Check out the below photos. On the left is me, today, wearing my old, favorite pair of jeans (either size 12 or 14 — the tag is long gone.) They are falling off! On the right is me, today, wearing a new pair of size 6 jeans!
How did I lose it? There were no magic pills, no high-priced elixirs, and no psychotic workouts. I knew what I had to do. I had to eat better and be more active. Below lists everything that contributed to my success. Maybe some of these will help you too!
I joined a gym (and actually went)
At the end of August, I joined Planet Fitness. They had a deal I simply couldn’t refuse — a meager $99 one-time charge for unlimited access to my local gym for one year. With no additional monthly charges or fees, it was a no-brainer, so I signed up. At the time, my goal was to be less sedentary (my work often stipulates sitting in front of a computer a lot.) Not only that, I wanted super-maximize my $99 investment. Being the nerdy girl that I am, I created a spreadsheet to track my visits. The spreadsheet also automatically calculated my cost per visit. It’s been fun watching my cost drop each time I went.
You can see that as of today, 4/15/17, I’ve gone to the gym 150 times since I joined, and as a result, have paid $.66 per visit. Occasionally they give out pizza and bagels so I’ve tracked that too. Crazy, on both our parts, I know. But, whatever… Anyway, at the gym, the personal trainer taught me how to use the strength machines and put together a personalized program for me. I also used the treadmills, elliptical and stair machines. My favorite is the treadmill. I like walking (typically at minimum 3% grade and 3 mph), but now I am able to do speed intervals of walking and running.
Two important points of note that fueled my gym use are these:
- What gets monitored, gets managed. This is SO true, especially for me, so the spreadsheet works.
- I made it into a fun game of sorts. The object of the game? Pay the least amount possible per visit. Ok, so I’m a frugal nerd!
I do a daily stretch routine
Usually in the morning, about four times a week, I will do a 23-minute Classical Stretch routine. It’s a DVD by the popular PBS star, Miranda Esmonde-White. It is mildly challenging, but not overly so. I honestly think it is helping me to strengthen and lengthen my muscles while also keeping me limber…all good stuff as I age!
I/we walk our dogs every day
After walking in the two neighboring subdivisions for a few years, we started to do our daily dog walks at a nearby park instead. It was safer and we really enjoyed the calming effects of the woods and the streams. I was getting a better walk in too. The terrain varied, with some areas that were fairly steep. Not only is it good for us, it’s so good for the dogs too! They love it. In fact, if it gets late in the day and we haven’t walked yet, Dexter will sit and stare at me/us until we finally relent and go. It’s a daily occurrence, even if the weather sucks.
We stopped eating out (especially fast food)
Well, we didn’t stop entirely but it has become a rarity for sure. Special occasions with friends and family or vacations are usually the only times I/we go out to eat. Also, we really enjoy cooking our meals at home. We’re eating much better (healthier) as a result. It feels good to know exactly what is going into each dish and we can more easily keep our food portions in check.
I read this article (THE catalyst for changing the way I ate)
After hardly working out in December due to two surgical procedures, I was ready to get back to the gym in January. But I read a fascinating Vox article that made me realize that exercise alone was not going to help me drop weight. I needed to change what and how I ate.
I started doing “Wendy Watchers”
Although I had already been eating healthy, the article I read made me realize that I was eating too much. My portions were wrong. Sooo, I started doing “Wendy Watchers.” Actually, that’s what David calls it. It’s loosely based on the old Weight Watchers Flex program. Using their point formulas that I found online, I (once again!) created a spreadsheet that would automatically calculate food points for me. I gave myself a max of 20 points a day and began to write down everything I ate and the points for each. The 20 point allocation made me better plan my meals, eat more veggies and fruits and most importantly, keep my portions under control. I measure and weigh all of my food. If I don’t, I know I’ll err on the side of “too much.” I don’t want to err! Here’s a page from my food journal so you can see how I track it all.
As you can see, nerdy, exacting me likes to keep food points to a tenth of a decimal. You also see that I subtract points for exercise that I do throughout the day. The whole process requires a lot of discipline, diligence, and reverse engineering to ensure I don’t go over my point allotment. Plus writing everything down keeps me accountable. Yes, it’s a PITA and it takes time, but it works! (Again, what gets measured, gets managed.)
(PS – Here’s a wiki on Weight Watchers point formulas. I essentially use Method 2.)
I weigh myself every day
…and more recently, started taking body fat measurements. My scale does both, but I had never set it up for the latter. I finally got around to it and was shocked to find that I’m running just shy of 30% body fat, even today at goal! UGH! That’s going to be the next thing I work on. Nonetheless, weighing myself every day not only keeps me accountable, it also helps me to quickly discern upward or downward shifts in my weight. As you probably saw, I write down my weight and body fat percentage in the upper right-hand corner of my food tracker journal.
