Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How I Lost The Weight: Part I

So, you want to lose weight, eh? Well, people, you've come to the right place! Just for the record, though, this is not going to become a blog on weight loss. Nor do I claim to have any expertise in the area other than my own experience. Please do not take my words over the word of your own personal physician, alrighty? Good. Just makin' sure we're clear.

The question I have been/am constantly asked is this: "What did you and Brandon do to lose so much weight?" Well, the pathway to weight loss is pretty hard. I'm sure many of you have tried to lose weight at one point in your life. Am I right, dear reader? Whether you succeeded or failed, you know what it takes. And it takes a lot. Oh, does it take a lot. A lot of what, you might ask? Well, it takes a lot of everything, really. Here are a few examples of things I needed to have to get myself going. Perhaps you might need them, too...?

First: The Desire.
Oh, sure, you may constantly say to your friends "Man, I need to lose 20 pounds!" or joke around with your family about your increasing size and appetite. I know, because I joked about it. I complained about it. I tried to pretend that being fat didn't bother me. Plenty of happy people are fat! So, I was happy, dang it! At least that's what I told myself. Over and over and over as I ate that entire pan of brownies. Yeah, I dreamed about being thin again. I dreamed about having energy and confidence. But I didn't truly have the desire. What became the difference? There were several reasons. One was that I hit my peak --I was bigger/fatter than I had been while pregnant. Bigger than my biggest while pregnant. How could I weigh more than I ever had in my life? What did I do wrong? The answer, dear reader (one of them, anyway), was that I didn't have the desire. I didn't have the desire to change my life and fix the problem. I was so focused on how much I hated my body --so focused, that I couldn't see a way out. So, I did something strange. I invited my Aunt Carrie to come visit me and show me how to dress. She was my "personal shopper" for a week, and we found amazing things! Clothing that fit (even if it was size 18-20) and clothing that flattered. For the first time in years, I felt pretty again. Some would say, "What the? How does that help you to lose weight?" Well, for the first time in 9 years or so, I saw that I had beauty. I was beautiful even while I was "fat". I had to overcome my own insecurities about my looks and my body before I could finally take control. When I finally had that love for me, my desire for weight loss grew and grew.

During this time, Brandon was steadily gaining weight himself. I'll have him do a guest post soon on his own weight loss journey, but for now, just know that he finally hit the same point I had --How in the world did we get so big? What can we do to stop it? The desire had come in a full force --the joking stopped. The complaining stopped. We realized we really needed to do something, or we'd continue on the same path and end up in a place where the desire could fade.

Second: A Partner
I have no self-motivation. Honest. When it comes to doing things on my own just for the sake of doing things on my own, I'm quite pathetic. I love accountability (hmmm...this could be a reason I like the Church) and I have to be accountable to somebody in order to do great things. Like this blog. If you people didn't read my blog and stopped commenting? Well, first I'd bawl my eyes out and be depressed for months, but I would probably slowly stop blogging. I need you, understand? I NEED YOU!!
Without this self-motivation, I tend to fail. That's why it's important for me to have a walking buddy and a running buddy --or a group of women expecting me to exercise. I also need someone helping me through the whole eating process.

About 2 years ago, I joined Weight Watchers with my friend, Jill. She and I were walking/running buddies, and until I got pregnant with #4, I had lost 15 pounds! It was great. But I couldn't have done it without her, because she was my only support. Now, I don't want to harp on Brandon, since he's the best in the west, but he was not very supportive 2 years ago. I had to make 3 separate meals each night (kids, him, me) and he just kind of laughed at me. So, without Jill's support, I would have failed, people. Failed! And technically, I did, although I blame #4 (haha!).
But this time it was different. I had no one to exercise with consistently (although, Camellia, I loved our walks and talks! I truly did!), and no one to do WW with --I was alone. One would think that could motivate me, though, right? Ah, no. You overestimate my abilities, dear reader. I remember the day with clarity when Brandon said: "I think we should join Weight Watchers together."
I signed us up immediately! See, I have no self-motivation, but it doesn't take too much to get me going. I don't fight it, people! I ain't a hater.

