Tuesday, May 29, 2012

10% gone...what's worked for me

So as I looked down at the scale this morning, I felt like confetti cannons were blasting off around me and there was celebration music playing (think the Biggest Loser Finale-ish).  Ok, so maybe it was just in my head, but who cares!  It is time to celebrate!  I have met a big goal....I have lost 10% of my body weight since January (when I really started tracking my weight and diet regularly)!  I am still in shock and it seems so surreal!  I can't believe I have actually been doing this, stuck with it and been successful.  This is a place I have never been before...such unfamiliar territory!  And there are more milestones right around the corner....in less than 5 pounds I will hit the 50 pounds lost point and I will hit 10% lost total (I started losing weight in Aug, but didn't really start tracking until Jan).

So as I reflect on the success, I wanted to share what I have done, what has worked for me, in hopes that it may inspire someone else to continue or begin their journey.  Certainly not a guarantee that this will work for everyone, but I am a believer that ideas help.  I am not an expert....Please keep in mind that you should consult with your doctor before you begin anything.

Step 1 - MAJOR overhaul of my diet and eating habits. 
My diet used to consist a lot of super-sized fast food meals.  I didn't seem to have time in my busy schedule of work and mom to plan and cook dinner - or so I told myself.  The truth was I didn't MAKE time.  Because I chose to take the lazy way out, I would justify in my mind that it was easier to pick something up from the nearest drive thru rather than make a dinner for my family.  When January rolled around and it was time for resolutions, I knew I desperately needed to make some changes in my life.  I needed to be a better role model to my family.  So I committed to cooking meals more and eating out less.  But I also knew I needed to find some healthier recipes than those I had grown up learning to cook.  To be successful at this I knew I needed to find recipes that I would like and wouldn't be a punishment to eat.  So I spent A LOT of time on Pinterest gathering new food ideas.  Oh how I just LOVE that site!  I have gotten some GREAT recipes from there!!

Part of the reason I used to hate to cook dinner for the family and copped out for fast food was because I wasn't prepared.  I would literally go to the store nearly EVERY night after work to get the ingredients I needed.  That soooooo was not working!  No wonder I opted for fast food!  So I committed to planning my weekly meals.  I made a weekly meal plan sheet.  I made a list of the meals in our rotation and i would pick a variety for that week.  I made note of our family schedule so on nights we would be busy with appointments or activities we could have an easier meal to prepare or leftovers.  Then I make my shopping list based on what I need to make those meals and I shop once a week (ish - if I make sure to get everything on my list and don't forget anything).  This has made things sooooooo much less hectic at our house in the evening!  And I can happily announce that we eat fast food probably only 1-2 times a month now.

Which brings me to my next point about food - start by making better choices, not necessarily the BEST choice.  If going to a fast food place, opt for a chicken sandwich (or better yet) instead of the greasy burger.  Order a smaller meal than you used to.  Don't large size it.  Get diet soda instead of regular.  There are some great books out called "Eat this, not that" to illustrate this point.  It also aligns in some ways to the Weight Watchers methodology of nothing is off limits, but owning your choices.  In my opinion, this was instrumental in beginning this journey for me.  I am not sure I could have made it by going cold turkey....the temptation to give up and cheat is too great.  So I was able to justify the sacrifice in my mind by saying I was doing better than I used to.

I also realized that portion control was one of my biggest issues so I committed to trying to eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day.  I eat breakfast, a morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack, and dinner.  I have found that I am naturally eating at a more consistent time of day.  I am not as hungry between meals.  In fact, I have started to notice that I have to make an effort to eat all of my allotted calories on some days.  I have also noticed that I am starting to eat smaller portions - I notice when I am getting full and I am no longer so obsessed with food that I want to keep eating it, even when I am full.  I have been doing body by Vi shakes twice a day as a meal replacement, and feel that it has helped me in many ways.  It's helped me stick to my 1250 calorie a day goal.  It has helped me focus on portion control, listening to my body about when I am full, to see bigger loss on the scale, which has helped me so much mentally.  I will not do this forever and I am not sure I would have been successful if I hadn't already had the foundation in place of eating better before I started them, but it's working for now.

Step 2 - Eliminate soda, drink water
Anyone that knows me knows that I used to be a MAJOR Dr. Pepper junkie.  I would drink 60+ ounces a day at my peak.  The sugar and caffeine was the fuel that kept me going....and what contributed significantly to my weight gain.  So I switched over to diet coke and reduced the amount I was drinking to 1 a day, then to 1 a week, now to hardly ever.  Pretty much the only thing I drink anymore is straight water.  Sometimes, if I am needing a change I will add a Crystal Light type flavoring (Cherry Limeade is my favorite!).  I drink at least 64oz of water a day.

