I thought long and hard how I wanted to celebrate reaching this goal. I didn't feel like celebrating with food - I've managed to work in treats that I really want in my new lifestyle so there's nothing I'm particularly craving. A special outing or self-gift didn't seem right either. It feels false to celebrate something I hope is a culmination of sustainable lifestyle changes with an event or thing that is material and trivial.
What I realized most is that I wanted to share this moment with my friends - with you, My Dear Reader. I've mentioned briefly here on the blog about losing weight, and being excited about my progress, but I've always tried to keep it in the context of endurance, or riding, or me learning some big life lesson and NOT make this blog about something as trivial as my weight or body image issues or human fitness. But just for once, I wanted to talk about me losing weight and accomplishing my weight loss goal in a shallow, braggy, no-lessons-to-be-learned way. I wanted to name specific numbers and not pretend they don't matter to me. I want to talk animatedly and wave my hands about and laugh and absolutely glow, so that YOU, my friends, can be happy for me and share in my excitement. We will return to our regularly scheduled programming where this part of me is NOT the center topic of the blog, but today, I am going to spend an entire blog post bragging and showing off my accopmlishment :). Thanks for being here, thanks for sharing in this moment.
18 months ago I started trying to lose weight.
My weight has always gone up and down cyclically in a 5-7 pound range over the course of a year, but the last couple of years, the "downs" haven't quite made up for the "ups".
Instead of having 5 pounds that would be nice if they magically went away...it was 10 pounds.
10 pounds on a 5'1" frame is a pant size. We aren't talking a success story that is going to be plastered across the websites as "selfie" pictures show pounds magically melting away. It's doesn't even justify a new wardrobe. It's doubtful that anyone but me can even see the weight. But, it was a enough weight that I didn't feel strong and fit.
138 pounds is the most I've ever weighed - several times throughout my life. It seems to be the "top" of what is normal for me. If I eat all I want, don't exercise, and succomb to the "object at rest stays at rest", 138 is where I find myself.
132 is the bottom of my "normal" range, and if I'm working towards a running goal, or trying to stay fit for my horse and putting forth that extra effort, 128 isn't unusual.
At 128 I feel strong and fit and beautiful and capable.
With the above in mind, when I set out to lose weight, I usually choose 125 as my goal. It gives me a nice buffer zone to stay under 130, it's doable, even though it's usually brief before I go back up to 128 and stay there, and (most importantly) it's this nice beautiful number who has a personality that doesn't have any loose ends. Maybe it's the fact it's divisible by 5? And contains the square of 5? And 125/5 = 25? It's enough to make me squeal in delight.
So, in June 2012 I set out to lose 13 pounds. A couple months into it, I realized that the magic number of 10% was only a few pounds under my initial goal ==> 14 pounds.
10% seems to be a really big deal. Followers of weight watchers talk about a mental shift that occurs when they reach that number and there's some anecdotal stories that people that achieve this 10% are more likely to take steps to keep the weight off. 124 isn't a number I've seen on the scale very often and never consistently. If I was able to reach this number and keep it, I would know that I had actually made a change - not just a variation in my statisically predictable cyclic weight pattern.
So, in June 2012 I started counting and recording calories. That was the first small change. I didn't realize that I would be making a lot of small changes over more than a year in order to achieve my goal. I decided that the important thing was not staying within a particular calorie goal - long term deprivation and feeling hungry or that I can't eat something I really want because of stupid numbers doesn't work for me. The important thing was LOGGING and RECORDING. For good or bad. With the recording would come awareness and with awareness would come the ability to make informed choices. And those choices would become habits and THAT was the way to sustainably lose weight and keep it off - not obsessively staying within a narrow calorie range.
In the fall of 2012 I got within a couple pounds of my 10% goal. In fact I met my initial goal of 125 pounds briefly....but I started immediately gaining almost every pound back. Spring of 2013 I was faced with the numbers 1-3-8 on the scale, once again.
