I don't have any real new year's resolutions about weight loss or fitness... ever since Eden was born, I've been trying to keep exercising regularly and eat sensibly. My goal has not been weight oriented but simply being in better shape and in healthier habits by the time another pregnancy comes around, in hopes that I won't be quite so miserable as I was while expecting Eden. I've fallen off the band wagon here and there (like the most of the month of December) but EXCEPT for that... have done fairly well. I have an elliptical machine right smack dab in my living room... it's not very pretty and decoratively speaking, it's an eye sore, but that is where it fits so that is where it shall stay. I *try* to run on it every other day for 15- 20 minutes. During the warm months, I completely neglect the elliptical on purpose. The girls on I take long walks virtually every day in the summer so that breaks up the monotony of the the exercise machine and keeps it from becoming quite so mind numbingly boring. I also started Pilate's in September and did that every Monday night for 45 minutes. Pilate's is right up my alley because while it really does work (and you do feel the burn! Burn baby burn!) there isn't a lot of sweating involved, which this prissy girl doesn't care for! ;) It's a good solution for those who need strength training but aren't interested in lifting weights. Your own body weight is your resistance. And it's not yoga, which some people I know have aversions to due to the spiritual connections. No cow worship necessary! ;)
Although I have been at a weight I like for about 5 1/2 yrs., I had major struggles with my weight the entire 4 1/2 years I was in college. As a barely 16 year old freshman, I went to college fairly thin and packed on the pounds in record breaking speed. The "Freshman Fifteen" quickly turned into the "Freshman 25" in one semester. Yup. It only took me 4 months. What can I say? I've always been an over achiever! I was oblivious to my rising weight until one day I caught my reflection in the full length mirror while I was getting dressed. If I had just a couple more rolls around my abdomen, I could have opened up my own bakery. Horrified, I quickly found a scale in the clinic. It was not pretty.
When I returned home after that very first semester for the summer vacation, eye balls bulged out of my friends and family member's faces. I got some not so nice remarks about "filling out". During that summer, I lost about 10 lbs., only to return to school in the fall to gain that 10 back plus another 10 lbs. for good measure. At this point, Seth and I met and began dating. I was a good 30 -35 pounds heavier than I am today. And I had really crooked teeth. Can you beleive he still asked me out!?! Poor blind man. I began a dieting and binging trend that continued until graduation day. I tried everything: the Adkins, diet pills (highly do not recommend to anyone ever!), slim fast, plain white rice for every meal, laxatives and lemon water diets, grapefruit diets, etc etc. Honestly, I've tried just about every diet idea in the world. I tend to have an "all or nothing" personality so dieting is a very bad practice for me. When I fell off my diet, I would binge on everything in sight, knowing that come Monday (that ever present beginning of the new diet date), I would be back on some strict regiment. One binge consisted of eating an entire dozen donuts in one day. I would eat until I got sick. Then, when Monday came, I would punish myself with a diet even stricter than the previous one. I spend a lot of money on "special" food, since most dining hall fare didn't fit into any diet.
While engaged, I was terrified of being chubby on my wedding day. I really got serious about exercise and made it a high priority in my very packed schedule. During my senior year, while student teaching and planning a wedding across the country, I would wake up at 4am, after going to bed between midnight and 1 am the night before, to work out for 45 min.s, then get ready and on the bus to go teach. I remember running my lap around the campus in the dead of winter, running in lake effect snow, early in the morning despite having bronchitis. I would come back to my dorm bright red from head to toe with my lungs burning in pain. I would. not. be. a chubby bride. A half dead one... but not chubby!
My resolve is to never officially diet again. And I haven't dieted in over 5 yrs. Occasionally, I have "watched it" when knowing that I've been overdoing the sweets (like say, around Christmas) or a few months after having a baby, but dieting is not something I intend to do ever again. People who do things all the way or not at all, who continually diet end up as anorexics, or maybe even morbidly obese as the pendulum swings the other way. Dieting, for me, means constantly thinking about what you're eating... what and when you're going to eat next. All that thinking about food makes me hungry. Being hungry makes me grouchy! These days, I keep it pretty simple. When I'm hungry, I eat. If I am not hungry, I don't eat. Rocket science, huh!
