Redefining “Diets”

I have been thinking a lot lately about what successful weight loss methods are out there. Long story short, not many. Most weight loss methods are Diets that are intended to be used for a short period of time until the unwanted weight is gone, then the dieter goes back to their previous way of eating. This has certainly been the case for me. I have done Slim-Fast, Weight Watchers, paleo, calorie counting, Atkins, South Beach, Curves, and more. All of these are just things people do until they can go back to normal. But of course, normal is why they need these Diets in the first place!

So what does truly successful weight loss look like? Does it just mean losing a certain number of pounds or a percentage of body fat? Does it mean that you know how to lose weight? Or is it more?

A close family friend recently completed the losing phase of the medically supervised liquid fast diet. She lost a ton of weight and noticed a dramatic increase in her quality of life. She was doing so well that my grandmother wished she had enough money to send me to the same program. While I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to do a liquid fast for weight loss purposes, I tried to be as tactful as possible. I told my grandma that we should see how she does in the long term before spending over $3000 on something that may not even create long term success. Sure enough, the friend is in the maintenance phase now and going back to “regular” foods has not been easy. She is struggling with weight gain.

I know how hard that is. After trying so many different methods to lose weight, many more than once, I just cannot get behind the idea that any Diet should be temporary.

That is one main reason that I simply love the McDougall Program. I never intend to go back to “normal” eating again. I feel so great eating starches. I have much more energy than I ever have had before. My health issues that I have struggled with for years are getting better. Why on earth would I want to go back to a way of eating that left me feeling so terrible?

What are your thoughts on this? As we approach the start of resolution season, how do you deal with the commercials for every diet under the sun? Have you tried any weight loss methods before? Why did you stop? Do you see that as a failure of the Diet or a failure of your will power? (Hint: It’s built into Diets to fail, that’s why there are so many that people spend so much on!)

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50 lbs gone, now what?

Last week I shared my weight loss success of 50 lbs. I have lost a little more since then. I actually made it past the 300 lb. mark on the scale!

I have had 300 as my weight goal for so long that I honestly don’t know where to go next. I decided on 250 for now, since that’s another big chunk but not the full amount. I guess I’ll just keep stepping it down like that.

In activity land, we went swimming yesterday! It was my first time going to the lap swim at our local public pool. It was actually quite lovely. I don’t swim with my face in the water (no freestyle for me!) so I’m a little more sore today than I expected to be. But I successfully swam the full length of the pool 4 times which I think counts as 2 laps. It was 33 1/2 meters long so I actually did over 135 yards.

The swim for the Tri next summer is only 400 so I am thrilled to be able to go 1/4 of the way already. I still obviously have a lot of training to do, but I know I can do this!

Now to get myself back to the gym to work on the bike… 🙂

I am not exercising for weight loss!

I have been walking a lot lately. I mean a lot! In the past 3 and a half weeks I have walked almost 200,000 steps. Considering the fact that I am still well above 300 lbs, that is a lot of effort and I am quite proud of myself.

I love my daily walks. I feel centered and balanced, especially when we go off-road onto a trail in one of the beautiful parks near me. There is something about being surrounded by tall trees, fresh air, and dappled light that puts my soul at ease. And I love the energy I feel from how I’m eating that gives me fuel for these lovely excursions. I even like walking around my neighborhood.

However, I am not doing any of this for weight loss.

I have tried to lose weight so many times before. In every other program I have found the calorie swap portion to be one of my downfalls. The idea is basically that since the Diet part creates a calorie deficit already any extra calories burned through exercise can be swapped for more food. This was how it was when I did Slim-Fast, Weight Watchers, Spark People, My Fitness Pal, and more. Other diets didn’t have specific swaps, but allowed more flexibility when exercising more. I constantly found myself exercising enough to justify an ice cream, a package of mini doughnuts, a cupcake.

But was I really exercising enough to get all of that extra fat burnt up?

No.

I wasn’t.

All I was doing was using exercise as a form of punishment to justify a reward in the form of junk food that didn’t help me get any healthier or slimmer while damaging my relationship with food even more in the process.

What was the point? I ended up heavier than ever with no concept of how to appropriately move or fuel my body.

Now I am using exercise as simply what I feel like doing. I am walking around simply because I like walking. We go exploring trails just for fun. I am even working my feet up to barefoot hiking.

