This post was originally posted on my old blog. I initially thought I would move all those posts over, but I think I’ll slowly just repost them here. I blogged in a different style back then. This post is dated January 9, 2014. I added a couple of edits.
I get this question almost weekly. What did you do? What did you do to lose the weight? What’s your secret?
Sorry, folks. It’s not secret. I watched what I ate and I ran my a$$ off, literally. I made small changes over time. I’ll try to make a list of all the things that I have done. Here’s the disclaimer: just because this worked for me, doesn’t mean it will work for you. However, in my experience in watching others follow a somewhat relative path to mine, this is a very successful method for slow, long term, lasting weight loss.
Side note: I have tried about 100 times to write “the weight loss” post, but it’s just too long of a story for a blog post. Here’s the condensed version. I lost 40lbs (edit: I’m now at 43lbs lost!) over the course of 7+ years. That’s a little over 5lbs a year. That’s REALLY slow. I went from a size 16 jeans to size 8. (edit: I’m now a size 4/6!) I went from size XL tops to size S tops. I’ve been heavy virtually my entire life. When I got my driver’s license at 15, I lied about my weight. I told the DMV lady I weighed 135lbs. It was a lie back then, but it’s no longer a lie. I went from 175 at my heaviest to my now current 135. Goal weight…BOOM! (edit: I hit 132lbs earlier this month and I’ve set a new goal of 130.)
So here’s what I did:
1. I learned to cook. Thankfully, I fell in love with cooking. I love to make things from scratch, from the bottom up. I like knowing everything that’s in my food. Cooking from scratch does take a bit more time, initially. However, once you get into a groove, you will forget all those processed food shortcuts you used to take. It’s about changing habits.
2. I cut out processed foods, as much as possible. I’m talking the super processed stuff. No canned soups, no ready-to-eat meals, no frozen biscuits, no “helper.”
3. I read labels. I don’t put anything in my grocery cart without reading the label first. I want to know what’s in it. I don’t avoid HFCS completely, but I’m more likely to buy something if it’s made with real sugar, real ingredients. If there’s too many things that I have to stop to pronounce, I’m not going to buy it. It takes time to read labels, but you will quickly learn what brands make the effort to be more natural. Again, changing habits. In the short run, it will take time and effort, but in the long run, it will be a lasting change…just another part of your routine.
4. I researched portion size. For example, a serving of cheese is roughly the size of 4 dice. Compared to the amount of cheese you find in casserole recipe’s on Pinterest, that is tiny. A serving of meat is the size of a deck of playing cards. No wonder Americans are so heavy. Restaurants knowingly serve food that is two, three, and four times the recommended portion!
5. I went relatively dairy-free. I found out about a year ago that I have a moderate to severe lactose intolerance. I gave up milk, anything made with milk, and ice cream. I use almond milk as a substitute, because I also seem to have an issue with soy. I limit myself to a serving of cheese per day and at once, one tablespoon of butter. This took off about 5lbs almost immediately.
6. I try to eat a balanced diet, with a variety of things. Different fruits and veggies. Different grains. A variety of proteins. I have expanded my palate and found that healthy things taste better to me than the junk. Basically I reprogrammed myself. When I eat better, I feel better, which makes the food that’s better for me taste better. Food is fuel, and it helps me to treat it that way.
7. I keep my cheat foods sacred. I LOVE Chipotle. I LOVE Oreos. I LOVE brownies. I LOVE sweet and sour chicken. I LOVE cinnamon rolls. And I still eat these things, but not every day, not every week. It’s that much more a reward to space it out.
8. I found a workout that I love. I tried weights. I tried yoga. I tried aerobics. I tried cycling. I fell in love with running. I look forward to my runs. It’s not just something else on my to-do list. I see running as my reward for waking up and making it through another day in this world. In order to lose weight, you have find a workout that you love and works for your body. It’s the same idea as finding a job that you love. If it’s a chore, you are less likely to do it.
9. Calories in and calories out. I occasionally count calories to keep myself on track. I have used the Livestrong food iPhone app and now I use the FitBit app. I can’t say enough good things about the FitBit…awesome tool. I wish I had had one all along. Your calories in have to be lower than your calories out to lose weight. It’s simple math, simple science. If you want to eat more, you have to do more. If you want to sit on your butt all day, you can lose weight, but you won’t get to eat much while you do it. You also won’t tone up while you drop the pounds.
10. I worked hard. Sometimes I look back and it feels like the weight just fell off. But it didn’t. This was a SEVEN year battle. I had ups and downs. Giving up certain foods was tough. Changing my routine was tough. Getting started running was tough. But I did it. I persevered. And I know I’m stronger because of it.
You can do it too. You can make changes for the better. You can become the person you want to be. It’ll be a battle and sometimes you’ll feel defeated. But you have to believe in yourself, in the power of your own mind to do the right thing for you and your body.
This just shocked me. I renewed my license in 2013. I was about 140lbs there…5 lbs away from goal weight. The left image is from 2007, right after the birth of John. Crazy how much my face has changed!
This was the goal weight picture! 135lbs! Check out that skinny arm!
The left image is at my absolute heaviest, 175lbs. I had been married for about 6 months. I was 23 years old. The right image is 135lbs and 30 years old. I love 30! 🙂