16 Pounds Down: Lessons Learned

I hit the 16 pounds gone mark on Sunday! Skipping right over 15 pounds, I realized that I’m half-way to my first goal and a quarter of the way to my major goal. I have a feeling I’ll be adding a third goal after that, but I don’t want to get too ahead of myself or overwhelm myself. 60 pounds is daunting enough!

So I thought this would be a good time to review what I’ve learned so far and what has been working for me. (Disclaimer: I am not a health care professional or fitness expert. This is simply what’s worked for me so far.)

  • Focusing on clean eating, with an emphasis on vegetarian dishes, leaves me feeling energized and happy. For me, this means eating mostly vegetables, whole grains, beans, and lean meats while cutting down on dairy (except for Greek yogurt) and white carbs (i.e. white bread and pasta). Kale has been my go-to veggie lately. I actually crave it when I don’t eat it for a few days.
  • Snacks are important. I generally have a handful of nuts around 11:00 a.m. and an apple in the afternoon along with some tea.
  • Drinking lots of water. It’s a habit I’ve had for years and I feel gross if I don’t drink enough each day.
  • There is no reason to be hungry. If I’ve eaten all my meals and snacks for the day, but am still hungry I’ll munch on some sliced cucumbers, baby carrots, tomatoes, pickled beets, orange slices, an apple, etc. As long as it’s real food (i.e. unprocessed) and low in calories I won’t let myself worry about it.
  • Portion control is important. I don’t track my food every day, but I do log a random day every few days to make sure I’m at least close to the range I’m aiming for. My Fitness Pal is a good app for that, although I think their calorie ranges can be a little too low. If the weight continues to come off, I don’t concern myself too much with being exact.
  • Leave room for treats. If I’m really craving something, I’ll let myself have it. I usually find just a little bit of whatever it is will satisfy me and I don’t feel resentful or deprived.
  • Think of food as a source of energy and healing. I really do see food in a different way now. It’s not a reward or a punishment. It’s just what I need to function and take care of my health.
  • Exercise is really important to me. Aside from the cardiovascular and possible weight loss benefits, I see exercise as a way to really connect with my body, to appreciate everything that it can do, and to be more comfortable in my skin. It also helps me to stop thinking about a million things and just focus on the moment for a bit. Zumba is my favorite form of exercise right now, but I also look forward to long walks with my husband, and an hour on the elliptical when there aren’t any Zumba classes.

And here are some progress pics! I definitely see a difference in the side view shots. While the before shots are from July 2012, I started my weight loss efforts in January 2014 at right around the same weight, so these are fairly representative of the situation. Here’s to more successes in the months to come!

July 2012

Before

3 Months (March '14)

3 Months (March ’14)

 

 

3 Months (March '14)

3 Months (March ’14)

Before (front)

Before (front)

On the Food and Diet Industries

One of my biggest pet peeves is all the literal and figurative crap that the food and diet industries try to sell people. This recent article on Huffington Post lays it all out pretty nicely.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the piece:

For years, the food industry has willfully misinterpreted prevailing dietary guidance into the most profitable of distortions. No nutrition expert ever said “eat low fat, starchy, high-sugar, high-calorie cookies.” But when we were fixated on low-fat eating, that’s just what the food industry gave us. They have done much the same with every nutritional preoccupation to follow.

When I think back to the dieting of my childhood and teenage years the low-fat craze had just kicked in. I vividly remember munching on  Snackwells, pretzels, and cereal,  and having pasta or white rice with dinner most nights. Pretty much everything in the house advertised itself as low-fat. My grandparents’ and aunt’s pantries were full of the same kinds of foods. And years later, guess who ended up with diabetes? ALL of them. My grandparents have since passed away, but my mom and aunt are constantly struggling to get their blood sugar under control. And now, of course, they’re following the low-carb trend which seems advisable and necessary for their medical condition, but I’m pretty sure it’s also not in the healthiest of ways. Low-carb cakes and cookies are probably not the best way to go about it.

And then there are the multitude of crazy diets, products, and supplements out there. My mom recently tried Sensa – you know, the product that you sprinkle on your food to help you get faster fuller? Yeah. Can you guess how long that one lasted?

This stuff angers me to no end! While I do think that consumers should be more wary and educate themselves on the products they are buying and the fads that they are following, I just don’t understand how companies can knowingly create products that are not only ineffective, but also potentially harmful. Not to mention all of the junk that gets put into our food! I’m sure you’ve all heard about the yoga mat chemical in Subway’s and other fast food restaurants’ bread, right?

I wish the health and medical communities would do more to advocate the idea that we should be focused on eating a balance of unprocessed whole foods the majority of the time. It’s so simple and it really can make a difference in our overall health. But when there’s tons of money to be made, those simple messages are going to be drowned out by the clamor of companies trying to make a buck off of our insecurities, our lack of time to research for ourselves, and the draw of a “quick fix.”

Monday Miscellany

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Is it just me, or do those two days go waaaay too fast? I’m a firm supporter of the four day work week, even if that would mean working later during the the four days in order to get the right amount of hours in. Everyone would be much better off!

I’ve had a lot of stuff rattling around my brain lately, so in no particular order, here are some random notes and thoughts:

  • I’ve been hanging around at the same weight for the last two weeks or so. It’s a little frustrating, but even though the scale isn’t moving, I’m starting to notice a difference in my body shape. At Zumba class on Saturday I noticed that I looked a bit smaller and more toned, especially in my legs and butt. So something must be working, right? I know I should post some progress pics soon. I’d like to do that when I hit 15 lbs gone – two more to go!
  • My husband is joining me on the fitness bandwagon. He got on the scale the other day and declared his goal of losing .5 lbs a week. I’m excited for this! It will definitely make eating healthier a bit easier. We’ve already been taking walks together, but now we’re going to add some extra long walks on the weekends. And we’re even talking about going hiking as soon as it actually gets warmer!
  • Bowling is fun! I used to hate bowling because I’m terrible at it and am pretty competitive. However, this weekend my husband suggested an impromptu bowling date on Long Island. It was so much fun! We were both pretty terrible, but I actually beat him (a first)! We’ll probably go back again soon with a group of friends in tow. Yay, for active dates!

Happy Monday, everyone!