I Will Always Have My Inner Fat Chick
Tiny Changes Bring Fresh Life
And That's A Good Thing
If we lived in a prefect world, we could eat whatever we wanted and however much of it we wanted, and be the prefect weight. There would be no need for diet books, food programs where all the guesswork is done for you, or the latest miracle pill or piece of exercise equipment promising weight loss with no effort or any other changes. But if you are like me you are well aware we don't live anywhere near that world.
We live in a world where bigger is better, fast food is king, and, to be honest, fat carries flavor. It a world of bottomless fires, endless soda refills and buffets for one low price. And unlike people with other cravings, those of us who eat unwisely still have to eat. Whether we started our lifestyle because a media campaign convinced us fast food or soda equals fun and friends, or we just love to eat, I don't know, but if you are here with me the fun ended a while ago.
I don't know if you'd call me a recovering anything, but I will always have my inner fat chick, and she is so much fun to hang out with that I have to watch how often I listen to her. But I thought perhaps sharing my journey from fat to fit, but nowhere near bikini model perfect might help. No before and after photos as this is not a diet book nor a diet plan, just some general advice that might help you along the way.
That and like many others, I might be the right weight according to my doctor given my age and height, but outside of plastic surgery I am never going to have a swimsuit worthy body. And I am OK with that. We don't all look terrific to ourselves after our transformation and so I wrote this partly to keep me and others motivated when that tight, toned and youthful body did not show up when our goal weight did.
Keep in mind I am not a doctor, dietitian or personal trainer. I'm sharing what worked for me but before any lifestyle change please consult your doctor or a dietitian. As always all written content and photos are my original work. Any videos are included for educational or entertainment value only. If you own the copyright and want credit and a link or something removed, please let me know.
Y'arrr! Even adults like treats!
First Things First, Shaming Does Not Work
Maybe you chide yourself for your current weight because you want to be first before the world can do it. Maybe you make cracks about your size before your friends can, or you call yourself names like "loser, "fat" or worse. Guess what? It doesn't work. If it worked we'd all be bikini models because it is perfectly natural to want to chide ourselves for getting overweight (in my case, obese), but it is also something we have to learn to stop doing.
Do you know what I want you to do right now? Be proud of yourself. I mean it. Things could always be worse and I mean that too. It seems every time we turn around some poor soul is breaking the record for the world's heaviest human. And if you are that lady or gentleman, congratulate yourself for being where you are now because we both know it could be a heck of a lot worse.
We don't live in a perfect world and even bikini models are not always bikini ready, trust me, they are not. There's a lot of hard work involved from strict dietary regimes to rigorous exercise, which is why so few people actually do it. Basically they are paid athletes if you think about it, many with no off season.
And, bless them, sometimes even the best get an editing tweak here and there. So whether it was the gym or genetics don't compare, OK?
Oh, so good!
Speaking Of Great Bodies....
Did you know you can learn a lot from body builders? Most not only pump iron, but the pros, male and female alike, have a strict dietary code they live by, and in general the leaner the pro the cleaner the diet, shakes you need a degree in chemical engineering to decipher aside, of course.
One thing a lot of the stars like to discuss is how they prepare for a show. Because, guess what? They don't look that chiseled twenty-four seven. Preparing to look their best is a matter of training and diet, and one a lot of lifters will warn you is not always possible to follow as it is an even stricter and more intense version of what they normally do.
The rest of us have our version, which isn't nearly as healthy. That crash diet for the school reunion. Starting to workout like a Ninja Warrior hopeful so we can look good in that swimsuit. Training like an Olympian to reach the jean size we had in high school. And we all know it does not work.
Because in the back of our mind we are only going at this crazily intense rate until we reach our goal. Then we will reward ourselves and we end up back where we started because we only cared about a jean size or how we look on the outside. But gradual healthy changes we can stick with lead to, you guessed it, a healthier lifestyle.
I Like Big Cupcakes, I Cannot Lie
I honestly adore this book. I bought it when mom had to go gluten free and I was, yes, vegan. I still eat a lot of vegan meals on a daily basis, but it isn't just a book for vegans or gluten free recipes. It's a book for anyone who loves cupcakes and wants some yummy treats made in a more healthy manner. Remember, baby steps.
Diets Don't Work, Lifestyle Changes Do
Diets are based on the premise that you hit a tiny rough spot, but that other than that you eat a fairly healthy diet and exercise to fit your lifestyle. And I have been there more times than I can count. The diet shake for breakfast, then five minutes later eating a real breakfast because it just didn't fill me up. The crash weight loss, only to rebound and be heavier than ever because I figured if I did it once I could do it again, right?
Diets don't work. What does work? Cutting empty calories, nutritious food and exercise under a doctor or nutritionist's advice work. Adopting a healthier lifestyle that makes room for the occasional treat helps even more. One tiny change that you can handle at a time works, taking it day by day works. And you can still have that cake and eat it too, it's just a matter of having the right attitude towards your food.
