Join Date: Jun 2009
I am brand new to this forum & I’m very fortunate to have found all of you. I’m 37 years old, married, a full-time working mom, & I have a 4-year old daughter. I’ve been maintaining my weight loss of 33 lbs (11 inches lost) for about 8 months now & I’ve been desperately seeking guidance & motivation on weight maintenance with little success prior to this. I’m 5’3.5” & currently at 132 lbs. I am so very excited to have found this forum. I don’t feel like there are enough hours in my day to catch up & read all of your posts & I’ve already learned so much. I look forward to posting a lot more but first I’ll start with my story:
Is this the first time or one of many times that you've tried to lose weight?
Nope. When I attended college I gained the dreaded “freshmen 15 (actually 25)” because of dorm buffets, late night eating due to studying (think – Pizza Hut), indulging in vending machine food such as candy & chips, fast food restaurants, & convenience stores. My normal breakfast was coffee (lots of cream & sugar) & a sugary pastry (i.e. donut w/ chocolate icing was my favorite). This is about the same time I met my future husband, who by the way was an awesome cook, but it didn’t help my waistline since he cooked fatty meals. I remember waking up really tired one day & thinking “I shouldn’t be feeling like this…I’m only in my 20’s!” My weight was 140 lbs. Fortunately in college I had the wisdom to seek out the advice of a nutritionist on campus & she advised I follow the low end of the FDA Food-Pyramid and educate myself to make better food choices. This allowed me to eat whatever I want but to exercise portion control. I also cut down on my sweets & fatty foods. In addition, writing down everything I ate in a steno book, along with my feelings for the day, helped me out tremendously.
I’m not sure exactly what compelled me to start running but it seemed like the perfect sport for a poor college student. So I started running…very slowly. It was especially difficult because where I lived had a lot of hills. I remember my shins hurt so badly after the 1st day but I kept going & I kept going farther & farther. I decided to enter my very 1st 10k race & the thrill of participating in a race with so many people was intoxicating & the fact that I didn’t need to run with anyone else was exciting – I was hooked! There began my “hobby” of entering races for years to come. Through portion control & running I managed to lose 25 lbs to settle at 115 lbs. Although deep down inside I knew it was an unrealistic # I was ecstatic with the results & compliments. Sure enough I didn’t maintain that weight for long. While in college I could walk to my classes, fit running in the morning before my classes, & learned to choose healthier foods at the on-campus food courts & restaurants I frequented. However, life changes: I graduated & started my 1st real job at a bank. Eventually I gained back the weight …albeit slowly.
Suddenly, I was working a full-time job that left little room for running, except in the afternoons – the hardest time for me because I was exhausted at the end of the day. In addition, I was surrounded by unhealthy food (pastries, candies, cake, etc) that customers or my co-workers would bring. Finally, there were new restaurants (Italian) nearby that I wasn’t used to making healthy choices. Although it took a while, slowly but surely over the years I began to gain the weight back & then some. During those years, I still managed to enter races but I would mistakenly say to myself “I run so I can eat” & began making poorer food choices and eating bigger portions. I would still be in denial even as I bought bigger sized clothes & donated my old clothes away. Meanwhile, my husband continued to cook fatty meals (fried chicken cacciatore with lots of pasta & cheese, pork chops with cream sauce, steak, fish baked with mayonnaise & Portuguese sausage, tons of white rice) that we both willingly indulged in.
In addition, our get-togethers with both our family & friends were primarily food centered. We also hosted a lot of bbq’s at our home & food became a means of socialization. We’d all eat to our hearts content & sit around afterwards feeling like beached whales. In addition, our camping parties also consisted of a table laden with unhealthy food choices & minimal veggies if any. Many times I would wake up in the middle of the night with indigestion. I started working for a new company several years later as I hit my 30’s at 130 lbs. Eventually, I gained even more weight at a faster rate & in just a mere 4 years later I was at 145 lbs as the denial, shopping of bigger clothes, & donating of old clothes continued. I would scoff at “heavy” pictures of me and continued to avoid weighing myself. My running was inconsistent at 1-3x a week (if any) as I made up any excuse not to run (rain, tired, no time). Although I’d still enter races, I’d train in short bursts before the race, complete the race in really slow form, & completely stop running afterwards for weeks or months at a time.
