Measuring For Success
There are several influencing factors in Grammajinx’s ongoing weight loss journey, which is part of her lifestyle change. She uses Calorie Count’s tools to guide her eating habits, has added daily exercise and has lost over 109lbs. For Grammajinx, losing weight isn’t a matter of vanity; it’s about wanting to be healthy and to be there for the people she loves.
1. What made you decide to lose weight this time?
On March 12, 2009 – On a lark, I weighed myself on a gas station scale. When I saw the figure written on that little piece of paper, though, I was horrified. 270 lbs! How could I have let myself get that big? When I got home, I couldn’t shake that feeling of horror. Here I was, 40 years old and headed for the same types of problems I’ve watched other women in my family struggle with as they aged. My weight problems threatened to cause and/or exacerbate inherited bone density problems, as well as giving me digestive problems and an increasing dependence on medications to keep my body functioning. Worse yet, I suffered from chronic aches and pains that kept me from exercising, and I had already been through one round of physical therapy for a wrist issue. I had gotten so big that I would get sore from sleeping too long on one side or another and the pain would wake me up at night.
2. What other “diets” (programs, products, plans, or services) had you tried in the past?
I had half-heartedly tried little gimmicky things: Giving up fast foods, giving up chocolate, chips or vending-machine foods, eating only vegetarian when I did eat out, etc. The only diet that ever worked, though, was the one I had used when I was in college about a dozen years earlier. I had lost 50 pounds by following the Susan Powter diet and using her exercise tapes. The key that time, for me, was limiting my fat intake and moving my body. This time, I set out for a complete lifestyle change, not just a temporary sacrifice of certain foods I really enjoyed.
3. What changes did you make to your usual diet, activity, lifestyle, and attitude?
I started moving my body, using calisthenics and walking around the building at work with a coworker who was pregnant. Just a couple of times around (about a half mile) at first, but over the next three months we worked ourselves up to between 4-6 laps per day. When she went out on maternity leave, I switched and started working out ½ hour on the recumbent bike and another ½ hour on the circuit trainer, in my apartment building’s workout room.
One of the things that helped me the most, was applying my 12-step program to the diet. One woman said her doctor told her she could have one to two glasses of wine per day while she was pregnant, without hurting the baby. She said, “What I didn’t realize is that an alcoholic’s idea of a ‘glass’ of wine, is not the same as a normal person’s idea of a ‘glass’ of wine.”
I realized that I had to get my portions under control, and that I had long since lost any idea of what a normal-sized portion should be. I bought food scales and started measuring my portions with measuring cups and spoons. I started buying diet meals to eat for lunch. I stopped eating out. And I started to learn what a “normal” portion is.
I changed the foods I ate: I substituted mushrooms, spinach and broccoli for a lot of the meats I would eat. I cut back on my egg intake and found low-fat or fat-free substitutes for my dairies. I started eating more vegetarian meals and I use spray oils now, and 50% (light) oleo spreads. I use light mayonnaise (when I use it at all) and I use more spices now than just salt & pepper. I have even experimented with new tastes and found some that I really like!
4. How did Calorie Count help you to lose weight?
I started by logging my food intake and using some of the exercises shown on Calorie Count. I like this site because it doesn’t cost money, it has a robust database of foods, including restaurant fare and brand-name foods, and I like the blog feature. More than anything, though, I like entering in my own recipes, analyzing them, and trying new things to lower their calorie & fat content.
Having Calorie Count as my “diet buddy” has helped me so much, I can’t even describe it. Having that running log of calories to “spend” (it helps me to think of it in budgetary terms) each day, and a realistic analysis of what I was burning with my exercise, plus the feature that helps calculate weight loss and project when the goal might be met, always kept me going and helped me see progress even when my jaundiced eye couldn’t see the results on my body – I could always read the figures online and KNOW that I was doing what I was supposed to do, therefore, the results would follow.
5. What was most challenging about losing weight?
EXERCISE. I have ALWAYS hated exercise, and while I’ve gotten now to where I feel the need to exercise if I don’t get to the gym for a couple of days, it’s still not my favorite thing. I have, however, come to enjoy the “me time” and the time away from my often-chaotic household. Most of the time I’m alone in the workout room, and can read a book while on the bicycle, or watch a favorite show while I’m on the elliptical machine. It makes the time pass more quickly and keeps me from feeling too sorry for myself.
6. How long did it take you to see results?
People started noticing my weight loss about two, three months into my program. After I lost 25 pounds, my clothes started hanging off me, and I had to start replacing my wardrobe little by little. I would average 2-3 months in a ‘new’ size of clothes before I would have to get new ones again, and people were constantly noticing the weight loss. The most encouraging thing, however, was that people tended to comment on the weight loss more often when I was experiencing a plateau, so I could tell my body was shrinking even when the scales were not showing loss.
7. When did you realize that you were a success?
I went to an AA convention in November, where I saw a lot of people I hadn’t seen for a year. Although I’d “only” lost 60 pounds by then, everyone noticed the change. It was intoxicating to have so many people tell me I looked good – and for me, the moment when I knew I was a “success,” was when WOMEN started commenting on the weight loss and asking for diet tips. If WOMEN notice another woman’s weight loss, enough to comment on it and ask advice about it, then it must be drastic!
8. How do you prevent relapse?
At 170 lbs, I know I’m not finished; I still need to lose another 20-35 pounds, but I seem to have hit a plateau for the last month or so, and have had trouble getting to the gym the past few weeks because of the flu and a lot of extra activities going on in my family. I am not worried, though; I’ve hit plateaus before and I realize, now, that as long as I continue to work my “program” and keep logging my food and get back in that gym as often as I can, I will continue to make my body stronger and healthier, and the weight will come off when my body is ready.
I feel lucky in that I have a strong 12-step program behind me that helps keep me on track. I know that as long as I’m doing my best, my Higher Power will do the rest, and I also know that I only really have to do this for one day: Today. As long as I keep taking it one day at a time, and remember that I’m doing this for my health, not for my vanity, I will keep myself humble and strong in this new way of life.
9. How has your life changed now that you’ve lost weight?
Besides going from a size 26W to a size 12W, some of the benefits I’ve seen: My gastro-intestinal problems have all but disappeared. I sleep better: I haven’t awakened in the night with sore hips or back, or numb arms, for months. I am much more active: I can play with my grandkids, and I even took them to museums and to the zoo last summer, something I haven’t even attempted to do since my own children were tiny, because I just couldn’t walk that long without causing myself immense pain. One of the best benefits, though, is that my youngest daughter, who still lives with me, saw what I was doing and jumped on the bandwagon. She has completely changed her eating habits and improved her exercise regimen, and she has also lost about 50-60 pounds in the past eight months. She is just beautiful!
10. What five tips do you have for other dieters?
- Drink lots of water. I switched to water almost 100% of the time, and it helps flush out the fats, toxins, salts and other things that tend to stay in the body if we’re not consciously washing them out.
- Find the foods you like to eat, and play with the recipes to bring them down as low-calorie, low-fat as you can. Use the recipe feature of the site to help you with this.
- Eat smaller portions. MEASURE the food you eat, to teach yourself what a healthy portion is, and to help you know exactly how many calories you’re consuming.
- Eat less meat. Americans eat far too much meat in their diets, and most of it’s fatty, salty and surrounded by high-calorie items like breading, buns, gravies & sauces.
- MOVE your body. Whatever you CAN do, do it for at least a half hour each day: Walk, dance, vacuum – get your heart rate up for at least that half hour, to get your blood pumping.
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