By the time I got married, I was about 10 pounds more than my current weight. After marrying Seth and moving to New York, the next 10 just melted off effortlessly. Our life style was the reason. I was no longer eating dining hall fare, or relying on caffeinated drinks to give me energy, or being tempted to visit the vending machine to make it through the night during those long hours at work. I was also a terrible cook and half of my dinners were not suitable for human consumption. I wish I were joking.
The life styles changes that helped me, specifically, were:
**Sleep. It's a good thing. So much of my college life, I was in a sleep deprived blur. My head was foggy and my energy was rock bottom. A snack or soda or coffee was almost a requirement to get through the day. After getting married, I was allowed to blissfully get the right amount of sleep. I think this is helpful is post-partum weight loss too, but we all know that it's hard to get at that particular stage in life!
**Protein. Beef! Beautiful beef! Okay, not just beef, but any meat or poultry. Growing up, I wasn't a meat eater. Then going to college where the food served was... well, I don't want to complain, but if I didn't like meat at home, I sure didn't like the meat like substances served in the dining hall! I was a borderline vegetarian when I got married. I only ate white meat chicken. At restaurants, I ordered things like "turkey burgers" or "soy burgers" and gross things like that. But my new husband wanted some real meat for dinner every night. After a long, grueling learning process, I learned how to cook meat and by George, I like it! Eating meals at my mother in laws also helped acquaint me with the deliciousness of meat. I still don't eat a TON of meat but have learned that protein is important to me in maintaining even energy, thus not relying on caffeine and sweets for the mid day pick-me-up. Some people crave meat all day and probably eat TOO much. My point is that meat in moderation helped me establish better eating habits.
Because I shop on a tight budget, I almost always plan my dinners based on what meat or poultry is on sale that week. I buy a big package and divide it up into meal sized portions. I firmly believe that most Americans eat way more meat than their bodies need. A palm size portion is my rule of thumb. It is healthier and economical. This way, my portion (and Seth's and the girls') is decided well before dinner time. It's rare that I set out a big platter of meat and just dig in and take as much as I feel like at that moment. I have it already decided well before sitting down with a hungry belly. Examples: the big chicken breast is for Seth, and the middle one is mine...or the big pork chop is Seth's and I'm sharing the other big one with the girls. I try to give Seth a hearty portion since he is quit thin and that fact doesn't seem to be changing any time soon! Most of the time, I can estimate perfectly how much will stuff him. And then there is always a veggie to fill up on if we are still hungry!
** Moderation. Mo-der-a-tion. Hmmm. Not always the easiest thing for us! I kinda have a goal of 90/10 in my head about junk food. Meaning that I aim for 90% of my food to be real, healthful, good for ya food. And I allow 10% of the other stuff. It's not a perfect system, I know. Humans aren't perfect. Not sure if you've noticed.
