Those of you who have followed my site for a long time might have heard that I’m a Weight Watcher lifetimer. Yup, I used to be about 30 pounds heavier. It’s true; I spent a majority of my life wearing a size 10 to 12 until I was about 22 or 23, gained weight after college, and realized I needed a change. Need proof? Was hard to narrow down photos from the early 2000s, however here are two gems… (the one on the right is with Adam while we were still dating).
I know WW has changed dramatically since my over decade-old experience, however this concept really stuck with me: create a balanced lifestyle that works for you. Before my early 20s, I have no vivid memories of exercising, or of focusing on a balanced, healthy lifestyle. I played softball as a teen but I swear I was that girl in right field who kind of sucked and didn’t move too fast. Fact. I was the heaviest girl in my 5th grade class, typically had a double chin, and never learned how fat, calories and nutrients all worked together. My parents typically served up pretty healthy dishes (my mom was always a tiny size balanced by my dad with his big belly who loved his diet coke and made us bacon and cheese sandwiches!), and I was always weight conscious. I never ate “terribly,” I just didn’t pay attention to any of it, and my portion sizes were insanely out of whack.
But… the moment the scale went from 140-something to 152 (that moment the scale thing shifts from the 100 to 150 still permeates my brain), and then no joke, my pants legit busted at the waist… I knew something had to give (besides my pants). The rest is history.
Now, more than a decade later, I’ve had some fluctuations both in weight and focus on a healthy lifestyle, however there are a few tried and true concepts that work for me, and should work for you. Here goes:
- Create a lifestyle, don’t go on a diet. You’re not positioning yourself for long-term success if you diet, diet, diet. For me it was things like realizing if I was going out for dinner, to eat a salad with a lean protein (instead of a carby sandwich) for lunch; to get to the gym or find fun ways to get moving, and to make these habits. I’d portion out snacks, and drink plenty of water (my husband would call me an “aqua-holic!”).
- Set realistic expectations. If you haven’t exercised in years, do not say you’re going to six times per week. Props to you if you can make it happen, but most of us can’t; we’ll get burnt out, have excuses, get busy, whatever it is. Do not set yourself up for failure. Try moving your tush at least twice per week, 30 minutes minimum. Better to beat your goal than fall short. Mix it up; take advantage of groupons (I just bought yoga classes at a total steal), invite a girlfriend for a morning, lunch time or evening walk — it’s the perfect opportunity to gossip while toning up! I would even do a 20-minute pilates video (similar to this) that I found hugely effective to tone and strengthen my core… and I could do it at night, at home, quick.
- Find new foods and types of exercise that bring you joy. The more you find ways to get moving that make you happy the more likely you’ll stick with it. Try different classes or workouts. For me, I often go to our clubhouse gym and have fun watching HGTV at the same time; testing out yoga classes is new for me, and I’m pumped after my first class. Now, food: make zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, buy a fun new cookbook, get a slow cooker if you don’t have much time, find satisfying foods that fill you up and make you feel good. (and ps: cut out the soda!).
- Enjoy and indulge.. in moderation. We’re human. Live a little! For example, I know I can be five pounds less if I stuck to a super rigid, no chocolate and no carbs lifestyle. But what fun is that?! Food makes me sooooo happy. I mean, like I have moments over some dishes. So I indulge and eat the french fries and get the dessert. And, I have a piece of chocolate or small dessert (Yasso greek yogurt bars are insane! Go for the mint chocolate chip) nearly every night.
- Set yourself up for success. Anyone else go out with friends or come home at 6 pm, starving, and snack while you decide what’s for dinner? Those are mindless calories that wreck your success. Not worth it; as WW said… you have to count the BLTs (bites, licks and tastes!). Stack your fridge and pantry with good foods. I live on almond butter (eat it every morning), almonds (I’m obsessed with Trader Joe’s assortment), eggs for an easy meal or to toss hard-boiled eggs in a salad, avocados, greens, fresh fruits and protein, like chicken. If you’re looking to get moving, treat yourself to a new pair of sneaks and workout gear. I swear quality workout pants and supportive bra make you ready to rock it. Don’t hide behind an oversized t-shirt; wear something just a little more fitted… promise you’ll see your results sooner and increase your motivation!
- Be supported. Get your colleagues, family and friends in on the fun. Don’t make this simply a “New Year, New You” bs thing; let people know you’re serious — grab a buddy for your workouts, and encourage healthier meals for your entire family or room mates. The more it’s a lifestyle you’re surrounded by the more you’re likely to maintain.
- And, lastly… find moments to be proud of you. Interestingly, I swear I noticed my cellulite and imperfections the more I lost weight. I never noticed those details when I was heavier. As women, we can be so hard on ourselves, so please, please do yourself a favor — if you do none of the above, I’m cool with that, just please, treat yourself better this year. Be proud of your body, do things, eat things and wear things that make you feel good. Don’t focus on perceived (irrelevant) physical imperfections. Don’t ridicule yourself or tear yourself down or bully yourself. It’s all crap and a waste of mental space. Life is too freaking short. You’re awesome…. time to celebrate it!
Photo Credit: South Moon Photography