My Weight Loss Struggle and Success; Tips and Ideas Included
"Why have a six pack when you can have a keg?"
I am sure we have all heard this line once or twice in our lives, and a lot of us that have been or are currently carrying those extra pounds may have used it ourselves to mask our insecurities with humor. Sure, people may laugh at this silly metaphor regarding the protruding sack of fat around your midsection but in reality, obesity is not a laughing matter.
Growing up I was always heavier than the other girls at school and most boys even. I had been teased and poked at everyday which made it very hard to make any friends. Everyday I would go home and cry to my family about my day and eat copious amounts of crappy but oh so delicious food for comfort. My daily diet as a child consisted of McDonalds Breakfast or a huge cheese omelet with toaster strudles, two packs of Mr. Noodles for lunch, a box of Kraft Dinner (Extra Creamy was my favorite) for dinner, and chips, chocolate, or ice cream for snacks. Now I know that you are all thinking it is the parents fault in this situation and I will agree but put yourselves in their shoes. That food brought me to my happy place, it was my best friend.
By the time I was in seventh grade I was fully grown and developed physically (according to who I am today). I was nearly 5'7 and pushing 200 pounds; I stayed around that weight for the rest of my teenage years, fluctuating 10 to 15 pounds in both directions. College years (late teens early twenties), I was weighing between 180 and 190 pounds until the long term boyfriend came along and I became too comfortable!
The saying "letting yourself go" was an understatement!
2007-2010: The Weight Gain/Relationship
I maintained my weight of 190 pounds within the first year of the relationship but within the following year and a half I had gained 60 pounds. I became very unhappy, kept to myself a lot, stopped socializing as much, hung around the house in sweat pants and watched a lot of movies. I made an attempt to lose weight in 2010 and went from 250 to 225 pounds in 2 months! Unfortunately the diet and exercise came to a halt after moving across the country with my boyfriend shortly after. Summer months were the worst and weeks have went by where I became very insecure about everything, including my relationship, so I decided it was time to do something for me and make a change to better myself.
August 2010: The Breakup
I left my boyfriend and moved back home to try and work on things for myself. The next few months I gained back another 10 pounds bringing me to 235.
January 2011: I go back to University full time!
My main focus was to study and receive good grades, I never intended for school to be the beginning of my weight loss journey. Who knew that I would be doing over 20 flights of stairs and walking from one side of campus to the other a few times a day? (Those stairs kicked my a$$ the first few weeks, not gonna lie). Needless to say going from couch potato to this routine had made me lose weight without changing my eating habits or anything else. It wasn't a substantial weight loss mind you but it was 15 pounds in 3 and a half months without any effort. Hello 220 pounds!
Summer 2011: 7 Pound Gain!
BBQ's, drinks, partying and snacks had put 7 pounds back on (227 pounds) in 4 months so I decided enough was enough!
Fall Semester 2011: September was the beginning of the ultimate journey!
Coming to terms with weighing 227 pounds being a 25 year old female and standing at almost 5'7" was not an option!
First Step: Make Goals
Longterm goal was to get to 150 pounds which I don't think I have seen since I was in grade 4 or 5! I needed to lose 77 pounds to achieve this.
Most of our minds go into a spin when looking at such a big number and we think to ourselves, "this is unachievable, I'll never lose that much weight". So my advice is to MAKE A SHORT TERM GOAL. A healthy weight loss goal is to aim for 1-2 pounds a week. Aiming for about 8 pounds a month is realistic and healthy.
I had lost 25 pounds in 2 months during a previous journey so I decided I would aim to lose 20 pounds by that Halloween (2 months).
Second Step: Change your lifestyle
Changing ones lifestyle can vary from person to person. Some may decide to go on a special diet, others will take up fitness classes at a local gym, others may start swimming laps at the local pool. Whatever works for you and gets you moving is one step closer to a heallthier you.
Personally, if you want to lose weight I recommend cutting the word diet out of your vocabulary and just start eating foods better for you and cutting out the high fat, processed, high in salt, high in sugar food and drinks. Also at the beginning stages I would recommend cutting back your Carb intake but not to the extent of something like the Atkins Diet because, I do not believe in diets and being so strict on yourself. If you are hungry, eat! Just eat something with colour and from the produce aisle at the grocery store and not the cheesecake you were eyeing in the bakery! (I hope you put it back and are not eating it as you read this ;)). All jokes aside focus on Fruits and Veggies of various colours to make sure you are getting all of your vitamins and minerals plus you can fill yourself up on this stuff as a lot of the choices essentially have close to no calories. Meats and Alternatives such as chicken breast, ground turkey instead of ground beef, nuts and seeds, all natural peanut butter (average jar on the shelves have a lot of added sugar), and egg whites. Dairy such as Greek yogurt, low fat cheeses, goat cheese, 1 percent white/chocolate milk. Limit the Grains to whole grains, do not fall for the term whole wheat because in reality it is just white bread made brown it is just as bad for you. When looking at the ingredients you want to see whole grain as the first ingredient. Personally I like the flax seed wraps and I used to be in love with pasta but I cut it down to half a cup and added more peppers, asparagus, zucchini, broccoli etc. (throw in whatever vegetables you would like, you could even try adding salad mix with spinach chard and kale for example)
Physical Activity is important when changing your lifestyle to a healthy one. There are many people out there who fall in a normal BMI range but have not used a muscle or walked the length of theirselves (exaggerating a little) their whole lives. Skinny Fat is the term used to describe people who fall under a normal Body Mass Index that do not implement fitness in their lives and who probably eat take out several times a week. These people may be just as bad or worse off than an obese person and can be classified as metabolically obese. Someone who is overweight and includes physical activity in their life actually leads a healthier life (that is a whole other can of worms right there, back to my point). Make sure to include physical activity in your weekly routines with trying to get 3-5 days of moderate to high intensity workouts including both cardio and weights to really shed off the pounds. If you are new to the physical activity train starting off at 30 minutes a workout should suffice. I will be honest for the first few months I strictly stuck to Cardio exercises and had not added many weight/resistance training exercises but I do not recommend this as the weight you are losing is not just fat it is muscle. Also working on those muscles helps reduce that bingo arm effect (the underarm flab that flaps when you call out BINGO :)) I hope that made you smile and you weren't offended by that remark, if so I apologize.