We do our grocery shopping at Costco
You may be wondering what difference that makes. Here it is: When you purchase mongo-huge containers of fresh spinach, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, apples, peppers, tomatoes, bananas, avocados, butternut squash and other various fruits and veggies, you HAVE to eat a lot of it FAST. Costco’s produce is usually very fresh but it’s still perishable. So, unless we want to lose our investment in all that healthy food, we must consume it quickly before it goes bad. It literally compels us to eat very healthy. I strive not to throw any of our fresh food away — ever.
I quit drinking alcohol
Well, not entirely. I may have a nice libation on rare, special occasions, but that’s it. I think I’ve had only two glasses of wine this year. I don’t miss it. And that’s coming from someone who used to drink quite a bit (too much, really) back in the day!
I got a Fitbit
I had already been using a Jawbone UP Move for a long time, but it wasn’t very accurate and it was limited in what it could do. Costco had a deal on Fitbits a couple months ago, so David and I took advantage. I actually wear both the Jawbone and the Fitbit simultaneously and I find it interesting to compare the results from each. My Fitbit is a Charge 2, which has heart rate monitoring. It reminds me to get up and move every hour, climb floors and hit other activity goals throughout the day. I try hard to hit all of my daily goals (shown below), especially steps. The few that I struggle with most often are calories burned and sleep goals.
Steps = 10,000
Floors = 10
Miles = 5
Calories = 2163
Active minutes = 60
Hourly activity = At least 250 steps an hour from 9am to 6pm
Water = 8 glasses (64oz) a day
Sleep = 7hrs 30mins
Considering all that it tracks, my Fitbit has definitely made me more active, and I love it for that!
I’m doing Invisalign
Braces, that is. They are clear braces that I must remove whenever I eat or drink anything other than water. Here’s the kicker — they can only be out for a total of two hours per day. That is NOT a lot of time. As a result, my eating habits changed when I started my first trays this past February. No more sipping on coffee and tea for hours. There is ZERO snacking in between meals. All my meals (including dessert) have to be prepared and ready to eat before I take out my trays so I can maximize my time without them. I mark down the time I take out my trays and again when I put them back in. That way I can keep track of how long they are out throughout the day. When I’m running low on time, I’ll now have a smoothie since I can consume it very quickly. Mind you, every time I finish eating, I have to floss and brush my teeth, as well as clean my trays before putting them back in. It’s a process for sure! It makes me not want to eat at all sometimes because it’s such a PITA. On the plus side, my smile is improving! Even better, because of my diligence, I’m now allowed to change trays every 10 days instead of 14, which will make the whole process go a bit quicker. Six trays down, another 19 to go… Honestly, I could write an entire blog post on the Invisalign process all by itself, but I’ll spare you all the (mildly-gory) details. However, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to ask me. I’ve gathered a lot of tips and tricks to make living with Invisalign less cumbersome and more tolerable. Oh, and yes, I am wearing my braces in the photo at the top of this post!
(PS – At the bottom of my food tracker journal, you probably saw that I am also tracking the amount of time I have my Invisalign out each day. This way I can ensure I don’t pass the two-hour time limit.)
I have a supportive husband
Considering all that I mentioned above, it’s enough to drive a significant other totally cray-cray. Very fortunately for me, David has been incredibly supportive and has cheerleaded me throughout the whole process. His unwavering support fuels my efforts. I love him for that!!! Not only that, he’s been dropping weight too. We are both so lucky to be on the same page… healthy, fit and genuinely happy about each other’s successes (physical or otherwise.)
Now comes the really hard part…
…that being maintenance. My plan is to sustain this weight loss for as long as possible. How? By continuing to do all the things I mentioned above (except for Invisalign — when that’s over, that’s OVER!). Now that I’m at goal, I’m not going to break the healthy habits I’ve created. Eating well and being active will continue to be a priority in my life. Besides, after losing all that weight NONE of my clothes fit me anymore. Literally, none of them. Not even my underwear or my shoes. So I’m slowly buying new everything …which sucks because I really don’t like shopping. However, going from a size 14 to a size 6 has proven to be a good motivator. Size 6. That’s still just incomprehensible to me! (I tried on a dress the other day that was a SIZE 2! I was going to buy it until I saw it was $50. Nope, not worth it.) Nonetheless, I need to get my money’s worth on the new clothes I’ve purchased. To do that I’ve got to ensure that I don’t gain the weight back. Besides, I’ve thrown out my tattered clothes and donated the rest of my (less raggedy) clothing to Goodwill. (Yay for tax write-offs!)
Let’s hope I can keep on, keepin’ on. I’m going to try!
PS – I’m currently reading Tim Fariss’ book, the 4-Hour Body and now I’m thinking about changing my routine a bit, especially from the body-fat perspective. If I get positive results, I’ll let you know!