Nummy, and It Fits My Lifestyle
Like I Said, I Will Always Have My Inner Fat Chick
Whether she shows on the outside or not, she will always be there. This doesn't mean that I am lazy or having a negative attitude, I'm aware she's there and aware that when she is in charge, nothing works. Maybe your fat chick or your husky fellah goes by a different name. Maybe you call your need to feed "my appetite" or "the little voice in my head", but my, how they love to eat, right?
The problem is, my inner fat chick is a lot of fun and she knows how to live. And I am a pushover and I agree with her at times. It is fun to eat whatever you want and however much you want of it. Candy, soft drinks, fast food, fatty food, fried food, candy, cakes, you get the picture. If it makes a dietician cringe, she loves it. She's really big, pun intended, on empty calories. Soft drinks and candy are awesome.
And the thing is? In moderation, once in a while, minding my portions, I agree. I just know that I have to watch my portions, one or two pieces of pizza at most, from a pizza cut in the proper number of portions. Half a large pizza, for example, is only one piece to my inner fat chick. She tends to hold onto the wishful thinking that if you don't cut it into more portions you get the same number of calories, right? I never said she had an MBA.
But I still indulge. Maybe a soft drink here or there. And I steer clear of two or three liter bottles and twelve packs of cans because I have all the makings of a good alcoholic. It costs more, but I'll buy one or two bottles at the corner store, or a Mexican Coke perhaps. I never say goodbye to a food forever because that approach doesn't work for me. If I want the occasional Big Mac I'll have it, but all in sync to the rest of my day.
I know she will be there, whispering in my ear. "What's one more piece?" the problem is, I can polish off a large pizza in a day's time if I don't watch myself. I used to average at least four thousand calories a day that I'm aware of, and cutting back was a gradual process and it is still a daily battle at times.
Walking Works For Me
Workouts You Love Aren't Work
Honestly, they aren't. You ever hear the phrase that a job you love isn't work? It isn't. It's something you love so much you'd do it for free, but luckily folks will pay you to do it. And the right type of exercise, something you love, won't seem like a workout at all. And only you know what you love to do. And I mean love. Pick an activity that you love so much that if you won the lottery tomorrow and won big, it would become a bigger part of your lifestyle.
Do you enjoy dancing? Take classes or join a group that dances together in competitions or just for fun. Don't worry if Zumba burns more calories when what you really love is ballroom dancing. You will naturally work harder at something you enjoy.
Because that is the key to my plan. For it to work, I have to love it. I can't tell you how many charts I looked up comparing calories burnt in various activities and how many hours I surfed the web trying to figure out on Google Earth how the heck far I walk and how fast. Now? I have a rough idea of how far I walk and how fast, but I walk because I enjoy walking and photography.
I try and not treat it as exercise, but instead as a reward, and that is a heck of a lot more motivating that a drudgery I have to do. Sometimes, rarely, I do the yoga that helps with my fibro and enjoy it. I like lifting weights but don't have the endurance to keep at it for the long haul. My fibro body just won't do it. That said, I just tried my first session in ages and loved it.
And that is the second part of my plan. Knowing what my body can and can't do. A fibro body is just not going to hold up to the intensity I'd need to completely sculpt my body. It doesn't matter how much know-it-all screechy types insist that if I only tried harder I could. I can't and it's not lack of motivation. If I could give these people fibro for four months and watch them handle days when getting out of bed is a victory I'd be grinning like a butcher's dog.
I love lifting weights but my body gives up after a month or so, careful diet and precise workout schedule be hanged. Same thing with yoga. So I go with what I can do. I've recently revamped my workouts to drop walking to three to five days a week, once a day only, and try adding in free weights twice a week. Wish me luck!
UPDATE: So far getting five days of cardio and three days of lifting weights is working. I am focusing on sculpting and strength, so yes, I have upped my intensity. But it is something I enjoy, so it is still fun. Painful at times? You bet, but good pain, healthy pain as my body continues to transform.
Do What You Can
Often you will see people on local news or sometimes other shows who went from flab to fab. And then you find out that they honestly spend two or more hours a day in the gym. You don't have the time or money so you feel like giving up before you get started. But you don't have to.
To me, doing what you can when you can, doing something you love to do and is more like playing than a workout is what will keep you on track for the long haul. A relaxed but positively motivated approach will make your activity that gets you moving something to look forward to, not dread.
And if, like me you have health problems that can get in the way, discuss adjusting your diet accordingly with your doctor or nutritionist. That way your downtimes don't have to take away from the progress you've made and you will have something to look forward to when you begin working out again.
Frankly put, we aren't all built to work out four hours a day. But over time we can gradually build up the intensity of our workouts and push for all that we can be. I didn't say wreck your body, but I am saying that after a while of doing what you can you will find out you can do more, so build on it!