Step 3 - Tracking my food intake
Until you really start putting on paper EVERYTHING that goes in your mouth, you do not realize how quickly those calories add up!  I started out doing Weight Watchers on my phone and tracking using an app called "Ultimate Weight Watcher Diary" on my phone.  I have since switched to using "My Fitness Pal" and tracking Calories, Protein and Fat and I LOVE it!  It helps me to stay within the calorie goal I have set for myself (1200-1400 calories a day) and really make the conscious choice of do I really need/want to eat that food because I have to own what it does to my calorie log.

Step 4 - Track your progress - analyze what's working and what's not and make adjustments
Since January I have been keeping a spreadsheet to track my progress.  I started out simple, just tracking my weight, but I have tweaked it and added to it along the way.  Currently I am tracking my daily weight, whether I am +/-, my total weight loss since Aug, my weight loss since Jan (when I started tracking), how many minutes a day I exercise, how many miles I walk in a week.  It is probably way more information that some people would want to track and could be overwhelming.  Again I am a firm believer in doing what works for you.  Make it as simple or as complex as you want.  But it has been invaluable in helping me to see what's working and what's not.  It's helped to to realize that while the loss was at times small, it was there and I was making progress.  It's helped me to stay motivated and continue to push myself.

Step 5 - Exercise
This has been the hardest part for me to get going.  I started on the food part and kept trying to get more exercise in, but it wasn't my focus.  I knew I could only handle so much at a time, so I put this on the back burner.  I have never been a very physical person nor have I ever really liked it, so I knew that if I tried to do too much here I would get frustrated and quit.  I think one of the motivating factors for me with the exercise was being diagnosed as pre-diabetic.  The dietitian told me that 150 minutes of exercise a week would make a big difference in my sugar levels and I have read that several times before, so I finally committed almost 3 months ago now to making this my weekly goal.  While I did not meet it at first, it was a goal and I began working towards it.  As with everything on this journey, at first it was excruciatingly painful trying to coax myself into getting up off the couch.  I had to force myself to do it, sometimes kicking and screaming in my head like my 2 year old, but as time has gone on, it has gotten easier.  I actually find that I often look forward to it.  And I am now to the point where I am meeting, and now starting to exceed my weekly goal.  WOW.

My encouragement is to just get started.  Make the decision to begin, the commitment to changing something (no matter how small), and follow it through and see where it leads.  You may just surprise yourself!  I know I have.  And if I can do this, anyone can!!

If you would like a copy of my weekly meal plan template or my weight tracking spreadsheet, please feel free to email me at memorylanephotowichita@gmail.com

Friday, May 25, 2012

Lane Bryant sale...the only bra I will wear

The bra a girl wears can make a HUGE difference in how she looks!!!!!  No one wants saggy boobs, spillage, etc.  A bra that fits well can make you look slimmer.  As a "well endowed" girl, I used to have the WORST time trying to find bras that fit and supported well and were flattering to my unflattering figure.  Especially when I got heavy enough that I couldn't get a bra just anywhere because I was over a DD.  If you are larger than that it is sooooooo hard to find a bra.  And just forget finding any cute or sexy ones in larger sizes.  They are virtually non-existent!  That was, until I found Lane Bryant's bras.....queue heavenly "aaaaaaaaaaaah" music.

Lane Bryant bras fit AMAZING!!!!  They have fantastic lift and support, they are comfortable, they last a long time.  The stores don't carry many of the really larger sizes (or at least they didn't use to....it's been a while since I checked and things may have changed), but you can take your measurements (or they can help you in the store to ensure you get the right fit) and you can order up to a size H online.....woop woop!  I took my own measurements the first time I ordered online, assuming I would have to send it back, but it was a perfect fit!  They even have cute, fun and sexy colors and now prints for the larger sizes.  A far cry from the past when big girls could only get white and black.

Since I have lost 40+ pounds now, my bras are fitting much differently.  I have the hooks on the tightest possible and they are starting to fit loosely.  Also the cups are getting too big.  So I bought a tape measure yesterday (and it's even pink!) so I could measure and see what size I really am now to order new ones.  Imagine my delight when I got an email from Lane Bryant yesterday that they are having a Memorial Day sale....buy one get one free on bras (and lots of other sale deals) through Monday......SQUEEL!!!!  Talk about divine intervention!   I wanted to share with all of you in case you want to take advantage of the sale too!!!!  Happy shopping ladies!!!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

"I wish I had your motivation!"

Posting my weight loss results lately has been just FUN!  I am at the point where people are starting to notice a difference (compared to being at that awkward stage where they notice something is different but they can't quite put their finger on what and don't want to say something out of fear of being rude).  Some of my clothes are literally hanging off me, which I NEVER imagined happening!  It's funny how I was trying to lose weight but my mind could never comprehend it actually happening, what that really entailed and how different I would look and feel.

