Thursday, July 26, 2012

How I lost 75 pounds - PART 2: What I learned

On my journey to losing 75 pounds, I learned quite a few things.  It was only after making the vow to "Get FINE in 2009" that I started to research and learn all about exactly what it was going to take to lose the weight.  And boy, did I learn a lot! 

Anyone that knows me, knows that anytime I get into something, I really GET INTO IT!  And by “really get into it” I mean all-out, gung-ho, eat-sleep-breathe it, almost obsessive with it.    I have always been like that; it’s just part of my personality! J  My “research” consisted of this: I started reading all about healthy eating, exercise, and strength training in the form of books, and newspaper/magazine/online articles.  Nevertheless, out of everything that I read, there was some information that was more relevant, pertinent, and beneficial than others.

After all this time, I think I can finally say this.  The single most important thing that I have learned from all of this is:

Losing weight is all in the details.  It’s the little things you do that make the biggest difference.

I know, I know, you probably expected something more than just that, right?  You expected some enlightening epiphany, a ground-shattering mantra that would make it all click and finally help you “get it” after all of these years.  I apologize if I disappointed you.  But that’s just the thing; it’s all pretty simple when you get down to it.  It’s certainly a heck of a lot more simple than I expected it to be.  Getting healthy is not rocket science…and it’s about doing the things that we have all heard before, over and over and over again!

We heard it from Bob Greene and Oprah when she got all skinny on us, we heard it from Jillian, Bob, and Devin Alexander who helped Biggest Loser contestants drop hundreds of pounds, and we continue to hear it from people like Dr. Oz, Chris Powell (Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition), Lisa Lillien (Hungry Girl) and Dave Zinczenko (editor of Men’s Health Magazine and co-author of the Eat This Not That series of books).  Here are the resources that I found helped me the most:

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My Most helpful resources


Eat This, Not That: Supermarket Survival Guide
by: David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding

This was THE most helpful resource and I recommend this book to friends all the time!!  Let me tell you why:
1) It’s divided into chapters according to food group (breads, frozen foods, etc); I tabbed each chapter to make it easy to locate what I was looking for and flip to it without a hitch…and I literally used to take this book with me to the grocery store!!
2) It includes full-color photos of food products, and distinctly divides them into two categories: the “Eat This” foods that are safe to eat on one side and the “Not That” foods you should avoid on the other.

3) This, together with the nutrition info provided for each item that explain fat, calories, sugar, fiber, etc help you understand why it’s eatable or avoidable and really helps you get the big picture about the how to make the healthiest choices!! 
4) The informative chapters sprinkled throughout the book are useful and informative…as well as explaining “insiders-only” knowledge about things that the food industry doesn’t want us to know about.

Other helpful books: 

all of these magazines have helpful websites with tons of resouces
Women’s Health Magazine

Men’s Health Magazine

Runner’s World

Health Magazine

Prevention Magazine

Self Magazine

Shape Magazine

Fitness Magazine

Web sites

Hungry Girl  – love her yearly shopping list and daily emails for tons of great info about food swaps/substitutions and snack ideas

Dr. Oz - because of his medical background he’s got all of the knowledge…and his personality and sense of humor allow him to deliver that information, in laymen-terms, perfectly.

Honestly speaking, with real experts like these folks, how in the world could I think that you would listen to, take advice from, or believe anything I have to say?

Because I’ve been there.  That’s why.  I’m a real person who lives in the “real” world just like you.  I don’t have millions of dollars in the bank (heck I’m a teacher; thousands of dollars sounds good to me), and I didn’t graduate with a medical or even Nutrition Science degree.  I can’t afford a live-in chef, am too cheap to get a personal trainer, and am definitely a “I’d-rather-just-do-it-myself” kind of person. 

I’ve been skinny, chunky, skinny, fat, back to skinny, and back to fat.  And, according to the trainer that did my initial weigh-in/BMI/pitch to sell you training sessions when I joined the gym, I was considered “obese” because my BMI ratio was way over 30%.  Now, finally, I’m healthy.  It was a loooooong road getting here, though, I’m not going to lie to you!  And it didn’t happen quickly; there are no easy quick-fix solutions!  It took me a long time to gain all that weight and I knew it was going to take a long while to lose it. 

