I weighed myself today and was only 1 pound away from my weight loss goal! Woo Hoo!!!!!!!!!! I wanted my weight to be at a number that was considered a "normal" BMI for my height and age before I got preggers and I am almost there. I started dieting and exercising in October 2008 and then kind of tapered off a bit and then picked up the pace in April 2009. Since April I have lost 16.5 pounds! I am so proud of myself for sticking with all the calorie counting and the hour long workouts 6 days, sometimes even 7 days, a week.
I am happy to report that I didn't deprive myself of any food during this time. The very word "diet" causes me to go on a carb and sugar binge. Just thinking about not being able to eat a bite of a brownie makes me eat a whole pan... you get the idea. So, I decided at the outset that I would allow myself whatever whenever and then made a promise to myself to exercise off the extra calories instead of depriving my mouth and body of their deliciousness. That attitude actually had me considering the benefits v cost of every "naughty" treat. I ended up wanting them less as I exercised more and the healthier I felt. Also, seeing the numbers go down on the scale was often motivation enough not to eat unhealthy. Because the better I ate the quicker the pounds came off.
I counted calories, I even counted every deliciously naughty treat. My husband would warn me, "You don't want to know how many calories you just ate" and I would say, "knowledge is better than being ignorant." So I guess I don't believe in the old adage "ignorance is bliss." My thinking was, even if today I went waaaaaaayyyy over my calorie allowance tomorrow I can work out a little bit more, or add 10 minutes to every work out for the rest of the week and know that those cals won't count by the time I do my weigh in. And that thinking actually worked! So, yes, I did have to eat better the rest of the week and not tip the calorie scale again, and yes I did have to exercise more. But in the end I was happy because I could go to a BBQ and eat whatever I wanted and I could roast a few marshmallows and eat a few s'mores at a summer campfire and not bat an eye. I ALWAYS counted how many I ate and recorded it in my food journal later, but never regretted the decision.
As far as the exercise part I found several DVDs that I liked and rotated through them as I got bored with one. And I also added walking, and yoga, and the occasional gym circuit to the mix when I could. I get bored really easy with doing the same thing over and over, so I had to change it every couple weeks. But I also think that was part of my success. I have heard about that process called "muscle confusion" and figured that was pretty much what I was doing. I was engaging my brain and my muscles in a different way every couple weeks, so just as I got use to a certain order of exercises and routine I switched it up on myself. I also am a stay at home mom and have a 22 month old, so I didn't have time to run out to the gym every day. So I did what worked for me. It was soooooo easy just to turn on the DVD as soon as she went down for a nap or went to bed for the night and exercise for 30 to 60 minutes. I literally would lay her down for her nap or for bed at night, turn on the DVD player, walk over to my room, put on my exercise clothes and tennis shoes and then go to the living room and work out with my DVDs. If I was tired a particular day I skipped it, or if it was too hot in the middle of the day I waited until the night. I would give myself permission to take a nap, take a break, or eat an extra snack if I really wanted to. The freedom to do as I please but also the ability to see the goal ahead was the magical combination for me.
One other thing I think made it work for me was tracking my progress and writing it all down as I went. It was encouraging to look back over the past week and see that I worked out 6 times that week for 60 minutes, and I ate the allotted calories I had planned for the week, and see the number on the scale going down. For me that was TRUE motivation. It also helped during those weeks when I didn't see a change on the scale to realize I was at least getting healthier. All that exercise wasn't going to waste, even if I didn't lose any weight. Because the point of exercise and diet is to be healthy and to maintain those healthy habits for the rest of your life, not just to reach a weight goal and then to stop and wait until the next time you gain 10 or 20 pounds. I plan to keep working out for 30 minutes (minimum) a day, 5 days a week for the rest of my life. This is no short time plan here, this is a life changing plan. And I am glad I have this new habit formed and will be so happy to be able to keep it up, even when I get pregnant again.
So, for all of you who are like me, and hate to "diet," I want to encourage you to find an exercise program that you like, count those calories, don't deprive yourself, and give yourself permission to take a break from the routine every once in a while. Just make sure you get back on that horse if you fall off it and keep it up! I also would recommend a heart rate monitor. It takes all the guess work out of how many calories you are shedding during your work out and you know if you are working hard or hardly working hee hee. And use a free online calorie counting website, they help you look up foods easily and keep track of it all with out buying books to look foods up or using a lot of paper (but I still liked keeping a physical journal because I like to look at it all written out in my own hand writing.) I would also suggest only weighing in one day a week, at the same time of the day every week. It doesn't matter which day of the week, whatever works for you, but to accurately compare numbers and track your progress you can't compare day to day numbers or a Monday one week to a Wednesday another week and expect to see consistency in weight loss numbers. If you feel the urge to step on it on every day just shrug it off it it looks worse, or if its better take that as encouragement that you are headed in the right direction.
Of coure I have one more pound to go, but I'm not worried. I know I will do it, and I don't even care if it takes another month. This exercising, calorie countin' Momma ain't stoppin' for anything! Even if I find out I am preggers soon I will continue exercising (althought the weight LOSS part will stop, and the calorie allowance will go up... but I am looking forward to that part).