Tuesday, February 4, 2014

An Essay on Losing

Okay, so normally I stick to pretty writerly topics. Or if it's not such a topic, I spin it that way. This post is probably not going to go that way, but you never know.

Today I want to talk about losing. Weight, specifically.

See, today is February 4, and exactly three months ago today, on November 4, 2013, I began a new lifestyle. I decided it was time to get healthy and drop some weight.

In the past three months, I've lost:

  • 35 pounds
  • 3 dress sizes

Things I've Learned:
1. Living is easier. Every pound I lose makes living easier. Specific things that I've noticed becoming easier are probably simple to those who don't struggle with their weight.

Picking something up off the floor is easier.
Getting out of bed is easier.
Grocery shopping is easier.
Getting out of the car is easier.
Walking up the stairs is easier.

There are so many things that are easier about living that I'm sort of mad at myself for not making this change earlier.

2. You know, sometimes I think we tell ourselves that we're happy the way we are, that we're okay, that we'll be fine, that changing what we eat and how much we move is just too hard.

I've learned that it is hard, but that it's absolutely, 100% worth it.

3. If you can make a decision to drink juice for every meal, or follow a "diet" program, you can make this change in your life. I'm not doing anything more than making a decision--using the strength and willpower I've always had to reach for an apple instead of a tots + a cherry limeade.

That's all that is required for this lifestyle change. Reach for a better food. That's it.

What I've Done:
1. I count calories -- but only in my head. I don't write them down anywhere, but after a few weeks, I know the caloric cost of everything I eat. I'm not aiming for a certain goal -- I'm eating when I'm hungry.

2. I eat when I'm hungry (like I just said). But instead of eating a lot of high-sugar and/or high-fat foods, I make that reach for something else (see #4 below).

3. I eat small portions, several times a day. A string cheese satisfies me now. An apple + a string cheese fills me up.

4. I eat all kinds of foods, without restriction or guilt. This is a LIFESTYLE change, not a diet. I refuse to deprive myself of things -- and then feel that inevitable sense of failure. So I eat cake, and cookies, and carbs -- on occasion.

In my "everyday life," I am reaching for high-protein, low-fat foods. I eat a wide variety of meats, dairy products, fish, and eggs in this category. I eat fruits and vegetables in all varieties. I eat whole grains sparingly -- a couple times a week.

I only eat sweets, rice, potatoes, and pasta on special occasions. And they are delicious! I love them. When I eat them, I enjoy them -- without guilt. This is my LIFE, remember, not a DIET.

I count the calories of the things I eat. One square of Dove chocolate = 40 calories.

Which leads me to...

5. I can only eat one bite and be satisfied and/or happy.

6. I go to the gym 3 - 5 times/week. I workout for 45 minutes. Period. I'm not going to lie. I don't like it. I don't get any of the endorphins people talk about. No adrenaline rush. It is pretty much 45 minutes of time I know I need to be on the treadmill, so I do it.

The only thing I feel is pride that I did it. I still don't like it. It's easier now, which is very motivating, so I keep doing it.

So there you go. An essay on losing--which in this case, is a very good thing.

Thoughts? Lay them on me!


jenny said...

Good for you!!!! Major high fives here! I'm sure lots of people have already told you lots of things you should try but I will go ahead and recommend yoga anyway. I'm the same as you in that I despise gym workouts but I do love yoga (I used to teach and I hated teaching but still take classes and practice on my own). If you find a class that is geared toward fitness (ashtanga or "power" yoga is a good place to start) it can really help tone up all that wonderful new muscle you are gaining!

S.A. Larsenッ said...

I am so happy for you! You've taken control - control that sometimes life seems to take from us. But really, we just get lazy or distracted or depressed or whatever other excuse we can come up with. Trust me; I've been there. I'm also really glad you've shared your findings here. It will definitely help encourage others.

Leandra Wallace said...

That is awesome, Elana! I bet you do feel better. 35 lbs is a huge accomplishment. Also, that you lost weight over the holidays- I think that makes you Wonder Woman, lol!

clarbojahn said...

I am so PROUD of you!! I Just had to comment. I usually just read your posts but I HAD to comment on this. WAY TO GO!!

Judith Mercado said...

Congratulations! You are a clear demonstration of the effectiveness of commitment and discipline.

Suzanne Furness said...

