Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Incredible Shrinking Woman

A few weeks ago, when I posted about my pants alteration, Magenta asked, "How are you losing all this weight with all this fabulous food cooking in your kitchen? Please share." It seems like a good time of year to try to answer this question.

First, let me say this: I just don't believe in dieting. Exhibit A: this blog. I just can't limit myself to 1200 calories a day or not allowing myself to eat certain foods. That is no way to live and, for me, would be a surefire recipe for a major flame-out in a halo of brownies.

That said, here's what I've been doing and why. Back in March, I had a particularly constructive conversation with my new doctor about my health issues and concerns. He broke weight management down to this: calories in, calories out. Simple as that.

I adopted two tools that have helped me get a handle on this very basic concept: a food journal (calories in) and a pedometer (calories out.) Seeing things in black-and-white forced me to realize that 30 minutes on the elliptical could not make up for the other 23.5 sedentary hours of the day. And, even though I was super strict with what I ate from Monday thru Friday (low/no-fat, etc.), I was lax about how much, and also more than making up any calories saved on the weekend, when I tended to indulge.

So, I changed little things. Going along with my doctor's very simple version, my entire strategy is: eat a little less, walk a little more. That's it. No magic, no radical diets, no long hours in the gym, no hard-and-fast rules. I do, however, have some daily goals.

To achieve the eat a little less portion, I used a few on-line tools to figure out roughly how many calories I should be eating a day for my height and ideal weight. That is roughly what I try to stick to on a daily basis. This actually means that I sometimes eat more on the weekdays than I had been eating. So, I have more energy during the week and arrive at the weekend able to make better decisions and, consequently, eat much less.

On the walk a little more front, I decided that 10,000 steps a day - which is considered to be a "moderately active" to "active" lifestyle was a good goal for walking. I include all the steps I take in this number, whether at the gym, in the office, on the street or wherever. This is actually a pretty reasonable amount to walk, which does not require super-human gym hours.

This approach is slow, but eventually I should reach a very healthy weight and already know how to eat to maintain it (ie: not a "diet"; I am eating and exercising the way I should be every day of my life, and eventually my weight will sort itself out.) My willingness to be patient has made it much easier to be persistent and accept the changes I've made as permanent. Since I haven't drastically cut back calories, I haven't felt deprived or hungry. And I am not too harsh on myself. I tend to look at things in terms of the week. If I eat a bit more one day, I just balance it out by eating a bit less for the next day or two. If I have a sedentary day, I just make sure the next day is an active one. No magic, just common sense. I am, in fact, a little embarrassed at how easy it has been.

Overall, I feel as though I've found a better lifestyle, one that makes me happy and is easy to live. And it has cascaded into other areas of my life. More energy during the week makes me more eager to walk and exercise. More exercise means I drink more water and sleep better at night, both of which have helped my skin to look great recently. Better sleep also helps my energy level, my sense of well being, which enables me to deal with life, and my decision making about food and exercise and all things. It all feeds off itself.

This post is getting long, and I am sure you are still wondering what exactly I am eating (right now it is a piece of a brownie that a co-worker brought in) and how hard I am working out. I'll elaborate in future posts. I'll end this by saying, I don't know if my approach will work for everyone, but, after 10 months and 30lbs, I know it is what I can live with quite happily (she says as she eats a few last brownie crumbs). And at this point, wherever my weight finally settles is ok with me since I feel like I am happy, healthy and beautiful.


MS said...

Sounds wonderful! Congratulations! And you look fabulous.
Love, Magenta

Clio said...

Thanks M! I should add that supportive friends make it easier!

Anonymous said...

I am so happy for you andI am happy you shared your "secrets" with us! 30lbs is what I should shed(poundage that stayed after Stephen was born - I gained 60 and lost I've got 30 to go). I am feeling motivated (as your blog often makes me feel)! I am impressed and applaud you!