If I want a piece of apple pie once in a while, I'm gonna eat it and enjoy and not feel bad about it all. If you see me at a party or holiday gathering, you can bet your biscuits I'm indulging in some yummy treat. But every day is not a holiday. Most days, apple pie is not in my menu. For me, my will power concerning sweets is so bad, that I can't have them in the house. If it's in the house, I'll eventually cave in... and dig in! What works for my advantage is the fact that I'm a bit of a junk food snob. By that I mean that I'm not interested in just any ol' treat. I want the good stuff... no generic knock off... I want homemade, or fancy Pepperidge Farms cookies, or none at all. However, Seth is glorious happy with the generic Oreo imitations and the cheap store brand chips. So typically, I buy one package of each a week all for Seth and I'm not the least bit tempted by them. And because I've been a good girl all week long, if I happened to be offered a piece of my sister in laws heavenly cheese cake, I gladly accept. No guilt involved. Um, Tara, it's been a while since you made that cheese cake. Like alomst a month. *hint hint*
I also take the moderate approach to low fat or low calorie substitutes. Some items, like low fat sour cream, I'm totally fine with. Tastes pretty good. Others, like low fat cheese,... yuck. No thanks. For us, we eat whole wheat bread, vegetable spread instead of butter (except for baking), and non-fat milk (the girls drink whole). I also make our salad dressings with olive oil, so at least it's a "good fat". Do you ever notice that the consumers who always buy diet everything still have a weight problem? It just makes more sense to me just just go ahead and have a little bit of the real thing, enjoy, feel satisfied and stop... then to have the poor tasting diet version, not be satisfied and thus eat more of them. I'd rather have one regular oreo than two low fat ones. And those diet products can be deceiving; many are only very slightly less fattening than the original.
I read an article a while ago about Americans and vegetables. It stated that since Americans became so widely anti-fat, our vegetable consumption has plummeted. Back in the good ol' days, we made veggies yummy by adding a bit of cheese or butter. But when the outcry against fat began, we ditched the cheese and butter and now eat no veggies. Kinda like throwing the baby out with the bath water. With that thought in mind, I'm totally fine with Maddie eating her carrot sticks with ranch dip... because she is eating carrot sticks. Better than french fries and ketchup! Which she does eat occassionally, too. My point is that the ranch is worth it. And if I want a salad with dressing on it, I'm okay with that because it's still salad. I know the dressing is loaded with bad stuff... but the salad is loaded with good stuff. I don't really like it to be swimming in dressing anyway. Veggies are the best thing for us. And if a tad bit of butter or salt makes them appetizing, so be it.
If serious weight loss is on your mind, there is one officially "diet" that I found helpful to me. This what what actually got me to a good size for my wedding. The Body Type Diet helps you understand your specific body and it's individual propensities in weight gain and loss. It identifies what foods are the worst for your particular body, and what foods are best for getting your body in it's best shape. I know there are quite a few similar kinds of books; I haven't read them all. All I can say is that the information in this book was right on the money for my body type and my mom, who is the same body type as me. She has many health problems and the parts of this book discussing health problems typical to our body type was almost like reading her medical chart. So as far as I can tell, this book was accurate and helpful, in theory and in practice. Although I haven't gone on the official weight loss plan detailed in the book since being engaged, I still own it and have referred back to it because a lot of the book is about lifestyle choices... the foods than on a long term should be limited (for my body type, sweets and caffeine... which of course are my two favorite things in the world), and foods that are particularly good for my body type (lean proteins and eggs, a particular tea, etc.). I struggled with my energy levels so much and this book helped me solve much of that problem.
At the heart of any success weight loss endeavor, the scientific fact is this:
Less calories in + more calories burned = pounds lost.
One pound equals about 3,500 calories. Most people don't realize how many calories they consume in a day. A handy pocket sized book like this can help educate you on how many calories are in the foods you eat. Before long, you'll just have your common foods memorized. A banana is 105 calories. That is just a fact I will know until I die! The correct name for an eskimo is an Inuit. Okay that has nothing to do with weight loss but it's another fact that my brain will just not let go.
When my father in law had cancer last year, he wanted to see an exclusive doctor at the Mayo clinic because the procedure this doctor did was the best route for his cancer. But this doctor required his patients to be an their ideal weight. I guess exclusive doctors can do that! My father in law had quite a bit of weight to lose, and my mother in law wanted to do it with it, to support him, and hey who wants a husband to get all in shape if you're not, right?! They kept a food log in their kitchen and wrote down every single calorie that went into their mouth. Just a plain notebook with his name on one side, and hers on the other. Every drink, snack, meal, cracker... everything was written down and the calorie content looked up in the book and recorded. Most people who try this are alarmed by how many empty calories they consume. Empty meaning calories without significant nutritional content. My in laws limited themselves to 1200 a day, which is pretty small, especially for a man. If 1200 makes you feel like you are starving to death, 1400 might be a better place to start, then try 1200 for a week to get over a plateau.
