Me. On a diet.
Three years ago at this point in time, I was about to get married. I also had the job from hades, so it was hard for me to be happy AND plan my wedding. My dress was up in my hometown, and I knew I was in a new kind of trouble when the alterations lady told me to stop losing weight because every time I had a fitting I had lost a size or two. I promise, I am not bragging about how I so effortlessly lost weight. This was very scary to me.
I have always perceived a struggle with my weight – even though looking back, I was perfectly normal. In 7th grade, I was 5′ 3″ and weighed 120 pounds. I felt enormous compared with the other girls my age, which I didn’t take so well, so I became a semi-recluse. I journaled about how I wanted to lose weight for different occasions (an upcoming pool party or summer camp). My height and weight were EXACTLY the same when I graduated high school, but by that point, everyone else was taller and some of them were larger than I was. I didn’t feel “normal” though. I still saw myself as pudgy.
I know, boo hoo, cry me a river. That wasn’t my point.
My point is how I am marveling at how much my weight meant and still means to me. I think it’s blown way out of proportion in my personal mindset. Maybe it is because of media influences or being around smaller girls when I was in 7th grade. Maybe it is because when I looked in the mirror, I was never happy.
After our wedding in August of 2005, I started gaining weight again. I kept gaining it for the next 2 and half years. When I tipped the scales at 140 last September – when nothing fit and I didn’t have money to (ahem) expand my wardrobe – I decided that enough was enough. I was also taking a life coaching class they offered at school, and my personal goal in the group was to be more active. The side benefit was that being active caused me to look at what I was consuming.
Though I still had some issue getting out of my perception of what was normal to consume, I think I did pretty well starting out. I didn’t eat a single piece of Halloween candy. How many people can say that? Thanksgiving was also taken in moderation. And, Christmas? I asked Santa to bring me NO CANDY. Bah humbug.
By my birthday in January, I weighed 135 pounds. I was frustrated though because no one seemed to notice that I had lost weight. I needed praise. Luckily, I did not get back on the bad food wagon. Instead, I embraced the practice of Lent. I started going nut-so with buying tons of fresh fruits to make smoothies (no sugar was allowed). I gave up sugar. I gave up alcohol the entire 40 days of Lent. (Some may ask, why do you practice Lent? You’re not even Catholic. I’ll just say the timing was good. And I’ve always given up some sort of vice around then, including instant messenger in college.)
After Lent this year, after giving up sweets, wine, breads, pastas, and anything else that categorically DID NOT FIT, I lost a bit more weight. I was worried about gaining it back upon “re-entry” after Lent was over. Luckily, something wonderful happened and intercepted my fear. I met my new best friend, the Hula Hoop.
That’s right. The Hula Hoop.
Oh, wonderful Hula Hoop, where would I be without you? At church, we have this annual event called Trinity Serves. It’s on a Saturday and we send around 400 people from our congregation out into the Atlanta area to serve in different capacities. It’s all the typical stuff: painting houses or building them, hanging out with the elderly, yard work, and playing with kids. I got to play with kids this year. I LOVE THIS. We went to home (facility, really – it was once a school and still is, partially) for kids who are wards of the state for various reasons. Once they get to this place, though, they could have been in as many as 20+ placements.
We organized a field day. We had to hold it inside though as it was raining. We had sack races, three-legged races, jump rope, etc. I was asked to man the hula hoop station. After realizing I could still hula hoop, I started sharing the fun of it with the kids. There were teen-aged boys who hula hooped really well!
The next day, I realized that my waist was sore. Not like I had been hurt, but rather, like I had worked out. Hmmm. My legs were also a little sore. Like I had worked out.
I went out and got my hula hoop. It’s pink and sparkly. I can hula hoop for hours, so I did.
I think this was the beginning of April. After work, I would come home and hula hoop a couple of hours a day. I noticed immediately that it was working. Two weeks later, people were telling me that I looked like I had lost weight. I could only nod my head because I was a little freaked out that it worked. I wasn’t doing anything else particularly athletic. I would read or watch tv while I hula hooped.
By May, I weighed 125. Whoo! It felt great. All that stuff I gave up for Lent? Never really took it back up to the extent that I had consumed it before. Also in May I made the decision to turn vegetarian. Mother’s Day was the last time I ate meat. I had been phasing it out all year, but to finally decide to call it quits felt so good. It was very hard at first, but a month in, the thought of eating it is repulsive.
Now I’m back down to 120. Yes, it feels great. But all that work I did, all that mental angst about my figure and how clothes fit, were not a fad diet. Nor did I lose weight because I was stressed (as I did before our wedding). As I’ve told a few people, I didn’t go on a diet, I went on a major life change! I wanted to devote a post to it though because I hope that my experience can help others.
1. Start living sacrificially. If you don’t eat it in the first place, you don’t have to run, walk, pilate, or eliptical- it off.
2. Think about what your body REALLY needs. Start by eating healthy foods that you really, really like. Try to go as raw and unsalted as possible (but that doesn’t include raw meat). I eat lots of fruits and veggies as snacks, along with almonds. Take on new health foods – like soy products such as soy nuts, edamame; or fruits you’ve wanted to try.
3. You must drink water. You must drink a good bit of it every day. The best thing about drinking water? It makes your stomach fill up so you can’t eat as much. If you hate plain water, jazz it up with a bag of herbal tea (raspberry is my fav) in your nalgene bottle. You don’t have to heat water to make tea. The heat is just a catalyst for the process of infusing the water with speed. You can also put water in a pitcher with lemon or orange slices, or mint, or cucumber. Good stuff. Then you can eat the fruit when you’re out of water. 🙂 WARNING: you may see weight gain at first if you do not usually drink water. Be kind to yourself and remember that a gallon of milk weighs eight pounds. If you drink a gallon of water, you could conceivably gain weight at first. Give yourself time.
4. Don’t sit around on the couch. This is the worst thing you can do. Make it an infrequent reward if you must, but change the way you think about spending your time. Also make it a reward to keep yourself active, such as cleaning the house (yes, I made this an exercise in my mind – think about how you move around and bend and stretch). Some of the skinniest people I know have the cleanest houses. Think about it. Work in your garden – or start one. You will find that taking on active activities will make you want to do more things, like hula hoop 🙂 or riding a bike.
5. Try to hang out with like-minded individuals if your normal group of friends is not so into the healthy cuisine. Try to find people you’d like to emulate. (This is true in all facets of life – other people are our best resources in this life. Use them and make sure you give back to them, too!) I have shared the joy of hula hooping to my friends, some of whom have embraced it and love it and have lost weight.
6. You can do it. Tell yourself that. Believe it. Be completely cheesy about and believe it.