Monday, May 05, 2008

How I Lost the Weight: Part IV

Okay, so you have the desire (Part I), you have the food (Part II), and you've started to exercise (Part III). Now I can share with you what I did specifically to lose my near 40 pounds.

[And yes, here it is again, a reminder that everything Cheryl says is not professional, nor should it be viewed as such...she is but a lowly woman with a successful weight loss story. That is all. So, please, listen to your doctor before listening to her. That would be the wisest choice. And that is all.]

For starters, I want you to know that as I lost the weight, my body actually needed less to eat. I hope this makes sense. When I started, I was eating 38 points a day (this is the WW points. For more info about that, go here). Of course, I was nursing at the time, and 37-40 pounds overweight. Now, with all the "required" weight (I still want to lose a good 4 or 5 pounds) lost, and #4 happily weaned, I only eat 24 points a day --big difference, eh?

Okay, here's the details. Please note that this is such a subjective/objective point of view. This is me. This is my life. It is not yours, regardless of how similar we might be. Every body is different and tastes are different. If you think what I did was the bomb (and who can blame ya'?), then great! If you think what I did was lousy, then great! You need to figure out what works for you and then stick with it. That is the key, my friend. No, not the figuring it out part. That's actually kind of easy. It's the Stick With It that's a tad harder. And, the key. The biggest friggin' key that will unlock all the doors of health to you. Stick. With. It!

Last July, I started out walking 4 miles a day with a friend. In the summer before school started, we would walk from 6:30 to 7:30 in the morning. We did trails/street (because we had a fab park nearby), and it worked our muscles better to go up the huge hills. By Sept., we started going at 5:40AM (we both had kids in school) and began training for a 5K. We ran our 5K in September and did rather well. It was hard, though, running at 9AM when we were used to 6AM. After the 5K, we started training for a 10K, but because of injuries, the cold weather, and the dark (it was kind of scary at times --we passed strange people every once in a while. Scary!), we just stopped going altogether. She joined a gym, and I joined Curves. I would go to Curves every morning at 6AM.
Because of financial strain, I ended up leaving Curves --and I found out about Lanette's T/TH weight training class at the church. I started going to that twice a week for about 3 months. Of course, the move stopped that cold (*sniff*), and I found myself doing nothing.

Remember how I told you I lost one whole dress size, but only 3 pounds? That was during Lanette's weight training class. The running was good, for sure, but I didn't build muscle like I needed to --thus my desire to start doing something like that soon!

Now I walk MWF with my former running buddy, Jill. We meet at 5:45AM (her hubby works early) and walk about 2 miles right now. We're hoping to work that up and maybe even start running again. Throw in my weight training somehow (I have no excuses! I own hand weights! I need to get going!), and I'll be set!

[I'm not going to take the time to label the points value for the food I eat. This is because a lot of you might not use this system, I don't want to specify measurements (the more food, the more points!), and I'm just that lazy. Sorry! If you're DYING to know the points for stuff, either join Weight Watchers, or come visit me. Yes! Come visit me! That would be the best solution...]

Cereal and milk: Skim milk and Cheerios/Frosted Mini-Wheats/Life/Honey Bunches of Oats/whatever whole grain stuff we have in the cupboard
Egg Sandwich: Lite/whole wheat (when we can find them) English Muffin toasted. Add one MorningStar sausage patty, one serving Eggbeaters (southwestern brand rocks!), small handful light/fat free cheese. I will usually have this with 6 oz. of yogurt --WW brand (Yoplait is good, too, if you get the light kind. But too much aspartame is not very good for the bod, so WW is better, if only for this).

Snacks: Banana, Quaker Oats Chewy granola bar (the 100 or 90 calorie ones), apple, string cheese, Craisins, graham crackers, fruit leather, 98% fat free popcorn (the low butter kind), grapes, clementines, etc. I usually have several snacks a day --probably 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. Just depends on how I feel, really.

Salad: Organic greens with fat-free dressing (honey dijon/Italian Ceasar/Catalina), handful Light cheese, and craisins. Or Salsa, and some crushed tortilla chips.
Wraps: Whole wheat tortilla with salad/tomatoes/broccoli/peppers/zucchini/squash, fat free sour cream, salsa, cheese OR whatever the heck I feel like putting on it.
Leftovers: Whatever I have left-over. Easy, eh?
Sandwich: PB and J. Serious. I will eat it on whole wheat bread and use naturally-sweetened jam. But if I do this, I can't have too much else for lunch --perhaps a salad with FF dressing.
Nachos: My version (a.k.a. Brandon's version!) includes half a plate of chips (spread them around so they look like more), light cheese, fat-free refried beans (kind of forked or spooned on top in a hodge-podge way), tomatoes, salsa, and fat-free sour cream.
Mac and Cheese: Yep. I'll still eat some --but not a whole bowl, and once again, with a salad or something. This is only if I'm really craving it and the kiddies are eating it.

