Needless to say… my patience has been tested over the last year of diet and exercise gains, losses, setbacks, and victories. Mind you, the victories are slight and the losses are negligent–but if anything I have become more patient and educated about the process of losing weight. The great realization is— there is no easy way. Before I had kids, and even after my first was born–weight loss was a non-issue. I’d look at overweight people struggling and just think, “What’s the big deal? Stop eating so much and get off your butt.” Then I had my second and stayed home with her to be a couch-cow-aka- full-time nursing mom–and suddenly I could relate to all the people on Oprah who were crying and humiliated because of their weight. Of course–I was watching while eating my then-daily bowl of ice cream, thinking–“Hey, I’m a nursing mom–I need these calories.” Then, as is inevitable, the nursing stopped but the daily ice cream vigil remained. Once the pounds settled securely above my c-section scar and I realized I was a size 12 long after the “baby weight” should’ve been shed– I looked in the mirror and had that “aha” moment so many do when they see themselves as they truly are for the first time in a long time. Now I don’t think I’ve ever been excessively obese or unbelievably fat, but–when you get to a point where you’re unhappy in your body and you need to lose weight–I feel like the number of pounds is almost insignificant. I mean–we all have to go through the same process, whether it’s 20 pounds or 100 pounds– and we all get to celebrate the same feeling of accomplishment and victory when we get to goal.
So here are my lessons learned and things to remember when it comes to weight loss. Now do not be deceived into believing you are hearing from some kind of expert nutritionist or personal trainer–that would be my NYC Sis-in-law whose expertise I really need–but– Here’s my running list:
1–No Excuses! If you’ve had kids it’s really tempting to believe that the body is forever changed and irreversible, but in the end that’s a cop-out. Everyone’s busy, everyone’s tired, and no one really feels like working out hard and cutting back calories–but when you really mean it–you’ll really commit and do the work. Until then–just don’t bother–you’ll waste a lot of money and time looking for motivation that can really only “come from within.”
2– No Comparisons! It is great to be inspired by other people–but unless you plan to go under the knife of a plastic surgeon–you cannot look like someone else. Our bodies are different and beautiful in their own ways–I personally admire those who are fortunate enough to call themselves pear shaped–you know the bottom-heavy types with the shapelier hips and buns but the itty-bitty little waists–yeah they make me sick. I really was at one time the quintessential hour-glass myself, but nowadays I guess you could say –uhh –my time’s up. But! The good news is I’m seeing some of that figure coming back and it’s exciting to sort of recognize the self that’s been hiding in there. My point is–apples, pears, whatever…you can only be your own best, and as long as you’re doing that, you should be proud.
3–No Gimmicks! When will we learn–if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Sure there may be a pill or machine- or mail order meal program-or even surgery that could be the temporary answer to your weight loss woes. But losing the weight–hard-earned as every pound may be–is really only step one on the weight loss journey. KEEPING it off is where the real work comes in and without the long-term commitment to really make lifestyle changes, you will not see lasting results. You might as well get on and buckle up because you and I both know that soon enough you’ll be climbing right back on the latest “Yo-Yo Crash Diet Coaster,” but this time you ‘ll probably be farther back in the line with a longer wait trying to get to the same goals you set last year.
4–No Regrets! Reflecting on my 2009 calendar I can see I’ve missed most of my goals. But really I cannot say it’s at all for lack of trying. I have worked out at least three days a week for 30 out of the last 35 weeks. Most of these weeks I’ve worked out 5 days, the 5 weeks I didn’t work out at least 3 days, I did work out at least once. I have made “Good, Better, Best” my mantra when making food choices–always starting at “better” and shooting for “best.” I’ve only lost about 8 pounds, but I think I’ve gained some muscle and I know I’m stronger and more fit than I’ve been in a long time. (Clearly my diet can use some evaluation–as hard as I work out there should be some bigger changes–and I’ll be the first to admit that there are a few things-namely cake and cheetos–that I cannot seem to resist and fall victim to at least weekly. But that is better than daily, right?? And– I guess really I don’t fall victim to them so much as they actually fall victim to me–seriously, I know no mercy around cake.)
Oh yeah–I’m supposed to be on the “no regrets” thing. SO– I don’t regret the investments I’ve made into myself. I’ve learned to carve out about an hour a day for myself whether I have to get up early or go to bed late to do it. I’ve learned that the power of resisting the temptation feels better than the quickly fading feeling of joy you get when you suck down a caramel frappucino. I’ve learned to move on when I gave in to the temptation as well. I do not regret my really, really slow and steady pace toward my goal. I regret waiting so long to make the commitment, I regret the last 6 years of quitting about 6 weeks into a program–but hey–I can’t go back so I just press forward. It’s been 8 months of learning and re-learning, and I appreciate every lesson so far.
So maybe some one else lost ten pounds in a week–or even 40 in a few months–Truly I celebrate with them and absolutely applaud their accomplishments. I try to gather what wisdom I can from them and apply it to my own walk. In the end I know I can’t count on anyone else to motivate me or do the work for me. I’ll take my little 8 pounds and know I earned all 8 of em. It may not compare to someone else’s loss, but I did the work and I deserve to celebrate them. I’m getting there slowly, but at least I know I’m in it for the long haul and next year the yo -yo coaster will be just an old kiddie ride I used to get on.