I used to be fat.
Well, call it what you will, but I was 29 lbs heavier than I currently am at a height of 5’9. I had a fixation with junk food, you see, and it was a fixation that gave me no aesthetic grief until I turned 20. The weight seemed to pile on almost overnight at that point. Something had to change.
Over the course of 18 months I started implementing manageable changes. A few of the most effective: I joined Livestrong and started tracking my food intake and recording my workouts. I made sure at least one meal a day was a salad. I went to the gym 5-6 days per week. The most important part, though, was my refusal to lose flavor. That would have been my personal version of hell.
I realized on my journey that it wasn’t so much a potato chip that I wanted. What I wanted was the experience of snacking, which is not a bad thing. I had my moments at the grocery store, arms laden with fresh produce, where I would grab a bag of chips before paying and then walk home with it in guilt. Teaching myself that snacking doesn’t only involve junk food was a process.
Now, 29lbs slimmer and happy, it is so much more enjoyable to treat myself once in awhile to the things I used to scarf down on a daily basis.
Here are some things that worked for me:
- Substitute, substitute, substitute. Does a recipe call for heavy cream? Substitute low fat milk. Does a recipe call for pasta? Use whole wheat pasta, and only make half of the serving size suggested. Make up for that with vegetables. Want Soya sauce with your sushi? Ask for the low sodium bottle.
- Anticipate your cravings, and shop accordingly. If you love snacking like me, make sure that things like grapes, strawberries, celery (and calorie-friendly dip) are always in your fridge. Buy your favorite snack and keep it in the cupboard, but only if you know you are strong enough to follow this advice: When a craving hits, fill a bowl with sliced apples, carrots, grapes, celery, what have you. Munch on it. Do you still want those chips, that chocolate? Eat it then. If you know you don’t need it, resist.
- Stay accountable. I will always be grateful to my Livestrong experience for the tools I was given to succeed. I had moments of weakness (and still do,) but I own up to those. If I have cake, I record it, and it is subtracted from my daily calorie allowance. Another motivator has been my membership at Steve Nash Sports Club. I don’t feel so bad about my birthday dinner when I know that I will be burning 1000+ calories the next morning at spin class, or any of the other classes that come free with my membership.
- Understand that weight loss is a long journey, but don’t let that thought get you down. Savor the experience the way you would savor a great steak, or pasta dish. Enjoy it. Realize that your commitment to making a change is the first step – a step you chose to take. 18 months later, I’m still walking.