Friday, June 6, 2008
Weight Loss Tips from a Real Person
This is a pic of me leaving the hospital after having Jackson. It is my before picture. If I get a good full body shot of me now, I'll post it, but I don't really have any right now.
Okay, let me preface this blog by saying I am not intending to brag here, someone actually asked me to tell how I lost my baby weight, so I thought I would post it to the blog in case anyone else was interested in what I have learned about dieting/working out and weight loss in general. If it helps you, then that is my good deed for the day. If not, and you just want me to stop talking about my weight, then stop now and don't read any further!
The night before I had Jackson, I topped the scales at 190. This was intimidating to me because I had never had this much weight to lose before and I wasn't sure if I could do it. Granted, some of my weight loss was having an 8 lb baby and water weight, but today I am a very muscular 148, and descending. I lost at least 30 lbs on my own since September 2007.
Colleen's Tips for Weight Loss
1. Exercise is a must, but you have to mix it up and find something that you ENJOY doing. I started exercising 2 weeks after Jackson was born by walking a mile around my neighborhood. My doctor absolutely forbid me to do anything but walk for the first 6 weeks, but I broke the rules once I started feeling normal again, and began jogging at about 4 weeks. I figured, I know my body better than my doctor. (Plus, I had developed my delivery/first days at home pics and one was a shot of me from behind while giving Jackson a bath. Needless to say, I get REALLY motivated to work out after that!) After that, I began running up to 3 miles a day 3-4 times a week, then I moved on to going to the gym 3-4 times a week where I started lifting weights, taking Pilates, Cardio-Kickboxing classes, a Weights/Cardio Mix class, running on the elliptical machine, and throwing in circuit training every now and then.
2. I recommend working out in a gym, particularly a women's gym. Most women's gyms have free child care, which I love because I not only get a good workout, but I get a couple hours of me-time several times a week. I think women's gyms are better than others because 1)I always feel self-conscious lifting weights or doing classes when I feel watched by men. 2)At the women's gyms, there is always someone bigger than you and smaller than you. The ones who are bigger make you feel less self-conscious, and the ones who are smaller make you feel motivated to look like them. 3)There is an energy and comraderie at women's gyms that you can't find anywhere else. Everyone is so supportive because the ladies all around you are here for the same reason you are. The instructors at my gym are SO high-energy and encouraging. People go out of their way to tell you they are noticing how hard you are working and how great you are looking. It just feels good! 4)The equipment is specifically geared toward women. You don't have to sort through all the stupidly heavy free weights to find a set of 5's or 10's, and the weight machines are ones that WOMEN need, not men who are trying to bulk up. Also, balls, med balls, jump ropes treadmills, bikes and ellipticals are plentiful so you don't usually have to wait for one to open up to use it.
3. Have a work out buddy. This doesn't have to be some one who works out with you or someone who even has the same weight loss goals or plan that you do, it is just someone who you report to. My workout buddy is my uncle, Dwight. We are really close to my aunt and uncle (They live in Celina, TX) and he is a workout nazi! The man is 50 and when he takes off his shirt, 20 something guys put theirs back on! All he does for me is support me. When I work out particularly hard, I text him what I did and he texts me back something to the effect of "Muscle tone looks great in a swimsuit" or "I'm gonna have to run tomorrow to keep up with you" or something that makes me feel strong and proud of myself. When I see him, he tells me how muscular my arms are looking or asks me how many times I worked out that week. He is just my encouraging, keep going, you're doing good workout buddy. I know this may seem weird since he is my uncle, but you just have to understand how important being fit is to him. He respects people who maintain a healthy body.
4. Don't diet, calorie count. The key to weight loss is much like the key to budgeting money. You have to burn more calories than you eat. For this reason, I have found that fad diets don't work for me. Calorie and fat gram counting works for me. When I try to eat or cook weird foods that I don't normally eat or even like, I get burned out very quickly, and then I'm back to where I started. Keep track of how many calories you burned at the gym and keep track of how many calories you eat. At the end of the day if your intake calories are higher than your output calories, you basically aren't going to lose any weight that day. This brings me to my next point...
