Every time I run into someone I haven’t seen in a long time, they exclaim, “You look great!” I chuckle and graciously accept the complement because I know what’s coming next. They lower their voice, almost to a whisper, and say, so “what did you do? What’s your secret?”
I respond, in a similarly lowered voice, “You know everything they tell you regarding eating right and exercising?”
Eagerly, they say, “yeah…”
“I did it.”
“Yep, I changed what I ate drastically and I started exercising vigorously. It took lots of time, but I have been able to lose 61lbs and 5 dress sizes and keep it off by making changes that are no longer ‘changes’ but part of my normal life. I know that I have to exercise most days of the week for the rest of my life. Good thing I like to exercise!”
“I don’t think I can do that…it’s too hard.”
“It is hard but it is doable—anything worth having is hard work, right?
That’s how many conversations go regarding the life transformation I am experiencing. In most of those conversations, there is never time to discuss what, specifically, I did/am doing, so here I will take the time to share the most important life changes I made to get to where I am.
I decided, for me, when enough was enough: when I was tired of looking at an unhappy me in the mirror. This happened for me in December, 2009.
I finally realized that “willpower” would not get me to where I needed to be. I needed help. The power of my will, alone, was extremely weak.
I joined a fitness program, ran by Dustin Maher, called Fit Fun Boot Camp AND I enlisted a friend to go with me. I initially signed up for a trial period but enjoyed the extremely difficult workouts and friendly atmosphere so much that I continued my membership for 6 months. THIS CHANGED MY LIFE.
In the midst of working out with Dustin, Abby, and eventually Amber, I changed my eating habits (originally using an eating plan from Dustin/Abby).OH MY GOSH—this was and continues to be difficult.In December 2009, it had gotten to the point that I was eating out most days of the week using the excuse of having a busy schedule for not having time to cook.There was just NO excuse for all the pop I was drinking.Well, maybe there was: my favorite, Ginger Ale, was on sale for $1 at the grocery store! When I started boot camp in January—out went the pop.Cold turkey.It wasn’t as bad to stop because fortunately the pop I was addicted to had no CAFFEINE!= No withdrawal symptoms.
- Lean meat—chicken, tilapia, turkey breast
- Whole grains—healthy choice whole wheat bread with no artificial sugar, brown rice, all nat ural granola.Eventually the bread became sprouted wheat bread and I did not have it after lunch.
- Fruit—mainly apples, oranges, bananas, and berries. Melons when they are in season—I love cantaloupe!
- Vegetables—Collard greens, spinach, and green beans are my favorites and the ones that I can cook—they are the simplest to steam or sauté in a bit olive oil. I leave the starchy veggies like potatoes and corn out.
- Protein powder—a protein shake with milk and fruit after boot camp and sometimes for a meal.
- Gelatin—this is a new addition but I love it so much! Gelatin is similar to protein powder but it has no flavor and you can mix it into pretty much anything to get an extra protein boost. I mix mine into juice, tea, and sometimes my Amy’s Lentil soup!
- Water—no substitutes or mix-ins for me. Just drink it. Lots of it.
- Currently, I am on a Gluten/Dairy free diet. All I can say is I feel so much "cleaner" on the inside. I rarely have gas (sorry if that's TMI), indigestion, etc. Try it for a few days. For me, it just means I am not eating bread, yogurt, cheese, and milk. Things I used to eat daily. I don't miss them much at all.
- I DO allow myself cheat meals, snacks, etc. but don't let these get out of hand. Sometimes I crave Harold's chicken. I let myself have it. Life's too short to be deprived.
As the pounds began to melt, I decided what I wanted to do for me during the summer of 2010 and the future. I had gotten bogged down in “responsibilities” that I needed to be freed from. I decided to move back home to Chicago AND take a summer job in California. Still, two of the best decisions I made this year.
Exercising. The best lesson I have learned is how to listen to what my body is telling me. Yes, my body tells me when to stop. However, I NEVER stop after the first time. EVERY time I can ALWAYS give MORE. When I feel like I all I have is one step left, I force myself to do two. When I feel like I will die in 30 seconds, I go 15 seconds more. This is REALLY crucial. We are so trained, in American society, to stop at the first sign (not even the manifestation) of pain. The pain hasn’t even arrived and we are ready to stop. I don’t stop before the pain, because of the pain or in the presence of the pain. Sometimes it hurts but I keep on. This process has not killed me. In fact, as soon as I stop, the pain subsides—like it was never there. That’s what lets me know it’s a mind game. Pain is a master deceiver. But, I have learned to be the ultimate master of my body.
I exercise most days of the week. Most days mean I try to exercise 5 days a week. I mix up my workout: I go to boot camp (basically circuit training that incorporates cardio, strength, and core training); I take Zumba classes; I run on the lake; I ride my bicycle; I run up the stairs to my apartment (all 13 flights) multiple times. I do whatever gets my heart in the target zone over a period of at least 45 minutes. Most importantly, I workout like each one is a “last chance workout” and I have FUN.
So, that’s what I do and will continue to do for the rest of my life. My immediate goal is to lose 100lbs. With these life changes I know I will overshoot that goal. I’m not worried. I’m excited and thrilled.