5 Practical Tips for Long-Term Weight Loss

5 Practical Tips for Long-Term Weight Loss

Over the past few years, I’ve been asked the same questions
1) how I lost the weight
2) how I maintain my healthy weight

I’ve private messaged lots of friends and strangers about this, so I decided to write a blog post. This is just my experiences and knowledge through my journey to shed the weight and maintain my healthy weight. Everyone is different with unique strengths and abilities.

Five healthy lifestyle Q&A

Q: I don’t like vegetables and fruits. How can I change my diet if I don’t want to eat the green stuff?

A: Believe me people, I didn’t like fruits and veggies either. My fridge 10 years ago was full of processed, quick-t0-prepare foods. The crisper might have held a lonely shrivelled carrot or two. lol And often times, if I decided to be “healthy”, I would be purging spoiled produce a week later. But here’s the good news that I learned through trial and error: your tastes change drastically as you introduce new foods, and cut out the crappy foods. I was addicted to sugar and salt. I’m sure my insulin levels were used to their daily roller coaster ride. “Come on Insulin, let’s ride, wooop, wooop!” I never ate breakfast, ate a medium-sized lunch (usually at a restaurant with a friend because I was working full-time), and by supper the hunger pangs would kick in and I would eat and eat and eat. I rarely ate the majority of my daily calories in front of people but after the kids went to bed it was a free-for-all. The next morning, I would wake up with a big cloud of shame over my bed-head and scold the weak me for eating so much. Skip breakfast, and start the cycle all over again.

When I started researching healthy eating, I was overwhelmed by the amount of contrary information. No carbs/high fat, low-fat/more carbs, Protein heavy/low carbs/low-fat. It was all so much to take in. I was sitting on my deck one morning enjoying a cup of coffee while watching squirrels packing food, and birds scouting for worms on our acreage…and I thought: “why do you rarely see overweight animals (unless they are taken care of by humans)?” It dawned on me that we are all born with the knowledge of how much to eat, and the earth provides all the foods in their natural state that we need. We just have to retrain our bodies/minds to think of food as energy and not as a source of pleasure…at least not all the time. Balance.

So I started small. Cutting back on sugary drinks, cream-based anything, white stuff (including white bread and white rice), high-fat protein, highly processed protein and opting for more water, whole-grain carbs, leaner proteins, fruits, and loads of raw/cooked veggies. It was hard at first, nothing tasted “right” to me. I couldn’t believe how bland healthy foods tasted. As the days and weeks progressed eating healthier, I was shocked at how my body responded. My hair and nails were stronger, my complexion cleared up, I had more energy, I got that pesky office-sickness less, and above all else, the veggies started tasting amazing. Believe me, I was shocked. I was so used to artificial sugars and additives, my body didn’t understand what natural sugar was supposed to taste like.

It was also about balance vs. restriction. I love chocolate. If you take it away from me I will cut you. 😉 So rather than a king size chocolate bar, I ate a square of dark chocolate every day. Yup, there’s rarely a day in the last 10 years that I haven’t eaten a square or 2 of dark chocolate. I know that if I live too restricted, it will have the opposite effect than I desire. It will turn into a late-night binge fest after a day of calorie restricting. I prepare for my dinners out now. I will make even healthier choices & go for a run leading up to a night out at the Keg. And then I enjoy my night out without a drop of guilt. I savour those bites and eat consciously. Balance.

Q: I hate exercise, do I really have to exercise to lose weight or can I do it all by diet alone?

A: I was that girl who loathed exercise. I parked as close to the doors as possible. If I had a motorized scooter, I would have scooted the shit out of all the locations. I had brand new running shoes that might have well been used as door stops. I hissed at runners as they passed me. I secretly extended a middle finger to all things active. Hypothetical finger flick to your fit forehead if you had asked me to go for a walk, or heaven forbid a jog. Boooo, Hisssss, exercissssse. Crazy shit right there. Dramatic much?

Here’s the thing, if you simply rely on diet alone, it’s very tricky to balance it all. Our heart is a working muscle. It’s actually meant to be worked in order for our body to work the way it’s designed to. As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass. It’s a sad fact my friends. The only way to get that muscle back is to build it. Muscle also burns more calories at rest than fat does, so increasing muscle mass and adding cardio will aid in the calorie deficient required to lose weight. It works the same way for maintaining weight. All of that is just information, how exactly do you learn to love exercise?! You figure out what you are good at. You try a bunch of different activities and keep changing it up so you aren’t caught in a dull trap of monotony. You start small, and build up.

I am a very slow runner. I’ve been passed by people with wheeled oxygen carts on the running track before. True story. No matter how slow I run, I’m still lapping my sloth-ass-sitting-on-a-couch. The more exercise you do, the stronger you get, and before you know it what was once a challenge is no big deal the next week. It’s crazy how fast the body adapts and strengthens when you challenge yourself.

