I've received a number of questions about my weight loss, mostly via email - so I'm doing this follow-up post in case other people are wondering the same things but didn't want to ask. :)
If you don't mind me asking, what's your height/weight?
I'm 5'6" and currently weigh 179lbs.
I started at 210lbs and my goal is 150lbs, which is a weight my body is very comfortable at - I can maintain it with little difficulty, and when I drop more than a couple of pounds below that, people start asking if I'm feeling unwell.
How did you find and keep the motivation to stay on your diet?
The short answer: I didn't and I don't. I am the least motivated person on the planet. No lie.
The long answer: I never feel like dieting. It's hard and boring and I hate every second of it. And when I realized that fact, I also realized that I had to stop waiting to feel motivated, because it was never, ever, going to happen. So one not very special day, I decided to get my ass in gear and not give myself an out. I took away the option of "feeling like" dieting and made it a non-optional plan instead.
I also told friends and family what I was doing, reasoning that the more people who knew, the more accountable I'd feel since failure would be a huge embarrassment. I specifically asked Ben to help keep me on track: that if he saw me wavering, he'd ask if I really wanted to ruin my diet just so I could have [insert delicious fatty food here] that night. The first time it happened, I wanted to shank him with a salad fork. But it did work.
I do have one trick that helps me stay on track: one meal per week - usually dinner on Friday - is a designated cheat meal. For this single meal, I can eat anything I want, in any quantity I want. Whole pan of brownies? No problem. Quadruple bypass burger and a bucket of fries the size of my head? No guilt. Having this meal to look forward to means that for the rest of the week, whenever I'm tempted to blow my diet, I think to myself, "OK, you can have that if you really want it - this can be your cheat meal. But that means you don't get to eat pizza and watch Hoarders on Friday night." Pizza and Hoarders ALWAYS win.
Are you eating low carb (or another diet)?
No, I'm not following a particular diet. I think that certain restrictive diets - low carb, gluten free, etc. - work very well for some people and not for others. I'm one of the others. If I eat low carb, I still have to stay within the same low calorie range as when I eat carbs, so I still lose weight at the exact same rate. In other words, my body doesn't seem to care what I put in it - just how much.
I suppose the closest formal diet is Weight Watchers - like their point
system, I can eat anything I want, but I have to stay within a certain
caloric limit for the day. So if I want a big ass piece of cake, I can
have it...but I probably won't be able to eat for the rest of the day.
And trust me, cake doesn't look so tasty if you're facing six hours of
I wish I had a magic formula to give you - eat 5 pints of blueberries a day and you can have all the doughnuts and pork rinds you want while losing 10lbs a week! - but the truth is a lot more boring: I don't eat a lot. I track calories using livestrong and don't eat so much as a grape if it will send me over the daily limit they suggest. End of story.
Once a month or so, I take a day or a weekend off and stop tracking
calories. I don't go crazy and stuff my face with pie - I just eat to
maintain. This gives me a brief mental rest from
the constant "Can't eat it can't eat it can't eat it" mantra and helps me avoid burnout. I'll also
be taking Christmas and Boxing Day off - in fact, I decided to allow
myself a Christmas Day splurge of fatty, gooey, delicious cinnamon
rolls, and I intend to eat as many as I damn well please without feeling
an ounce of guilt.
In the spirit of full disclosure I should probably say that even before I started this diet, we ate fairly healthy meals. Very little junk food or pre-packaged meals, lots of fresh veggies, complex carbohydrates and lean meat. I didn't eat poorly - I just ate too much. Portion control is something I struggle with, so I do things like buy a big bag of raisins, then divide that into single serving sizes using a kitchen scale and about 20 little Tupperware containers. This makes it fast and easy to grab snacks for rest of the week. It might seem over the top to some people, but it only takes about 5 minutes, helps control the quantities I consume, and means I don't have to stand there mentally calculating the calorie content of eight prospective snacks while the Pirates are tearing the house apart.
What exercise do you do?
This is the embarrassing one: aside from incidental exercise - like walking to the playground while pushing the Pirates' stroller, or chasing the kids around the yard - I don't work out. Ever.
I know I'll have to start eventually, especially if I don't want to be "flabby thin", but for weight loss alone just limiting calories gets it done for the time being. And odd as it might sound, exercise was something I intentionally omitted when I first started my health kick; I knew I'd be doing this for a looooong time, and I didn't want to jump in the deep end with limited calories AND a rigorous exercise schedule. I knew from past experience that I'd burn out quickly this way, so I made a conscious decision to diet first, then add exercise later on.
Do you feel better physically/mentally after losing weight?
Absolutely. I feel healthier and more energetic, and I feel better about myself - more confident, less ashamed (because let's face it, being overweight is shameful in our culture). I'm proud of what I've accomplished.
And on a lighter note, going clothes shopping is suddenly the best thing ever! I bought a few things last weekend - my old clothes were literally falling off my body - and the difference between clothes shopping now and 30lbs ago is amazing.
I was never plus size, but I was one size below it (i.e., the largest "normal" size available) which left me with severely limited options. Stores in my area would only carry one or two of a particular item in my size, so if those were already sold, I was S.O.L. That meant that I often had to just take what I could find in my size vs what I actually liked or what was the most flattering - so being two sizes smaller and being able to try on ANYTHING I wanted is awesome, and something I'd sorely missed.
Any more questions? Comment below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.