There is More Than One Way to Diet
Susan had an active lifestyle, but wasn’t making healthy choices when it came to how much she ate. This, and the added stress of her job, caused her weight to slowly creep up, until one day she didn’t recognize herself in pictures. She started counting calories, working out harder, and paying more attention to the way she felt. Susan lost over 50 pounds, and keeps the weight off by staying active and counting calories when she feels herself slipping.
1. What prompted you to begin this weight loss journey? Did you have an “Aha!” moment?
I was looking at pictures with my family from Christmas 2011, and barely recognized the face of the girl looking back at me. My weight snuck up slowly due to a very active job as a park ranger which also involved massive amounts of stress. No one could accuse me of being a couch potato, but as we all know, activity is only half (in my case much less than half) the battle. I had my 10-year high school reunion coming up, and I didn’t want to go looking like I did. I never ended up going to that reunion, but kept losing weight for ME!
2. What other “diets” (programs, products, plans, or services) had you tried in the past?
Nothing – I was pretty much in denial. I didn’t look “fat” since I was so muscular, but I did look extremely bloated since I gained a layer of fat pretty much all around. I thought I would just give up some of the massive amounts of pop I was drinking, and that if I counted calories I could figure out how much less I needed to drink.
3. Please describe how you reached your weight loss goal. What changes did you make to your usual diet, activity, lifestyle, and attitude? Did you implement any other strategies besides Calorie Count? What was the most important change?
I started cooking more of my own meals, worked out for exercise and not just for fun, and I started paying more attention to how my body felt and not just what my brain was telling me I wanted.
4. Please describe how Calorie Count was instrumental to your weight loss.
Now that I don’t use Calorie Count as consistently, it’s easy to forget little snacks or bites here and there, or just dismiss them as negligible calories. When I’m very diligent in logging every bite, I keep myself accountable. The social aspect was also very helpful in the first 6-9 months as I was trying to figure out what was right for me and to get ideas for low-cal snacks and recipes.
5. What difficulties did you experience losing weight?
My boyfriend frequently pushed me to continue to eat fast food, but even that is doable if you make the right choices.
6. How long did it take you to see results? When did you realize that you were a success?
I saw results probably about 2 months in, when my pants became loose. I lost the weight first in my belly, then my face, which seems very weird compared to a lot of the other stories I read where the person has problems with belly weight. My arms were next, and I’m still working on slimming my thighs today.
7. How do you prevent relapse?
Weighing myself as often as I can. It’s a big wake-up call when I turn over into the next 10 pound range. My maintenance strategy is to yo-yo between 135 and 140 pounds, so when I creep up towards 139, it focuses me back on stricter counting. I’ll probably use Calorie Count for years and years, it just varies how much I rely on it.
8. How has your life changed now that you’ve lost weight?
Clothes look amazing! Nothing ever looked or fit “right” on me before. Now, I know what size I wear and I can walk into a store and pull one pair of jeans off the rack that will usually fit – instead of having to grab a size up and a size down since I was storing weight in weird places. I also feel healthier: my resting heart rate has dropped, even though I’m not consistent with cardio.
One warning – there can be a downside! These are far outweighed by the positives, but I just wasn’t expecting it. I did some damage to my knees by taking on one of the DVD series featuring high impact interval training. They sculpted my body like no one’s business, I felt great during and after the workouts, and became so incredibly strong, but my knees pretty much gave out. I took the pain for weakness and worked harder, but I wish I’d listened to my body. I was so surprised when my physical therapist told me that losing such a large amount of weight could actually have significantly contributed to the knee problems, since I didn’t have as much cushioning around my joint. I thought that losing weight was the first thing you did to avoid knee pain! Ultimately, I’m so happy where I am but wish I could change just that one thing. I’m hoping others can learn from my mistake!
9. How long have you maintained your current weight?
I’ve been less than 140 pounds for about 9 months (except a quick, crazy spiral when I was on injectable and oral steroids). My original goal was 135 pounds, just because the websites told me that was my “ideal weight,” but I’m pretty happy with where I am. It’s been so hard to lose the last 5 without lowering my calorie intake to super low levels, so I feel my body is telling me it’s good where it is. Yoga has made me crazy toned, so I know that my body fat levels are probably pretty good and I feel really great.
10. What five tips do you have for other dieters?
1. If it doesn’t work for you, don’t do it. Everyone became so judgmental when I would post “unclean” foods in my food log, but I was losing weight at an ideal pace, exercising regularly, and felt great. My plan was to eat what I wanted as long as I stayed below my calorie goal – and that worked perfectly. Want ice cream? No problem, but you have to have calories left at the end of the day for it, and only eat as much as you can allot.
2. Find FUN activities – I played around with a lot of different sports and activities, and stuck with what I enjoyed. If I eventually burned out of something or the weather changed, I’d just move on and find something else. If I forced myself to do anything I always ended up avoiding it or getting injured.
3. Ignore jealousy – take advice for what it is, and note who is giving it. Everyone has a motivation behind every word they say, so recognize who is genuinely encouraging, who is genuinely concerned about you, and who is just jealous.
4. Don’t judge others for having a different path than you. There’s no one right way, no one right diet, no one perfect exercise. Our bodies are different and our minds are different.
5. Don’t judge yourself – but also don’t make excuses. You’ll mess up, you’ll go a couple hundred calories over, there will be unexpected treats at work. Decide if it’s worth the extra work to indulge. If you do indulge and don’t make up for it with exercise, move on, but also don’t forget that the only person you end up cheating is yourself when you make excuses.
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