November 28, 2011

No More Exercise for Weight Loss!

I fondly remember my
corn dog experience...I
felt sick for days. I have
fuzzed out my man-friend's
face to protect his "innocence".
Two years ago, after coming home from Mexico with a gigantic muffin top (they were handing them out on the beach for cheap and came in strawberry or lime flavor), I decided to "re-learn" how to eat for health (and, of course, weight loss) so I would never have to feel, and look, that way again. I was sick of losing and gaining or relying on my workouts for muffin top management.  I was 41 at the time and my knees and back were starting to turn on me as I exercised for about 1.5 hours a day.  I was also starting to suspect my hormones were plotting against me (stupid, ungrateful hormones) and the exercise wasn't having the same effect physically as it once did.  I wanted balance but I also wanted to look as good as I could as I started to move towards 50.  If I didn't do something now, I would have to do it later or continue to feel old and bloated. 

Now before I move on, I do want to acknowledge my awareness of my own socialized beliefs about beauty and body. I talk about how our culture values the thin and not the fat and how the exercise culture influences our belief that we need to work on our "problem areas". I am socialized and definitely carry beliefs about body....just like everyone else. That said, I really just want to look as good as I can, wear my clothes well, and not have to stand in front of my closet for 30 minutes analysing what I can fit into and what I can't. So here's what I did.......

Here's a simple snack that fools you into thinking you are
binging on junk food; baked tortilla chips with guac. This, and
the following rrecipes, are found by clicking
the "recipes" link on my homepage.

 Step One:  I stopped the exercise to focus on the eating.
This was a temporary move until I found a healthy diet that worked. The psychology of exercise tends to lean towards the belief that if I did 30 minutes on the treadmill I can eat that extra cookie. I was eating more than I needed believing that because I exercised, I needed it or deserved it.  Once I felt comfortable and happy with my new eating plan, I slowly added the exercise back with a limit of no more than 30 minutes of cardio.  I was now exercising for health and not weight loss. I continue to do this today.

Step Two:  I created a goal of one year.
I knew I would fall off the wagon.  I knew that it was going to take some time to break my old habits and keep to the new ones. In the end, it took about 2 years, but was so worth it in the end. It is useful to create goals for yourself, but sometimes our goals can turn against us and create a sense of urgency and unnecessary stress. Hint: when we are stressed...we tend to eat.

A bowl of yam chips. It's amazing how
you think it's bad for you and it is
the exact opposite.
Step Three:  I stuck to my resistance training program.
As we age we lose muscle and this negatively effects our metabolism (we burn less calories).  By focusing on building lean muscle tissue, I was increasing my metabolism and the calories that I would be burning just sitting on my bum. It's been two years now and I finally enjoy weights. It took a long time to build a loving relationship with them, but now I would never consider leaving them.

Step Four:  I taught myself how to cook well, healthy, fast meals.
This included building a menu of "junk food" items when I was craving them. When I craved chips, I cut up a wrap (or tortilla) and baked it in the oven with homemade guacamole. I now make veggie based dishes that take no time and make eating healthy fun (see my recipe link on my homepage for a few ideas).

OMG. This is the best tortilla pizza ever!
You don't have to waste calories on a
fluffy crust to enjoy a great pizza.
Step Five:  I kicked my scale to the curb.
After getting on the scale every morning to learn how my eating behaviour related to my weight (an important lesson for me), I started basing my mood on the numbers on the scale. If I had gained, I would feel like I failed I stopped and focused on creating healthy eating habits instead. I knew that eventually my body would respond to my diet and act accordingly. In the end, I was right.

Step Six:  I didn't beat myself up for slipping up.
My blog is littered with stories of my own slip ups and feelings about it. Just last night I mixed red wine with pizza and woke up with a six month old food baby but I"m okay (albeit bloated and dehydrated). I just go back to my new way of eating without thinking now. I crave vegetables and salads (I know...right?) I never thought I would crave a salad.
One of my favorites and really easy to make; shrimp, cilantro, carrots, peppers rolled into rice paper. Add peanut sauce on the side and you have a fun and healthy dinner or snack!

Step Seven:  I was patient!
It took two years. I started my adventure weighing 176 lbs.  Last week I did step on the scale just to see where I am now and I was 150 lbs. I couldn't believe my eyes. I don't feel like I have lost 26 pounds, but my clothes certainly tell me I have. I have had to buy new clothes to the point of irritation. It took patience and dedication to the cause. I was fed up and didn't want to think about my weight anymore. By committing to, and enjoying, a healthy and balanced diet I never have to again.

A beautiful salmon salad! This is what I'm craving now!
Step Eight:  I focused on the psychology of change.
I was my own client. I did what I would suggest a client to do. Of course I fought with myself and defied my own advice, but in the end it wasn't about the science of eating or exercise; it was about the psychology of behaviour change. That is the key. That is what will make one succeed and the other fail.

Weight loss programs do not work! Short term programs do not work! Pills, powders, special diets, supplements, anything that cannot be integrated into your life for the rest of your life DOES...NOT....WORK!  Getting real with your eating behaviours and making small changes to serving size, food groups, and the emotional aspects of eating does.

Why put your money and time into something that won't be permanent? Why not just start today on your own food education program? Anyone can do this, it just takes patience, commitment, and a goal to be truly heatlhy (the good looking part will come no matter what).
Combine tortilla chips, homemade guac.,
black beans, and rice with veggies and you
have a great mexican dinner!

If you have found this helpful, please let me know. Otherwise, I do apologize if I sound like just another health promoter pushing the boring old message of eating well. The truth of the matter is the health promoters are onto something.


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