Through these postings, I have gotten so many comments of support back.  I especially love hearing that I motivated someone else to make changes!!  One of the most common things that people say is "I wish I had your motivation!"  So over the last few weeks I have been "drafting" this blog in my head so I can hopefully share some tidbit of my motivation with those interested.  I am so glad to finally have a chance to sit down in a quiet house (no "Mom" calls to divert my attention), a day off work so I am not trying to write at midnight when I should be sleeping and be able to get the thoughts out of my head....terribly therapeutic for me!   Warning, this will probably be a long post....like I said, it's been cooking in my brain for a while now (and I'm wordy anyway!)  :o)

Motivation is defined as "desire to do.  Interest or drive".  Yup, I would say I have found my motivation.  I have the desire.  I am finally in a point in my life where I want to be healthier.  I was tired of being fat, overweight, and in my own mind unattractive.  I was tired of only having the energy to sit on the couch night after night and feel like a slug.  All I kept doing was getting heavier and heavier.  I knew if I kept on that path I would begin to have medical problems, wouldn't be able to enjoy life to it's fullest, and would miss out on opportunities.  I was happy, but I wasn't happy with MYSELF.

I still keep trying to pinpoint the moment where I found the motivation to begin this journey.  It really was like someone flipped on a switch in my head.  It was a dramatic mental difference, unlike anything I have ever experienced before. I know how hard "dieting" can be if you aren't in the right frame of mind.  Many times before I had wanted to be in the place where mentally I was ready, but I could never seem to find it.  I think my "it moment" was seeing a photo of myself (looking like a beached whale).  In my mind's eye, I wasn't seeing myself like that.  I knew my clothes were getting tighter, I was having to buy larger sizes, I was getting slower, harder to move, etc.  But I felt like I kept seeing the same face in the mirror every morning and in my eyes it did NOT look like that photo (I seem to just have short mirrors in my house, so I missed seeing the "big" picture).  So the photo was a tough reality check to swallow - that photo is how I really look and how others see me.   I still don't know why it was THAT moment for me and not any of the other times I have seen photos of myself or wanted to be ready, but I am very thankful that things clicked into place and the planets aligned for me at that moment and I am here now.

My plan, progress and success has been based on a dramatic lifestyle change, not just a diet.  You hear people say that all the time, but it really is true.  Before I could eat what I wanted, how much I wanted, when I wanted and be fat and have my self esteem be in the toilet, or I could CHOOSE to change my habits, make better choices and change my LIFE.  One of the best decisions I have ever made.  I am constantly amazed at how much better I feel - mentally and physically.  I have more energy, I feel happier, I want to do more.

So while people say they want my motivation, I think there are also a few other key ingredients:
Motivation = desire, interest, drive
Determination = the act of making or arriving at a decision
Drive = to push, propel, or press onward forcibly; urge forward
Willpower = the trait of resolutely controlling your own behavior

So my recommendation to all those seeking my "motivation"...look at yourself - in the mirror, in photos (even if you hate them - take it yourself and don't show anyone else) - whatever you need to do to really see what you really look like.  No ignorance is bliss, no denial - those are not allowed.  But truly accepting your current reality.  Then assess and decide if you are happy or if you want to make changes.  I often hear the Tim McGraw song in my head  "How bad do you want it?"  Do you want to make changes badly enough to begin making better choices?  That's all it takes is a beginning.  Then give yourself enough opportunity to have some success.  Closely monitor your progress so you can see the success.  Celebrate and acknowledge the success, even the small ones, and use them as motivation to keep you going.

So what gives me the motivation, determination, drive and willpower to stick with it this time?  One word - RESULTS.  I simply LOVE seeing the scale number keep moving down.  I am excited to try on my clothes everyday and see how differently they fit.  I enjoy fitting into smaller sizes that I haven't been able to wear in a LONG time.  I get proud of myself every time I make a healthier choice that I used to do.  I grin from ear to ear when I hear people tell me how great I look or how well I have been doing.  Find the things that give YOU motivation, determination, drive and willpower.  Find an incredible support system - family, friends, acquaintances, total strangers...any warm body will do - and let them tell you repeatedly and frequently how fantastic you are doing.  Even though you may hate them, take photos of yourself along the way.  Go back and compare to where you were (preferably side by side so you can REALLY tell).  And post them if you can stomach it (again, that gives people an opportunity to tell you how great you are doing - cheerleaders are awesome!).

Keep some of your "fat clothes" and put them on every now and then - again, to celebrate measurably how far you have come.  Those are some of the things that will get you through the tough times - when you wonder why you are bothering to do this, when you want to quit and go back to your evil old ways.  Those will be the things that make you realize why you are doing this, why it is important, and why you should push though and keep on keepin' on.

I hope this post has helped someone in some way.  If nothing else, I've had my therapy session for the week.  :o)  Best of luck to you all in this journey!