me think twice (or three times) about it over time. At the end of two weeks I had a really good idea about what foods I really enjoyed because they made me feel good and what foods I just ate because they were either convenient or because they tasted good.

With this information I was able to come up with an eating plan that worked for me. I stayed away from sugars and salty snacks because those were my triggers and tried to eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and unprocessed foods with mystery ingredients. Over time, still paying attention to my food and my body, I revised these eating habits and fine tuned my program.

Now I feel better than I have my whole life. I honestly can say I eat what I want and I never deny myself something I really want if I have a craving. I just don't let myself view occasional small setbacks as major failures.

Developing your own eating plan will take time and a great deal of trial and error. It's all about paying attention to what makes you feel good, what makes you feel bad, and what causes you to eat poorly. Once you have a handle on these three things you can figure out the best way for you to lose weight. Everyone is different which is why most "diets" don't work. If you think of food as fuel rather than a "treat" you will begin to make smarter choices.

So the big less...exercise more. If only we had known.

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