Well, after all the festivities, this week has been about trying to get back to normal -- which means no more feasting and going back to the gym! The holidays are always filled with temptations, but this year, with so many new foods to try and so many wonderful people offering us so many scrumptious things to eat ... oh man!!!
So it’s time to let go the mince pies and piles of meat and going back to eating in a healthier way and continuing my weight loss.
Since I’ve been in South Africa, I’ve lost about 20 pounds (9 kilos) -- though I suspect that after the holidays it’s closer to 15! I can’t tell you exact numbers, because I’m not a big believer in weighing, but more on that later.
I was a bit hesitant to write about this here, one, because this isn’t a weight loss blog and I’m no weight loss expert. But you all know (and this blog is testament to) how much I love food, and so many of us struggle with our weight that I thought I’d share how I’ve done it (while still eating yummy foods) in the hope it might help … especially since it is something many of us aim for at the beginning of a new year.
But the main reason that I was hesitant to write about it is that I hate the pressure that women (and men, yes, but it’s so much stronger for women) feel these days to be thin, thin, thin. (Thin but with big boobs and perhaps a bubble butt.) There are so many unrealistic and damaging expectations out there. How many times have I witnessed women -- young and old -- bemoaning how “fat” and “huge” they feel? And often times they are already skinny! I want to shake them and ask, “When will it ever be enough?”
Sadly, I think the answer is never. I yearn for the days of Sophia Loren and Marilyn Monroe. Hell, I’d take the days of “Facts of Life” when teenage girls on T.V. looked like normal teenage girls and not Skeletors with oversized heads.
So, I really don’t want to add to that. But at the same time, I can’t deny that I’ve lost weight, that I feel happy about it, and that I want to lose a bit more. Why?
Well, it’s pretty simple: physical health, mental health and if I’m gonna be perfectly honest, a little vanity.
Physical health: My family history is rife with cancer, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression and diabetes. Any one of which is a killer and all of which greatly benefit from healthy food and exercise.
Mental health: The weight I’m trying to lose was put on over the last three years. Three years filled with lots of stress, sadness, sedentary-ness (is that a word? I don’t care, I’m going with the alliteration here), and – let’s be completely honest – snacks.
In that time, my sister got chronically ill and passed away, my Grandma (in actuality she was Aaron’s grandmother, but I adored her utterly and she really was MY grandma too) passed away, Aaron left on 4 archeological digs for a couple months at a time, I was holding down a very stressful full-time job and I always had 3 or 7 side-projects going on at the same time.
In all that, taking care of myself was just not a priority. And ice cream is just so soothing, innit?
So for me, those pounds are a physical reminder of so much sadness and stress. And lord, if that isn’t some toxic stuff to shed, I don’t know what is.
Exercise is also a great help in keeping your brain chemistry happy. As someone who has struggled with depression, this is a huge motivator. And feeling physically-good and self-esteem-good doesn’t hurt. Which leads me to ...
Vanity. To paraphrase Nigella Lawson, if you think this isn’t about your favorite jeans, you’re fooling yourself. Look, I’m not saying this should EVER be the primary motivator (so goes the way of above-mentioned food disorders and self-loathing) and I despise the kind of vapid vanity that Hollywood and magazines project. I just mean that we all have weights/sizes where we feel comfortable, sexy, fit, etc., and I think it’s OK to want to get there and stay there.
That happy place is different for everyone (though I think the Gwyneth Paltrow/Madonna sinew-and-tendons look is unhealthy/obsessive and isn’t something anyone should aim for.)
I’m sure that my happy place would feel “like, huge” to some women. But whatevehs. Seriously. Life is too short to feel bad about myself because I don’t live up to Photoshop-type expectations. And I’ve known way too many extremely unhappy thin people … being skinny doesn’t equal being happy.
So that’s all of the why’s … now the how’s…
In some ways this is simple, right? Burn off more than you consume. But for many of us, the formula of how you do this without undue suffering is the real problem.
It has been a slow process, and most is stuff you’ve heard before, but well, this is what’s worked for me. I’m going to give you a list today, and since I’ve already rambled quite a bit, I’ll go into detail into each one tomorrow. So for now, here are my top weight-loss suggestions:
1. Don’t drink your calories.
2. Maintain a consistent activity level.
3. Measure, don’t weigh.
4. Attitude counts.
5. Eat like a hobbit (less, but more often) breakfast, 2nd breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper.
6. Make whole, unprocessed foods the majority of your diet (aim for 90%).
7. Carbs are your friends, but use them wisely!
8. Portion control vs. calorie counting.
9. Everything in moderation, including moderation.