My weight has been an issue for me for as long as I can remember. I was an overweight child, teenager, and now I am an overweight adult. I have tried all of the “get skinny quick” plans out there, and I have discovered what I should have known all along – common sense, healthy habits are the way to go.
Must read: Make Simple Lifestyle Changes to Lose Weight
My first serious attempt at weight loss began my first year of college. This was during the big “fat free” craze of the 90’s, and I made a vow to eat as little fat as possible. If I wanted a bowl full of gummy bears, big deal, no fat! A huge bowl of pasta was fairly low fat, so I ate spaghetti regularly. I never paid attention to calories, just fat. This, coupled with aerobics classes, did help me shed around 75 pounds. It didn’t last long though.
By the time I received my bachelor’s degree I had gained all of the weight back plus some. I was living on fat free junk food and that couldn’t last forever.
I was so frustrated with myself for gaining the weight back that I just didn’t deal with it for a long time. It was a little over a year ago that I finally realized I had to do something, if not for myself, for my two children. I decided to get healthy and this time I did my research.
I am now eating sensibly. I am a bit overly-organized, so I do write my calories down on a chart that I keep on the refrigerator. I try to stay between 1600-1800 calories per day, take in a reasonable amount of fat (though I don’t obsess over the number), and exercise when I can. I also give myself one cheat meal a week to eat whatever I want. I find that this keeps me very motivated and feeling less deprived.
I have lost over 50 pounds so far. This number would be higher, but I went through a period this summer when I regularly ignored my diet. I am now back on track and have made drastic changes to the way I think about food.
My biggest problem has been my “all or nothing” attitude. If I mess up and eat one donut, I tend to think “Oh well, might as well overeat the rest of the day and enjoy it. I’ll get back on my diet tomorrow.” This leads to a few more donuts, and then eating terrible foods for the rest of the day. Rather than having a donut and being 200 calories over my limit for the day, I may end up being 2,000 calories over.
It has been hard for me, but I am finally getting it through my head that I have to immediately start eating right again after I make a mistake. Thin people enjoy the occasional donut, but they don’t go crazy and binge all day!
I would offer the following tips for effective, long-term weight loss:
1. Take it slow:
Do an online search for “calorie calculator” and find out how many calories you should be taking in to safely lose weight. The waiting is hard, but it is much better than watching all of your work go to waste when you gain back what you lost plus some.
2. Exercise when and if you can:
Of course exercise is very important, but you don’t have to spend hours at the gym. Throughout the day I try to get up and dance with my kids, go for a walk around the neighborhood with them, anything to get up and move. Some days I don’t have the time or energy to do these things, and I don’t beat myself up about it. I am moving more than I used to and it all helps.
3. Take a fat picture!
I am still very overweight, but there is a picture hanging in our hallway that I despise. It was taken before I began losing weight, and every time I see it I am motivated to never look like that again.
4. Finally, and most importantly, when you mess up (and you will) brush it off and do better the rest of the day. I have had a hard time with this one, but turning one pastry into a day or weekend full of binging is the single best way to get off track.
Living a healthy lifestyle is a struggle, but so is being fat and unhealthy. I know that the odds are against me after being overweight my entire life, but I intend to beat the odds with sensible lifestyle changes.