Friday, January 18, 2013

Tips on Getting Fit & Healthy: Getting Started

I've spent the last 2.5 years trying to lose weight. Well, the past 20 years, honestly. But 2.5 years ago, I decided to get serious about making changes. So I thought this month, while we're all thinking about our health, I'd share with you some of the tips that have helped me lose 35 pounds so far. I'm not a nutritionist, personal trainer, or an expert of any sort, but I always love hearing from other people what works for them, so I thought I'd return the favor and talk about some of the things that have worked for me! Throughout the rest of the month, I'll share some Healthy Changes that I've made that have helped me on my personal journey.

Here are some pictures from summer 2010, and a recent one I had my husband take just for this post! I still have changes I would like to make, but I'm proud of what I've done so far. When I moved to Alaska in 2010, I was no longer fitting into my size 12 pants, and now I can easily fit into an 8, sometimes even a 6.

I'm in the purple shirt, obviously


Along the way, I have tried lots of things - Family Fitness Challenges, Weight Watchers, My Fitness Pal, and just "trying to be better." Here are some of the things that worked for me. In this post I'll focus on 5 things that I had to change in the beginning - to mentally get to where I needed to me, and to be able to transition from a fairly unhealthy diet to incorporate more water, fruits, and veggies.

1. No More Excuses
I had a few excuses about why I was overweight. First, I told myself, it was really unreasonable to expect a mother of 3 kids to get to the 90-110 lbs. listed as a healthy body weight for my height. Second, pretty much every woman in my family has a fairly curvy figure, and carries some extra weight around the stomach. So... can't fight genetics, right? Third, I'm a working mom! Working moms don't have time to exercise and eat healthy! Totally unreasonable!

When I sat down and got really honest with myself, those were all just excuses. While 90-110 lbs. probably isn't all that reasonable for me, that doesn't mean that I should just add an extra 50 lbs. to that without a second thought. Will I ever weigh 100 lbs.? Probably not. But just because I'm not going to hit that target doesn't mean any other weight is equally okay. First obstacle - just an excuse. And is every woman in my family overweight? Well, no. Actually, the more I thought about, the more I realized that I was actually one of the heaviest ones. There were lots and lots of women in my family who weren't heavy. Some who were quite thin, actually. Second obstacle - just an excuse. And as for my time constraints? Mmmmmm.... I managed to waste several hours per night on the internet without feeling pressed for time. So... it's not that I didn't have the time, I just didn't want to spend it on exercising.

Other moms in my height range manage to be fit and healthy. Other moms in my family manage to be fit and healthy. And other moms that work manage to be fit and healthy. And if other moms can do it, why can't I?

That was the beginning. No more excuses, I decided. I was popping out of my size 12 pants, and not really in a financial situation to buy new ones. This was it - the moment of change. And with any successful weight loss, you have to have that moment. Confront your "reasons" for not losing weight. Are they legitimate, or are they excuses? Honestly? For many, there are legitimate health issues causing weight gain. But for most of us? That's not the case. I had to be brutally honest with myself, and make some hard decisions as a result.

2. Take Before Pictures
This is hard. No one loves to see unflattering pictures of themselves, and we tend to stay out of the way if pictures are being taken when we know we are overweight. But when you really get serious, take some before pictures. While I passionately hated the pictures I posted above, I am so glad I have them now, because it shows me how far I have come. I still take pictures every so often, just so I can see how my body is changing. Take them Biggest-Loser style, in a sports bra and shorts, and it will be so encouraging to see your waistline get smaller, your love handles disappear, and the chins vanish. If you don't have these pictures, it's easy to think, "Nothing's changing. I'm still fat. I look exactly like I did before." Because change is slow. But when I feel like that, I look at these pictures and recognize that it's not true - I do not look like this anymore, even though some days it feels like I do.

3. Train Your Body to Love Water
Notice I didn't just say "drink water." If you don't drink a lot of water regularly, it can be HARD to start. The two most common excuses I hear (and gave myself) are, "I don't like the way it tastes," and, "I would pee constantly if I drank that much water." I'm here with some good news. The more your body gets used to water, the more you will crave it, and even begin to love it. When I started drinking water, I couldn't even drink more than a few ounces without some sort of flavoring packet added to it. It tasted so nasty to me. But the more I drank, the more I wanted it. Now, two years after I started, I can honestly say that I LOVE water. I crave it. I notice when I don't drink enough of it, because gives me more energy than soda ever did. And, each time I re-commit myself to drinking water, my body goes through an adjustment period of 3-5 days where I am peeing constantly, but eventually my body adjusts. So, if you can't just down a bunch of water, take baby steps. Experiment with adding lime, lemon, orange, or cucumber slices. Buy the Crystal Lite flavor packets. Do what you need to do to START.

4. Allow yourself some fats with your fruits and veggies
I haven't been able to develop the same love for fresh fruits and veggies that I have for water, unfortunately. But I came to realize that if I added some fats to my diet with my fruits and veggies, I was a lot more likely to eat them. Ten baby carrots? Torture. Baby carrots dipped in ranch? Bring it on! Same thing with apples - every day I would pack an apple, but it would never look appealing enough to eat. Finally I brought a container of peanut butter to work, and measured out a half tablespoon at a time, and spread that over my apple as I ate it, I actually looked forward to the snack. With salads, I realized I will not eat just a plain garden salad. But I can eat cups and cups of lettuce and spinach when it's tossed with toasted, sliced almonds, Craisins, and some balsamic dressing.

The key here obviously is moderation. Going through a third cup of ranch dressing or peanut butter is going to negate the effect you're going for. But if you can add in some sort of condiment for 50-100 calories, and it makes you more likely to consume and enjoy produce, I consider that a net positive!

So those are some of the tips that I used in the beginning. I'll post later with other Healthy Changes I made, both mentally and physically. Let's wish each other willpower for our fitness goals in 2013!

Pin It!


D said...

I read at in one nutritional article that a little fat with your veggies actually helps you process more of the nutrients in your veggies. So it is win win as long as you keep to moderation like you say. For me, this year trying to be healthier I am focusing on the positives instead of the negatives. I am focusing on adding more fruits and veggies into my diet (Not sure January is the best time to do this but we are making it work :)). And I want to add exercise to my schedule. I actually like a fair amount of fruits and veggies but my hubby and kids don't so it's hard to buy them since no one else will eat them. My oldest son is starting to branch out his fruit and veggie likes since I started serving more though. And my youngest loves them almost as much as I do. So it has been a good goal for the whole family.

Brianne said...

You look amazing, and its so true that we all just excuse ourselves all the time. Reading your post I've realized how often I do that, and its a good time to stop. :)