During that time, I said to myself since I lost the weight that 1st time in college & I should be able to do it again so I followed the same process: I studied the food pyramid & ate at the lower end, wrote down what I ate & felt as well as my goals, bought healthy foods, and continued to enter races. Yet, I was really frustrated because if the weight came off it was a very slow process. Finally, I would get bored with being healthy & I’d go back to my poor eating habits & run sporadically. This cycle would continue for years as I avoided the scale even though I knew in the back of my mind I was getting heavier.
Additionally, even though I knew how to eat healthy & that I needed to run more, I would falter during my PMS days, when I’d get sick, after a big party or bbq, etc. So I’d fall off the wagon, & stop running & eat like crap – fried foods, pastries – for immediate gratification. It would only be about 1-2 lbs up & down but it was a painful 1-2 lbs and eventually, a few more pounds would show up the scale.
I was finally on my way to losing a few pounds then I got pregnant & gained 40 lbs during my pregnancy – probably a little more than I should have. Of course I completely stopped running & ate whatever I wanted, which included a lot of fatty foods and take-out. I knew it was going to be difficult to lose the weight and I wondered how I would ever fit running into my schedule again after being a mommy.
Someone told me I could start exercising about a month after giving birth. Yeah, right…try a year. I started running but I was still inconsistent. I was really tired from lack of sleep in large part because I was still breastfeeding & my baby didn’t “sleep through the night” like everyone else’s. However, I did start on weight watchers with some co-workers so we could all provide support to each other. Although I didn’t really follow the plan to the tee, I learned a lot of information about portion control & especially liked the weekly weigh-ins as I slowly started to lose some weight.
Finally after I weaned my daughter off I put back on some 5-lbs within month & that’s when I decided I really needed to get serious about it. I had ballooned to 165 lbs, I was exhausted all the time, and I really hated myself in pictures. In addition, I couldn’t believe I had to buy a size 12 pants! Although they were loose I was determined not to go up another size. In addition, my tops were edging close from medium to the large sizes. One day I was complaining to someone at work about how too tired I was to exercise, & she replied “That’s how it is being a mother”. I reflected on this for a second & said to myself “NOT ME” & I made a commitment to start running again but this time more consistently. I watched what I ate & I was finally running 4x/week for at least 40 minutes. Slowly but surely I lost 10 lbs – about a pound a week during the summer months & I was down to 155 lbs. However, this plateau would last through the end of the year & I was got really frustrated.
I knew I had to do some strength training but as I researched on-line, I became overwhelmed with the amount of information out there, got easily frustrated, & kept putting it off. I never thought I’d ever hire a personal trainer but it was the best investment I’ve ever made. One day my husband told me an acquaintance we knew just got certified as a trainer & I knew I had to take this opportunity. During my first session in February 2008 she showed me proper form, tweaked my workouts (cut down running to 3x/week & added jumping rope 1x/week), & provided me a new wealth of information both on exercise & nutrition. I was on my way to losing the rest of my baby weight….
Are you where you want to be?
Yes, I’m currently at 132 lbs (-33 lbs), which is what feels “right” for my body. My initial goal weight was 135 lbs & I actually went down to 128 lbs & finally settled at this weight. Although it’s been the greatest feeling ever I know I still have a long road ahead of me because the hard work is just beginning. As time passes, I do find myself more at ease with my healthy eating habits & workouts.
How has life changed for you since you've lost the weight?
I have so much more confidence, strength, & I have energy to keep up with my 4-yr old daughter. I also feel more relaxed, partly because I started practicing yoga too. I’ve been shopping a lot more too…which doesn’t really help my budget but I truly believe non-food rewards are important. That said I have a lot more pride about what I wear. I no longer choose loose, black clothes to cover myself. I’ve been choosing clothing that flatters my body in different colors & prints (I’m a size 6). I’ve also starting using more accessories & jewelry.
If you're maintaining, what's that like for you?
After reaching my goal weight, it was an adjustment not focusing on lowering the # on the scale anymore.
To keep on track, I make sure I incorporate many of my own little “healthy habits tricks” everyday. For instance, I make sure I eat every 3-4 hours so I’m not starving. I also eat when I’m 8/10ths full so I don’t feel like a beached whale after meals.
I also plan a lot prior to my “food trigger” moments. For example, prior to going to a restaurant I peruse the menu beforehand on-line so I can make healthy choices. As I face these situations more often, I’m not as nervous about them as I used to be because my confidence grows in learning to deal more effectively with these situations as I face them head on.
I’m not perfect & there are times where I eat more than I’ve planned. However, unlike the past I get back on the wagon & eat lighter at the next meal & continue with my workouts & even add an extra workout to compensate.
