Monday, October 14, 2013

40 pounds

i've lost 40 pounds over the past year.  when i went back to school this fall, the weight loss was much more noticeable.  i've gotten asked many times over the last couple months how i did it.  i get the feeling that i'm being asked to share a secret that is more along the lines of magic or miracle.  the hard truth is that serious weight loss takes time, hard work, and discipline.  i haven't been sharing my weight loss journey here and don't plan to start regular healthy lifestyle postings.  i did want to share what finally worked for me though, in case it might help someone else.

1. more water/less coke - i am a coke drinker.  it's an addiction.  i don't even drink the diet version.  it's the real thing, baby.  i fully accept the dieting adage, "don't drink your calories."  the problem for me is that i can give up coke for two or three weeks, but not long term.  it's my best friend, my self-medication, my achille's heel.  i started my weight loss journey a year ago september.  obviously, the first thing i did was cut back drastically on my coke intake.  i managed to not drink any that first week.  only one a day the second week.  something like that the third week.  and then a little more.  and more as the year progressed.  i just can't give up coke.  the cut back at the beginning was good though in that i had a dramatic weight loss of 13 pounds in the first month.  this was a good jumpstart that helped motivate me. 

paired with the coke cutback was an increase in water consumption.  i might not be able to tell myself no to coke often enough, but i can tell myself that i have to drink water first.  i don't love water.  i just tell myself it's medicine and drink a bottle down before i have my coke.  there is no excuse for not drinking water.  it's critical to our well-being.  i drink it whether i like it or not.

2. a salad a day - the other main thing i did that first month was to eat a salad every day.  i had become disgusted with myself earlier that summer when i faced the fact that i do not eat vegetables.  this might be cute in an elementary school boy, but is absolutely ridiculous for a 40 year old woman.  after putting corn and potatoes in the grain category where they belong, i was left with green beans, sweet potatoes, and salads.  in july of last year i had challenged myself to eat a salad a day and was quite successful with it.  i found that i really like salads if they have meat or eggs on them.  i revisited this challenge in september and have made it part of my daily lifestyle.  eventually, i did get tired of eating salads every day.  now somedays i'll have tuna/sardines with carrot sticks and an apple.  sometimes i'll flake and have pb&j with the carrots and apple.  somedays i'll flake completely, but in general i've gotten very routine about it and i feel so much healthier for it.

3. get on the scale every day - i firmly believe that this has been the key to my success.  i got a new coworker a year and a half ago who quickly became one of my besties.  she mentioned weighing herself every day and i thought she was crazy.  i don't want that in my face every morning.  besides, i had always been told that weighing once a week is the thing to do.  not so, and these are the reasons why:  if you only weigh yourself once a week, you can become frustrated if you don't show the expected weight loss after a good week (when the weight loss might have shown up the next day) and on the flip side if you start out the week with several eating accidents you might decide to just blow it off and start over the next week.  this quickly becomes six weeks later.  oops!  weighing every day keeps me accountable.  it keeps me motivated.  it's shown me what food does to me.  i've learned to regulate not with paid programming or an app, but with this digital accountability each morning.  i would not have been able to make the lifestyle change that i have without this one little trick of weighing myself every day.  so simple and so effective.

4. buy cute clothes - i didn't wait till i lost all the weight to start buying cute clothes. buying a cute new sweater with sheep down the front made me feel cuter and feeling cuter made me feel more motivated to stick with it. no brainer. now i am able to buy cute clothes without thinking about their slimming effects or their ability to camouflage problem areas. cute clothes have become very motivating for me. i like buying and wearing cute clothes more than i do buying and eating food that will make me not be able to wear my cute new clothes.

5. control the carbs - i am not a believer in cutting a food category out of the diet.  i do, however, think that americans have been brainwashed by the food pyramid.  eating nine servings of grain every day doesn't really mean what we think it means.  cut the carbs.  i usually eat a whole grain cereal or cereal bar for breakfast.  sometimes i have hotcakes or lucky charms.  for lunch, i try my best to go without grains.  no sandwiches!  dinner is whatever i make.  i try to eat whole grains as much as possible.  i've switched to 100% whole wheat bread (nutrigrain 100% whole wheat has 50 calories a slice as opposed to the honey wheat that i used to eat which is at 70 calories a slice).  i consider corn and potatoes good for me in moderation.  i eat brown rice.  i don't especially care for whole grain pasta, but i don't eat pasta that often.  chips are a treat not a normal part of my lunch routine.  when i stop at the fast food window these days, nine times out of ten i am buying a salad instead of a burger and fries.  it's all about reprogramming the brain.  i do not need bread/chips/fries with every meal.

6. quality, not quantity - as the year progressed, i got to a point where i simply couldn't eat as much and i actually felt bad when i ate too much junk.  not only have i reprogrammed my mind, i've reprogrammed my whole system.  this is a very good thing.  now my body is helping me to be good.  when i do sneak some fries, i don't want a large, i only want a taste.  a half a small fry satisfies me.  i'm not even kidding.  i noticed about six months in that the urge to snack during the day was mostly gone, especially during the weekday when work kept me busy and in a routine.  another weight loss trend that doesn't work for me is the one that says, "eat like a king for breakfast, a prince for lunch, and a pauper for dinner."  i can't do it.  once i start eating the tasty treats, i want to eat like that for the rest of the day.  i have to eat minimally for breakfast and lunch and hold dinner on the horizon as my treat for the day.  and if i feel a huge snacking urge building, i might even skip dinner and make a massive bowl of buttered popcorn.  not every day, just on an as needed basis.  ha.  another bit of advice, if it's not as delicious as you thought it was going to be then stop eating it.  don't finish that twinkie if it's not as fabulous as you expected.

7. move - exercise is an important component of a healthy lifestyle.  unfortunately, i have a track record of being able to diet or excise, but not both at the same time.  i thought i'd finally broken this trend as i went four months this spring/summer running, walking, or mowing three miles a day while sticking with my healthy eating routines.  september hit and the days got suddenly shorter and now i am struggling.  frustrations!  i'm thinking of signing up for the local turkey trot.  that might be motivating.  and cute new running shoes!  that might do the trick, yes?

and one last word on the weight loss.  i feel better about myself and i like people more.  i have become so much more outgoing once again.  all the hard work and self-denial was totally worth it.


  1. You go, Doris! I'm not as far along on my weight loss journey as you, but I'm following much the same path. Found your post very encouraging.

  2. How wonderful and encouraging! Six months ago I started a similar journey and have lost 20 pounds so far. With much discipline it is possible! You rock!

  3. I'm so proud of you, Doris!!! That's awesome! I've lost 55 lbs. over the past 1 1/2 years, using many of the same points you made. I still have a long ways that I want to go, and I'm going to meet with a nutritionist next week, to figure out the healthiest way for me to proceed. One of my big goals right now is to run a marathon in 2015, the year I turn 40. I'm so excited to work toward that!!

  4. In a word... WOW!
    Thanks for sharing your story and all your tips. It's one of the most refreshing things I've read in a long time to hear dietary advice being given in such a down-to-earth realistic way. Especially the parts about admitting the temptations sometimes win.... because that's real life. And that's ok.
    But well done for being disciplined when it counts and having such a great result.

  5. Thanks for sharing your story Doris and yay for you! I hear you about the exercise. I do so good in the summer and now the cold and dark has set in I find it impossible to find the motivation.