Finding Success

I got a very nice comment on an earlier post about my weight loss so far, and I wanted to share it with everyone because my reader asked some important questions: “Hi I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks now and love your posts! Wanted to ask, is there something specific you are doing to lose 3 a week? I’m currently losing that now but I know it’s due to my being in the early stages and it’ll taper off but if I can stay at 3 that would be lovely. And I know everyone is different so what works for you may not for me but would love the details anyway because you never know.”

First, I want to say thank you for the kind words. It’s sometimes hard to put this type of personal information out there, and to know that at least one person reads it and takes something away makes me feel good. It used to be, I wouldn’t consider sharing my weight with my pillow, much less a real person. So, it’s a big step for me to put all of this out there into the world.

Sorry for the long post to follow, all, I just guess I had a lot to say.

Losing three pounds a week is on the high end of the healthy recommended weight loss range. Most health officials say that a rate of one to two pounds per week is healthy — not only because losing faster than that can pose some health risks, but also because it’s been shown that those who lose slower tend to keep the weight off. Here’s an article from the CDC on the topic: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html.

That being said, don’t we all just love to see the scale go down faster than that? I know I do. But, I don’t have those types of losses every week. My “average” weight loss since I’ve been doing Weight Watchers and exercising regularly is about 2.3 pounds. That means I’ve had some 0.2 losses and some 4.2 losses. Heck, I’ve even had a gain. And, to be honest, I can’t tell you from one week to the next exactly what my body’s going to do. Bodies are tricky that way. I can eat exactly the same food and do the exact same workouts one week and lose two pounds. Then, the next week I’ll maintain. I can work out really hard one week and only lost a fraction of a pound. These are all reasons to focus on some of the non-scale victories and not just on the number on the scale — like, clothes fitting better, collar bones appearing, compliments, walking up stairs without getting winded, fitting in a movie theater seat, etc.

I’d have to say the biggest keys to my success have been mixing it up a bit — from the food I eat to the exercises I do. The only thing that’s constant in my “regimen” (man, I hate that word) is my breakfast. I always eat 1 cup of oatmeal mixed with ground cinnamon, 2 tbsp. of flax seed, a small fat free yogurt and some sort of fruit (berries or a banana). Other than that, every day is different. I also eat six or seven “meals” throughout the day:

-On the days I lift weights in the morning, I have some sort of a small protein before I go (a low fat string cheese, 1/3 c. scrambled egg whites, etc.)

-Breakfast: Oatmeal

-Mid-morning snack: Fruit or vegetable and a protein (apple and low fat cheese, grapefruit and string cheese, etc.)

-Lunch: Whatever strikes my mood. I’ve started to shy away from any processed, frozen meals, as I found they didn’t help my weight loss efforts at all. Sure, they’re easy, but they also have a lot of sodium and don’t really fill me up, so I find myself wanting to eat again about an hour later.

-Mid-afternoon snack: A light carb and a protein (air-popped popcorn mixed with almonds, apple with peanut butter, frozen blueberries and a slice of cheddar cheese, etc.)

-Dinner: Something yummy, light and filling with a healthy whole grain (I love, love, love quinoa), a good protein (lately I’ve been loving tilapia) and lots of delicious veggies.

-Evening snack: Yes, I snack in the evenings. It keeps me from waking up and wanting to attack the fridge first thing in the morning. Usually it’s something really light: a glass of skim milk and some carrots, a small grapefruit, some celery and low-fat peanut butter, a handful of almonds and a small apple — you get the picture.

So, you see, I eat a lot.

I also splurge. I don’t deprive myself. I go out to eat. When I start not eating ice cream or never going out to eat, I slip back into my old habits of overeating, eating when I’m bored and eating away my emotions. The key is doing all of these things in the most healthful way I can. I don’t order the same things my friends order. I don’t order large of anything — always small or “baby” size. And I order things how I want them cooked. I don’t remember the last time I ordered something off the menu.

And I work out a lot. I get in at least six days of cardio every week. I run, I walk (flat and on an incline), I do the elliptical, I run stairs, I use the stairclimber, I jump rope, I do intervals, I bike. I’m finding that I actually love every machine at the gym. And, I also am loving running outside. There’s this great path by my house, and I’m able to run and then do some great polymetrics on the curbs or on benches. I try not to do the same cardio workout two days in a row. I like to keep my body guessing.

Two to three times a week I do strength training. I’ll admit, this is my weak point. I should make sure to get in three sessions a week, but sometimes it’s just not in the cards. But, I make sure I get in at least two strength sessions. My trainer set up a nice weight circuit for me at my gym, and I’m finally starting to notice a difference.

The final bits to my success so far: I move as much as possible. I fidget at my desk; I park as far away from the store as I can; I haul in my groceries one or two bags at a time; I do calf raises when I stand in line. And I drink a lot of water.

Again, my key is to really mix things up. But, like you said, not every person is the same. It took me a while to figure out what was working for me. And, that is: Try not to figure it out. Clearly my body’s going to do what it wants. I just stay on plan, eat healthful foods in moderation and get in some good, solid exercise. I really pay attention to what I’m doing. And, I’m feeling the benefits in my body. I have more energy. I am, overall, happier. I fit in clothes better. And, darn it, I look better. While this last one isn’t the most important reason for me to stay motivated, I must admit the compliments and the person I now see in the mirror sure are nice.

It’ll take some time to figure out exactly what works for you. My advice? Try new things all the time. You never know when you’ll stumble on something that not only works — but that you really love. And, don’t be hard on yourself when you have a misstep or a small weight gain. There are so many ways to measure success other than what you weigh. Just get back up on the horse that second — every second is a chance to start over. You don’t have to wait until the next meal or the next day or the next week.

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