Losing and Gaining

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I haven’t updated my blog in over a year! I thought offering wise words about changing one’s body would be a nice restart.

I have been on and off exercise kicks (pun somewhat intended) for years. I never really saw results during those phases; I think I was too casual about it back then. I even took diet pills years ago and did lose a lot of weight, but it felt dishonest. Not to mention I was in a constant state of headache from the high caffeine content.

So I again became lax. Put on more weight. One day earlier this year I was a little winded after doing some mild moving of things and I thought, “This is ridiculous. You need to fix yourself.”

This time around, I knew things would be different. I was in a dear friend’s wedding and I had to decide if I wanted to start working on this body before or after the event. Seemed like it would be better to wait until after the event. You know, alterations and such.

So there I was in the left side of the above photo. Chunky monkey. It was a super cute dress but I felt kind of gross. I was out of shape and I knew it could cause health problems down the road.

I think your health is like cooking a meal in a crock pot. If you want it to turn out well at a certain point you have to start early.

At the beginning of April I started this journey. I looked into prepared food programs; I thought this might be simpler if someone told me what to eat. I considered Nutrisystem. As I looked at their foods I realized they were pretty much normal meals. The only difference was the portion size. So I decided I was going to try to make this as painless as possible. I was going to eat my normal food, just less of it.

I’m not going to lie. It was hard for a few weeks. I wanted the messy burgers I loved. I wanted to eat a saucer-sized brownie. I kept things under control in the early days by thinking of how close the next meal time was. I don’t need that 600-calorie snack when dinner is two hours away.

When I ate meals, I started paying attention to serving sizes. Just because you can fill a plate it doesn’t mean you should.

After I grew accustomed to the dietary change, I started exercising again. Oy. It’s hard to get going and to stay motivated when you start or restart regular exercise. In the beginning I probably only made it through 30 minutes before needing to stop.
What helped me to stick with exercise even though I lacked a lot of endurance is I remained realistic. I knew it would take a while to get to where I wanted to be. I am in this for the long haul.

I finally built up my cardio endurance so that I could exercise an hour a day. I was on my way.

I had read many weight loss stories and I saw a common thread: A food diary. I knew there was surely an app or website to make this easy. There was…MyFitnessPal. It makes it so easy to track what you eat and what exercise you do. I looked up a lot of foods I used to love to eat and I was stunned to see how many calories I was eating. The app tracks other information such as sodium and cholesterol. After you complete the day the app will project how much you will weigh in five weeks. It’s kind of a tangible way to see how what you’re doing is changing your body.

For the past month and a half I’ve transitioned from cardio to strength training. On the occasions when I used weights I used five-pound dumbbells. “I’m not going for bulk. I’m toning! Toning!”

Yeah. Never really saw that toning. So I started reading and realized strength training is vital for reshaping your body. Really, it is. You’re not going to become bulky. I stepped up to 10-pound dumbbells and soon I’m going to have to go up again.

I’ve noticed the most transformation of my body in these past few weeks since I’ve started doing Jillian Michaels kickboxing. It combines cardio & strength; I feel so great after the workout.

I think one of the keys to succeeding is changing your lifestyle gradually. It’s hard to wake up one day and try to exercise hard and do a shake two meals a day. Believe me. I’ve tried several times.

What has worked for me is sticking to regular foods in proper portions (that’s one cup of cereal, folks. One cup.). I stuck with exercise in those early days when I thought I’d never build up my endurance.

Most legitimate body transformations take time. Those people who lost half their body weight usually took a year or more to do it. I’m happy where I am but I’m excited to see where I can go. I feel strong and many times healthier than I felt that day I was winded after moderate exertion. I walked around downtown Charleston for 10 hours a couple of weeks ago. And it felt great.

If your head is in the right place, it’s a journey worth taking to become a healthier person. A tone body is just a bonus. I didn’t start this thinking, “My body is going to look like X”. I just didn’t want to be that person who is winded while grocery shopping. But now I can see the changes and it helps to keep me going. I can resist foods that are too far off the charts.

I used to think people who said diet and exercise were all they did were full of it. Surely they’re hiding something. They actually workout three hours a day or they only eat salmon and rice every meal. I’ve since realized it really is true. After a few weeks of eating better and exercising regularly you really do feel a 180 difference.

I don’t eat any funky foods or drink weird shakes. I can dine out like anyone, except I’m going to opt for healthier choices.

It can be done, folks. I’m doing it.

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