That question has been following me around lately. Anytime I see someone who I haven’t seen in awhile or when I post pictures (a rare moment), I hear it. It’s a question that I’ve wanted to hear almost all of my life. At just 5’2″ (or very short, in most people’s worlds), I have been overweight all of my adult life. I’ve never been obese or so overweight that I seemed it but rather, I was just always bigger. When I was younger I used to tell myself that I was just built bigger. That’s true, to an extent. I have a good bit of muscle on me but honestly there’s a good bit of fat too. I have been working towards getting rid of this weight for a long time, although never by extreme dieting. I don’t do well on crazy plans that have me eliminate all of anything. When I graduated from college, I was wearing a size 14. After I picked up running a few years back, I dropped to an 8. I was happy with that number but every BMI chart still told me I was overweight.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. Numbers are not everything and the chart can’t decide if I am happy with my body or determine how much muscle and fat there is on me. But I can and I also knew one thing with certainty. I ate a lot and not much of it was good food. I wanted that to change. So at the end of December I started to make definite changes in what and how much I was eating in an effort to be healthier. That’s the true goal here – health. However, it’s had an unintended side effect. I started losing weight.That’s when I decided to try a couple of things.
The first of those things was getting back into the My Fitness Pal app. Those lovely people don’t know who I am, so this isn’t a paid ad for the app. There are other apps that do the same thing. That’s just what I use. It’s a calorie log, basically. You put in what and how much you eat and it tells you your nutrition. Calories and nutrients are all there for you to see. Almost as soon as I started using it, I realized that I was eating more than I thought. Having to look at serving sizes reminded me again that not matter how tasty they might be, a whole bag of jelly beans is not good for your bottom line – or your bottom. I think a lot of people underestimate how much they’re eating or they overcompensate with exercise. As an example: “I ran a couple miles. I can totally have that grande pumpkin spice latte.” Except that, no. You almost never work off as much as you think you have and putting the numbers in helps me see that. Or decide that it’s worth it to blow a day because sometimes, it is completely worth it to blow a day.
The second thing I did was make a concerted effort to eat better food. Less processed food, less bread, more fruits and veggies. Again, this has paid off in unexpected ways. Fresh food or food that you prepare from scratch has the benefit of control – you are completely aware of what’s in there (or not). And often, it’s got fewer calories. I have decreased my bread and chip consumption to almost nothing. I still eat bread and chips but not every day. I also try to eat them in moderation. I have this amazing sourdough bread I got from Target. That loaf may last forever because I bought it almost 2 weeks ago and I still have 2/3 of the loaf. I’m going to freeze some of it so it doesn’t go bad. I have increased the amount of veggies I eat, almost ten times. Fruit has also gone up though not by as much. I have decreased (almost eliminated) the amount of meat and dairy I eat. Except for cheese because I can’t live without cheese. It’s a downfall of mine.
With the increased yoga and overall exercise, I have lost 15 pounds since I started tracking my weight in the app (which was on January 2nd). I might fit in a size 4 (I bought a 6 when I bought my jeans but I think I might have been able to go to a 4 but was to chicken to try it on). For the first time in as long as I can remember, my BMI is almost in the “normal” range (I have about 3 pounds to go). The best part is that I’m not missing out on anything. I don’t feel deprived. I still eat junk sometimes. But now, I am aware of the choices I’m making and thinking about them. For example, when I went on vacation, I gained some weight back. But the great part is that as soon as I got home, it came right off.
If you feel stuck, like you want to lose weight but can’t, I would strongly recommend that you first, figure out why you want to lose weight. And be honest with yourself. I really believe that you need an internal motivation to be healthier, not that you want to be a certain size or have a certain waist measurement. Once you decide, what has worked for me the best is to make small changes. Replace your regular snacks with healthy snacks or track your eating for a couple of weeks. Really think about what you’re eating and why you’re eating it. Cut out soda (I still drink soda sometimes too) or decide to walk every night. Once you make that first change stick, make another one. The changes add up faster than you realize and suddenly you’re a different, healthier person.
I think that my new habits are good ones and I’m still learning what works for me and what doesn’t. That said, I feel better and that is motivation alone to keep up the changes. Hopefully, some day, I won’t have to think about it anymore and I’ll just automatically know what and how much to eat. For now, I’m sticking with my new habits and taking the time to be mindful. In the meantime, maybe I can help someone else find what will help them. For tonight though, I have some homework to finish. Until tomorrow, lovely people!