Ever wake up and realize you’re wearing your leggings more and more and your jeans less and less?
Yeah, me neither.
I do my own laundry separately and I rarely put it in the dryer. I hang it on an extended wall rack to air dry. The selection of clothes each load can be a testament to the type of week I’ve had. Lots of t-shirts means I was at home or running errands a lot. Gym clothes means I had a good week of activity. Four pairs of black leggings means, well, it’s very telling.
Then I could extend that type of assumption to my closet. The clothes I have been buying are less clingy, more eating-shirt and baggy, less form-fitting and butt accentuating. I recently cleaned out my closet and donated a ton of nice clothing, some with tags. I reorganized what remained, happy that the only things taking up space were things I could wear….with the exception of a few adorable dresses, barely or never worn, that I was not going to part with. They hang there daily, taunting me, “why can’t you wear me?”
Lately, they’ve gotten so loud that I can’t ignore it anymore. It was time to do something about the extra weight that was putting me in the position of either continuing to buy new clothes or wear the same few things…or work on losing weight. I decided to work on losing weight. Thing is, metabolisms do slow as you age and when you’re running two businesses, working full-time and having fun with your family and friends, working out gets a backseat if you don’t make it a priority.
Then there’s the whole “I write about food” excuse, a very valid reason but still something I have to work around.
All of this means that I had to ask myself “What is the best diet for losing weight?” Then I realized the easy answer for me: none. There are a lot of types of diets out there right now: paleo, gluten-free, no sugar, low-carb, high protein you name it. Nothing’s wrong with any of them, but I’m not very good at the “No xxx” type of diet. I like food. I enjoy life, and some of that is food. I’d rather be more active than entirely avoid a glass of wine or a really good dessert at a media tasting. So for me, I’ve opted for a lifestyle change — watching my portions, eating smaller meals more often, making sure I exercise regularly, and having a cheat day once a week where I, within reason, indulge in something I haven’t had all week long.
I’m almost at the end of week two and I haven’t stepped on the scale in over a week; at that time, I’d found I was a pound down.
One solitary pound. That was a discouraging moment, so I decided that if I was doing the best I could food-wise and activity-wise, I wasn’t going to let the scale get me down. Instead, I’m going to limit how often I use it and judge more by how I feel and how my current clothes fit. Sounds easier than it is, but I have enough going on that I can’t let my weight dictate my mood. What good is eating right and getting exercise if I’m letting a number ruin how much better I feel?
Working out and staying active to the point where it’s truly beneficial is a true challenge. I run, but I’ve never really liked running. It’s more a means to an end. One foot in front of the other, even when I’m exhausted. Usually I’m better once I get past the first mile, but that first mile is usually at least 11-12 minutes long. That’s 11-12 minutes that can go one of two ways: I can either psych myself into thinking “Just get past that first mile and it’s all easier after” or a “That’s just too long, my lungs hurt and I just can’t do it.” Once you let the negative feelings, the “I can’t do it, I’ll just stop at 3/4 of a mile” feelings that take root, you’re done for. One foot in front of the other, continually saying “one more step.”
Activity is so frequently a mind game. You have to want the results, the weight loss, the fitness, the strength more than you want to let your exhaustion or soreness take over.
I am continually struggling to remind myself that the weight won’t come off if I’m sitting at my desk eating a greasy, cheesy, oozy quesadilla. The quesadilla will be there for me to eat some of once I drop some weight; my health, on the other hand, may not be.
My diet, for what it’s worth, has never really been the problem. I eat a lot of foods that are good for me. I don’t eat a lot of fried foods, I don’t eat any red meat and I rarely eat dessert. Even when I bake some of my dangerous cupcakes, my family tastes for me. Even my doctor told me, at my recent nephrologist check-up, that my diet is not my problem. My age, my hours sitting at my computer and the months where I just never found time to run or do zumba. When I am active, I don’t put on weight, so weight maintenance isn’t my problem. It’s losing the weight getting back to a number or size I am satisfied maintaining.
I figure it will be a couple of months before I get there. I am paying more attention to what I put in my mouth, I’ve cut out coffee, I rarely drink wine anymore (WHO AM I?) and I haven’t had a quesadilla in over two weeks. I now put “Go to gym” on my schedule every few days and on the days I don’t, I do zumba or run outdoors or on my treadmill. No excuses. My gym visits rotate between taking a cardio class or lifting weights, and I am enjoying seeing the numbers on my weights get higher and higher, while the reps get easier and easier. My trainer told me once that if I could complete a full set easily, the weights aren’t heavy enough; I should be struggling the last few reps, so I really work to make sure that’s the case now. I power through those last few reps, breathing through it and envisioning how it will get easier if I put in the work.
I know I’ll have some days where I want to throw in the towel, days where I finally step on the scale and want to chuck it out the window, and days where I am too sore to move, but I’m not going to let that derail me or I’ll be right back here again. Life’s too short to regret not feeling as good as I can and keeping my body as healthy as possible. There are things I can’t control — I can continue to eat all the right things and still experience another painful kidney stone or still get high blood pressure, because diet and activity isn’t a cure-all — but I will focus on what I can control. If I do get another kidney stone, something I dread, I can know my body’s in the best condition to fight through it.
If you’re like me and you’re googling “what is the best diet for losing weight”, consider a lifestyle change instead.
Healthy habits are things you can live with and will prevent regaining weight in the future. Drink water, walk even if you can’t run and find the type of exercise you enjoy so you’re likely to continue. Don’t expect to run a 5k without training and if you find zumba makes you feel clumsy, try something new. There are so many options out there, there’s no reason to do something you don’t like. I take stairs instead of the elevator (when feasible), I park far away from the door and I count steps on my Garmin Forerunner fitness tracker not so much to meet a certain step goal but because I can easily get caught up in work and the tracker will remind me that I’m sitting too long.
Find the lifestyle changes that work for you and make it happen. (Seek medical advice first; I am not a doctor nor do I play one here.) Life’s too short to not be what you want to be! Now I’m off to go order some wireless headphones. Gym problems.