Some of the diets I tried in college were focused on counting fat grams or carbs. Both were utterly ineffective. Counting fat grams is not the way to go because foods like meat and cheese may have high fat content, but they also have protein and calcium- important nutrients to have. Again, I'm not talking about eating a whole side of beef in one meal. A slice or two of roast beef is nothing to feel bad about though! Meanwhile, jelly beans are fat free, so you can guess what Kayte ate for a solid week! Of-course jelly beans are purely sugar, and highly caloric so all that I earned myself was a tummy ache... and probably a cavity. Eliminating, or drastically reducing carbs was 1. very expensive as a dorm girl and 2. made me feel really really bad. No carbs means no fruit and no breads... that means no fiber. Fiber is our friend!! 'Nuf said! It seems that people who do have great success with low carb dieting have a different body structure than me. And many only maintain the weight loss so long as they exile carbs. The Adkins was so popular at the time that I followed it strictly for an entire month. I did not lose one pound. I've never wanted to pick up a scale and smash it into a million pieces so badly in my life.
I mention my love for dessert quite frequently on my blog, which is what prompted me to write a new year's weight loss post. I do have a sweet tooth... several in fact. There is no denying that. But I really don't eat nothing but Little Debbie's all day. Although that does sound great to me. Little Debbie is awesome. The truth is that people like to hear a thin person talk about eating junk food. They like to see me getting a nice fat slice of cake. For some reason, when I mention watching what I eat or even exercise, I usually get a "Like you need to worry about it" type of reaction. In reality, exercise is good for everyone, and sugar is bad for everyone regardless of what the scale says. And as much as I would love to be one of those rare women who are thin irregardless of their eating or exercises habits, I am not. I have less than desirable genetics in that arena. I hope that doesn't hurt any of my relatives feelings but I think most would readily agree than weight problems, and the health concerns than accompany them, are rampant in my family. They are still beautiful, of course. Big and beautiful... sounds like a reality TV show.
Dieting and weight loss is one of those things than can easily consume a person. I'm the first to admit than when I'm over weight, I feel bad about myself. We all want to look our best. But sometimes I wonder, what is our best? The world would have us think that unless our ribs are protruding and you can clearly see every ab muscle chiseled out, we not in shape. Do you ever wonder what Eve looked like? Maybe she had some birthing hips on her?? I'm almost certain she wasn't blond haired and blue eyed. Maybe she had a big nose. I hope so. We would get along just fine if she did! ;) I like to read about the subcutaneous layer of fat that all women have. It strangely makes me feel better! God made us softer than men. It's part of the wonder of our child bearing. The air brushed images of super models give us an impossible standard. The only way I'll ever have that kind of physique is if I start popping some testosterone supplements and I'm pretty sure the beard I'd grow would make my rock hard body not so attractive! Ew. Gross to think about!
So if anyone is gearing up for getting in shape in 2010, I wish you great success! There is something good about denying our flesh what it craves and being disciplined enough to take good care of this earthly temple. How good does it feel to start the day taking care of our spirits and our body with devotions and exercise. It just makes you that much more revved up about what the rest of the day holds. These bodies are so temporary, however. We aren't taking them with us when this life is over. We'll get our real "perfect bods" when Christ gives us our glorified bodies. While on this earth, everything I've come to understand about the male species (which isn't much!) tells me that a cheerful pleasant wife is so much more important to a husband than a skinny one. Personally, I just want to stay in the same range as Seth. The day he gets fat, I'm gonna join him! But thus far, he's staying trim. Ah, shucks! (Joking people!)
I hope to keep the physical side of my life in proper perspective... I think it actually helps us succeed in our weight loss goals when we put our physical self in it's right place on our priority list.