Weight loss has always been a struggle for me. There was constantly an internal battle between my desire to be thin and healthy and my desire for large amounts of pizza. Typically, pizza has won this battle but not anymore. For five months, I have been consistently triumphing over pizza, pasta, and my couch (which has some convincing arguments on why I should sit and binge 5 hours of Snapped, I might add).
I like to consider myself adventurous when it comes to exercise. I will try anything once. My favorite workouts are things that make me feel sexy or empowered, or both. These include: belly dancing, burlesque, powerlifting, Zumba, and my very favorite, Pole Fitness. There is nothing that feels better than knowing you can look dainty and sexy, while also being able to pull yourself into the air with nothing but your incredibly strong arms (ladies, don’t be afraid to work on that upper body).
My main struggle came with my diet. I have a love affair with carbs and every time I thought diet, I would think of how my mom dieted: salad and grilled chicken for every meal for three or more months until she got burnt out and went back to her old eating habits. I didn’t want that. I love food, I love carbs, and I did not want to lose them. There is a meme that floats around many fitness personalities’ social media pages from time to time, it goes something like this, “Fitness is 20% exercise and 80% nutrition…you can’t outrun your fork.” As much as I wished this wasn’t true, it is. Once you start counting your calories (especially when you also start counting calories burned through exercise), you really start to learn how much you have to run to burn off that mini cupcake that you JUST HAD to have.
But alas, this does not mean you have to follow my mom’s diet plan and live without foods you love. The key is moderation; download a calorie-counting app and honestly start logging your food including those oils you cook your foods in and all drinks you consume. Buy an electric food scale and honestly measure your food. The human eye is tricky and tends to underestimate how much food we take. If you are unable to weigh your foods (such as at a family dinner or party), use smaller plates and utensils. I once read a research study where participants were all asked to eat at a self-serve buffet and were given either a small plate or a larger plate; those that used the larger plates took and ate significantly more.
Most importantly, be honest with yourself. Don’t lie to your calorie-counting app (I have been guilty of this); this hurts no one but yourself. Food still counts even if you don’t count it and your waist will tell the truth even when you don’t. Stick to a calorie goal and stick to your nutritional goals; try to eat at least one serving of veggies, try to eat a fruit, try to hit your protein goal, but also allow yourself to eat what makes you happy everyone once in awhile. If you hit your nutritional goal but still have 500 calories left, eat a slice of pizza if you want, but log it and don’t go over your calorie limit.
Find alternatives to foods you love. Love icecream? Maybe drop the Ben and Jerry’s and buy a pint of Halo Top. Love pasta? Try using spaghetti squash or zucchini instead of noodles. Love pizza? Try using a cauliflower or zucchini base. There is a plethora of healthy recipes out there that don’t involve only fish and kale. For more healthy recipe ideas, check out Jen Kiser’s Pinterest board.
Understanding YOUR Body
Over the last five months, I have lost over 20 pounds and 13 inches all over. People ask me what I did to lose this weight, hoping that I will tell them I took the latest diet pill or shake that is being shilled on Facebook. Every time I tell them that I limit to about 1400-1500 calories a day, work out three to six times a week, and watch my macros. I typically get one of two reactions once I reply, the first is usually the most common and it goes something like this:
“Well, I eat WAY less than you and I can’t lose the weight,” followed by a disappointing look that I did not have the miracle diet pill. When I suggest they track their calories because sometimes things add up even when you think you aren’t eating that much, they become resistant. There is always some reason on why they can’t do it. “It doesn’t work,” “I’m busy,” “I have no time.” We have all heard the excuses and many of us have given them in the past and sometimes still try to.
The second response is always more annoying to receive. I will tell people what I do and what works for me and they bring up “research” that is oftentimes not grounded behind in data. These are just a few of the “tips” I have heard (even though clearly my way was working for my body):
“You only eat three times a day? You need to eat 10 times a day or you will gain weight.” “You need to wear restrictive socks and pants to help tighten your stomach.” “Are you eating carbs? You shouldn’t eat carbs or gluten.” “You shouldn’t do strength training, that is going to make you bulky, you should only do cardio to lose weight.” “Have you tried THRIVE? It will give you the nutrients you need to lose weight.” Everyone has something to say about your routine, and many of them are not correct (in my case). Find what works for you. Everyone has their own theories but only you and your body can tell you what works.
Finding Support Through AFS
I will end this blog to mention a few tricks that have worked for me (a great conclusion after just saying to ignore people’s unsolicited advice, I know). I hate lying, but for some reason it is easier to lie to myself than to others so find someone who will hold you accountable. My accountabilibuddy is my practitioner. She knows when I work out, what I eat, how many veggies I have eaten, etc and I don’t want to disappoint her or myself so I try my hardest to follow my goals. In the mornings, I will typically weigh and log my entire day’s meal. This gives me a terrific basis to see how many calories I am working with and what I can eat for lunch and dinner, but it also makes me stick to this log. I can’t eat that donut that someone brought into the office because I already filled my caloric intake for the day. It helps me to stick to my goals and keep me motivated.
Every morning, I also log my workout. I typically always workout in the evenings after work, but honestly, after I get home and sit down, the last thing I want to do is get up and go exercise. Every morning, while logging my weight and food, I will look up a fun workout on Youtube (unless I am going to my scheduled class) and I will log it that morning. When 7pm rolls around and I am tired and cranky and full from dinner, I still feel obligated to get up and workout. I logged it, I said I did it, now I HAVE to do it whether I like it or not. In the beginning, take advantage of your accountabilibuddy. Have them check in with you to make sure you did your workout; it is easy to talk yourself out of a workout, but it is a lot harder to disappoint someone else.
My last bit of advice, have fun and stay determined. Weight does not come off quickly and people will not notice as quickly as you do. Results are slow but they will happen. Find a rhythm that works for you and avoid trying to find the quick and easy route such as fad diets, pills, and shakes. Getting fit is not easy, but you will not regret starting the journey.