I’ve always been interested in weight management, but I’m not a doctor—I’m an ecologist. I can’t provide professional advice. But here’s my story if you’re interested:
Like many teenage girls, I used to worry if I was thin enough to be beautiful. In high school, I decided not to diet because I worried about messing up my body before it was fully grown. Because my family wasn’t athletic, I walked for exercise. By the time I got married at age 21, I jogged a couple miles three times per week and was almost content with my size, which seemed average. However, my husband Ben was four inches taller but wore smaller-waist jeans!
Over the next ten years, I had five children. Each pregnancy ended at a higher weight, but fear of fatness drove me to lose the weight each time. After the second pregnancy, I found a great book Lose That Last 10 Pounds, by Denise Austin, containing menus and workout guidelines to help you lose 8-10 pounds in one month. She recommended eating ALL the food groups in reasonable portion sizes. Some of her recipes contained meat, so I improvised by calculating the nutrition facts of my own recipes.
My non-pregnant weight crept down between each child, but I gained more with each pregnancy. After my fifth child, I was dismayed by my weight when I came home from the hospital. Yikes! Did that baby (and fluid) account for only 13 pounds of my 50-pound gain?? I immediately determined to do Denise Austin’s plan over and over again for as many months as it took!
Tired of guessing what was actually “thin enough”, I accessed a Body Mass Index (BMI) chart online (a weight/height calculation). Anything between BMI 19-25 is considered normal/healthy. I looked up the appropriate weight range for my height and gender. Variation is due to different body types. I chose BMI 22 as my goal (the central healthy BMI). My logic was that once I reached BMI 22, I would no longer feel bothered by comparing myself to thinner women, because I would know I was the right size for me.
My program was a huge success, although it took about a year! I looked up my basal metabolic rate online (based on age, gender, height and weight). That’s the amount of calories your body burns in a day if you don’t do ANYTHING. For me, it’s about 1500 kcal. I ate 1500 calories/day and lost weight steadily, 0-2 lb/week. I ate a small breakfast, small lunch, small afternoon snack, and one substantial plate of dinner (about half my daily calories). Then I didn’t eat after dinner, and would be hungry before I went to bed. I drank ten cups of water/day—especially in the morning to keep me feeling full. Some holidays or weekends I blew it, which tended to be the weeks when I didn’t lose any weight. I jogged two miles Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and lifted hand weights 30 minutes Tuesday and Thursday. Friday and Sunday were my days off.
How did I keep myself motivated on days when I still looked “fat” and didn’t care anymore? I told myself that it didn’t matter what I looked like today—the only thing that mattered was sticking to the plan. I was “allowed” to not worry about being fat as long as I was keeping track of my calories and working out. I tried to come up with non-food treats to look forward to, like watching a new movie from the Redbox after putting the kids to bed (instead of eating a fun snack after putting the kids to bed). Food was something to nourish my body--prescribed like medicine; not an indulgence.
Now I am 10 pounds lighter than when I got married, and maintaining the lower weight is a lot easier than the process of losing it was. I can eat 1800-2000 calories/day, and continue my workouts. I weigh myself regularly to keep myself on track and know when I need to cut my calories for a few days. Counting calories is easy now, because I can estimate portion sizes. I know that most foods are about 200-600 calories/cup. So if you’re served something and you don’t know the calories, guess 400 calories/cup. I’ve printed out nutrition facts from the websites of my favorite restaurants and keep it in a folder in my car. Overeating on holidays isn’t bad as long as I quickly get back to healthy meal sizes because my body is now used to being my ideal weight—it’s my set point.
|My hand weights|