My Weight Loss Journey
I've been fat for most of my adult life. Not horribly obese for most of it, but at least "very overweight" according to the Wii Fit, anyway. I'm pretty short - 5'2", and they say my ideal weight is 136 lbs or less according to the VERY high end of normal on a BMI chart. As I begin this writing, I'm still considered midway overweight and I think I could stand to lose another 15 lbs.
My high weight was 240 lbs. There was a baby inside that contributed to the weight in a few ways, but once he was out, I was still pretty close to 240 lbs. This is a weight that on my frame, caused the following:
- involuntary moaning in my sleep that kept waking me
- difficulty going up stairs or doing any other minor physical activity that is part of life
- lack of a decent chunk of a queen-sized bed to sleep in
- uncomfortable snuggling due mostly to the above
- loss of the ability to balance well for skating, cycling, etc.
- my photos from that time period really look like shit, and I look SICK - bloated, distended
- I thought less of myself because I was a fat fuck
I made a plan to lose the weight. Now, breastfeeding lovers, please forgive me, but I had to quit breastfeeding my baby at 6 months in order to do it.
I felt that I needed to lose weight FAST. This is inadvisable while breastfeeding diet-wise, and I needed to severely restrict my food intake and change my nutrition habits. I also needed to treat my depression and the medications I use are not indicated for breastfeeding.
That last part is very important. You need to treat your depression if you want to lose weight.
There's something about us that causes us to become overly self-indulgent and get into food habits that make us overweight. We SEE the damage we are doing to our bodies yet we feel that the benefit provided by comfort food is somehow more worth it. Food is a powerful fucking drug.
My husband and I started this process together. Our designated start date was February 25th, 2009 - the day our son was 6 months old. We planned ahead for a couple of months to make sure that my boobs were destined to dry.
We went primarily with the low-carb diet. There are a few reasons for this:
- it's quite frankly the easiest to do as a family - you can prepare a meal normally and serve carbs to kids
- if several adults are dieting, it's easy to spot a cheater and be accountable to each other
- once it's established, it is easy to just DO - no calculating and contemplating every damn food - it's either ok or it's not
- feel far less bloated and shitty after severely cutting sugar intake for 2 weeks
- you can find something to eat just about anywhere, just leave out the carb side dish and anything else sugary
- you train yourself to eat only when you are hungry, because your cravings diminish when sugar is not taken
- your appetite is naturally supressed so long as you are faithful to the diet - in most cases, you can "take or leave" food
- you naturally drink a lot of liquid to keep from feeling like shit, and it's easy to pick the correct types of liquid
- food choices naturally tend toward more nutritious since you only want to eat just enough to not be hungry
What we've found is that if we stick to low-carb for a month, we will lose about 10 lbs. That's enough to give your health and self-esteem a good jumpstart.
Great! Getting the weight off is pretty easy!
Oh, but you're against low-carb? Well, this is what I learned in general.
- It is true that eating less is how to lose weight, so the most important thing is to strategize how you can eat less.
- Never, ever, ever stuff yourself with food. Aim to eat just about what satisfies your hunger, NOT what makes you never want to eat again.
- Seriously - it's better to save or waste food than put extra calories in your body.
- The entire point of the weight loss exercise is to train your body to want the proper amount of food. The lifestyle change goal is portion control with reasonable foods; the means may also be plain old portion control with what you already eat.
- You can avoid packing weight back on after you lose it by just not putting large amounts of food into your body at any time.
- If you still need to eat the same amount of food to satisfy your hunger, try varying the type of food. Take your normal meal, remove half of the carb side dish, add that much more veggies and/or meat, and see if eating like that helps.
- If you know of anything that helps you reduce your appetite or cravings reliably, let it help you now.
- Drink a lot of sugar-free, low-calorie beverages. Find your favorite and guzzle. Especially when you're hungry and you shouldn't be.
- Alcohol is great, but not your friend during the weight loss process. If you aren't careful, alcohol alone will pack the weight back on.
- Be aware of WHAT you are putting into your mouth any time you do.
- Be aware of WHY you are putting it into your mouth.
- If you have trouble remember what and why you're eating, start writing it down and referring to it daily.
- When you fuck up, don't waste time on guilt - instead, you have to confront whatever makes you consciously decide to sabotage yourself.
- Feed your cravings reasonably - ration yourself some chocolate daily if you need it, and eat nutritious foods you crave.
- You need to be accountable to someone or something. You need to know someone's concerned and going to kick your ass if you try failing. Mutual accountability is good, too - having the support system in both directions is useful.
- Excuses don't melt off weight; eating less does. Excuses make you feel better emotionally for not taking an action but they rarely fool others and they NEVER fool the scale or your pants.
- You don't need to lose weight to become a worthwhile or beautiful person. You need to lose weight to become a healthy person, emotionally and physically. If you had an infectious disease, would you not choose to treat it if you had the means?
- Again: Treat Your Depression before getting on this journey! Depression is nasty and it makes you rationalize everything, especially self-harm. Losing weight is about reclaiming yourself from the harm you have inflicted upon yourself.
- By that same token, treat your stress in life. Decide what it is you need to do to gain or let go of control of any baffling and stressful situation, commit, and watch your life in general improve.
