Starting any journey takes courage, knowledge and truth. If you are starting your journey with just a little of the three, don’t be surprised when all three start to sore as your journey takes flight. In spring 2011 I had a little of the three, but once I got started on my journey and I began to trust the process, my three grew astoundingly.
What is your truth at this moment in time? Do you have a few pounds to lose? Do you have a lot of pounds to lose? Do you want your BMI in the normal weight range? Do you want to raise your fitness level? Do you want to challenge yourself? What ever your reasoning, you can do it, you can take charge of your life and make the changes you want!!
After a decade of convincing myself that I could not do it, I stopped the ugly talk and got down to business. Just get it done, show up for you and trust the process one day, one week and one month at a time and you WILL see changes happen.
So what made the difference this time, how did I take my BMI from the obese category to the normal weight category in 2011? The list is long and I’m going to lay it all out, right here.
***I am NOT a doctor, I’m just a girl from West Michigan explaining what worked for me. Most folks tell you to consult a doctor before starting any weight loss effort and that is excellent advice.***
- Decide that it is time. Once you have committed to yourself to make THE effort continue to step 2.
- Start a blog. One of the most helpful things I did was to simply write about my efforts. It is hard to hide behind non-effort if you are writing about it and laying it all out there. You can tell your friends about your blog or you can tell no one, that part is up to you. There is something about putting your truth out on your blog, available for anyone with an internet connection to find, that simply releases toxins in your way. Documenting your journey is cathartic and it was one of the most helpful steps I took and part of the reason I was SUCCESSFUL. Post as often as you can, but at least once a week.
- Find blogs to follow. If you don’t have a positive influence in your life, there are amazing folks to be met out in the blogosphere. Search by tags for weight loss and just start reading, soon you’ll find someone who doesn’t sound so different from you and reading their posts will provide much-needed comfort on those trouble days. Be sure to leave comments on those posts you have enjoyed and follow/sign up for email updates on those blogs too. In addition to blogging, give twitter a try (be sure to follow the blog authors you enjoy over on twitter), search on #workouts, #fitness or come see who I follow.
- Join Weight Watchers, I did not, but that was a money thing. I’ve read enough blogs and seen enough big losers to know Weight Watchers works!! No, it is not a must do, but I’ve seen how helpful it can be, so it has to be on the list.
- Create your own documentation. Either hand written or in your computer. I created an excel spreadsheet (easier to manage weight calculations when you have the ability to create formulas). Document at least the following: weight, measurements (arms (upper arm and wrist), bust, waist, hips, thigh and calf), heart rate (resting heart rate and figure out what your target heart rate should be), water intake (I’ll be talking a lot about water shortly), workout minutes (track your daily and weekly minutes), and track your daily calories (or for weight watchers: points). I also keep a list of foods I eat often and their calorie totals, makes it easier to keep track of my totals when I have a quick reference guide.
- Drink Water!!!! Start out by making sure you are getting the minimum: four 8-oz glasses of water a day. Watch your sodium intake and consider adding to the minimum. I do better on my sodium now, but between my love of salt and my workouts I’ve found my body loves getting eight 8-oz glasses of water a day. Trust the process is a term you’ll see me write a lot. Our weight fluctuates regardless of our efforts, probably has something to do with the cycle of the earth, who knows. Sometimes no matter what you do you wont lose weight, this could just be a test. A test you will NOT fail, because it will NOT deter you from your journey!!! Go back and read that sentence again. You will keep moving forward. One thing I will guarantee you, if you do not get enough water your body will not lose weight on a consistent pattern. Experiment #1 TODAY: drink as many glasses of water as you can, but at least four 8-oz glasses of water (I encourage you to make it more, especially if you like salt!) and document how you feel. TOMORROW: drink little water and document how you feel.
- Join a gym or create a library of workouts to do at home. A gym membership was not an option for me, again a money thing. I had a pretty good collection of workouts from previous attempts to lose weight that I added to. Re-sale shops are a great place to find good workouts. Be sure to do workouts that are challenging (sure, of course) but also enjoyable. Are you saying these two can not exist together? Of course they can!!! Keep looking until you find something you enjoy. Maybe you like to be outside, so try walking or running. Maybe you like indoor low impact, try Pilates, yoga or my personal favorite Nia!! Kick boxing, Tae Bo, Kathy Smith, Karen Voight…the list goes on. Keep looking until you find something to look forward to. No matter whether you workout at a gym or at home be sure to vary your workout. Do NOT do the same workout everyday. I believe I started with a 2-day pattern (i.e. working out 2 days a week) and then I moved to 3-days a week and then 5-days. Each day I did a different workout. I read an article from Bob Greene once that stated to start with 200 minutes of exercise per week. After 4-weeks he suggests moving that number up to 300 minutes. Since I wanted this time to be different, I did start out slow. I wanted to build momentum, not over do and wear myself out. Experiment #2 TODAY: workout and document how you feel. TOMORROW: do not workout and document how you feel.