And to be fair, I carry my groceries on my back in a backpack, ditto my camera equipment, and do my housework, so I do get extra workouts in. Heck, my granny ate almost nothing but bacon sandwiches on white bread with mayo and jelly rolls with black coffee for decades and had surprisingly robust health. Until she got diabetes, cancer (which she beat) and a host of other problems. And while no one can prove they were diet related, I am not about to follow her example, but it just goes to show we are all different.
Portabella "Steak" Salad
I'm Curious, what works for you?
Being honest, I have no idea who you are....
I Keep A Food Diary
And you bet I count those dang calories! Yes, you will always meet people who smirk at calorie counters but I've done everything else and this is what works. Five small meals a day, sometimes less, sometimes more, and around 1,500-1,600 calories. Again, less or more depending on my activity level and whether I'm maintaining or trying to shed a few pounds that crept back on.
But your body will tell you what it needs and again, a nutritionist or doctor will start you on the right path. Seventy or so pounds ago my doctor put me on a 1,000 calorie a day diet coupled with working up to thirty minutes a day of exercise.
Now not only was I so out of shape that I had to work up to that, I literally couldn't put five minutes together at first, but my ravenous body demanded 1,500 calories as I was just trying to run too much mass on too little. Keep in mind I ate four thousand calories I was vaguely aware of many days, so mentally, it felt like I was starving. The doctor wasn't thrilled with my slower approach, but I still lost, and kept up with my exercise program.
It also took about a year as some days due to my fibromyalgia I could barely get out of bed, let alone work out. But now the idea is to maintain and to put a nip in any small weight gains as I see them, so a once weekly weigh in. My doctor suggested a ten pound range she'd be happy with and I try and stick with it, keeping in mind that I'm not to starve myself today so I can pig out tomorrow.
Nor am I to drop dangerously underwieght so I can have a two week orgy of junk food or holiday goodies. I still have fun food, just healthier versions. Instead of the fast food dinner from a place I won't mention of fried chicken fingers, fries, a soft drink, toast and sausage gravy, I make up chicken I marinate in a jalapeno brine then coat with agave and breadcrumbs. One piece is plenty and much lighter on both my wallet and my waistline.
Yummy, Yet Portioned Out
Ten Quick Bits of Advice
- Keep a food journal. Even if you don't count calories or curb your intake of food you will get a real picture of what, how much and how often you eat.
- Be honest! Counting calories may be a chore, and you may have to guesstimate that piece of birthday cake and ice cream, but an honest account is a great thing. It lets you see what you did take in, then the weight gain or loss is not a mystery.
- Be smart. If a pill, fad diet, or one piece of gym equipment worked for everyone obesity would be an outdated word. Pills don't work (been there, done that), shakes are, well, not very filling unless post workout treats, and zany diets that make no sense can't help you for the long haul.
- Love yourself now. Not the god or goddess you hope to sculpt yourself into. Love yourself now because you are starting a change that will last a lifetime.
- Small changes matter. Those silly things like taking the stairs or walking while on your home phone? They work. They don't erase an entire pie, but they work.
- Figure out your trigger foods. Mine are usually sugar and fat. But not always. Some days I'm meh toward sugary treats, some days I'd commit homicide for just one sip of my favorite soda. But knowing that soda will trigger the craving for just one more...
- Run your own race. Do not compare your metabolism to mine or anyone else. Mine died years ago, by the way. Sometimes life just isn't fair and we'll meet people who could eat out a bakery and not gain an ounce. We have to get over it and run our own race.
- Make mini servings of your favorites. I made gorditas for the first time today, filled with chipped meat and BBQ sauce. I watched my portions though. Two tiny gordidtas no bigger than silver dollars and just the one serving of meat. Still fun, and in my plan.
- Make meals fun. I mean it. Every meal doesn't have to be a party, but putting all the love and ingenuity you can into your new lifestyle will mean meals you can be happy to eat that are homemade and kill fast food joints. I'd like to see any place, ever, beat my oven "fried" chicken that I make with no oil. Served up cold it's heaven on a plate. Come up with your own killer dish and take pride in the fact that it is homemade and healthy. No one said nutritious has to be boring.
Bonus tip: Never say never. Unless it is for medical, moral or religious reasons, don't go cutting foods or food groups out. If my fat, lazy, and junk food loving self could learn to cut back and eat one slice of pizza, drink just one soda or eat just one candy bar, trust me, you can too.
I'm far from perfect. I don't eat enough veg or leafy greens at times, I rarely watch my salt intake, but that said I do my best. There are fresh vegetables and fruit when I can afford them, canned when I can't. There are grilled meats and veg, etc. But I will always have my treats as well. I've learned that doing the best I honestly can is a healthier lifestyle I can adopt. Trying to be perfect never worked, but one day at a time does.