Compliments from others were nice at first but now I’m over it. I’m glad because I don’t need them to keep going. I’m actually kind of irritated when people ask me how I did it & when I begin to tell them they start having this glazed look in their eyes because they don’t want to hear that it’s hard work…they want a magic pill. I believe a lot of people don’t take me seriously because of comments such as “you’ve always been a runner” or “you weren’t that heavy”, etc (I have a small frame). Nevertheless, people are surprised when I tell them how much weight I lost then I get the “it doesn’t look like you had to lose that much” or “you weren’t heavy for that long” (my daughter turned 3 when I finally lost the baby weight). It’s almost as if they think I can’t possibly understand how it is to really be overweight because I wasn’t that big. Or maybe it’s because when I was really big it wasn’t for that long so it couldn’t have really had it that bad or it wasn’t that difficult for me to lose the weight.
It was a lot of hard work & although it gets a little easier it still is a lot of work. People don’t realize there is no “magical place” once you reach your goal weight where you can eat whatever you stop exercising – unless you want to gain the weight back.
Do you exercise regularly?
Yes, I have to admit, while most people struggle with deciding whether or not to workout, I find I spend more time planning my workouts in advance so when I get up in the morning I just do it. I don’t waste my time thinking up excuses. I know exercise is great for my body & I’ll feel awesome afterwards & I’ll have a better day. I think back to the times when I didn’t work out & remember telling myself if I ever get fit again I will never take my fitness for granted because I did not want to feel the way I did this very moment. I workout every other day for at least 40-60 minutes as follows with a combination of cardio (running, jump rope, stationary bike, fitness DVDs or elliptical) & strength-training (free weights, bands, or medicine ball). I also practice yoga once a week. I do not particularly enjoy strength training so I follow my “10-minute rule” & just do it for 10 minutes (most of the time I fit in at least 20 minutes).
Now that you're at your goal, what are your concerns?
#1: I’m worried about becoming overconfident & allowing the weight to creep up on me slowly like I did over the years.
However, I have tools in place that I didn’t before to keep me focused: “just fit” clothes I try on every month, I track my workouts on an excel spreadsheet, I have a calendar at home & at work with colorful stickers indicating my workouts. In addition, I enter my daily weight in the google15 – just curious if anyone does this? I used to keep track of my food on fitday but slowly weaned myself off (although I still log on & write my feelings in the journal). I think I got a bit obsessive about logging every food item & although it helped me during my weight loss period, I realized I eat pretty much the same foods on a daily basis. If I do gain the weight back (my magic maximum # is 135 lbs) then I’m back on fitday. To compromise, I made an excel spreadsheet cheat sheet indicating the calories of the foods I normally eat including cheat foods so I won’t “forget” & keeps me on track (you can tell I love excel spreadsheets).
Sometimes I worry about not being able to keep up with my workout schedule. To counter this, I tell myself as life changes, I need to be flexible. When I look back at when I regained the weight, I realized I didn’t have a back-up plan when life “happens” even though I saw it coming (i.e. job changes). I know life will change & I may not be able to have the exact workout schedule I do now but I’m confident I can find a way to fit in my workouts in one way shape or form.
I also realized my workouts need to be varied & if I want to run for a long time & prevent injuries I need to cross-train too. As I mentioned earlier, at least once a week I practice yoga and try other forms of cardio – jump rope, kickboxing, elliptical, or stationary bike. I also like taking classes at the gym at least a few times a year with friends to learn something new. This year I want to try Pilates & kickboxing.
In addition, I am very fortunate also to have a very supportive husband who understands working out is very important to me. He oftentimes takes care of our daughter so I can workout. Fortunately, he’s finally on the same page as me when it comes to choosing to live healthy. For years he had a high metabolism & I swear he could eat fried chicken every other day and not gain a pound. However, his metabolism finally starting slowed down & when he went to the doctor for a routine physical (which took me years of prodding), he received a scolding from his doctor due to his poor triglyceride, cholesterol, & blood pressure readings. So he decided on his own to start working out more consistently & watching what he ate & cooking healthier for both of us.
Another very important attitude change that will help me to keep on track is my mantra “I don’t want to take pills when I get older.” I see too many people use this as the easy way out. Genetically, I have a high cholesterol but I’m determined not to have to take a statin to keep it under control because I believe I can control it with a healthy lifestyle (incidentally, I have a cousin who takes a statin for cholesterol & now has a liver problem).
My goal when I turn 40 in 2 years is to be as fit as I am now or better =)