All it took was a photo. Just 1 picture captured in time. I looked at this photo, knew I was in the picture but did NOT recognize the girl looking back at me. Who WAS this person? Surely it wasn't me ... yet sadly, it was. What I saw was a VERY heavy girl looking back at me. Someone I didn't recognize ... someone I couldn't live being. I had to make a change...AND FAST.
That photo prompted me to step on a scale at the gym for the first time in almost 10 years. I don't like scales. I was SCARED of scales. I had an episode in my 20's where I would get on the scale every day and if I had gained a pound I wouldn't eat. This was NOT healthy behavior. I was 5' 8" (still am actually) and I weighed only 119 lbs. I was obsessive. I threw my scale away. But on September 1, 2010 I FORCED myself back on that scale and what I saw shocked me.
181 lbs. That is a MERE 19 lbs away from being 200 lbs ... that thought MORTIFIED ME. I did not want to be a 47 year old woman weighing 200 lbs. I knew if I ever hit that 200 lb mark there would be no turning back. I wasn't going to let myself get there. I wasn't going to buy bigger pants. I was already growing out of my Size 12 jeans and I wasn't going to buy Size 14 ... NO WAY! NO HOW!
For some, 181 lbs is not a big deal. To me, it was HUGE. I am vain. I am ... I am not ashamed to admit it and even when people ask me what motivated me to lose the weight this is the answer I give (more on motivation in another blog). I am not joking. I like to look good and feel good and at 181 lbs I was depressed and unwilling to see anyone. I barely left my house and I was very VERY unhappy.
My depression took the form of drinking myself into oblivion almost every single night. Here is a typical day for me; Get up, take aspirin (due to the hangover from the night before), go to work. After work, go to the gym, work out ... go home, skip dinner and pour myself a vodka rocks, then another, then another until I passed out on the couch. That was EVERY SINGLE NIGHT for me. I couldn't put a finger on why I was depressed. I was in therapy. That helped a little, but not for my depression. I quit Therapy in July of 2010 after a couple of years. Then I got on that scale. It all clicked.
On September 1, 2010 I decided to join a website called My Fitness Pal. It's a website that is free to join, and allows you to track your food and exercise (more on this in another blog) My "dinner" for that night was a 1/2 bottle of wine and a few glasses of vodka. I logged it. I wanted to be reminded of that day FOREVER. I never ever wanted to go back. I needed to lose this weight. September 2, 2010 I started to log my food, quit drinking vodka (and everything else for that matter) and started the work to lose the weight.
This blog was inspired by the many questions people have been asking me on how I lost 41 lbs in 6 months and how I have, so far, maintained my weight since February of 2011. My hope is that people will subscribe, ask questions that I can answer here, in blog form, and that I can provide insight on how I lost this weight and how I intend to keep it off. We'll talk about exercise calories, eating enough food, drinking enough water, watching sodium, getting enough sleep. We'll discuss EATING FOOD, NOT DIETING. This is a lifestyle choice and in your lifestyle you will be faced with challenges during this journey and you have to be equipped to meet those challenges and not allow them to derail you ... old habits die hard.
So I say to you now .... DITCH YOUR DIET ... LOSE THAT WEIGHT.
Hopefully by now whomever is reading this has signed up for My Fitness Pal and set up their account. If not, then this blog entry won't make much sense to you however you are still welcome to read on. It may encourage you to sign up for the FREE site.
It should be noted that I DO NOT WORK for NOR BENEFIT PROCEEDS from the site. I just love it and have found it to be an effective tool for weight loss.
One of the most important things you are going to do is realize that we are not DIETING we are changing out mindset toward food, eating and exercising. This is a LIFESTYLE CHANGE first and foremost. Once you "get your mind right" (as Tony Horton says) your weight loss journey can begin.
Your food diary is one of the most important tools you can use in order to lose the weight you want. Once you have all your preliminary information in it will automatically set up values for your nutritional needs. THE THING IT DOES NOT DEFAULT TRACK IS SODIUM. You can do this in your settings via drop down menu when you are on your food page. I can do an entire essay on the importance of watching your sodium input and how it affects weight loss (and gain). From your settings tab you can monitor just about every nutrient you need, but you only get to monitor 5 items. You can see your overall tracking via drop down menu on your Reports tab from your news feed page. The items I personally track are Calories (required), Fat, Carbs, Sodium, Protein and Fiber.
The MFP database is fairly extensive but I encourage people to double check the nutrition information on the foods before you enter them (if at all possible). Some people LIE so their diaries look better. This only defeats the purpose of the site. IT'S TIME TO GET HONEST PEOPLE and really take a look at what you are doing. The food diary is the KEY to your weight loss or gain story.
In your food diary you must not only enter the foods you eat but the seasonings you use, the oils/butters etc you use to cook your food in. EVERYTHING adds up to calories and every calorie counts. Everything you eat must be entered in this diary in order for this site to help you. If you are snacking and not noting it then gain a pound ... I am telling you right now, those little tidbits add up to real calories and you are only going to frustrate yourself and quit.
When I started this journey I made the decision to log ALL MY FOOD for the day in my diary. At first I would freak out because my calories would be in the red. This tool helped me to realize how much exercise I needed to do in order to be able to eat dinner for the night. On any given day I would be approximately 300 calories "in the red" so I knew in order to eat I had to burn at least 300 calories during exercise (more on this in the next blog).
Now for the tools. When you enter foods it will ask you weights or measurements. DO NOT EYEBALL your food. You will be surprised what your perception of a 4 oz piece of meat is versus what it actually measures out to be.
Get a GOOD digital food scale. You can purchase them for around $ 30.00. You want to make sure it zeros out the container you use to measure your food and, if possible, you can zero it out so you can measure multiple items in the same bowl (for recipes and the like). If you think that you are a good guesser, you aren't. You will fail. You will not lose the weight, you will become frustrated and quit. The purpose of this blog is to help you so you DON'T quit. Your new digital food scale should be able to measure pounds, ounces and milligrams. I use a Salt Digital food scale and, for those of you in So. Cal, I purchased it at Ralphs Grocery store for $ 29.99.
Get measuring cups and spoons and make sure you measure everything. A note on veggies; when a veggie portion says (on frozen vegetables) 1/2 cup (85 grams) (for instance) MEASURE THE GRAMS NOT THE CUP. Always use the weighted measurement for the most accurate entry. When you are measuring cooked rice, you measure twice the dry portion (so 1/4 dry = 1/2 cup cooked).
The other REALLY IMPORTANT entry on your diary is Water. Most people don't drink enough of it. Eight 8 oz glasses isn't even enough if you are overweight. I will do a blog on water but suffice to say the formula is as follows: your weight, divide by 1/2 then divide that number by 8. That is the number of 8 oz MEASURED glasses of water MINIMUM per day you should be drinking. Make sure you track your water on the site as well.
I am not a doctor. Any change in lifestyle, activity, eating should be cleared with your primary physician before attempting. Doing so you do at your own risk. I am not a nutritionist nor am I equipped to give information on special dietary needs such as diabetes, gluten free or the like. I am not a personal trainer. Please make sure you take the necessary precautions prior to starting this or any program.