Once upon a time I rid myself of 65 pounds. Before that I became pregnant with my first son. Do you know what happens when an over eater finds an excuse to over eat? It. Was. Terrible. I remember standing at the counter of a popular burrito eatery. They asked me if I wanted cheese and sour cream. Yes, of course I replied. Then I asked for extra and then just a bit more. The server behind the counter looked up at me quizzically, shook his head and proceeded to load up the burrito further. As he labored under the weight of the sour cream spoon I heard him whisper “this thing is gonna weigh 2 pounds”. I was unperturbed. So what I said to myself. I am eating for two. I am allowed. Let’s get real honest here. With the amount of calories loaded into that one burrito, I could have fed at least 4 people. I devoured the entire thing (It was glorious. I regret nothing about that burrito). This type of behavior quickly lead to me gaining more weight than I should have. A year later I was so very done with myself. At some point “baby weight” stopped being baby weight and was really just me giving into gluttonous desires. I proceeded to absolutely kick some ass and lost that 65 pounds over the course of a year.
It was 2009 and I began to devour every book I could about weight loss, muscle gain, and how to shape my body to the way I wanted it to be. I researched how many calories I should consume in a day along with: Fat (also types of fat), Carbs, Sugar, Sodium, Fiber, and Vitamins to provide my body with not only healthier foods but enough of everything to fuel my body properly. I dutifully logged every single thing I ate. I joined a gym with a friend and proceeded to get to work. It sucked. In an earlier post I mentioned how good I felt after working out. Emphasis on the word AFTER. The actual deed was not as fun. I started with cardio on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursdays weights were on the agenda. That first day on the treadmill, I felt like I wanted to die. The treadmills at this particular gym were facing a wall that was just a giant mirror. I didn’t even want to look at myself. I ran (ok fine, I jogged. Ok fine, I was basically walking really fast) and laughed with the friend that came with me, but I was tiring quickly, and just wanted to go home. Feeling defeated, I paused and made myself look in the mirror. The girl I saw looking back at me was sweating bullets. Her hair was matted down to her forehead. All of the body issues I had tried to hide with oversized clothes were now staring directly at me and they were sweaty. I almost cried. It all seemed so damned impossible. As I stood there panting, I made myself continue to look. Then I really started jogging. As cheesy as it sounds, I watched myself jog. I watched myself and thought,” That girl in front of you is not where you want to be nor is it who you are meant to be. Run until she is so far gone that you cannot see her. That is exactly what I did. The treadmill, the elliptical, that weird ass machine that I have since forgotten the name of, and the stair master all faced this mirrored wall. Every time I climbed onto one of those machines it got a little easier. When I was tired I looked directly at that girl in the mirror and pushed myself just a little bit more. Also, if you were ever one of the people next to me on the exact same type of machine, know that we were racing and competing. You set your machine at a 7 and mine would go to the same level. More than once an employee at the gym would stop me on my way out and say, “You were really killing it there!” I would shrug and smile, knowing that I had just defeated my adversary Frank on the machine next to mine. Frank (who was super in shape) had no idea who I was or that we were racing, but we were and I won. Eat it Frank. Eventually I stopped thinking of it as running away from the person I didn’t want to be, and I started concentrating on running towards the person I wanted to be. Is running to something easier than running away from something? There is a metaphor in there somewhere but what I do know is running towards the way I wanted to look did a hell of a lot more for my mental state than running away ever had.
Speaking of fun, lifting weights/the weight machines were the best part of working out. Each weight day I would target a different group of muscles. After a few months I switched up my routine and did weights three days a week saving cardio for the other two. Sure every part of my body ached afterword but it was a good ache. Feeling that ache made me feel like things were happening inside my body and that made me extremely happy. Cardio tended to leave me feeling exhausted. Actually you know what? I hate cardio. I hate it so much. If I could just get away with weight lifting and never do cardio ever again, I would be ecstatic. Sadly it is a necessary evil. Once I switched to this method of shaping my body, the weight that had been coming off every week seemed to pause. However, I was losing inches. I had to get new clothes or find intriguing ways to keep the old ones on. I wasn’t seeing the big weight loss numbers I had in the beginning, but that was due to the muscle I was gaining. It. Was. Awesome.
A few things I learned from that experience:
1: The beginning is going to be hard. The middle should also be hard. Push yourself further each week.
2: Find someone to support you. I had an amazing friend that went with me right after work every day. We helped each other. We cheered each other on. If you don’t have someone to go with you find a group online! Hell email me! You need someone to be there pushing you, crying with you when you fail or have a bad week, and cheering you on in your successes.
3: Take care of yourself mentally. This is an entire lifestyle change you are going through. This will be exhausting and hard. Some days you will fail and break your diet. You won’t go to the gym. Do not beat yourself up about it. Do not dwell on it. Make sure you go the next day, but some days you just need to relax.
4: Do your own research. Do not just listen to me. Do not just listen to that you tuber, or that one friend who lost so much weight before. Listen to what they say and then read about your body. Read about the way food fuels your body. You are going to be putting work in so start with the work of understanding the way different diets and exercise work. Become an expert in how all of those things work for you.
5: Take pictures and measurements when you start. Not only will you thank yourself later as you look back on old pictures but it will also help you know when something is not working! The scale is not enough on its own.
Everything I have mentioned here worked for me and it worked well. So why did I gain this weight back? I kept this weight off for four years. I got complacent. When people say this is a lifestyle change they are not wrong. This is forever. Once you’ve lost the weight, I feel like maintaining is the hardest part. You CANNOT go back to eating whatever you want, and not doing anything more. Next week I will talk about what worked this last time when I lost 100 pounds. Feel free to message me with any questions and if you need support. For now, I am going to go downstairs and make a fool of myself learning how to use a punching bag. It is 100 percent guaranteed that I will lose my balance and fall flat on my face as I learn this. The most important thing? I will get up and keep going. You should too.