Yesterday I sent notice to scads of people that I’m doing this blog thing. The psychology is obvious: Tell people what you’re doing, and you are more likely to keep doing it. There’s a corollary for health/fitness goals in there, of course.
I’ve received a lot of wonderful response, including many great subjects for future essays. But the greatest number of responses were from people who just want to know how I lost the weight I lost. I promise most of these posts won’t be so long. And if you’re not curious about my loss, don’t read on, but I want to respond to requests when I can, so here goes.
But not before a number of caveats:
* What worked for me won’t work for everyone, fit everyone’s circumstances.
* There are many excellent programs out there that may work better for you.
* I’m not advocating or getting kickbacks for promoting anybody’s program. Nor will I ever. This is a coaching/personal commentary site, not a commercial site.
* I have very strong prejudices, based on personal experience, against diet drugs, metabolism boosting herbs, and the like. Don’t bother writing to me about them, I will make a horrible face and think evil thoughts.
* Don’t even think about embarking on this or any diet program if a.) you have more than 20 lbs. to lose AND b.) you’re not willing or able now to change your habits forever so that you can maintain your weight loss. Yo-Yoing on your scale is a terrible thing to do to your body. And I don’t want to encourage it in any way.
Okay. After Oprah lost a lot of weight using their products, but then gained it back quickly when she stopped, the folks at Novartis worked hard to redesign and revamp their Optifast program. This is a super-restricted-calorie (800 cals per day), medically supervised (regular blood tests, EKGs, etc., visits with nurses and weight loss doctors) program. The program includes a break from all food for a spell determined by how overweight you are.
The value of breaking from food intake is that it helps you become very clear about the role food plays in your life. Crystal clear.
When you enter this program, you commit to regular weekly meetings of 3 hours or more that include a terrific behavioral modification segment, group support, work with exercise physiologists, and nutritional training. A lot of learning. A lot of help. A lot of support. A lot of work on your own head. It was expensive and time-consuming. But I was looking down the yawning throat of Diabetes, and I didn’t want to go there.
This much stronger education and support component was what Oprah missed out on when she used Optifast products to lose a bunch of weight. When she went off Optifast, she didn’t have the understanding or resources she needed to keep it off. She has since worked very hard to learn these things and keeps learning them. Don’t say a bad word about Oprah in front of me.
So, three months of that, and I lost 50 lbs. During the last weeks of using Optifast products, I started working intensively with a great nutritionist (shout out to Chris!), to learn how to determine my own caloric needs and how to eat to keep my blood sugar and weight under control, and to continue to lose. (I’m a believer in cutting carbs. More on that later.)
I lost the last 50 by following a good diabetic diet – 5 small meals per day (200-300 cals apiece), some protein with most meals, no carbs after 4 p.m. Writing everything down. Exercising regularly, especially strength training like yoga, Pilates, weights. When I need to lose weight, those meals get closer to 200 than 300 calories.
I started exercising slowly, mainly just showing up at the pool every day and kicking a few laps with a kickboard. Kicking turned to lengths, lengths to laps, and before long I was a swimmer. Then I added strength training. Then dance classes. Then Pilates. Slowly.
Here is the number one thing I learned about losing a bunch of weight: It’s a whole lot easier to lose it than it is to maintain it.
Losing is as easy as taking a break from food and drinking the necessary nutrition, or it’s as easy as cutting out all or most carbs for a while, or it’s as easy as cutting back your food and exercising more. (I don’t mean to be flip here, but if you’ve yo-yo’d, you know what I mean.)
Maintaining means living your life in a different way. It means making time for yourself. That can feel like taking time away from others. Of course, that’s just not true, but that’s what it feels like. It means getting up in the morning to exercise, or stopping on the way home from work, or giving up your lunches with friends to exercise a little nearly every day. Eating breakfast every day? Can you do that?
That’s quite enough about me.
Think about your new habits today.