And I continued to make more little changes that turned into habits, convinced that the only way to see success was to make sustainable changes that would add up to results over the long haul.
It's a lifestyle change.
In the end, it was less about the numbers on the scale, and more about using the numbers on the scale to honestly evaluate whether *my* lifestyle was meeting my expectations.
When I started all of this, I didn't know that making one small change at a time (and not making another until the first is a habit) was a bonafide philosophy of how to change your life.
In the past, most of my "I need a change!" moments came with a self-designed program that implemented lots of big changes at once. I always felt like the "bootcamp" approach was the best, most effective way! No pain no gain!
I think over time as life came with more and more commitments, I ran out of energy and time. When June of 2012 rolled around, I still wanted change but with work and school and a dog and a boyfriend....just couldn't devote anything anything beyond one little change. And voila, that was the moment real change occurred in my life.
I'm going to share the little things that made this post today possible. Maybe some of these will work for you, maybe they won't. The list may seem daunting, but realize that these were implemented over almost TWO years. One at a time.
(thank goodness I started writing down these small choices/changes at some point, because some of these are so ingrained as habits, it was hard to remember I hadn't always had a particular habit!)
1. I started counting and recording calories. More important than the actual number was the fact that they were being recorded. (I used myfittnesspal)
2. I addressed causes of stress in my life: I threw out my to do lists, stopped Christmas shopping (people now get random "birthday presents" throughout the year, and sometimes I forget to do things, but guess what? The world doesn't end).
3. I made a resolution to sit less. Note this isn't a resolution to DO anything, it's a resolution to do LESS of something. For some reason this was mentally important to me.
4. I started interval training. About the same time, I stopped running through pain, soreness, or if I was particularly tired or stressed and didn't feel like it. I haven't gotten an over training injury since (and yes, I've gotten faster at the same time :)
5. I made a goal to walk 10K steps a day. After getting into the habit of parking where it's free (total extra walking per day: 30 min) and walking during lunch (extra 40-45 min of walking a day) I ditched the pedometer. It was a tool that served it's purpose and once I had the habit, I didn't need a pedometer on my hip to tell me it was time to walk.
6. I cut out wheat for good. And when oats started causing me even more GI discomfort, I ditched them too. I'm "Primal", but I'm "Melinda's Primal", meaning I make that diet/food lifestyle work for ME. I stopped putting cheese on everything, make an effort to include a veggie at every meal. I try to eat real food. I don't get hung up in the philosophy of whether I should give up my popcorn and corn tortillas just because they are grains - in my mind they are real food and don't bother my stomach....so I eat them at least for now. Call it part of my 80/20 philosophy.
7. I started seriously intermittent fasting in a sustainable manner - 2 days a week I eat 500 calories. The rest of the week I eat according to hunger. And surprise! - my calorie counts on a weekly basis stabilized and I stopped having hypoglycemic issues.
8. I started incorporating sets of squats or pushups though out daily activities - like during my walks or my post-run shower.
And today I lost that 10%.
The changes are here to stay - they are habits, a part of me.
I've decided that part of my reward for reaching that 10% is to to stop recording calories on my non fasting days. That was a tool, just like the pedometer, that had a purpose, and once it's purpose of establishing a habit is fulfilled, can be put aside. I do have a "threshold" weight that if I see on the scale I will add this tool back in until I'm back on track. I also might reduce my fasting days to 1x week instead of 2x - but this has been so valuable for stabilizing my blood sugar I'll have to see how it goes.
I'm excited :). I have a bunch of new habits that I love. I don't necessarily have a list of things I'm waiting to implement - usually something comes along at the right time when I'm looking for another little change. I wrote this post on 11/21/13, when I was within a pound of my goal -
so close I could FEEL the success. And this post has been waiting in my
drafts for the day I reached my goal, so that I could hit publish. Thank you everyone.
Two days of heavy rains, flash flood warnings
10 hours ago