So, we started doing the WW program together. We got the passes that let us use the online tools (Brandon's favorite part) and go to the meetings. We started weighing in at different times and on different days, but we were doing the program and watching out for each other.

That's the best part! On days when I am tempted to over-eat, Brandon calls me on it. When Brandon reaches for more of something, I can swat his arm and remind him not to do it. It's so nice having this type of support! OH! That reminds me, too --we've saved loads of money supporting each other. How? Well, we eat less (duh). Plus, when we eat out, we usually share an entree (almost every time). That saves some dough! And some fat. :)

Also, for those thinking about WW (no, they didn't pay me to advertise for them, dang it!), they can be your support system. Those meetings are awesome! The support is just incredible. If you don't believe me, ask Lanette!

Third: Diets Don't Work
It's no surprise that I like Weight Watchers. I've followed the program twice now, and I know it works. My mother followed the program 8 years ago and lost 40 pounds in 4 months, and has kept it off. I have several friends who have been successful with Weight Watchers. So, I like it. But that doesn't mean other programs don't work. Or diets. I mean, how many of you have gone on a diet? And lost weight? For sure, you did! Of course you lost weight! But, what happened when you stopped dieting?
Yeah, that's the problem.
Diets don't work long term. They never have and they never will. To achieve real weight loss it's gotta be more than just changing habits for a few months. You have to change your habits for the rest of your life. If any of you people are like me, you will have to watch what you eat forever. Well, until death. And hopefully that's a long time!

But how do you learn what to do to change your habits? Where do you get the education? There are all kinds of places that explain they know what's best for our bodies. Remember the Atkin's diet? SouthBeach? Liquid? Yeah...not necessarily the best education for your average person trying to lose poundage.

Education is key, and you have to know the right stuff. To get you started, here's something I learned about food:
You need it. Starving yourself is silly, because then your body believes it's starving (hey, wait a minute, that sounds too logical), and then it holds onto fat reserves. But what kind of food do you need? Well, just go read this. Most bodies need the following:

  • Whole grains. 100% whole wheat pasta and breads. They are the best!
  • Water.
  • Fruits and Vegetables and lots of 'em. The more colorful, the better!
  • Dairy. My fave is yogurt.
  • Lean meats or proteins --beans are fab, and lean chicken rocks.
  • Healthy oils --olive is great, but you can use other kinds.

This is just to get you started on thinking about it. I'll actually share with you what I eat most days to give you a better tangible idea. But that will have to be in my next blog post.

[And please know --this is about me. So, if you hate milk, that's fine --but I love it, so I won't apologize for lovin' it. Also, if you're a vegetarian, that's fine, too. I'm lovin' me some vegetarians! But I eat meat, so that'll be a part of my posts. I just don't want any of my posts to get all "you must eat this or die" on me, you know? We cool? Good. I only say this because I know it can be controversial subject, and I don't need that here on my blog. Thanks!]

I hope this helps some of you out there. If you are thinking about losing weight, I really encourage you to do it. I'm hoping to share with you some success stories, soon. Jolene has been working her tail off (literally! Ha!) and has made amazing progress. My friends from the St. George post, A and B (okay, what the heck, her name is Ann, okay? ANN!) lost loads of weight, too. And I already mentioned my mother...I may have to do a success story post!

But now it's your turn to share. Dear readers, if you have lost weight, please share with us how you got started. If you could, please keep the details of exercise and food for the next post, though. Use this one to share your thoughts about how you got to the point where you finally felt the desire to do something about losing the weight. How did you get there? What has/had inspired you to get started?


Julie said...

Well, I was blessed with pretty decent genes, so I never have had the "I need to lose serious weight" motivation. But the hook for Stanton & I was that we just didn't have energy. We felt tired and found that we (and our children) were getting sick far too often, so that was the point at which we decided to make "the change." It's been such a good thing for our family and even though we aren't as strict as we once were, the very good habits have stuck around...the ones that make the biggest difference. (and the bonus: we both lost some weight!)

