On how to actually lose weight…

I feel slightly uncomfortable talking about this topic. I’m not a personal trainer or a doctor. I am however, really good and working out and eating well (thanks Celiac disease – NOT). And I don’t want to add fodder to body image issues that millions of people face.

However, in the last month I’ve gotten asked about weight loss by a few different folks. I do understand what it is like to be overweight. The year I graduated college I was pushing 200 pounds. Thankfully, for the last eight years I’ve maintained a consistent healthy weight. Without further ado… 5 things you can do to actually lose weight.

  • Recognize your patterns

Diets fail. Yes, nearly ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL of them. AAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL of them.

By diet, I mean those crazy, gimmicky food plans where they tell you “just cut out X” or “only eat Y.”

They fail because they don’t fix long term unhealthy patterns of behavior.

Adkins – BULLSHIT.

Slim fast – BULLSHIT.

Clean Eating – WTF? Why is your food dirty?

Weight watchers – actually – they have a decent plan. I can get on board with Weight Watchers.

Yeah, I’m guessing you know one or two people that lost a few pounds five years ago. But are they still a healthy weight today? Highly unlikely.

People hate hearing this, but most people have a pattern. You likely wake up, skip breakfast, eat a massive lunch (you think you can because you skipped breakfast), scarf a massive dinner, and maybe mow down a late night snack.

And what do you do for exercise? Are you walking a mile or two? Or doing some push ups? Anything? Bueller…. Bueller…

You can’t break a pattern until you know what is it.

  • You need to set up for the LONG game plan

Let me guess – you just want to lose 60 pounds in three months. Sorry dude, that ain’t going to happen.

Diets fail because people only stick to them for a few weeks, lose a few pounds, and then return back to previous behaviors.

If you want to win, you need to set up to change your behaviors for better…. for the rest of your life. Yes, seriously. But is that so bad? Changing how you live so you’re healthy to age 80?

If you don’t change your mindset to a life change, you’re probably going to fail at losing weight.

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Frustrating. Isn’t it?
  • Eat Less

What we eat is the majority of losing weight.

But diets are bullshit and don’t work. So what do you do?

In a perfect world, you’d eat about 2,000-ish calories a day and get the proper proportion of veggies, fruit, carbs, and protein. But you’re probably not going to do that (although it would be good to).

After you’ve done step #1, and know your pattern of eating what you need to do is… just eat less.

What you put in your face is eat is ENTIRELY IN YOUR CONTROL. No one else is making you eat.

If you’re eating 3,000 calories a day, cut back to 2,800. Most people (present blogger included) can’t handle turning away food temptation after food temptation. Rather than giving in all the way and eating an entire cake – just eat a small slice. You’re not going to cut out ice cream – so just get less ice cream (1 scoop instead of 2).

(Side bar: If you have deep emotional issues causing you to eat, I’m sorry to hear that. I’d recommend seeking professional help to break that pattern.)

  • Exercise more

Most Americans do jack shit for exercise. 150 years ago when the population was bailing hay for a living not hitting the treadmill wasn’t a very big deal. But you should exercise because if you don’t your muscles, lungs, and heart are secretly wanting to kill you.

Most exercise plans fail.

P-90X – fail.

30 day shred – fail.

Sweating to the Oldies – fun, but fail.

They fail because people go all out crazy on day one thinking they’re Olympians, they sprain their back, and then stop exercising because they’re injured.

Instead of dropping $200 on some DVDs  and sacrificing your body to the sadist gods – just try exercising a little bit more. If you are doing nothing, walk one mile. If you were doing one mile- do two.

The five exercises most people can do are:

  1. Walk a mile (or two) a day
  2. Do some crunches/sits ups
  3. Try some push up (from your knees or whatever)
    • Or planks, try 10 seconds, then 20…
  4. Do some squats (google how to do these correctly or you’ll jack your knees)
    • Split squats may be a healthier alternative
  5. Do some arm curls with weights (just lift what you can do)

And no. There is no magic formula for this. Just try them for a bit, alternate – whatever.

If you get bored exercising, try putting on some music or putting on a tv show. While I’m on the elliptical I watch crappy tv (yes, the Kardashians), and when I’m lifting weights I listen to show tunes on Pandora.

  • Set realistic expectations

1% of the WORLD has the physique of Heidi Klum. The odds of you looking like her are slim (pun not intended) to none. Stop thinking you’re going to look like a model, and simply hope for a fit version of yourself. I bet the fit version of yourself is fucking awesome.

