Hopefully my story will help those who are wanting to lose weight themselves. First, let me say that I was the least likely person to lose weight, especially 50 pounds! I was
blessed cursed with a slow metabolism, so much so that I used to joke that just smelling food caused me to gain weight. I ate too much too often. I’d eat second and third helpings, and it was common for me to eat late at night. I was also very inactive. This isn’t to say that I wasn’t energetic – I always have been – plus I walk a lot on my job and hike, but I was not very purposeful or consistent in being active.
I’ve always struggled somewhat with my weight. I was never terribly overweight, but I had often carried extra layers of fat and would battle back and forth to keep the weight off. At one point I was in great shape, but along the way I burned myself out on all the strict eating and working out. I let myself go. Food became a refuge and a comfort. It didn’t help that I was Southern Baptist! (If you don’t know what I mean by that, you’re obviously not Southern Baptist!)
I went to the doctor for a regular check-up in late January of 2014. I weighed 228 lbs. I was embarrassed. My clothes were too tight. My belts were extended as far as they’d go. I was 40 years old and probably in the worst shape of my life. I didn’t feel well. I knew in my heart I needed to make adjustments, and my body was telling me something had to change.
Without sounding uber-spiritual, I began to pray and ask God to give me motivation and wisdom about what to do. I realized I did not need to “go on a diet,” but needed to totally change the way I thought about food and eating. I needed a lifestyle change.
The first thing I did was begin substituting oatmeal for breakfast, and I would not eat anything else. It was just one meal, but it was a start. After a few weeks, I started eating 2% Greek yogurt or lean meat (turkey, chicken, and beef) for lunch, as well as oatmeal for breakfast, and yogurt or more lean meat for dinner. Egg whites and Canadian bacon have also been food saviors.
I began eating more vegetables and cut out too much of fruit, especially later in the day.
I also started breaking my meals into 5-6 smaller meals. Surprisingly, doing this helped me stay full and not want to binge.
Then, a co-worker informed me she’d taken a vow to stop drinking soda and sugary drinks (she also went vegetarian, but I wasn’t that committed) and she challenged me to do the same. This turned out to be a BIG one for me. I didn’t realize that even the “healthier” drinks I was consuming were loaded with sugar. So, I cut out all sodas and sweet drinks, and switched to plain water for every meal.
After several weeks, I wanted to add flavor to my drinks, so I started drinking Hint water. Hint water is just what it says: water with a hint of fruit flavor. I then discovered Honest Tea which were very low in sugar, low in calories, organic, and very tasty; the Peach-oo-la-long and Dragon Tea are my favorites. I also began flavoring my water with Diet Snapple tea mix from time to time. This gave me several options, because water isn’t my favorite drink with meals.
When it comes to snacking, I love ice cream. However, low-fat ice cream tastes awful to me, so to satisfy my sweet/snack tooth, I discovered Chobani Flips, which is Greek yogurt on one side with a small serving of chocolate chips, almonds, honey, graham crackers, etc. on the other side, and you flip them into one another. Perfect. I also began eating Fage non-fat Greek yogurt.
For three or four months I ate very strictly. I didn’t budge. But, I remembered how I could burn out with no variety, so I would “cheat” every few days. By cheating I mean for only one meal that day I’d have a cheeseburger, but I’d forgo the sides and only eat half the burger. I do the same thing with all sandwiches. I rarely eat a whole one. I began to eliminate any unnecessary carbs, particularly in the the form of breads and breadings.
If I ate pizza I went with the thin crust variety and cut it into smaller pieces to trick my stomach into thinking I was eating more than I was. I stopped using regular size dinner plates and used only saucers. If I couldn’t fit it on the saucer I wouldn’t eat it.
I limited myself to one serving of food, sometimes even half a serving.
I began to think through each meal before I ate it and consider ways I could cut fat and calories from it. Sometimes the only way was to simply not eat it and choose a healthier alternative.
I stopped eating late at night, but I didn’t want to go to bed hungry, so I would eat a small serving of non-fat yogurt or oatmeal.
As far as exercise, I do the little things you hear about: I park farther away from wherever I am going. I take the stairs. I walk regularly because I hate running. I use a push mower. I love to hike, so I added more challenging hikes, and I hike more often.
I don’t go to the gym. I don’t take supplements. I do do resistance exercise and occasional free weights.
Within a few couple of months I began to see and feel my clothes getting looser. Co-workers and friends started commenting on my weight loss, or they’d ask, “Are you loosing weight?”
I didn’t make a big deal out of it. I just did it.
From late January til June – roughly seven months – I lost 50 pounds! I’ve kept it off by doing the things I listed above.
I did not go on a diet. I changed the way I think about food and eating.
I eat whatever I want. Now I want to eat healthier.
Some might want to know about the spiritual dimension to my weight loss, and there is one. I pray for wisdom to make wise eating decisions. When I’m tempted to overeat, I ask for strength to say “No.” (Sometimes that’d very hard to do if it’s a favorite dish.) I’m constantly lifting up my condition to God asking him to help me see Jesus is greater and more worthy of my indulgence than food.
Finally, know that what works for me in all I’ve written may not work for you. Everyone is different. I don’t believe there is a catch-all to real and lasting weight loss. You might need stricter eating, more exercise, more prayer, etc. Hopefully, some of these principles will help you on your way.
So that’s my story. I’m 41 and I feel better than I have in years. I’m only 5-10 lbs heavier than I was in high school. I have much more energy. I feel better about myself.
Here’s a summary below…
1. Cut out ALL sugary sodas, even the “diet” ones.
2. Eat smaller portions.
3. Eat 5-6 times a day, smaller portions, not just 3 meals per day.
4. Don’t eat late.
6. Find foods you like that are healthy and stick to them.
7. Allow some cheating, but as a reward — it gives you something to work toward.
8. Get active!
Hope this helps!