Do You Think You Will Lose Weight By Deciding To Eat Less And Exercise More?
This seems to be a reasonable question, but since everyone who is overweight is overweight for different reasons, you need to figure out how to do this in a very specific way.
In November 2013, I decided that I wanted to change my eating and exercise habits for good, since I was over 100 lbs. overweight, and feeling horrible both emotionally and physically, I made a detailed plan and asked myself many questions, such as:
I’VE BEEN ON SOME KIND OF DIET MOST OF MY LIFE, and have lost over 100 lbs. on three occasions, but have always gained it back, why? This was a difficult question to answer honestly, and I decided my attitude contributed the most to this. I was always angry that I had this problem, and resented the many people in my life who have said things to me that were not helpful and hurt me. I also have often felt discriminated against, and judged. I also believed that most people seemed to be able to eat more than I did, and didn’t have a problem with their weight. I decided to put my anger to rest, and to forgive people. I also realized that I really had no idea what other people ate on a regular basis, or how it affected their weight, and this had nothing to do with me. Changing this thinking didn’t happen instantly, but when it did, it literally lightened my load.
IS COMFORT EATING REALLY DISCOMFORT EATING? Like many people, I had a challenging childhood. I had Meningitis when I was five, and it took several months to recover from it. I gained weight because of lack of activity and “treats” in the form of food because I was sick. I was put on a diet at the age of six. All of us know that diets never work, and it certainly didn’t work on me at that age. I was always “sneaking” foods that were forbidden, and felt constantly criticized. My mother died when I was eleven, and my family stopped eating meals together on a regular basis. I subsisted mostly on such cheap foods as potato chips and candy, which meant I continually gained weight. I have found this a hard habit to break, as I still think of eating this type of food, when I’m tired, angry, discouraged, lonely, anxious, etc. I continually remind myself that this never helped me, and never will, and in fact makes me feel worse.
WHICH FOODS MADE ME FEEL GOOD? WHICH FOODS MAKE ME WANT TO EAT TOO MUCH OF THEM? These are two crucial questions when embarking on a lifestyle change. “Real food”, by which I mean, eggs, fish, meat, beans, vegetables, grains and some fruits generally leave me feeing satisfied and give me energy, and I can stop eating them when I’m full. “Junk food”, by which I mean, fast food, bags of salty snacks, fried foods, and sweets of all kinds, or anything made with artificial sweeteners are difficult for me to stop eating, and make me feel sedated and lethargic. The most significant lifestyle change I’ve made since 2013 is to eat 90% “real food”, and 10% of things like homemade popcorn, 2 slices of pizza for dinner, an occasional glass of wine, or a piece of cake at a party. What’s been extremely helpful for me is not to have former binge foods in my house. I tend to be strict about this at home, and more indulgent in moderation when I’m eating at a restaurant, or a party, but not if my weight is up.
WHAT TYPES OF EXERCISE DO I LIKE, OR AM I WILLING TO TRY, AND HOW OFTEN WILL I DO THEM? I am a couch potato by nature, and can spend many hours sitting all day, and have stopped doing this. The only exercise I have ever liked has been pool swimming, and though this is good for the body, it never seemed to affect my weight in a positive way. My balance is poor, since I lost over 50% of my hearing after having Meningitis, so I decided to concentrate on walking. I was so obese when I started, that I could barely make it around the block. I still can’t walk at a fast rate, but now walk at least an hour a day and it’s improved my bone health, my balance, my endurance, and my moods. I get up at least once an hour when sitting, to do squats, run in place, or jump on my exercise bike. I consciously stand up more for longer lengths of time. I am planning on doing some weight training, and have hired a trainer to help me get started so I will do this safely.
TO WEIGH OR NOT TO WEIGH? If you are overweight, the scale can seem like the enemy. Recent research says that people who weigh themselves once a week or more, are more likely to cut back on eating and increase their exercise if they are up a few pounds. I now think of the scale as an important tool, and it has helped me maintain my goal weight for the last three summers, within five-pound fluctuations. It so much easier to deal with a 3-lb. gain than it is a 50-lb. one. Weighing myself regularly, was very encouraging when I started to change my eating habits, and I would adjust what I was eating according to whether I lost, gained, or stayed the same. It took me three weeks to get below 200 lbs. When the number on the scale read 195 lbs. on the Monday of the third week, I felt like I had won the Olympics, and have never been close to 200 lbs. since. Try to be as objective as you can about this, and don’t allow it to affect your self-worth, it’s just information that you can use if you want to adjust what you’re eating. I generally weigh myself on Friday, and Monday mornings before breakfast. If I’ve gained more than two lbs. on Friday, I will eat less on the weekend. If my weight is up on Monday, I will eat mindfully, and increase my exercise and the excess weight is usually off by Friday.
NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP! I wish I could take credit for this quote, but it seems to have originated with Winston Churchill. Most people that have compulsive/excessive/addictive/gets them into trouble types of behaviors, have had to try, try, and try again to stop. Some of them make it, some don’t. If I can do this, after many, many failures, with a specific plan that I can tolerate, and now prefer, so can you!