5. Keep a food journal. Again, much like money, every little thing adds up. If you aren't paying attention, before you know it you have racked up a ton of debt and you think, "There is no way I spent that much money!" Then you look at your credit card bill and see that all your $25 trips to Wal-mart have accumulated $500 in debt that month!! When you write down what you eat and what you have burned, you are more aware of what you are putting in to your body. It enables you to make smarter choices. After I had been on a weight loss plateau for several months, I got frustrated and started taking Alli to help me get past it. Incidentally, I wasn't all that impressed with Alli, but what I loved was the food guide and journal they give you. The food guide is a handy purse-size booklet that tells you how many calories and fat grams are in popular foods and the journal just helped me remember to write it down. There is also a guide to help you decide on a weight loss goal, and what kinds of things to eat and to avoid to help you reach your goal. For my goal, I can only have 19 fat grams per day, so I paid attention to what I ate and made sure I didn't go over that.
6. Drink lots of water. I drink about 3-4 bottles of water a day, sometimes more if I go to the gym. I read somewhere that a lot of times when people feel hungry, they are really thirsty. If you drink water, you are likely to eat less because you feel more full. That is why they make people drink so much water before meals in the military to help them get in shape in boot camp. If you aren't a fan of water, try Propel flavored water or Sam's choice flavored carbonated water. Sam's choice flavored carbonated water is like flavored Sprite, but like water, has no calories or fat grams. I had to stop drinking it because the carbonation weas hurting my stomach, but Propel is a good option if you have that problem, too. It is just like Kool-aid, but without tons of sugar and with only 25 calories per bottle. I recommend you keep it in the fridge though, because without being cold, it tasts like children's Tylenol to me.
7. Snack smart. Find things you like to eat that are healthy or healthier for you than what you normally snack on. For instance, I love chips, so when I am craving the crunch, I choose Quaker's Mini Rice Cakes. Hey, don't knock it till you've tried it. They are actually pretty good! I prefer the Cinnamon and Apple flavors, and stay away from the fake chocolate types. When I absolutely need chips, I look at the serving size and count out exactly that many chips and put them in a bowl and put the bag away. That way I know exactly what I have eaten and don't sit there with the bag, watching TV or whatever, engaging in what I like to call "unconscious eating." If you want more suggestions on things you can try as substitutes for other things, let me know.
8. Don't eat out!! Even a small McDonald's cheeseburger alone has 310 calories and 12 fat grams. If you're eating out at nice restaurants, they cook with more sauces and gravies, plus you can't really get a calorie count of what you have eaten. You just cannot lose much weight if you are eating out several times a week. When I eat out, I just count that day as a bust because very rarely can I work out enough to cancel out what I have eaten for the day.
9. Don't give up! When you hit a weight loss plateau, don't quit! It happens to everyone. It happened to me several times. Just keep in mind that if you are lifting weights, your weight is going to go up a little or stay the same because you are building muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. Don't quit lifting though, because lifting weights burns a lot of calories. Plus, it makes you look muscular and lean. You'll see a difference in your body quickly if you lift. You have to find something to hel you take it to the next level. Like I said earlier, Alli helped me through one plateau, bumping it up to 2-a days for a week helped me through another. You just have to find what works for you.
Here is a website I refer to a lot: www.calorie-count.com
It has calorie counts for popular foods, nutrition information for fast foods and other restaurants, and it can tell you how many calories you burn doing certain physical activities. It really helps me calorie count.
Anyway, hopefully this helps you if you are trying to lose weight. If not, sorry to bore you with stuff you probably already knew! Yes, it is time-consuming at first, but after you get into the habit, it really isn't so bad. When you start seeing a difference on the scales, it is worth it!