Good for you, congratulations you should be proud of yourself.This is an inspiration to read.

Angela Brown said...

Weight is an area where losing is a very good thing. Every pound not on your body is a pound not pressed against some internal organ trying to work hard to keep you alive.

I've started to do a calorie count myself. But I do need something to help me with it so I use the My Fitness Pal app so I can see what days I am under, what days (and how) I went over target and how to do better.

Everything that helps - even if you don't get that whole endorphin rush - helps. I'm, uh, not at the exercise point yet. Eating better is a big deal for me at this point.

Keep enjoying your lifestyle change and it will soon just be your lifestyle. Period.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Congrats on losing the weight and gaining a better, healthier you Elana. Sadly lat year I had the opposite issue. I got sick and had joint problems. Resulting in me gaining 15 pounds. I'm currently working on losing it and I'm glad to see you posting about losing in a positive light.

Jessie Humphries said...

35!? What the what? That is amazing, girl!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Congrats. So excited for you and you are inspiring me on my weight loss goals. It's not as much, but I need to lose it. And I'm trying to think of it as a lifestyle change like you. I like the idea of not depriving myself when I'm hungry but just picking better choices.

Liza said...

Congratulations to you! I think it takes a mindset to do this. A focus you really have to hold tight. If your brain is tuned in then the rest of you follows right long. It's hard, but the rewards are stupendous. Good on you. Keep it up.

Julie DeGuia said...

I think the word "diet" gets a bad rap. My diet is similar to yours right now... reaching for better foods, making better choices and portion control! It's when the diet becomes extreme that there is a problem b/c it is impossible to maintain. Creating a healthier lifestyle is the way to go and I am glad to read about your journey. Congratulations on your progress!

I have recently lost 10 lbs. (over 5 months) and it is true that life is easier and more enjoyable when you are a little lighter on your feet!

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Congrats on the weight loss, Elana! I've lost 20 pounds in the past two and a half months. It feels fantastic! Like you, mine has been a lifestyle change. I hate the gym and cycle at home instead in front of the television, lol. I count calories and carbs, which has helped immensely, especially in choosing better foods. Love this essay. You've got a great outlook on all of it!

Rhiannon Nee-Salvador said...

Good job! I've been trying to switch to a healthier diet too, but it can be difficult when tempting junk food is always right there! I have great admiration for anybody with that kind of self-discipline - it's a quality every author needs.

Barbara Watson said...

Exciting, Elana! Thank you for sharing your journey. Cheers to you!

Carol Riggs said...

What's awesome about this post (besides your weight loss and you feeling better and doing things you weren't able too as easily, before--congrats!) is that you're making a lifestyle change and you're not depriving yourself. You're sticking to well-rounded and varied food choices. I love that! It's a very sane approach, one that you should be able to stick with. Hugs!

Amy said...

Thank you thank you! I finally decided to lose the 10 pounds I gained since my surgery. Just started this week. I already feel better, and wonder what I was waiting for. Like I really thought I would die if I deprived myself of eating anything I wany all the time. But like you said, it's just a choice. This was just what I needed to hear today.

Rachel said...

Hey Elana, I hate working out too but do it to stay healthy. Want to know a way to make that 45 minutes almost enjoyable (at least for me)? Listen to a book while you do it. (See, this post can be turned to writing/reading.)

District 57 Precinct PG05 said...

Inspirational and very agreeable! I know exactly what you mean when you talk about thinking that you're doing okay now and changing something about yourself would be way too hard (healthy eating, positive thinking, service…), whatever it is... we kid ourselves into thinking we've failed before we even try! Why?! It seems it's only after we get out of our comfort zones and we just DO IT, that we can finally look back and realize, wow…that wasn't so bad…why didn't I try this earlier. I'm so happy for you and grateful to know you! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

District 57 Precinct PG05 said...

Okay…I'm not sure, why my name is under the "District 57 Precinct PG05"…..hmmm…Nick must have dome something strange….this is Carrie Baird, FYI…haha!

D.E. Malone said...

So happy to hear about your journey - thank you for sharing. It's just the kind of encouragement I need as I'm struggling with staying committed to the goals I've set for myself these past few weeks. Like you, I view exercise as a chore but a necessary one. And I love to eat, so changing my diet has not been an easy task. But your results - WOW! - are so inspiring that I have to remind myself that it will all be worth it if I can keep it up.

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