When we get sick of low-carb (because it IS pretty annoying to have to filter out ALL of your favorite comfort foods!), we go with a variation of the Smart for Life cookie diet. James makes ours for us using his modified version of this recipe, and they're far more palatable (and downright tasty!), not to mention significantly cheaper than the commercial version. You make this stuff that resembles banana bread and eat a small portion of it every 2 hours with a lot of low-calorie drink of choice. Vodka and soda aren't low calorie - I'm talking water, diet soda (ew), Crystal Light or similar diet beverages, sparkling water (unsweetened is best!), un- or fake- sweetened tea/coffee/etc. Then you have a reasonable portion of whatever you want for dinner. The official Smart for Life diet pretty much advises that you stick to a strict low-carb-ish diet while eating their carb-tastic cookies, but it boils down to this: the bread-like "cookies" or the commercial cookies are intended to be about 100 calories per serving, give or take a hopefully insignificant margin of error. If you eat 5-6 of these servings per day and a nice, hearty 600 calorie dinner, you're at 1200 calories for the day and at a major calorie deficit unless you're a child. By the way, if you're a child, please don't look to me for dieting advice and you probably shouldn't be dieting. Anyway, such a deficit while the metabolism is stimulated regularly by all of those little nibbles of protein-rich baked substance means the weight melts off.
Before you tell me to please shut the fuck up, remember that this is coming from someone who has experienced obesity and the weight-loss yo-yo quite a few times. As I preach to stop making excuses, I have had to consciously train myself not to - and I have to do this EVERY TIME I decide to watch my weight. EVERY TIME I start again, I find that I've let myself become addicted to food indulgence. That will probably be the case for the rest of my life, because I am not a very "good" eater (look - an excuse!). The moral of that is to find what works for your life, try to change your eating habits permanently, but at least know how to return to better health when you forget for a while.
February 25, 2009 - This is the before picture. It was taken around Christmas 2008, and I did lose a little bit of weight - maybe 5 lbs - between then and 2/25/09, when I officially started the deflation process. But I can't find any other picture that illustrates what needed deflation quite like this one. Weight here is approximately 206 lbs - the official diet start point (I don't use 240 because that was while pregnant; I started dieting when baby was 6 months old).
June 10, 2009 - After 30 lbs. lost - 176 lbs.
July 3, 2009 - After 40 lbs. lost - 166 lbs.
August 23, 2009 - After 50 lbs. lost - 156 lbs.
February 25, 2010 - After 60 lbs. lost - 146 lbs.
I can finally wear short shirts and not look TOO obscene!
What the hell do you EAT on low-carb?
There are many things you can eat, and many ways to make food interesting. I personally don't give much of a crap about food after a while on this diet so I tend to just grab food and run, just enough to keep me from feeling hungry. I personally think that is the REAL magic of low-carb or any sort of dieting: you have to eat less, and this is one way to trick your body into doing it by default.
I refuse to count carbs. I also refuse to go completely hardcore about things. I just go with the eat or don't eat formula.
- Meat is OK
- if you don't generally eat meat, consider kids', pizza, or breakfast meats: sausage, pepperoni, hot dogs, sandwich/deli thin-sliced meats
- if you REALLY don't eat meat, you can use tofu or any non-breaded/non-sauced and lowish carb meat substitute (you want single digits per serving)
- try taco seasoned beef/chicken/pork/whatever and make up tacos just like you normally would, just pile it onto a plate instead of into a shell
- do the same thing with burger patties: no bun
- create a stir-fry with as much meat as you can stand, some tofu, some egg, and some shirataki noodles(the link is for reference; you can find this in many local grocery stores
- fish is good, too - same rules, no breading or sauce*
*I lied about the sauce. I said that because most prepackaged meat or meat substitute is in sauce mostly made of sugar. It's ok to use sparingly small amounts of gravy or sauce. There are some great low-carb sauces that you can use great big globs of. It's also a good idea to make your own low-carb sauces if you're into making stuff from scratch. But really, Kung Pao sauce isn't ok unless it's made with Splenda. Sorry :/
Most hardcore low-carb plans will prohibit condiments such as ketchup or taco sauce. I have noticed very good weight loss while continuing to use both of these and probably plenty more similar things. It doesn't matter. Just use it sparingly.
- American Style (at least) Breakfast is Easy
- Snacking is Easy
- nuts (hope you're not allergic)
- cheese, such as string cheese
- meat substitute jerky
- celery (not if you're me, though)
- deviled or hard-boiled eggs
Since I lost 50 lbs., I've been taking quite a break. I've only been working on weight loss again since the beginning of January, and I hope to have my 60 lbs. lost picture up soon!
That's right - I'd eaten like complete crap from August to January (lots of chocolate, rice, and booze), with some short periods of trying to be better about things. I gained 5 lbs. of the lost weight back over that time, and I felt how my pants were beginning to get angry with me over it.
So, expect weight to fluctuate. But expect that you have control over this and take it.
For me, particularly, there is one disclaimer. My skin is angry with me because I let my body grow so large, and now I have those lovely old-lady flappy areas. My thighs and belly, specifically, look pretty bad under clothing. I'm actually more amused than annoyed by it - it's ugly, but it could be worse - I could have complaints about my body AND be just as overweight.