- Pay attention to what you eat and share half of your plate with fruits and veggies. The half a plate share is not just for dinner time, it is for every meal. I am nowhere near an expert on good food choices, but I’ll give you some obvious good choices: no fried foods (this does NOT mean pan frying with a little light spray or a little (1-2 tablespoons) olive oil), limit or eliminate pop, limit your processed foods, look for foods low in fat or chose healthy fat and make sure you are getting enough protein. Over in my Weight Loss Journey Goals tab you’ll find all sorts of info, including my own personal goals, and one of the things I mention is the hunger scale. Once I started drinking enough water I realized that many times I thought I was hungry I was not, I was simply thirsty. Two other good rules of thumb: eat breakfast within an hour of getting up, don’t let long periods of time occur between meals, snack (plan your calorie day to allow for at least one snack) and do not eat after dinner (simply because we don’t make the best food choices late at night). Experiment #3 TODAY: make good food choices, make half your plate fruits and veggies, drink plenty of water and document how you feel. TOMORROW: eat what ever and when ever, try to forget about the water (drink some but not the minimum) and document how you feel.
- Get enough sleep. You are asking a lot of yourself, be sure to give your body time to recover and rev back up for the next day. Good additions to getting enough sleep is taking time to meditate each day (calm your mind and find your own truth) and taking extra time to stretch your muscles. If you are working out more than before your muscles might need extra time to stretch. Experiment #4 TODAY: plan out your day so that you get enough sleep, which is usually between 7.5 to 8 hours and then document how you feel. Tomorrow: plan on less sleep, enough to function of course!! and document how you feel.
- Weigh yourself. The scale is but one truth, only one of several that you need to pay attention to. Weigh yourself once a week and be sure to document the change from the previous week, including any change to your BMI. Your weigh day is a good day to blog. Write about how you did with the hunger scale, food choices, calorie/point counts, exercise minutes, how you are feeling and your change in weight and or BMI.
- Measure yourself. Measurements are another truth, one we don’t get as often, I recommend measuring your body every 4 weeks. Sometimes your weight wont change much, but you’ll have an inch or more disappear from your waist…good evidence that you have shrunk fat and built muscles, remember muscle weighs more than fat.
- Review the results from each of your experiments and do one more. Experiment #5 TODAY & TOMORROW…put all of the above together: drink plenty of water, workout, listen to the hunger scale, make good food choices, get enough rest and document how you feel.
- Set long-term AND short-term goals. Long term goals are great, it sets your aim and you know where you are headed. It is the short-term goals that are going to get you to that long-term goal. I liked setting 4-week goals, i.e. lose 4 pounds over the next 4 weeks or no chips or cookies for the next three days or limit the chips to 1 serving and the cookies to 2. I found it important to always have a short-term goal. You do NOT have to meet every short-term goal, but they can help you to gauge your progress and help you to figure out if you are expecting too much or maybe not enough. With that long-term goal so far down the line, it is a lot of fun to meet short-term goals!!
- Challenge Yourself. Keep the challenges coming, I bet you will be surprised what you are capable of doing. One of the best challenges I did was Brad Gansberg’s 7-day Chip (search #7daychip on twitter), he also offers a 30-day and 100-day (plus he can teach you how to run). One of my new workouts was Jillian Michaels’ No More Trouble Zones one of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done, but you know what, I could do it and right in the beginning too. Sure I had to simplify some of the moves, based on Jillian’s directions, and it was a hard challenge but I could do it and it made me feel great!! Now I can do the whole workout without modification.
One of the reasons losing weight was hard for me was because it is hard to see into the future. Sure I wanted to look better in my jeans, sure I wanted to live a healthier more active lifestyle, but regardless of my efforts, I had to wait to have each of them. Being impatient is difficult, but once I realized there ARE instant rewards in weight loss, rewards that became my true reason for wanting the weight gone, my light bulbs began to burn so bright they burst! You don’t have to wait for success. Your success can be felt today and weight loss will simply be a by-product. Choose YOU and feel better TODAY and each day that you choose YOU. Once you’ve decided to live for yourself, do what makes you feel great, workout because you enjoy it, drink enough water because you ARE thirsty, choose foods that make your body sing in the hours after you’ve eaten. Keep choosing you everyday of your life. This journey isn’t over when your weight enters the normal range. This journey continues everyday, so that you can live your life in a body that is content and sending you good vibrations so that YOU can enjoy YOUR life.
Trust the process and keep moving forward. Each week you’ll find things that worked and things that did not. Keep coming back to your goals, tweak your short-term goals and tweak your efforts, just keep moving forward. Some weeks you WILL lose and some weeks you will NOT, regardless, keep choosing YOU and stay on your Own Healthy Journey.