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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Diet Lessons

I've been on a secret mission for the past month. I haven't told many people, because honestly, I didn't want their opinion. This past month has been about ME, and doing something good for myself. I spent the past month on a weight loss program. And this is where I mute all the comments. In the past, when I've talked about losing weight, I either hear, "you don't need to lose weight," or "it's about time." We've all heard hurtful comments about our weight, and even though my weight has never been an extreme, I've been hearing the "you need to lose weight" lecture from my doctor for several years. I've also been shamed by a number of people close to me because they thought I was overweight.

Over the years, I've tried different methods of losing weight. I've tried exercise (I always gain both weight and inches with exercise alone), diet (which has also made me gain), and a combo of diet and exercise. I have never tried any supplements- for a variety of reasons, but we won't go into that. My point is, nothing has worked. Then, a friend told me about Haylie Pomroy's Fast Metabolism Diet. I was a skeptic, so I borrowed it from the library and read it. What she said made sense. The problem with this program is that you have to stick to it strictly for a full four weeks. With my busy life and travel, I had a hard time finding four weeks where I was home and able to do it. This past month was finally that time. I'll review the book in a later post, so if you're interested, stay tuned. :)

Because this post is not about the book. It's what I learned about ME.

When I began this month, I made myself and God a promise. With everything I've tried to get my weight under control over the past few years, I've always had the thought, "maybe this is the size God wants me to be." But then I wondered if it was a cop out. Was I just making excuses for those extra pounds? Then I went back to asking myself if I could accept my body as it was, no matter what. This brings me back to my promise. I would do this diet, no cheating, exactly as I was supposed to for the month. Whatever body I ended up with at the end of the month, I was going to be happy with. Even if I didn't lose a pound. I was going to embrace my body and love it.

Here is what I learned:

1. I am not a slave to food. Yes, I like food. Yes, I like to eat some foods that are bad for me. But I can easily do without. I had no cravings that I could not control with a diet-friendly food. The hardest thing for me to give up was tea. Yes, tea. No real tea for an entire month. For those who know me, you know that would be hard. But not only did I do it, I had absolutely no withdrawal symptoms from lack of tea or caffeine (another no-no).

2. I am happiest eating a balanced diet. The diet requires you to eat different combinations of food on different days. Two days of the week, you eat nothing but meat and vegetables. I was MISERABLE on those days. The days in which I could have all food groups (minus the bad foods), I was completely happy and satisfied. This tells me that I need to always remember to eat a variety of foods.

3. It matters what you call your food. For the most part, every food I ate on the diet are things I normally eat. My family did not know for the first two weeks that I was on a diet. They only noticed when we were at a restaurant and I asked about ingredients in a dish. Then of course, they whined about eating my stupid diet food, which cracked me up because it was the same stuff I'd been making.

4. Planning your meals and snacks is important. I loved this diet because it came with menu plans that suggested what to eat for each meal and snack. I followed this quite often, and I realized that my primary food problem is that I forget to eat, or, when I decide I should eat something, I don't know what to eat, so I make a bad choice. I now feel more confident in making better choices, even when my cupboard is bare. My new favorite snack- take some frozen blueberries from the freezer, sprinkle a little cinnamon on them, microwave for 30 seconds, and YUM!

5. Regarding the "E" word. Everyone who knows me knows that I hate to exercise. My doctor claims that is my primary problem regarding my weight. I've worked with personal trainers, and honestly, it always made me feel worse. I was sore, cranky, and still gained weight. With this diet, you do one day of cardio, one day of weights, and one day of something like yoga or massage- something to calm your body and make it happy. I'll admit the cardio was a challenge, and I probably didn't do it well enough. I don't think I will ever love cardio, sorry. But I do love my kettle bell workouts, and I realized that doing shorter versions, twice a week, plus my daily walk with my dog, and then giving myself one day of pampering myself, that makes me feel great. I think sometimes we overdo the exercise and we don't listen to our bodies. The daily gym thing made me miserable (and I know it brings some people joy). But thinking of exercise in terms of being good to my body, and making it healthier and stronger a little bit at a time, that made me feel really good.

So why does my weight loss program of the past month matter to you?

One size does not fit all.

The most valuable lesson I learned is that one size does not fit all. I have friends who have lost incredible amounts of weight doing different things. I've seen people lose weight doing things that make me gain weight. It's so discouraging! The friend who recommended this book to me couldn't stay on the diet because she got horrible migraines from lack of soy. So here is where I want you to take heart. Take my lessons and apply them in a way that fits you, and your lifestyle. I spent years doing everything "right" diet and exercise wise and still gained weight. We read articles and books, and listen to advice, and the truth is, our bodies are all different. It took me a month to find the right combo of exercise that made me feel good. There are certain combos of foods that make me feel good, and others that leave me miserable. It is your body, listen to it!

You have to learn to forgive yourself.

Though I never "cheated," I did make mistakes on this diet.  The primary driving force is that on certain days, you eat certain food combinations. I don't think there was a single week where I did not accidentally add a food that wasn't allowed on that day. The first time, I was so disappointed in myself because I wanted to do it right. I made a mess of finding the right cardio, and didn't come up with something until the last week. I honestly did my best, and when I look back at my choices, I may not have done everything perfectly, but I did give it my very best effort. Rather than giving up with each mistake, I forgave myself, and moved forward. Forgiving yourself is the best way to keep going.

Ultimately, I did not lose the weight touted by the book, or even the weight I wanted. My doctor will be pleased I've lost weight, but according to the number in his head, I have about ten more pounds to go. My nutritionist thinks my weight is fine, and she's hoping I don't lose more weight, so go figure. That said, this is the most weight I've ever lost in a month. I feel absolutely great. People tell me I look great. And, according to the promise I made to myself and God, this is the weight I will be happy with.

For those obsessed with numbers, here's the breakdown:

Total weight lost: 7 poundsWaist inches lost: 4
Hips inches lost: 0
Chest inches lost: 4
Bicep inches lost: 2

I also want to point out that my face seems thinner to me, but I don't know how you'd measure it.

Tell me about your weight loss journey. Are you trying to lose weight? Are you encouraged by the process, or are you like I was, discouraged by doing everything you can with no results?



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