Don’t worry about doing it all at once, do a bit more, and then build up. Park further away from the door, take the stairs instead of the elevator, wear a pedometer and up your daily steps, turn up your music at home and dance while no one is watching (or dance while your kids are watching, I’m truly a source of embarrassment for them in that area).

Just. Move. More.

Q: I don’t have time to work out.

A: We are all busy. We make time for what’s important, so it’s really a matter of priorities. I just decided one day that my priority was health because my physically state affected all areas of my life. My relationships, my career, my physical/emotional/spiritual health, even my marriage. I wasn’t happy with myself, and physically I was sick. High blood pressure. Lethargic. If there was a sickness to be caught, I soaked it in like a sickly sponge. Back and knee issues, I was on a first name basis with my back-cracker. Kidney stones, which hurt like a mother-hubbard. Guys if you’ve ever experienced a kidney stone, you have come as close to what labour feels like as you are ever going to. High-five to you and your stone. I was told the reason for my plethora of stones was because I didn’t drink enough water. I ended up losing all function in my right kidney as a result of complications.

I look at it like this: Either I have time to exercise and eat healthy, or I’ll have to make time to be sick.

Since changing my lifestyle to a healthier one, I no longer have high blood pressure (no more pills!), I rarely get sick, I have more energy, I’ve been to a chiropractor once in 10 years, and I’ve yet to get another kidney stone.  I’m an all-around happier person because I stopped putting my physical and emotional needs last.

Q: I want to lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks for an event, is that doable?!

A: It really doesn’t matter if that’s doable or not. Say you can lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks, what happens after? If you go to extreme measures, and by that I mean a lifestyle that you couldn’t possibly keep up long-term, are you ready to gain it all back? Because that’s usually what happens. By some estimates, 80% of dieters will regain the weight they lost or even more, within 2 years. That stat was scary for me as I was losing the weight, the thought of gaining it all back after all that work was terrifying. I calmed my fears with the realization that I found a love for nutritious food and activity. I wasn’t about to just stop doing what I loved once I reached my end goal. I knew this was going to be my life. And that fact made me (still makes me) excited for the future.

Q: What do you do to maintain your healthy weight?

A: My lifestyle now is not that much different from when I was losing the weight. There is more time however as I’ve learned to stream line exercise time and found more efficient ways to prep food. More time for balance, less restriction, a little less cardio/more strength training. I understood that once I reached that “finish line” it was more of a check point for a life race.

I hope something here is useful to you in your quest for a healthier you.

And because no post is complete without a picture, here’s one that has nothing to do with this post in anyway. But it’s true.

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From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

12 Tips from a Chick on her 9 year Anniversary at Goal Weight

Today marks 9 years at my goal weight. Every year I learn a little  more about the elements needed for balance, peace, and positive body image. It’s not always easy, even 9 years later, to find that delicate balance.

9 Yrs Goal Weight Hopaluk

9 Years at Goal Weight

This year has brought with it many personal challenges and I continue to struggle with positive body image. I wrote about those challenges HERE. My motivation has wavered from time to time as life has continued on with its usual ebbs and flows.

I’m writing this post for anyone who also struggles with their body image and finds it challenging to stay active and eat healthy.

Here’s what I want you to know.

12 Tips from a Chick on her 9 Year Anniversary at Goal Weight

1.~You are more powerful than you even realize

2.~You are beautiful. Perfectly Imperfect.

3.~If you want to make changes to the outside, it all starts on the inside. Start with one singular yet powerful belief that you can do it. You can be the person you want to be.

4.~Silence the negative. Weed it out. If that means you have to put up boundaries to an outside source of negativity, then do it. A positive mindset is critical. Positive out, Positive in.

5.~Feed your spirit with whatever it is that makes you feel alive. Maybe it’s music, the outdoors, coffee with a friend, praying, meditating, a long walk down a quiet trail. Your spiritual health is an important part of balance.

6.~The hardest part of any workout is lacing up those shoes. Just get out there and do it! Your body, heart, and mind will thank you. I often tell myself “suck it up buttercup” when I don’t feel motivated to get active. There’s not a single workout that I’ve ever regretted. 😉

7.~Nature provides clues to healthy sources of nutrients via colour. Fill up your cart will colourful foods from the produce department. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. That’s where fresh lives. The middle section could sit dormant for years and it wouldn’t spoil.

8.~Really think about the hurdles you put up that keep you from reaching your goals. We all self-sabotage in some ways. Once you figure them out, write them down. Find strategies to avoid those hurdles or triggers. Once you get good at avoiding your triggers, your strength grows daily, and a new healthy normal takes over.