Redwood Regional Park Trail Map
One of my local parks. Lots of trails to explore!

I think this paradigm shift is so vital to why am so successful this time around. It’s funny, though. It took changing my food to have the energy to want to walk to have that paradigm shift at all.

This is not to say that exercise will not help with weight loss. Of course it does! It lowers blood sugar, builds muscle tissue and strong bones, and helps burn extra calories.

But I cannot out exercise a poor diet.

I need to eat foods that support my body, give me energy, and encourage healing in order to even be able to exercise at all.

I am also happy that I recently reconnected with a high school acquaintance who has become my walking buddy and is quickly becoming a close friend. She also started McDougalling and is experiencing great success as well. Walking together lets us talk about the personal issues we each have along with the struggles we share.

At this point, I am looking forward to our chatting just as much as the walk itself. Let me repeat that. I am looking forward to walking!!! Who knew that would ever be possible for me?!

All that said, though, I am definitely experiencing successful weight loss and I know that walking is encouraging it. In the past 12 weeks I have lost 27.2 lbs. I feel fantastic that I have lost so much and I love how easy it is.

So I’m going to continue to get outside to walk and enjoy this beautiful world. I’m just going to do it for its own sake, and not to lose weight. 🙂

How I am thinking like a loser – in the best way possible

I have been reading a lot of success stories on the internet lately. Most are of people, usually women, who have lost significant amounts of weight. I read one the other day about a woman who lost 85 lbs and thought that she would be beautiful then. It got me thinking. In the story, she mentions that a man offered her parents 1000 camels for her sister since she was so beautiful. When they refused he looked at the author and offered 100. It was a devastating experience that I can relate to. When I was at the music festival a few weeks ago some women were talking about what it must be like to grow up with a sister you are constantly compared to. I had just shown one of them pictures of my sister who I absolutely adore. I was chattering on about all the things I love to brag about including how pretty she is and how fun her wedding was. She made a point to stop me and say that yes my sister is beautiful and so am I. That was nice, but didn’t sink in very far. When we were talking about being compared to sisters I told them that for most of my life my sister has been the pretty one and I have a pretty face. They both looked at me with kind of a stunned look on their faces because honestly what do you say back to that. But the conversation moved on as it usually does.

This summer Weight Watchers has a focus on happiness. Last week our task was to take one negative thought we have about our bodies and turn it into a positive. I used that. That my sister is the pretty one and I have a pretty face. When you think about it it’s pretty rough. Saturday as we were walking back out of the park I told my husband how good I feel. I am beautiful. I am powerful, I am strong. I made it past where I made it to the last time we’d followed the same trail. I feel worthy. All the effort of being so careful with what I eat is totally worth the work. I deserve it. I shared this transformation at my Sunday morning meeting. It feels completely different to want to go for a walk with my family just for the sake of going for a walk than it does to try to force my body to lose weight. I love this new feeling!

As for my sister, she is the best. She has always been beautiful. And it’s from who she is as a person as much as is from what she looks like. The worst thing about her is that she moved pretty far away for her family and I miss her terribly. But she’ll be visiting soon and I’ll get to cook for her and our mom which will be a lot of fun.

polenta 1Speaking of cooking, I thought it would be fun to make polenta fries over the weekend. I love polenta, but can’t stand the premade tubes. So I turned to my trusty advisor Google and asked for some inspiration. Oh did I find it! I found this recipe that looked amazing. Of course I modified it a little but the method was great. I added a little onion and garlic powder to the polenta when I measured it out along with some Italian seasoning but no salt to the water. After cooking to creamy I spread it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. It probably would have been okay directly on the sheet, even with no oil. I let it cool while I did some other stuff. polenta 2When we were hungry enough I cut it into strips and broiled on high until the paper was smoking. 😳 Cooking is always fun at our house! By the time I checked it it had been about 7 minutes or so. There was a slight color to the top and one darker spot. I pulled it out then and served it with some warmed pizza sauce I had in the cupboard. I topped that with a little salt and some homemade “parmesan” sprinkles. Can we say delicious?! Next time I will probably add a little salt to the cooking water. It’s not quite the same on the surface of a dish like this. But boy it was tasty.

So go make something yummy and know how wonderful you are today. It is not an easy journey but the ride is beautiful!