The number one question I’m asked is how I lost so much so fast. There is no easy answer to that. There was no pill or plan or procedure that made it all happen. We look and listen to all the theories, media hype and fads, right? But I’ll say it over and over: I can not follow rules or restrictive regimens. Those things all have an ending point, and when the end of the program comes, so do the results it achieved. Besides I don’t want to think and act like an unhealthy person who is trying to be healthy. I want to think like and be a healthy person. So, I started with the basic “calories in vs. calories out” concept and added a lot of common sense.
To recap: between August 2006 and February 2008, I lost 70 pounds, about half a pound a week. I did it slowly and reluctantly, never really believing I was going to see my goal or make permanent changes. Well I didn’t reach my “goal,” and slowly put back on about 40 pounds until August 2012. It was on 8/16/12 that I firmly decided: enough. A lot of factors went into that decision, but mostly it was the photos. I had just been on three vacations and there were lots of pictures. I hated them. I avoided taking them, and looking at them made me sad. I was tired of living that way. Three amazing vacations and all I could come up with was “how can I crop myself out?” I said to myself “Really? Really! How long are you going to beat yourself up for things that are fully within your power to change? When will it be time to get off your ass and do something?” I look at it this way: it is hard work to feel badly about yourself all day, every day. If the things you feel badly about are within your power to change, and you are not making those changes because it is “hard work”, ask yourself: is feeling badly about myself easy? Feeling badly about yourself is hard work. Making positive changes on a daily basis is hard work. Choose your hard.
The things I did in that five month period are not for everyone. I don’t like rules and plans…they don’t bend, they break. And like floodgates, once broken, it is all hell breaking loose. No. I needed to pick what I could live with and DO IT. I still do a lot of them. Here they are:
1. LOTS of water. No soda, fruit juice or other empty calorie beverages. VERY limited alcohol (think 1-2 glasses a month). I start every morning with a cup of coffee with 3-4 T of flavored, chemical-y creamer. I love it. I refuse to give it up. And it pushes back my “daily window of eating hours” until later in the morning.
2. I severely cut my intake of animal products. I did not fool myself that I was suddenly vegan or even vegetarian. But on a daily basis, my diet was as plant-based as I could make it. (You should know that I just ate a burger for dinner. It was a small one, and I did not have a bun, and I topped it with “kaleamole.” But I really, really liked it.)
3. Vegetable intake up the wazoo. Every morning, I filled my Vitamix with fruits, veggies and water (or coconut or aloe water). Usually like this: 1-2 apples, 2-4 cups spinach or kale, 2 stalks celery, 1/2-1 cup cucumber, 1-2 oranges, mixed berries (usually frozen), maybe a banana, and whatever other fruit or veggies I had on hand. This came out in varying flavors, not always yummy. (I told myself “give me a break. Every morsel that goes in your mouth doesn’t have to be gourmet. Sometimes you just have to do what is good for you.”) I could usually fill 3 large glasses with one blenderful. I started with one for breakfast. If I would be gone all day, I put another one or two in a cooler and brought them along. When I was hungry, I had the others. Sometimes instead of a meal, or just as a snack instead of something full of refined carbs and fat. If I was facing a craving, or hunger, I had a veggie smoothie first and waited a while. If I was still hungry/craving 30-60 minutes later, I ate something I wanted. As I write this I realize I need to get back to those veggie smoothies. They’re just good for you.
4. Exercise. A lot of it. During that time, I was probably doing something every day, either the gym or a jazz dance class. I started phasing in more multi-muscle strength training, and this has had a huge impact. I have a lot to say about exercise. It’s going to have it’s own entry. Let me say this: find some movement you love and do it. Today, I have an exercise routine that I LOVE. I look forward to it-I actually can’t wait for it. I don’t care what you love-but find it and do it. Move. More.
5. I know you don’t want to read this. But it’s true. I wrote everything down in an online journal. EVERYTHING. Every chocolate chip, glass of water, cup of spinach, every bite. It is crazy, but I actually thought before I put something in my mouth: I do not want to have to write this down and face the calories in black and white. It also helps to have an honest record because when I don’t get the results I want, I can look at the cold hard facts, and there it is. It also tracked all of my nutrition, exercise, goals and progress. When the experts say “write it down,” they aren’t kidding. Yes, it is takes time. A few minutes. There are so many online programs from which to choose. And once you get going it saves all of your data and common entries, so it becomes pretty quick and painless. This is a biggie.
There you have the biggest behavior changes I made and stuck with, and lost 45 pounds in five months.
Believe. Smile. Get your happy.