Losing five pounds a week is SUPER UNHEALTHY. I once saw a diet that advocated eating 1,200 calories a day. That diet is bullshit people – unless you’re a toddler.

Realistically, you should probably shoot for 2 to 5 pounds a month. If you shoot for more and don’t make it you’re going to beat yourself up.

Good luck. You can do this.

On gaining weight…

When I started writing this blog, my intent was to write about things I had noticed were wrong in my life – that I hoped to make right.  My intent was to be honest about struggles I dealt with, and never represent myself as someone who does not have any issues (trust me, I have issues – just like everyone else).  My intent was to forward with the fact that when I have problems I have to find ways to address them – one day at a time.

Each year, when the New Year rings in, millions of people flock to gyms across the country in order to lose weight.  They join Weight Watchers buy Slim Quick.  However, when my New Year rang in I was moving in the opposite direction of weight loss.

The day after we celebrated the New Year, my husband sat me down and had a serious conversation with me about my weight.  He said that he loved me, but that he was worried about how thin I was getting.  He said that he loved to hold me, but that he did not like feeling my rib cage when he hugged me.  I might have just shrugged off his comments, but a few months prior one of my best friends had sat me down and had a similar conversation.  She said she loved me, but that she was worried about me.  She said she didn’t like seeing my rib cage through my clothing.

Throughout high school and college I always thought that I was overweight.  At my largest, I was a size 16 and weighed about 190.  According to the BMI chart I was “obese.”  However, I never thought I needed to lose weight until I started dating a guy I will refer to as “jerkface.”

Jerkface and I started dating in college.  After we were dating about a year he told me that I was too fat, and that I needed to lose twenty pounds in order for him to keep dating me.  If I was dating a guy like that now, I would most likely kick him in his man parts, and tell him to stick where the sun don’t shine.  Unfortunately, I was so desperate for affirmation that I started to lose weight.

Over the next few years I went from 190 pounds… to 140 pounds.  On a positive note, in addition to losing weight, I also dropped the jerkface.  While the jerkface was gone, the fear of not being loved had stayed.  Sadly, I hadn’t really realized how embedded that fear was until my husband sat me down and asked me to gain weight.

I am writing this today because I bought pants for the first time in over a year.  That last time I bought pants they were a size 4, and I was ecstatic about my tiny frame.  Today, I fit perfectly into a size 8.  I don’t know how much weight I’ve gained, because I haven’t weighed myself in three months.  What is really sad to me, is that my brain is having a mini crisis about being a larger size.  My brain is telling me to go work out, to not eat so much, and that I need to slim down.  As I am freaking out, my husband’s request echoes through my brain.  As I am freaking out, I start crying when I have the thought that my nieces and sisters would grow up ignorantly believing they have to be thin in order for people to like them.

I would never say that I had an eating disorder, but maybe I just don’t know what this is called???  I never fully stopped eating food, nor did I binge and purge.  I like food too much to never eat.  I lost weight because I became OBSESSED with working out and tracking my food intake.  If I went over 1600 calories a day I would freak out, and do a second intense workout.

Somehow, magically, I managed to gain weight.  How did I do it?  How did I gain  weight?  In order to gain weight, I had to do four things.  First, I had to start eating more food.  Instead of eating 1600 calories a day, I started eating closer to 1800 or 2000.  I stopped going hungry in between meals.  I started having healthy snacks.  Second, I had to stop working out so much.  Instead of doing daily doubles or seven days a week, I cut down to six (which I know is still a lot – but I have to start somewhere).  Third, I had to trust that the person I married would love me despite the size pants I was wearing (and trust me when I say that very few husbands mind it when their wives gain some cushion up top and in the back… especially mine).  My husband has been nothing but supportive, and tells me I am beautiful at least once a day.  Forth, I had to learn to appreciate the body that I have.  To me – the forth part is still incredibly difficult.  But I figure that if I couldn’t love my body when I was a size 4 (which is by ALL definitions thin), then I will never love my body until I choose to start doing so.

I spent the last four years of my life believing that I had to be thin in order for people to love me.  That – was wrong.  I spent the last four years of my life slowly killing my body by not eating enough and by working out too much.  That – was wrong.

I have loving friends who accept me as I am.  I have a wonderful husband who is kind and supportive.  And fortunately, I have the chance to make this right.  One day at a time.