Weight Management: One Career Girl’s Journey
Trigger Warning: I’m going to talk about weight loss. I realize that some women have had incredibly hard struggles with body image and eating disorders. If it’s not comfortable for you to think about weight or weight loss, please navigate away.
Whenever I talk about weight management, I try to be super careful not to promote anything unhealthy, or damaging to fellow women. If anything, I try to concentrate on fitness and strength. Health is not synonymous with size, and getting smaller or lighter does not always mean getting healthier.
I can’t ignore the fact that losing weight (if you and your doctor decided you need to) can lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and reduce the risk of common killers for women including heart disease, diabetes, and many cancers.
A “healthy weight” is different for everyone, and includes a lot of factors, so keep in mind that setting goals for your body should be done with the help of your doctor, and not simply by comparing yourself to others or to the often atrocious images and dangerous lifestyles promoted all around us. Also, I suggest a very healthy dose of skepticism in this area because there are a lot of fads out there—some are downright dangerous, whereas others will just leave you frustrated with a thinner wallet.
With all of that out of the weigh (har har har), I want to talk about my weight loss journey and share what has worked for me to become the most fit I’ve ever been.
Losing weight has been difficult for me. I was always thin until college, and then went up and down with the life changes. After a while, I noticed that every time I tried to quit smoking (and I smoked for a long time), I’d gain ten pounds. That ten pounds would never leave no matter how hard I tried. I gave up and figured that I just could not lose weight.
After many failed attempts, I quit smoking for good on July 31, 2011 and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never felt as miserable as I was the first few weeks. I started running “as a punishment,” I told my friends, and to concentrate my energy on something new. The crazy thing is that I thought I’d lose a lot of weight, but I didn’t lose more than a handful of pounds in the first year. I could run a half marathon and was still considered overweight. I was mostly okay with that. Clearly I was in good shape and had good blood pressure and other signs of good health, and I felt good about how I looked.
After a while, I started looking at how much I was really eating (and drinking) over the weekend. I made some small changes and got into a system that worked for me. Then I lost almost 30 pounds.
The top row goes from smoking and not running, to my first 5k, to eating salad and training for my first half marathon, to my second half marathon. That’s over a year, and is within about 8 pounds of my heaviest. Still, after a year of working out, I had become a lot stronger than when I started! The bottom row is when I realized I had been steadily losing weight and should take some progress pics. The right two are about what I am now, which is about thirty pounds down from my weight on December 31, 2012.
Women ask me all the time what I did to lose weight. Honestly, it’s been a mix of a few things. There is no magic bullet, no matter what the people on TV say. This combination worked for me, and it may not work for everyone, but I’m more than happy to share my tips. Plus, I’m always available for encouragement if anyone needs a boost!
This is a lengthy story to tell, but I really want to focus on the nuts-and-bolts advice that I’ve collected and stuck to in order to get, and maintain, a healthy weight. I’ll give you my first tip this week, and continue the list next week in Part II.
Here is the first tip that worked for me to lose weight the healthy way!
I always eat breakfast. I never used to eat breakfast. There was quite a while when I’d drink a breakfast shake and have a smoke and that was my breakfast. Ugh! I can’t even imagine doing that now! People who eat breakfast are more likely to be a healthy weight, and if you’re working out, you need to have that fuel. If you’re like how I used to be and the thought of food before 10am makes you sick, start with really mild things. Try a piece of bread, a few spoonfuls of unflavored oatmeal, or fruit. I had to force myself into this habit, but now it makes me feel great, and far more energized than an empty stomach sloshing with just coffee.
Come back next week to continue the discussion!