Last night I shared a junior sized chocolate-vanilla-twist frozen yogurt (or as my cooler-than-me friends like to call it: Fro Yo) with my son. It was delicious. It was immediately followed by a terrific amount of food guilt, and a horrible stomach ache.
The stomach ache, I'm certain, came from a sugar overload that my system has gotten used to living without. It's interesting how, once you don't have something for a while, your body will scream at you and say "Hello, this makes me feel like total crap! Isn't that why we gave it up in the first place? I thought we were trying to get healthy!" Or something like that. But in sexy French (which I don't understand a word of, but I like to think my body is really that of a beautiful French woman, and not of a chubby mid-western one). Anyway, so I wrote my cheat (which probably isn't that horrible, as far as cheats go) down in my food journal and spent the rest of the evening feeling pretty yucky.
Despite what we'll call a minor setback, I am down 54 pounds from my starting point 19 months ago. I've lost the last 6 of these pounds recently, slowly, and healthily. I want my body to shed weight gradually, so that it can have the time to adjust to the new changes without freaking out and thinking that I am starving it (which often happens to people on The South Beat Diet and the like). When your body goes into 'starvation mode', it decides that it will hang onto every calorie you feed it, and will not allow you to lose weight. Your body is hardwired to protect you and keep you healthy. But, back to my original point, I'm keeping the 'Slow and Steady Wins the Race' attitude (to which a very good friend reminded me recently that it's not actually a race... good point) and it's working well for me so far. We all know that I tend to be highly self-critical, and this mentality is helping me to get past that. Instead of staring in the mirror at what hasn't yet improved, I am focusing on how I feel, and allowing myself to notice the parts of me that might have started to maybe look a little better.
Honestly, I'm seeing bigger changes in my appearance, mood, and energy levels, than I am on the scale. I am slowly seeing reduction in flabbiness, and have noticed (if I look very closely) a bit more muscle definition. I am happier, I feel more positive, I can concentrate better, I sleep much better at night, and I have more energy. I have gotten in the habit of being at the gym at least 5 days a week, and I feel very 'off' if I miss a workout. The weekends are 'hit and miss' as far as making it to the gym goes, but I usually try to do something to break a sweat. I'm not going to lie, there are days that I would rather keep my round rump in bed (today included) than pump iron, but I know that I will feel much better if I go than if I allow myself to be lazy. I do not spend a ridiculous amount of time at the gym -- that is a good way to burn yourself out. Unless I am teaching, I am only there for 60-75 minutes. I do not make myself run on the dreadmill. I do not make myself go to classes I hate. I lift weights to build muscle -- muscle does not make you bulk up, it turns you into a fat-burning machine. I do quite a bit of ab work, squats, lunges, push-ups and occasionally some jumping jacks (speaking of jumping jacks, I still have not been able to find a really good sports bra -- I almost gave myself a black eye the other day). Every now and then, I will get on the elliptical machine for 10-15 minutes, but honestly, if you have a limited amount of time, you should chose lifting over cardio. On days I teach my 60 minute Yoga class, I still do the weights, but cut down on the calisthenics. Weights and Yoga are my main focus.
I have begun making my husband take pictures of me every Sunday in order to help me track my progress. They are posted in my 'Healthy Living' album on Facebook (which also includes healthy food ideas), so that others can help keep me accountable. Listen, I'm not searching for compliments, pats on the back, or an 'attagirl' (although positive encouragement is a fabulous motivator). I just know that I respond very well to accountability, and posting the pictures is a great way to keep the motivation bar high.
I have been asked a lot about my calorie-intake. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I don't count calories. I won't count calories. Calorie counting does bad things to me, it makes me a bit crazy. Seriously. And, honestly, if you are exercising a lot, you shouldn't have to count calories. I am trying to be healthy, not crazy (been there, done that). I am not making ridiculous restrictions, I am not skipping meals, I am not taking diet pills. Like I said, I want to be healthy. I am not eating sweets, period (except for the devil in a cone last night). I am not drinking alcohol (which isn't something I did on a regular basis anyway). I am eating on smaller dinnerware to trick myself into thinking that I am getting a feast. Small portions always look lonely on big plates (and that just makes me feel sad and deprived). I am filling my plate with lean meats and proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. If I have a snack, it's a fruit or a vegetable. I eat only until I am full. I surround myself with people who encourage me and who respect my health-seeking journey. Most importantly, I pray. If a craving is becoming too tempting, I remove myself from the situation, and I pray. I ask God for wisdom, strength, and obedience. Maybe this is weird to you. But if I had only my own strength to lean on, I would have thrown caution to the wind on many occasion.
I'm not suggesting that my plan of attack is a one-size-fits-all plan. Like I've said before, you have to define healthy in your own terms. You have to figure out what your specific needs, goals, and desires are. Yours are very different than mine. But please, oh please, stop trying to be skinny. Stop focusing only on what your scale says. Focus instead on being healthy (your weight will eventually catch up, I promise).
Be healthy. Love yourself. And thank you for keeping me In Good Company.