I never do sports bra mirror selfies because, well, that’s just not my style. I’m not 21, drunk, or trying to impress anyone. I usually do the face, shirt-on, goofy-smile type. But I wanted to share something today; maybe it will benefit someone else.
Like most people, I have been working hard to drop some weight. First reason, because I’m getting older (almost 50!!) and waning hormones are not a woman’s friend as she gets older. Second reason, my endocrinologist has been badgering me for years to drop a minimum of 10 pounds, to get to a more ideal weight and set myself up for a post-menopausal life (not there yet…). Now is the time to do so.
Some people say to me, “but you’re so ACTIVE! You dance and do flips! It must be easy to burn calories! You looked fine!” Thanks, but being active is only part of healthy living. Exercise, fitness, movement are all great, and important for SO many parts of your physical and mental health, but the reality is, I had some serious work to do nutritionally. I’ve been seeing a nutritionist for about three years now, and she has been helping me to take a good look at my food habits and develop a plan that works for me. It has been tweaked over time, but the messaging was clear – I was simply eating too much. Period. At 5 feet 7 & 3/4 inches (Sadly, I lost a quarter inch somewhere along the line. Sigh…), I was really tired of seeing the scale tip upwards of 180 pounds. I’ve gone up and down over the years, but what has been the key to consistency is accountability.
This is what I have learned.
Whatever plan you may be following, and I believe it is different for each individual person, it’s most important to track what you eat, so you are mindful of what you are actually consuming. It’s so easy to eyeball, guesstimate, give yourself an extra glass of wine or dessert, turn a blind eye. But if you don’t know exactly what you are feeding your face, what the portion sizes actually are, you are likely overdoing it.
This is not about starving yourself, denying yourself, taking pills or cutting out an entire food group. It’s about knowing how food interacts with your body. It takes time, patience and being honest and mindful. That cannot be stressed enough. I have an app where I track every meal, every snack, every glass of wine. It all counts. I also have a food scale that I take out once in a while to take out the guess-work if I don’t know the exact amount of a food. I try not to get too wrapped up in it, and part of the process is learning the portions of your regular foods. I remember being at a high school reunion and someone sat down with her plate of food, took a food scale out of her bag, and started weighing everything. At the time, I thought it was crazy, but now, I see some value in that. Just not out in public. If I’m out, I try to pick the best food option and stay accountable.
It’s hard to start this process, because being honest and accountable is a tough pill to swallow. Most people don’t really want to know what they’re eating because it too hard to admit that we can be our own worst enemy when it comes to making food choices. Tracking is not an exact science and sometimes I do go over my limit, but I am very aware of how much and how I may need to compensate in the following days. Then, I compensate and get back to the plan.
There are plenty of food tracker apps out there that are free. I happen to use the FatSecret app (TERRIBLE name for a decent app) and while I don’t particularly endorse it, it’s the one I landed on and stuck to. It does give me the capability to send my food from the week to my nutritionist in advance of our monthly sessions. Do your own research and find one that works for you. Then, stick with it.
I am doing the hard work, and I am seeing results. I’m now down 12 pounds from my highest summer weight with just a few more to go. I will continue to do the work – I have also learned that letting up is not an option that will keep me at my goal. Tracking, for me, is key to success. I also happen to weigh myself every morning. Again, not endorsing this, as it can lead to daily frustration as your weight naturally fluctuates day to day, but it works for me. It sets me up to know if I have to make adjustments before things get out of control.
I’m not a doctor, I don’t play one on TV. My personal, regular-person advice for anyone struggling is as follows:
- See a licensed nutritionist.
- Be prepared for a lifestyle change.
- Know that real change takes time.
- Be prepared to be frustrated.
- Be prepared to forgive yourself and start again the next day.
- Be prepared to be hungry, which will ease as your body adapts.
- Track your food consumption.
- Fiber is your friend.
- Fresh fruit is your friend.
- Water is your best friend.
- Salt and caffeine are not your friend. Consume them wisely.
- You can’t have too many raw veggies. Skip the dip.
A caveat to all this: some people have legitimate emotional ties to food. They eat when they are stressed, they binge, they starve themselves, and it is all tied to emotional stuff that needs to be dealt with. For those people, I say it’s time to start looking into WHY your food habits are so closely tied to your emotions. There’s always a reason (or reasons), and you may need a therapist’s assistance to help with that. I am fortunate not to be in that category – I love food, especially delicious, well-prepared food, but I don’t go for the brick of cheese or McDonald’s or bag of chips or bottle of wine when I’m sad. Again, I am fortunate for that, and I pass no judgement on those who do.
There’s no magic pill or “winning formula.” Don’t believe the media hype – there’s too much of that out there. Those snake oil salespeople are looking for your money, your attention, your desperation. Your physical and mental health takes WORK. Period.
Mirror selfies aside, I’m glad I chose to do the work everyday. I do not have any “before” pics, and I don’t care. In the pics below, I have reached 166 pounds, BMI 25.2. I’m not a big fan of BMI in general, but it is “almost” at the normal range now. My cholesterol is 198 and all of my blood levels are good (except for iron, which I have to supplement, because I’m a pre-menopausal woman). My plan now is to keep up the work and maintain what I have accomplished.
I have always had a goal that when I’m 80, I want to climb a mountain. By solidifying these habits now, I like to think I’m setting myself up to train for the next 30 years. Hopefully my hips will hold out until then. Here’s to a healthy, happy, active future.
If anyone wants to continue the conversation or ask any questions, please feel free to comment below.
To read the next episode in this series, click on My Weight Loss Journey, Part 2