Snacks: See other snacks.

Chicken/Veggie meal: This is the best stand-by. I use the Costco pre-cooked grilled chicken strips (frozen) and the frozen Broccoli Normandy mix (carrots, yellow squash, broccoli, cauliflower). I put them together in a pan with olive oil (love olive oil!), garlic (adore garlic!), onions (dried ones are easiest!), and whatever seasoning I'm feeling at the moment (chili-lime or Italian --it goes both ways!). Cook it up, add some Parmesan cheese, and voila! Easy dinner. Serve with WW bread or WW noodles.
Thai or Indian food: Brandon bought this book. He studied it like a mad-man and spent many an hour in some local Indian and Thai spice markets. The pay-off? Thai and Indian curries/dishes that taste authentic and restaurant made. A lot of times I'll make dinner for the kids (the stuff they like), and we'll have Curry. Jasmine or Basmati rice will accompany amazing yellow or panang curries, along with aloo gobi, mushroom curry, or chicken tikka masala. It's waned a little bit this last month or so (I blame the move), but today we had green curry with tofu, bamboo shoots, red peppers, and Jasmine rice. Yum!
Spaghetti: This is basically and easy one, too. You will find that most recipes --the things you eat all the time --can be modified to become healthier. And after a few times eating it? You'll prefer the healthier version. I promise. Okay, here's how I make it: First of all, no oil. None. I just mix a can of mushrooms (stems and pieces) with one can tomato sauce, one can diced tomatoes, 2 sliced zucchini (small ones), 1 sliced yellow squash, onions (dried or fresh), 1/2 can (tomato sauce can) water, and one spaghetti sauce mix packet. Once it's done, serve it over Whole Wheat spaghetti noodles. You could add ground beef or ground turkey if you want, but I always do it vegetarian (and just for the record? I'm not a vegetarian.).
Crock pot meals: I make taco soup, Italian chicken, roasts, other things. But it's rare. I'll be honest, as much as I love my crock pot, I haven't been using it very often. I need to start doing it more. My veggie taco soup rocks this world! Maybe one day I'll post it for you...But once again, you can modify your crock-pot recipes to make them healthier. Use reduced-sodium stuff. Use 98% fat free cream of mushroom. Make it vegetarian.
Noodles/Rice with whatever: Like what I did tonight --I made whole wheat egg noodles and added the chicken/veggie meal (see above) to it. And cheese for the kids. Sometimes I'll make the noodles and add a chicken broth/cornstarch/fat free sour cream sauce to it with shrimp and corn. Or shrimp and broccoli. Just mix your whole wheat starches with your yummy veggies, and you can make just about anything.

The Wiz told me she hates fat free stuff, but since my palate has changed, I hate the regular stuff. Can't stand it. Tastes like I'm eating whole milk straight from a cow. Gag! Anyway, I eat a lot of dessert. Mostly ice-cream/frozen yogurt. But I eat it. Every. Single. Day. Brandon and I have tried all brands and all kinds, and we always have fat-free whipped topping (or light if we can't find the FF kind) on the top. Sometimes we throw on some PB or some PB m&m's.
Other desserts we eat are...well...not many, I guess. I eat whatever people bring me (so stop bringing me stuff, dang it!), and that feels like a lot sometimes. But it's all good! One day I had a craving for some super dark chocolate, so I bought myself some Ghiradelli. Lots of points? Oh, yeah. But good stuff!
I've learned that depriving myself of the things I love in the name of weight loss creates Binges. If I allow myself the good stuff every once in a while, I never feel deprived. And sometimes --like the ice cream case --I find I don't even miss it.

Restaurant Eating:
Brandon and I try to have date night once a week (if you've noticed). We have budgeted money to do this, because we think it's dang important. Our favorite date? Dinner. No...not dinner and a movie (although we used to quite the movie goers), just dinner. I know, sounds boring, right? But it's not, really --we spend a lot of time talking, and it's just so nice to be alone together.

Anyway, when we eat out, we have to be careful. It's easy to control your environment when you are the one buying/cooking the food, right? Right. But at a restaurant, it's easy to go over-board. Some things we do to make our eating out a success:
  1. If we choose to eat the bread they automatically give you, we never get more. Sometimes, we ask them to just take it away and don't eat any of it.
  2. Water. I drink only water. Brandon likes his Diet Coke, but I prefer the clear stuff.
  3. We skip appetizers unless it's part of our entree. Usually, appetizers are just fat and salt, anyway.
  4. We almost always share. If a restaurant has some low-fat or sensible options, we'll choose those. But usually, we just share. Not only does it save our bodies, it saves our pockets, too. Plus, we have learned that if we get an entree with the intent to save half of it, we won't. If it's there, we eat it! Therefore, sharing is best for us.
  5. If we share an entree, we will splurge and share a dessert or an appetizer. This makes it more fun, plus we can have the Tiramasu without guilt!