Nevertheless, I’ve learned a few things along the way.  And if there is one thing I want now more than ever, it’s to help someone else who may just be starting their journey.  Someone who is facing that mountain and is finding it impossible to climb!  I remember feeling that, and so to you I say this: YOU CAN DO IT!  Little by little.  And the journey starts with just one step.

I hope that maybe reading this post today can be that one step.

Here are some things that I hope might help.  After careful consideration, I’ve compiled a list of the most beneficial things that I learned:


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The MOST IMPORTANT things that I learned:


-         to count calories, although I’ve never been crazy, over the top with it; it’s more of an awareness of the approximate calories that I am ingesting
-         to be conscientious about what I was putting in my mouth
-         the true understanding that “My body is a temple, not a trash can!”
-         getting enough fiber is crucial
-         eating more protein helps build strong muscles and so I started drinking protein shakes
-         that I had to replace white breads, pastas, and rice with brown, whole-grain versions
-         all about proper supplementation (vitamins, etc.)
-         the health benefits of drinking green tea
-         to replace white, refined sugar with natural sugar substitutes
-         that you HAVE to drink plenty of water.  I sometimes drink it with fresh lime or lemon juice because I read somewhere that this was a natural fat burner, and usually drink it on ice, because I also read that your body burns a few extra calories simply by heating the water up to proper body temperature.

Throughout the past three years I’ve learned that it is basically about changing your behaviors! To get healthy, and actually see results, you have to change the things that you are doing/thinking/feeling.  Try starting with these small changes and remember:

-         it’s all about your attitude.  I knew that I would have to maintain a positive attitude if all of this was going to work.  It’s like the saying goes, ‘Attitude is a little thing that makes a BIG difference.’

-         You have to get active!  Making the gym a daily, or at the very least 5 to 6 times weekly, priority is a must!

-         Get your cook-on!!  It’s vitally important to cook and eat at home to control the quality of the ingredients that go into your food.  I great ideas from sites like Pinterest, Skinny Mom, and Skinny Taste.

-         Be mindful of quantity!!  I had to be mindful of the amount of food I was eating, and make sure I was eating the appropriate portions.  This was especially hard for me!  More than anything, this was my #1 problem area.  My problem was never that I ate too many sweets or fast food or junk food…my problem was that I ate too much food.  I have always been the kind of person that would take another plate of food over dessert any day.

-         Brown-bag it!!  The necessity of packing and taking my lunch to work everyday, including my snacks.  I always joke that my lunch box is the size of a small suitcase!  I simply cannot let myself get hungry!  Not only because I get a headache and get grumpy, but also because I am also in danger of eating everything in sight once I do get food.  Now I am always prepared by taking snacks and water with me no matter where I go! 

So where am I now?

Get FINE in 2009

 Action Plan

Step 1

admitting I had a problem that I wanted to fix.   CHECK
Step 2
form an action plan to carry out that plan – CHECK
Step 3
get informed and acquire the knowledge that I would need to best tackle my problem – CHECK
Step 4
follow-through and WORKING MY BUTT OFF, no pun intended! …still to come
Step 5
maintain the weight loss so that I stay healthy from now on. …still to come

In case you missed it yesterday, you can find PART ONE (with lots of before pictures) here.  And please stay tuned for PART 3 tomorrow, where I share how I implemented what I learned, what I did to start getting active, and when I actually started to feel the difference and started shedding some pounds.  


  1. You have some GREAT resources and suggestions for folks that are ready to make the change to a healthy lifestyle. I love your enthusiasm> I think it's cool how you used the "eat this, not that" stuff. I always see it and try to remember it when ordering at arestaurant or whatever. Anyway, definitely feel inspired after reading this post!

  2. The one thing I have learned from you is the importance of simply-just DOING it!! Make the decision, and follow through..plain and simple. You are a living example if that. Oh, and I also learned to eat all day long :) Let me say-my girl, Leti brings snacks everywhere she goes!!! She's never without her cooler, hence her metabolism is though the roof!! :)