As you’ll see in tomorrow (Tuesday)’s Daily Journal, I wrote a column about healthy living tips for those who have made a new year’s resolution to get healthy.
I don’t have a ton of space in the paper, so I thought I’d continue on here.
As I said in the paper, I am NOT a doctor. But I’ve lost some weight, and kept it off, in nearly two years’ time, and here are some tips that helped me.
• Measure how much you’ve lost in terms of inches, not just pounds.
Speaking of that, you can’t target one specific problem area and lose all of the weight there (otherwise my arms would look totally different, trust me). That’s up to your body. You can, however, tone certain areas, and make them look a bit more fit/muscular. But that doesn’t mean you will lose weight there.
Don’t stress over that.
• One good way of looking at changing your diet is this: don’t think about the things you’re taking away, but the things you’re adding in.
It’s not that you’re never going to eat a cookie again – it’s that you’re going to eat so many more fresh fruits. It’s not that you’re never going to enjoy a bowl of pasta again, but that you’ll eat so many more fresh veggies or foods not bogged down in disgusting oil and grease. Happy swaps, not off-limits foods.
• Tips for a happy gym experience:
- good workout shoes are a must.
- I have to have good workout music, but bring anything in the gym that helps you get through a workout if you don’t have much motivation.
- go to the gym when you have lots of time and don’t feel like you’re in such rush.
– I hate looking at the clocks on machines like treadmills or ellipticals, so I’ll use a book, magazine, iPod, whatever, to cover it up so I’m not focusing on how many more minutes to go.
- as someone who suffers from social anxiety (weird coming from a reporter, I know, but I really don’t handle social situations that well) – please don’t be self-concious in the gym. I know I barely notice those around me when I’m working out, other than to make sure I’m not in someone else’s way. Don’t worry if your workout clothes don’t match, if you haven’t shaved your legs in a week or if you are or aren’t wearing make-up. If anyone else notices, then they aren’t working out very hard, now are they?
On a similar note: a gym is a place where you should feel comfortable getting sweaty. Visit a few before you pick one. Ladies, consider a women-only gym. I did, and I love it.
Also, I went into my gym with the mind-set that I wasn’t there to make new friends. I’ve kept to myself and been pleasant with a few of the folks who are in there with me, but I don’t go out of my way to be chatty (some of that goes back to the social anxiety, though). I’m there to get a work out, and that’s all. But if you need an exercise buddy, get one – sometimes having that other person there will help you roll out of bed and into the gym if you know they’re there waiting on you.
• I kind of mentioned this in the column, but I didn’t want to go into much detail... but trust me, y’all, if you don’t eat fried foods or really sugary foods for a while – basically get your body used to healthy foods – and then you have it again, your body will rebel. It will protest. It will make you wish you’d never seen a french fry, a candy bar, pasta or anything else that’s pure crap for your body. At best, you’ll feel slimy and sluggish and your energy level will drop. At worst, all of that will happen AND you’ll get a sick stomach.
It’s gross, but true. It also helps keep you on track. When you have the option of having veggies and feeling great, or having a greasy burger and fries and feeling like death, you best believe you will choose the healthier option.
Example: I used to LOVE pasta, but I have had very little of it since being diagnosed as pre-diabetic. I’ve had it maybe twice in the last 18 months and I’ve gotten sick after each meal. No more for me. Yuck.
• That being said, yes: I feel unbelievably great when I eat well and exercise regularly. I have an annoying amount of energy. I feel that incredible rush of runner’s high when I run a lot. Sometimes after Zumba or a clogging class, I’m in such a good mood I almost want to punch myself. You will get addicted to that feeling. It gets better.
• This one is kind of two-fold...
Losing weight isn’t physical: it’s mental.
It will mess with your head.
That’s probably a good thing. I didn’t realize until I started this that I’m definitely a stress eater.
But the thing is, I don’t know how to fix that or stop that.
And that teaches me that I don’t have all of the answers.
Losing weight has also taught me that I have body image issues. What I see in my head and what shows up in the mirror do not match up; I think that’s true for a lot of folks. I don’t know how to fix that, either.
I’m not sure because I’ve never joined, but I’m pretty sure programs like Weight Watchers allow you to talk about these issues. I’m sure that helps.
What I do know is that I love feeling my body get stronger and feeling better, so I’m going to keep doing what I need to do to make that get better. If my jeans size decreases or I can buy a medium instead of an XXL, then alrighty. But I feel better, and that’s what really matters.
• I kind-of hate to include this, but I wish I’d known this beforehand, so I’d be ready to deal: losing weight changes how some people treat you.
When you’re overweight, most people treat you as basically invisible, if they’re not being flat-out rude to you.
You lose a bunch of weight, and suddenly, people will treat you differently.
Some will be jealous and will give you back-handed compliments.
Ladies, some guys will be disgusting pigs and will try to hit on you or give you those yucky head-to-toe looks.
Basically, let all of this roll off your shoulders. Don’t listen to anybody else.
The best folks in your life will encourage you. Just keep listening to them. They’re right: you’re doing great, and you can do it.
• I’m all for giving yourself rewards when you hit gym or weight loss goals, but the best ones are the ones you didn’t expect.
For example: last year I was told my eyes actually improved, because I got my sugar under control.
This past year, I hit every single fitness goal in the Journal’s health screening.
Those were surprises for me, and those were the best surprises yet. When you get healthy, you’ll be surprised at how it benefits literally every part of your body.
• Weight loss doesn’t happen overnight.
You’ll probably gain here and there, or maybe gain some back.
You’ll definitely hit a plateau, the most frustrating thing ever.
But here’s my main point in all of this rambling I’ve done: WEIGHT LOSS IS POSSIBLE.
I never thought it was, but it is. I had doctors and others tell me I couldn’t – but I did.
I started this blog more than a year ago to talk about how fun and frustrating and insane losing weight can be. I think I’ve needed to, because I like to think I’m not alone in this.
You’re not, either. If you want to talk, hit me back on here or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I’ve done it for about 55 pounds. I still have about 20 more to go. Go with me, yeah?