(Food intake – Calorie output) = Weight
I have lost 85 lbs in the last 3 years. I went from a size 20 to a size 4. When I run into people I haven’t seen for a while, they are always shocked and invariably ask “How did you do it?” My stock reply is “Eat less, do more. The equation never really changes.” I feel somewhat guilty about this admittedly snarky answer, but the truth is people don’t really want to hear how I did it because I don’t have a secret formula. Any piece of insight I may have will be greeted with “Well, that may work for you, but I couldn’t possibly…” Ultimately the conversation ends with me shaking my head and walking away. As I am not that invested in the well-being of the person who is doing the asking, I usually just let it roll off my back. However, it did occur to me that maybe I should put some thought into how I did it, if only so I can learn more about myself.
I was not obsessed with losing weight. I had two young children, a great job and wonderful husband, blah..blah..blah..The American Dream. Sure, I wasn’t thrilled about how I had let this happen but most days I was not a depressed mess. Unless I saw a photograph of myself. That really got me down, so I just avoided being photographed- problem solved! (that’s why there are no pictures with this). Then on November 8, 2009 (my 40th birthday), I went to the doctor for my annual exam and stepped on the scale. 233 lbs. What?? That can’t be right? No, it was right. I cried all the way home.
The next morning I started walking. Sounds so easy, right? Just start walking. Just go. What’s stopping you? Well, lots of things. I’m sitting at work, looking out the window, waiting for the day to end so I can go for a walk. Then I get home- all hell breaks loose. This kid has to go here, dinner needs to be made, parents drop over. All of a sudden its 10pm and guess what? No walk. Oh well, try again tomorrow.
Tomorrow comes- you know the story, SS, DD. OK- this is ridiculous. How about I go for a walk in the morning? I’m not a morning person, but I drag myself up at 6am (remember its now December in Central New York). That lasts about a week.
“OK people, here’s the deal. Mommy is going for a walk. I don’t care who’s here, I don’t care who needs what. Dinner can wait, and unless you’re bleeding profusely from a vital organ, whatever you need can wait. Mommy IS GOING FOR A WALK. See you later”
Guess what? They survived. Kids and husbands survive. We don’t give our “dependents” enough credit. They are quite capable of taking care of themselves. Maybe they don’t do it exactly the way we would do it, but they survive. They don’t need us in their faces every second anyway. Someday they are going to have to go out in the world on their own, so they might as well start practicing now.
And so began the journey. This is what I have learned:
Most “weight loss” advice is bullshit. Here’s my top 3 weight loss tips that are completely opposite of what the “experts” tell you.
1. Don’t plan your meals carefully.
I don’t want to think about food that much. If I start thinking about dinner during lunch, all it does is make me hungry well before dinner time and I start munching. Now sure, it’s a good idea to have your house stocked with healthy food- fruit, veggies, etc, but I don’t start thinking about dinner until about an hour before I need to eat it. Usually this is during exercise. Somehow its easier to plan a sensible meal when you’re in the middle of sweating your ass off.
2. Don’t exercise with a friend.
Let’s face it, most people are fundamentally unreliable. How easy is it to blow off your 6 pm exercise session, when your “friend” calls you at 5:45pm to say she can’t make it. Besides, its almost impossible to find someone who is at the same ability as you are. You’ll constantly be adjusting your intensity up and down to match someone else. Its annoying and ultimately counter-productive. I exercise alone. Sure, I see the same group of people at the gym or walking down the street, but we’re on a “nod and Hey” basis. I don’t want people to talk to me. Its workout time, not social time. An added benefit is that your exercise time will become your thinking time. Maybe you need to work out a problem at work or come up with a strategy to deal with a surly teenager. Eventually you will come to treasure your thinking time and guard it jealously. You’ll go exercise just to have an excuse to get your thinking time in.
3. Don’t sit down at the table to eat.
You need to break the concept of “Food as the centerpiece of every event” Stop making eating THE event. If the purpose of sitting down at the dinner table it to connect with the family, there are other ways to do it that does not make food the focus. Play a game, discuss a book, proof read an English paper, help study for test, look over college brochures. When I’m ready to eat, I make one plate of food. I then exit the kitchen and go someplace else to eat it. When I finish that plate of food, my immediate instinct is to go get more. But ultimately I’m too tired to get up and get more. By the time I do get up, my stomach has had time to tell my brain its full and I’m done eating.
I have more insights, if anyone is interested, let me know.
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