The biggest plus, though, is that we have found that food doesn't have to be a "Oh, I've been so good, I can splurge" or a "if we're not eating everything on our plate, then the children in Africa will die!" or a "I deserve this" (deserve what?! To be FAT!?). Food can be just that --Food. Sure, it can/should be enjoyed. Of course! But it doesn't have to be obsessive. Which it was, once, for me. The way I stuffed my face is quite embarrassing now.

There you go. For now, this is the end of the series. I know I'll be talking about my weight loss for the rest of my life --maybe not this specific time in my life, but definitely my ongoing struggles and state of mind. So, if a post in the future warrants it, we'll definitely be re-visiting this subject.

What have you done to lose weight? What worked? What didn't? If you haven't yet, but want to lose weight, do you think you can make the changes necessary to be successful?


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Cheryl! This is exactly what I was waiting for.

Now, could you just come stay with me for awhile and be my personal trainer/chef?

Lizzie said...

Ok, it's official, we're coming over for dinner and Brandon is making us curry. We're curry fanatics! Oh wait, better idea, Wayne is coming over and Brandon is teaching him how to cook a great curry or two. Yeah, that's it...

Julie said...

This was excellent. I am a recipe fanatic. I rarely make the same meal twice (often variations on a theme, but rarely the exact same thing). But I am also a health and nutrition conscious person. These could be in huge conflict with one another, but like you said, it's pretty simple to modify any recipe to be healthy. If it calls for whole milk, I use 1%. If it calls for butter, I use olive oil or Smart Balance. If it calls for rice, I use brown rice. I double the vegetables. I use whole wheat pasta. Etc, etc, etc. Oh, and turkey bacon and turkey sausage are really so good, why bother with the regular kind? Although, we still save those for the weekend...they're still a bit of an indulgence.
Anyway, amen. And you should try Adam's Natural Peanut Butter. I guarantee you'll never go back to Jif!

Lizzie said...

Hey, I also keep forgetting to say... THANK YOU Cheryl for doing all these posts now. I've done the whole weight loss thing, but now I'm pregnant, and soon (hopefully) I won't be and I've got to lose at least some of the weight before I'm a bridesmaid in September. It'll be great inspiration to read over all this again. Especially since I was big portion control for cutting calories, but you can't really do that is you breastfeed (ok, you CAN, be your SHOULDN'T...). And all that stuff you put in your comment, Julie, I'm writing that down! Brown rice I've done, but the rest is so simple, I can't believe I've never thought about it...

Jill said...

No advice from me, but I did go running this's to day 1 of re-starting the habit.

Allie said...

I have found your blog through blog hopping :) and I have been following your weight loss saga :)
Thanks for posting it and making me feel like I can do it, again.
I enjoy your blog and thought I would drop you a line to let you know!

FluffyChicky said...

You need to come be my personal trainer/chef. You are awesome.
I have got the exercise thing kind of down, but I am too addicted to my food to change my diet just yet. I'll have to try some of your suggestions though...they sound great!

Cheryl said...

Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to tell you what to do --I mean, ahem...come visit you! :) Seriously, though, I would love to!

I'm glad I could help! And for sure we'll have you guys over for curry one of these nights. Just put in your order!

Exactly. Exactly! It's amazing how easy changes can be made --it's in the small steps and the small things we don't think about. I love your substitute ideas!

YAY! You ran! Keep running, okay? Do it for me, so I won't have to...I I'll be inspired! :)

Welcome! I'm glad you found these posts and can use the advice in them --please come back and visit more!

I would love to be your personal trainer. But not chef. I have no problem telling you What to cook, but you'll have to do the work, honey. :) And that's the biggest problem people have --they exercise like crazy, but they don't modify their food. Now you know you need to modify your food! You can do it, you know. You can!

Amanda said...

Great post, Cheryl.
I really need to think of food as food, and not "oh, I took a walk so I can have extra icecream." I'm a work in progress.

I am going to join WW online though. Wish me luck!

JustRandi said...

Wow, Cheryl, I just read all 4 of your weight loss series. You are amazing. I've fought my weight all my life, and last year gained 20 lbs after being thin(ish) for about 4 years. It is NO fun.
Anyway, you've inspired me to find my old thin eating habits again.