Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Resolve Update

Remember this post? In it, I promised to update my progress with weight loss several times this year, and today is the first of those times. If you "joined" me in the comment box on that post, feel free to post an update on how you're doing, too?

Now, I did promise to be honest--but I didn't promise to be detailed. :) So, if you've lost some weight but not as much as you hoped to lose in these first three months, feel free to say, "I've lost a few pounds," or "I've lost some weight."

I'll go first: I've lost a few pounds.

That's good, because at least the numbers on the scale are finally moving in the right direction. It's not as good as I hoped, because I was hoping to get things going much faster, and to see more positive results sooner.

But what's really good is I think I've finally figured out two very important things.

The first one is this: I'm not dieting anymore.

No, really. I came to this realization in the middle of Lent, when I noticed that adding my Lenten restrictions to my already-restrictive diet plan made absolutely no difference to my weight. I kid you not--I did not lose a single pound during the six weeks of Lent.

And that made me think of all the times when diets I was on went exactly the same way--an initial drop of about five pounds, give or take, followed by an early plateau and no more weight loss until I finally gave up on the whole thing and went back to eating "normally," at which point the five pounds came back (and sometimes brought friends to join them).

This made me think of the one time I did have the most success on a diet. It started out as a low-carb diet, but I'll be honest--I didn't stick to it. It was more of a balanced eating plan with little or no snack food by the end of it. Yet I lost weight, and kept on losing weight even when the diet was over...

...because at the same time I was riding my exercise bicycle every single day.

At which point a light bulb went off in my brain as I contemplated the blindingly obvious: my personal weight problem is not an excess of calories; it's a deficiency in exercise. My one tendency to engage in late-night snacking is something I've already brought under control, and other than that I eat a fairly healthy diet. I don't overindulge in sweets, I'm not inclined to eat second and third helpings, and if I do have a high-calorie dessert one day I'll probably eat less the next.

But my diet strategy so far has been to assume that I have to be "punished" for my extra weight by (mentally) locking up the cookies and chips, and that doing this will automatically produce the drop in pounds I'm looking for. In point of fact, I do more than take cookies and chips off the menu, since these aren't foods I usually indulge in anyway; what I end up doing is ruthlessly cutting whole categories of food out of my daily menu, and trying to live on a tiny amount of severely restricted and rather tasteless choices. When this fails, as it inevitably does, I decide that I can't lose weight anyway, and might as well enjoy my food--until the next time I encounter a full-length mirror or the bathroom scale.

The reality is that I can, actually, trust myself with food. In fact, I'm less likely to overindulge if I can have whatever I want. It's putting foods on the forbidden list that makes me crave them; if I don't have any forbidden foods, I've discovered, I really will choose healthy options. So "dieting" is, for me, more likely to hinder than to help.

Exercise is clearly another matter. Since the last time I lost weight it was almost entirely owing to my sticking to a commitment to ride my exercise bicycle daily, I've renewed that commitment. Already I'm seeing a difference in my waist, if not on the scale; my clothes are looser than they were before.

So it will be interesting to see, come July 2 (the next update) whether this new approach will work as well as I hope it will!

The second important thing I figured out is this: I need to change my weight goal.

My original goal was to lose 30 to 35 pounds. But when I was considering this recently, I realized something. If I really lost that much weight, I'd reach a number I haven't seen since junior high school!

Yet that number has been the one in my mind every single time I've tried to lose weight. It's the unattainable dream weight, the one I see as being somehow perfect.

There's a reason for this; two, actually. Two dear sisters, one older, one younger, who both inherited my mother's tiny figure and barely-triple-digit weights. I've believed myself to be "overweight" for most of my adult life because I almost always weigh anywhere from seven to fifteen pounds more than they do. I did, even when I was in high school.

But my ideal weight isn't the same as theirs. My figure is different. My metabolism is different. And even though I used to cry that they wore sizes four and six (and even two!) while I fluctuated between size eight and size ten, today I'd kill to be a size ten again (and yes, my sisters still wear sizes two, four, and six).

So I've decided that the weight I really want to be is the weight I was when my husband and I got married (and I wore a size-ten wedding gown). And to reach that weight, I need to lose 22 pounds--which somehow seems way, way more doable than 35!

Okay, it's your turn. How's it going? How are you doing with your 2008 weight loss plan?


Anonymous said...

Starting on the first Saturday of Lent, I began a HIT (High Intesity Training) workout program. I've stuck with it for eight weeks now and I feel stronger and healthier. I've just added two extra aerobic workouts a week and that should help even more. I'm not weighing myself. Weight is just a number. And Muscle weighs more than fat. The fat is burning and the muscle is building and my clothes are fitting better. In fact a very casual acquaintance told me I look slimmer just the other day!

Ecouragement is the key to a successful Diet and Exercise program.

Keep up the good work, Red!


Anonymous said...

I threw my back out a few months ago and gave up my exercise routine. It killed me not to exercise, but I couldn't get off the floor (literally) so I had no choice. After a month, I slowly started walking again (no farther than 2 miles per day, 3 days a week). I lost five pounds. It's been four months and I've managed to keep the weight off. I walk about 2.5 miles per day, now 5 days a week. I do think exercise is overrated as a weight loss mechanism. Just eat 3 meals a day and don't snack. You'll lose weight.

jen said...

I've also lost some weight, and I Don't diet. I always considered portion control and moderation as my diet. Because, well, I have a
5,4 & 2 year old and I would constantly be cooking 2 meals, otherwise.

I agree wholeheartedly with the exercise thing. I found I actually GAINED the 1st couple of months that I started exercising again. Shocked that I was gaining muscle tone that was so horrible for so many years. But, once that was under control again, I started losing fairly steadily. Only a couple of lbs so far, but I'm not discounting any lost weight. I'm celebrating anyway.

Good luck to you with your new plan.