Julie said...

Oh, and one more thing -- I majored in Nutrition in college, but it was absolutely useless UNTIL Stanton decided he wanted in on the action. It was impossible before that (just like you mentioned in your post). I think making it a family affair is such a huge help.

Ann said...

Weight Watchers is the best beginning. It starts you down the path of eating less and really looking at your caloric needs. I think most people who stay on it wind up eating healthier foods, not just lower calorie foods. At least that's the journey B & I experienced. Congratulations on goal!

Jill said...

I was inspired by my sister. She has 5 kids and a busy life, and after #5 came along she wanted to get fit….so, she took up running, not too far, her favorite distance is about 4-5 miles. She didn’t start with that many; there was a time when she couldn’t even go a full mile. So, she went from a size 8/10 (again, not huge, but big for us short girls) to a size 2/4. She’s my role model, and there was a short time after Emery was born that I was smaller than I am now. And on May 5, you will see me (well, if you happen to be in northwest Nebraska) out pounding the pavement. Slowly, but I will be there.

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

As I near the ripe ol' age of 30, I'm beginning to feel more comfortable in my own skin. I've actually started having the desire to make changes for my health, not just to lose the extra poundage. I think the desire is key, like you said. My story will be ongoing, since it's just getting started, but I'll keep ya posted!

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

PS- You are part of my inspiration! :)

Leslie said...

Cheryl...such an inspiring and good post...I love it on many levels.

As for me...I would like to lose 20 pounds (which translates to 10 because I need to be 10 lbs. above my "ideal" weight in case I get pregnant again...I get really sick). I have shared this with my husband and he's totally on board. We both need to figure out how we can get the exercise we need without spending money (students you know...no money). We're working on it.

Your discussion of how to look at your plate has already made a big difference to me and now my goal is not to have huge dinners, but have lots of delicious veggies!

I have long been of the opinion that diets don't work and that your diet just needs to be what you really eat every day.

I was going to write about my experience of tuning in to how much food is enough for me, but I think I'll blog about it and link to you.

Thanks for another amazing post!

Lizzie said...

Almost two years ago, I started my path towards weight loss. The major desire started when we took pictures of Lexi opening her presents at her first birthday. I was holding her in my lap, and I was wearing a pair of maternity pants... on her first birthday! And besides that, I looked huge! I wanted to erase every picture that I was in, but if I'd done that, we would have no pictures of the event. I almost didn't care, I looked that bad. That's when I realized that I was not happy with how I looked, or how I felt, and I hadn't just gained "a little" weight. After that I started to notice that I hated how I looked in everything I owned and anything I tried on, no matter the size or style. Again, I was realizing that I was simply not happy with my body, and that I needed to do something about it. It took two months for me to start my weight loss program, but I guess that was the time I needed to get mentally prepared for a lifestyle change.

Anonymous said...

I think my biggest problem is I can say "lifestyle change" all I want, but it still feels like a diet--and we've already established that diets don't work.

Plus, I'm lazy. Help me, Cheryl!

Looking forward to more posts like this.

Amanda said...

Great post, Cheryl. I am looking forward to part 2. I wish that I had a story to share, but man, I am a struggling with this.

Amber said...

For me, I need accountability, which is why I decided to publish my progess every week. I had the desire and motivation but when push came to shove with no one around, I wasn't accountable at all. I am finally getting back on track and it feels great!

Arlene said...

Okay, you are my inspiration. I have started WW. I want to look as good as you and Brandon look before I come to Canada. I've seen the success your mom had so I figured I needed to do something that I will be doing for the rest of my life. Jenny Craig wasn't the answer. Sure I can loose the weight and then I put it back on as soon as I go "off the diet". I have to do something that I can continue doing without having to eat separately from my family. Wish me luck.