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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Losing weight for a lifetime...

Tons of us want to lose weight. We enjoy food too much, exercise too little and pay for it in increased pounds that seem to multiply over the years. An extra 100 calories a day that we don't burn and we gain 10 pounds in a year. An extra 100 calories is one slice of bread, one domino size piece of cheese, an 8 oz bottle of coca cola, one cup of orange juice, one banana, less than 1/2 of a regular sized snicker bar. Ok now I'm getting depressed!

No, not really. I say all this to say that I've been concerned about my weight - well, for my entire life lol. If I wasn't concerned about it my mother was so technically it's been forever.

About ten years ago I was putting on an extra 10-15 pounds a year and before I knew it I didn't recognize myself - at ALL! I had gained 112 pounds in seven years - just a little at a time with little to no exercise. The more I gained the worse I felt which led to stress and strain and more eating. I had little to no self control and I hated myself for it. Ugh, yeah it was bad.

It was during this time that I worked for Microsoft and fortunately for me they had this great program with a health club next door called 20/20 where you could work with a dietician, a personal trainer, a support group and a doctor to learn everything there was to learn about food, exercise, everything.

I remember them bringing soft drinks up onto a table during our orientation and in front of each soft drink was the equivalent number of sugar packets in each drink. I remember looking at a 7/11 slushy and thinking there was no possible way there could be as much sugar in that drink as they said, but I was wrong. Mountain Dew was worse. The sugar packets glued together end to end reached to the floor - for ONE 12 ounce can. It was disgusting.

For the next 32 weeks I worked out three times a week with a personal trainer who basically kicked my butt and twice more a week by myself. Fortunately for me I fell in love with working out so that made it easier. Over those 32 weeks I lost over 60 pounds.

Then came the hard part - figuring out how to keep losing on my own without the constant accountability. It was tough but over the next four years I lost another 45 pounds. Still not at my goal weight but much happier and much, much healthier I met Alan, we married and I moved to Europe.

Slowly the pounds crept back on as I adjusted to not having a health club or foods I was used to and also trying to adjust to the stress of a new marriage, new country, being away from friends and family, etc. It was hard and I gained 25 pounds in two years but I was DETERMINED to get this weight off. I knew I needed to join a health club and get working out again and I knew I needed to do the one primary thing I learned in 20/20 which was to meal track. Basically counting calories but on steroids. You track it all, every drink, every nut, every snack, every meal. Everything that goes into your mouth you research the calories and write down.

Then I got pregnant.

Miracle of miracles and wouldn't trade it for the world. Fortunately I didn't gain the amount of weight I was afraid I would gain. I thought like others I would gain forty or fifty pounds but in the end I gained 29 and 24 of those pounds came off immediately after Chloe was born. Unfortunately I had to have a c-section and so it was a slow recovery. My sister came to see us right around the five week mark and I made the fatally stupid decision to walk all over Heidelberg with her in flip-flops. BIG mistake.

The next week my feet absolutely ached. So much so I had to go to the doctor. He said I had heel spurs and he gave me insoles for my shoes for better support. My mom and sister had had similar problems with their feet and they offered their advice but suddenly I realized that I had a daughter now and I had to get in shape for her because the pains I was starting to feel all over my body were ridiculous.

I know they say that at 40 your body falls apart but mine really did! I now am experiencing chronic back pain, ankle pain, heel spurs, occassional knee pain and other little kinks from time to time. Pain is N O T fun.

So there I was two weeks ago and saying, "ok. Back to basics." I needed to figure out how many calories I was burning every day so I could accurately track how much I was supposed to be losing. I looked online and they gave a formula for you to figure this out. Basically you take your age and height and weight and you determine your BMR (basic metabolic rate) and then this number is multipled by a certain multiplier which is determined by your activity level to show how many calories a day you burn. Mine ended up being right around 2600 at the age, weight, height and activity level I am now. Then I said ok one pound is 3500 calories and everyone knows that the key to losing weight is to take in fewer calories than you burn so with a combination of exercise and calories from eating less I needed to combine for 3500 calories to lose one pound a week, 5250 for a pound and a half and 7000 for two pounds.

Really for me, at least at first, it was actually trying to determine whether 2600 calories was correct or not. So I tracked everything. After a few days it was no big deal. I kept it in notepad on my computer, added to it every time I thought of it and at the end of the day came up with my food and drink total. I then added in exercise and came up with a calories saved total number for the day. As an example, let's say all my calories ended up being 2000 for the day. So I've saved 600 in food/drink. Let's say I also exercised that day and according to the eliptical, treadmill or bike burned 600 calories. Well, that's 1200 calories toward my weight loss goal. After week one I had lost nearly two pounds and that's exactly what my meal tracking said I should have lost. I had saved 6310 calories that week through eating and exercise. Week two I lost another pound and a half - 6640 calories to be exact. Add those two together and you have 12950. 14000 and I'll be at four pounds lost.

Remarkably this does really work. It's not fast and it's not a fad. I eat anything I want as long as I write it all down. Oh yeah and store up enough saved calories for my weight loss goal - which right now is 1.5 pounds a week. It gives me a great idea of what I'm actually putting in my mouth and yes I still need to eat more fruits and vegetables (who doesn't) but at least I know.

I've tried every other diet in the world (pretty much) but this is something that actually makes sense. So many calories are hidden in things and sometimes we just eat without thinking. The weight piles on and we have no clue why. Well, now I know. I know drinking a frozen slushy is going to cost me 400 calories - about 45 minutes on the eliptical. Is it worth it? Yeah, sometimes it is.

For me it's about two things. The first I already mentioned... Chloe. I am 40 years old with my first baby who I absolutely adore and I am crazy enough to want more children at this old age! :) For that I need to be healthy and fit and I need to lose weight. The pains associated with not being smaller are too much for me.

The second thing it's about is self control. II Peter talks about self control leading to Godliness and I can really see that. I can also see how Satan uses a lack of self control to get us off the track to Godliness. I've experienced both and much prefer getting closer to God from making the right decisions than consistently making bad ones.

I'm writing this blog to help encourage others that struggle with their weight like I do but also so I can hold myself accountable to keep pressing on and doing that which is difficult in the short-term to attain something great in the long-term - Health, an active and fun life with my husband and daughter and character building things like self control and Godliness. I am grateful God allowed these pains into my life to show me my need for more discipline and self-control. Please pray for me and if you need prayer I promise to reciprocate. Happy tracking! :)

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