Track it all.
- Track all foods, nutrients, and water you take in
- Track all workouts and calories burned
- Eat frequently and enough for your activity level to keep metabolism roaring along
- Avoid extreme diets and play with easy-to-prepare healthy foods to see what makes you feel the most energized, satisfied, etc. Understand everyone’s body & lifestyle is different. There is no one-way-fits-all to become healthy.
- Be patient as it takes about 6 months to re-wire the “I’m full” switch. Then you will rarely have to track again!
There are tons of methods you can use to track. Your doctor may have certain recommendations for the # of calories, the amount of protein, the proportion of carbs, the amount of vitamins, the types of veggies, etc. that you should intake. Apps can also tell you what’s appropriate to intake each day relative to your height, weight, age, level of activity, what you’re burning, etc. To track your day, you can use good ol’ pen & paper, you could use myfitnesspal.com, dailyburn.com, weight watchers applications, any kind of Word or Excel document. Just find something. It will keep you accountable to yourself.
Aim for balance and getting in all the nutrients that you need. Eat something small every few hours. Be properly fueled and hydrated before, during, and after workouts. It might be a system shock at first, but still, you should never feel light-headed or weak.
It will get easier and easier. Be patient. It can take a looooong time to rewire the “I’m full” switch inside of us, especially if you haven’t felt that bad boy work your entire life.
My personal experience leading up to this stage was merely ignorance. I grew up in a typical blue-collar midwestern home where snacking was always available, family was rarely physically active, there were no such things as gym memberships, and it wasn’t dinner if it didn’t include a casserole of meat, cheese, and carb-overload. There was a lot of love and affirmation of self-worth and intelligence, though, and for that I’m grateful and lucky because so many kids don’t get that.
I was active in summer kiddo softball, and got to play with summer school sports like tennis, then middle school basketball and swim, and high school volleyball and softball, but I was never elite, never in private clubs, and never did I think in terms of “working out.” I was a little pugdy in middle school but thinned out with the height spurt in high school. I remember all the way through high school that I never ever thought of food. It just was packed for me at lunch, or prepared on the dinner table when I got home. I literally had no clue about nutrition, about food choices, or about working out. It quite honestly never entered my mind.
At college I suddenly found myself having to think about food. Then the need to work out. Then after my freshman year of college, I got married. Kept going on to school but both hubby and I had a rough go with fitness and were in a very stressful part of our lives. Then gradually and gradually, I was completely inactive, not muscular one bit, unhappy, extremely self-conscious, hated seeing pictures of myself, was only able to wear a couple of frumpy outfits, and pudgy. 5 years went by just feeling like crap.
Then for whatever reason, I decided to become a runner. I had the support of a group of friends and we jogged once a week. I was back with the postnatal crowd pushing strollers running 30 seconds and walking 30 seconds. Stuck at it off and on, and at the end of the first summer I ran (a.k.a. I struggled through and thought I was going to die in) a trail half marathon. It was after this that I then dabbled in nutrition, again with the support of a blog of friends and a challenge to lose 10lbs. I tracked calories in and calories burned for the first time ever. I used myfitnesspal.com but there are lots of other methods just as great. Slow persistence, experimentation, self-forgiveness when I’d slip up, and patience. More half marathons, a full marathon, a 50k. Then about a year later I had lost a total of 40ish lbs and was thinner than I had been since middle school with strong muscles and athleticism.
Then 2+ years ago I went through a yoga teacher training program, and radically changed my self-image and how I felt about myself. Teaching since then has really transformed me into someone I love and believe in.
And I’ve kept it off for 4 years. I have lost a total of about 48 lbs since my heaviest, and I am stronger and starting to get defined. Being active and eating (mostly :)) healthy has become a lifestyle. There is no end goal really. It’s a commitment to myself.
I vary up my workouts now and don’t even view them as workouts– just fun ME-time! I love the all-women fitness studio where I take booty barre classes, ab classes, boot camp classes, and a little bit of pole dancing classes. I also love running outside on my own (this is my meditation time 🙂 where I work through all my thoughts), road cycling with my hubby, and taking yoga classes of all styles from friends at lots of studios in town.
My dreams all came true this September when my fit hubby and I were running barefoot along the wet sand shoreline of the Mediterranean Sea for miles and miles under gorgeous sunshine….. I’m not a treadmill or diamonds kinda gal 😉
When I look back on my childhood, I always remember positive thinking. I never envisioned myself as a large person in my head and I don’t think it hit home until we had to weigh in for wrestling in sixth grade gym class. I can still see the scale in my head reading 206. My gym teacher at the time was also my football coach and soon to be wrestling coach. He kept a pretty positive attitude about it and was always encouraging me with such things as you’ll need time to grow into your size.
If I was to pin point my weight gain it would come from always being happy but ultimately being terribly sad on the inside. I have asked my mom about my food habits and she always said I was a good eater…. With that being said 206 was the lightest I can remember being, after that my weight never went below 275 and it would balloon up into the 320-330’s in the off-season. Then once football would start and wrestling would start the weight would come back off and I would hover around 275 for a few months and the cycle would repeat itself.
I think reality hit home when I was shopping at the mall and they had a weight scale outside of one of bathrooms. I put my quarter in and stepped on, at the point I had cleared the 400 pound bench mark. Oddly enough that didn’t faze me. I was in a size 22 dress shirt, size 60 waist pants, and couldn’t run a quarter-mile. Life was hard, but the food was never-ending and I couldn’t get enough.
Now the real question is where did it all change? Why now? Why not in my early 20’s? Why not when I hit 206 pounds in sixth grade or put the quarter in and read 400 plus on the scale? My motivation came from within my home, from my wife who at the time had gained weight right along side of me but not to my extreme. It came from a support system that probably saved my life. I had my father and my brother that were pretty active to shoot me ideas and new work outs to try and Sarah to help me implement them into my life.
The one thing I have learned in this journey is when you are ready to make a change there are people in your life to help you with your goals. They can’t make you change but you need to have the want and desire to change. Have the ability to say no to fast food, candy, and soda. You have to understand you can’t eat like you see other people eat because your body is different and the quick fast food grab is straight trash.
So my motivators to change, being able to sit in only one airplane seat, being able to shop at a normal clothing store, going to a public swimming pool and wanting to take my shirt off, having people see Sarah and I out them thinking we were actually together (I married up I already know), to be a faster cyclist, and a stronger runner.
With the weight loss comes a learning curve, those of us that have had 50-100-150+ pounds lost can’t actually stop working out no matter how little we eat, our bodies will freak out and start packing the pounds right back on, so what I have done is and with the help of my brother and my wife is mixing it up. My brother is always finding new ways to kick his own ass and making to a workout, Sarah see’s the info he is giving me and helps make it suitable for me. Repetition kills me, doing the same thing weekend and week out will only work for some and I am not one of those. I need to mix it up, hit the weights for super sets, hit spin class, always toss in yoga, grab a random boot camp to show you you’re not as tough as you thought, a run along the river, or a trail, or even downtown.
The end product is something I hope everyone will have someday if they don’t already. To have the ability to be comfortable in their own bodies, to be able to walk down the aisle of a plane without having people look at you freaked because you might be sitting next to them, or go to a restaurant and order without hoping it will be enough, and to be able to slip on your shoes and go for a run with the love of your life without hesitation. Being fit is a whole new view on life and I’m enjoying it. FYI, I still don’t have any self-control whatsoever, but I’m working on it 🙂