9.~Never underestimate the power of empathy and vulnerability. It’s OK to admit your struggles to a trusted friend. Sometimes just saying things out loud takes the power away from issues. And if someone finds safety within confiding in you, let them know they aren’t alone.  I used to really struggle with being vulnerable and admitting faults/struggles. I’ve found the cure for that…a blog 😉

10.~You are going to have bad days, a bad week, hell maybe even a bad month. Momentum goes both ways. If you find yourself in a negative downward spiral (boy have I been there), you can change it. Remember you have the power to create your destiny. Just correct your course, and keep on swimming. You got this.

11.~If you are going to make changes to your lifestyle, think of these changes as long-term. Life (your very own life, the way you want it) and Style (you get to style it, the way you actually live this beautiful life). There are so many “quick fix” programs out there with promises of fast results; however, can that quick fix be maintained? I think that’s the biggest down fall to fast weight loss, what happens when you reach your goal? How are you going to maintain it? Personally, slow and steady worked for me. Good old-fashioned hard work and eating right. That’s the way our bodies are designed to function properly.

12.~Enjoy your journey! Tackling a big goal can be overwhelming. So break it up into smaller manageable goals and celebrate each and every milestone on your way to your end goal. Maybe your goal is to be more positive, happier, healthier, stronger, or all the above. All of those goals can be broken down further. Write it all down, and post it where you can see it.  You’ll love the feeling of putting a check mark beside those smaller goals. It provides great motivation as you work towards your ultimate goal. Set rewards for yourself for each goal. Reap those rewards and soak up that pride. You are amazing.

I’ll leave you with a ‘lil Beyonce… “Strip away the masquerade. It’s the Soul that needs a surgery.”

From my thankful heart to yours,

Christine

 

Why I clicked “Unfollow” on fitness accounts while eating chocolate

I often have to check myself on my thoughts about my body. When I think about where I’ve come from: an unhealthy and sad version of the woman I am today, I am proud. I realize that the feeling of pride comes from focussing on the state of my emotions, physical health, and confidence level when I was obese, and not the aesthetic aspect of what 242 “looked” like.

Many of us women tend to focus on what we look like rather than how we feel. When the focus is put on physical labels, those labels transfer to feelings. Animated almost cartoon-like terms are put on the areas we want to change: muffin Top, thunder thighs, chunky monkey, jelly belly, spare tire. And we obsess about those areas and compare our bodies to other women. It becomes a competition. We have a self-deprecating remark on reserve for a compliment thrown our way. One day I will love my arms, my legs, my stomach if I just keep up the cardio, weights, and eat loads of salad (insert method)…oh yes, one day I will be happy with my body.

One day.

How about today? Can we love our bodies and all the things we can physically do today?

I also realized I felt the most alive in those first few weeks of my journey when I found a love for being active, fuelled my body with foods packed with nutrients and vitamins, and finally took care of myself with respect and love. That feeling of euphoria had nothing to do with what I weighed, or what size of clothing I wore. For the first time in my adult life, I found pride within my progress. Progress, not perfection.

And so today, I have to remind myself this lifelong journey to feel alive and vibrant comes from taking care of myself the way the human body was meant to be cared for. With heart healthy activity, vibrant coloured natural foods full of nutrients, and feeding the soul with positivity and love. I can change the way I view my body just by adjusting those factors and focussing on health vs. appearance.

Having lost 90+ pounds, I will always have bigger thighs than if I was never obese. That’s a fact. Having extra skin or fat on my thigh area does not attribute to being unhealthy. These legs travel me wherever I want to go. To not appreciate the gift of health is disrespectful; especially to those who have limited or no mobility.

There is a shame feeling when I type “I love my body as is”. Why? Body shaming is so prevalent in our society that the norm is self-deprecation. There wouldn’t be a market for “get thin quick” diets, or “lose fat in 10 days!” ads if we were content with our body.

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I love learning more about fitness and nutrition. The science of fitness is interesting to me, and so I followed a bunch of fitness-focussed accounts on Instagram. Last night as I was enjoying a full-bodied glass of red wine and a couple of squares of dark chocolate with sea salt, I started browsing my Instagram feed. Images of fit bodies (heads cut off/focus on chiselled body parts), quotes like “real women drop it like a squat”, and low-calorie meals flooded my feed. I instantly felt shameful about my glass of red and my dark chocolate. So I clicked unfollow on every stranger fitness-based account that brought up body-shaming feelings for me (I should add I enjoy seeing my friend’s fitness progress, I love their hearts and I’m invested in their hard work).