I worked out for close to 2 hours a day for 5-7 days a week for the first few months. I did a calculation of my BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) to figure out how many calories my body burned during rest then figured out how many calories should go in and how many I need to burn in order to lose that 20 pounds in that timeframe. This may sound a little confusing right now but maybe I will write about how to do the calculations for this at a later date. If you are really determined to get that weight gone and get in shape I recommend you take note of calories going into your body and calories being expended. Please do not starve yourself and go through drastic measures.
3500 calories equals a pound so if you cut your previous eating habits by 250 calories a day and you burn an extra 250 calories a day with physical activity that is one pound lost per week right there. Very easy to cut down if you are consuming take out, greasy foods and high sugar snacks everyday.
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Halloween 2011: Weigh In
I had lost 18 pounds. Yay me! Down to 209 pounds. Yes, it was not the original 20 planned but close enough. It was time to make another goal, this time I aimed for 15 pounds by December 20th. I kept going strong with my workouts until the end of November (Final Projects and Exams). I did not make it to the gym the 5-7 times a week I was originally going but I tried to get there at least 3. Studying and cramming took up the majority of my time.
December 20, 2011: Weigh In
I am proud to say I had lost the 15 pounds I was aiming for. I guess the lack of eating while studying replaced my gym time (not a healthy way to go by all means but I hit my goal). Crossed the 200 mark and back around my average weight in which most ppl knew me at 194 pounds.
Jan 2012: Christmas Uh Oh's
Christmas vacation did one over on me and I gained 6 pounds back. Too much tempting food and not enough gym time punched in. Epic fail if I do say so myself! So here I was at 200lbs starting the New Year of 2012. All I could think about was that I had 50 pounds left to go! I had lost 33 pounds in 4 months, I can do 50 in 6, right?…WRONG!
I dropped the ball the next few months as my school schedule had messed with the routine I was used to so I was lucky if I was making it to the gym 2 times a week.
April 2012: Moving Across Country
Four months have passed and I'm sad to say I had only dropped 10 pounds which had brought me to 190 pounds. As much as I had failed it could have been worse, it could have been a gain! Final Exams are over and I'm headed west for a change of scenery, little did I know I was still going to be here nearly a year later. I stopped making goals for myself and just worked out for the fun of it, ate healthy because that is what I was familiar with and enjoyed. I still wanted to aim for that 150 mark but I stopped putting pressure on it.
August 2012: Great Summer
I spent a lot of the summer outdoors when I was not working. Hiking, walking, camping…it was a great change from back east in Newfoundland where the majority of summers consist of an abundance of rain and fog. The Good News I weighed myself and I was down 20 pounds from the end of April.
This loss put me at 170 pounds the lightest I'd been in over a decade and 20 pounds away from my longterm goal.
March 2013: Fast Forward to the Present
I am currently sitting at 160 pounds. I am 10 pounds away from my goal and I been fluctuating between 160 and 170 pounds for months now. The lightest weight I had achieved in 2012 was 162 pounds. I went back home for Christmas and New Years and ended up gaining 12 pounds in 12 days (ridiculous, but I knew I would get my self control back when I got out West again). I was right I had lost the 12 pounds in a month and an additional 2 shortly after putting me at the 160 mark that I can't seem to break. I have my determination back these days though and I know I will reach that 150 mark. I'm aiming to get there by May 1st, 2013. I know that is nearly 2 months for 10 pounds but I need to be realistic now and finish this off properly.
I will let you know how it goes and I wish you all the best on your fitness journeys.
Don't give up, don't let those speed bumps catch you off guard, keep going for the finish line!! It takes 3-4 weeks to create a habit, once you surpass this initial time the new lifestyle you have created for yourself will be much easier! Feeling hungry? Drink a tall glass of water and the temptation will more than likely go away. Eat 5-6 small meals a day instead of 2-3 large ones, it helps keep that metabolism revved up.