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.
From my heart to yours,