After removing the accounts, I had to analyze why seeing all those photos made me feel bad about myself. I asked myself this: Do I want to constrict calories to a level where I’m not happy? No! I don’t want to feel hungry. I crave balance not restriction. Do I aspire to be a size 2/4? No, because that’s not my personal goal.

Hey, it’s none of my business what you eat, your personal goals, and how often you workout or don’t workout. Go for it girl! However, no one will dictate to me what my body should look by their standard of a “real woman”. We are all real women! ha!

There’s just as much “skinny” shaming as there is “fat” shaming. My point is why shame? Why focus on the physical? Why do we even have an opinion about another woman’s body? Seriously, none of my business. I want to get to know another women for her heart, her sense of humour, her personality. I really don’t care how many calories a day she eats or what she weighs.

So love your body for all you are physically capable of doing. Embrace and celebrate your imperfections because that’s what makes you unique. Feel pride from treating yourself with respect and self-love.

Above all else, let’s not just love ourselves, but love others through action: lifting one another up with encouragement and support. No jealousy or envy. There is no room for that in living an authentic life full of positivity.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

 

Self-Efficacy: The Power of Beliefs

I went for an outside run the other day, my first outside run of Spring. We’ve had an extremely long winter here in Alberta, and I just couldn’t will myself to dodge ice and puddles so I opted for a winter of stationary cycling to nowhere. As I was running, the banter within my head started taking over with each stride. “I’ve taken too much time off, my pace is much slower now.” and “I bet I look like Phoebe from Friends when I run.”

As my unproductive self talk skipped like a broken record in my head, I found myself wanting to turn around and go home. I recognized this pattern of discouraging thinking from years of practice. These are the thoughts that give me an excuse to slip back into old behaviours that produce little action. The old version of me who was happy to sit on the sidelines of life and doubted I could be an active person, so I didn’t even try.

I realized this “not trying” thing, is something I’ve done for a large part of my adult life. Dreams are just dreams, because of my fear of failure.

And then out of nowhere, one powerful confident thought popped into my head. “You don’t live there anymore.”

It took me off guard…where did that come from?!

“Those old beliefs no longer serve you. Let them go. Keep calm and run. No matter how slow your pace is now,  you are trying. You’re doing.”

And with that, I kept on running further than I have every ran before. I had some time to think about it when my run was over, and I realized there is always a payoff when living within behaviours that are destructive. So what exactly is the payoff to living a complacent life void of action?  It’s safe within my comfort zone. There’s no failure there, because there’s no trying. Hmmmmm, interesting. And then I thought about the payoff within active living. There’s so many positives, it makes me feel ridiculous for comparing the two.

I don’t live there anymore.

Recently, I decided to pursue a 10 yr dream of getting my Personal Training Certification. I’m half way there. Out of all the information I’ve read through in the text-book, the one term that has stuck with me most is this: “Self-Efficacy

Wikipedia’s definition: “Self-efficacy is the extent or strength of one’s belief in one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals.”

The strength within a personal belief  in one’s ability is a key factor to successfully reaching a goal.

There is both power and destruction within our beliefs.

Self-Efficacy is so interesting to me, as I realized I have the power to mould my actions through my beliefs. I thought back to where I was at the start of this journey, and I truly believed I couldn’t do it. The end goal was too big. How was I going to lose close to 100 pounds?! I believed I was weak, void of will-power, with little motivation. At some point, you just have to dive into a goal and push the negative beliefs to the side. What made me dive in? One tiny little positive thought: “Start small”

I will never forget my first attempt at jogging. I drove to the Vermilion Provincial Park, put on a brand new pair of Nikes, and started walking. I told myself I would walk for 20 minutes, and jog for part of it. I jogged for increments of 20 seconds. I felt both freedom and discouragement within that first walk/jog.

Do it again.

And so that began my journey with exercise. As I successfully reached each small goal, my beliefs turned from “I can’t” to “I think I can” to “I know I can” to “what goal is next?”.

I realized the importance of music to set pace and cope with feelings that I didn’t want to deal with. I ran to Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt” when I coped with a miscarriage.

And I ran to Metallica’s “Don’t Tread on Me” when I was frustrated…

And a whole lot of Stevie Nicks when I was feeling nostalgic…

Over the years, my music choices have changed as I’ve grown and learned to embrace life with a lot more positivity. 😉 I’m more apt to choose Top 40 now, as long as it pushes me on.  I love the 8tracks app on my iPhone. Check it out: http://8tracks.com

I know I have the ability to shape my actions now. I just need to believe I can do it. And just so you know, you can do it too. Your beliefs hold the power.

Here’s an interesting read on enhancing self-efficacy: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/flourish/201002/if-you-think-you-can-t-think-again-the-sway-self-efficacy 

From my heart to yours,

Christine