Friday, July 27, 2012

How I lost 75 pounds - PART 3: What I did to lose the weight…

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 and learning about eating the right foods, calories in vs. out and portion control that I got my MIND healthy.  Now it was time to get the BODY healthy too.  And by body, I mean starting with my head and going all the way down to my feet!!


To get my body healthy, I took these 3 steps:

Step 1 changed my attitude

Step 2 changed my diet

Step 3 changed my physical activity 

In this post, I will explain these four things and how I went about doing them.

Just in case you missed them, here are the two previous posts in this series, PART ONE and PART TWO.

Step 1 I changed my attitude…

First, I had to get my head straight and change my attitude toward this whole “getting healthy” thing!!  I also had to make healthy living a habit that would stick with me, hopefully, for the rest of my life.  I had a come-to-Jesus meeting with myself (so to speak, but I definitely knew I was going to need His help too!) to get things straight with me.


I knew if this was ever actually going to work, I had to be patient.


Above all, I decided that if I was really going to do this, failure was not an option.  


So I completely changed my lifestyle.  Fortunate for me, I was blessed in the sense that my husband was 100% supportive and on-board because he wanted to get healthier too. 

When I say it was a LIFESTYLE CHANGE, I am not exaggerating!! 

I completely changed:
-         my attitude
-         the foods I ate
-         how I ate
-         the times I ate
-         the way I prepared the foods I ate, AND started writing down and keeping track of everything I ate, AND the amount of physical activity that I did (well…I went from zero to lots, basically)

Step 2  I changed my diet…

Honestly, it was the food part that had me the most worried.  I love to eat and knew that I would need to control this part the most.  So the first thing I did when I decided to get healthy was change my diet because I had heard 70% of weight loss was what you eat. 

So I started eating a more balanced diet.  I started eating more veggies, especially green ones because I had read all about the benefits of getting enough fiber.  I also upped my protein intake, and started drinking protein shakes and eating Greek yogurt and cottage cheese.  I was lifting weights at the gym and knew protein would help that muscle build faster and stronger, and I was looking forward to arms that didn’t jiggle! 

I started eating lean meats such as fish, chicken and ground turkey, and extra-lean cuts of steak and pork.  I added in whole grain breads, pastas, rice, and oats and discovered new things like quinoa and wheat berries.  I started drinking lots of water, and started taking vitamins, and watched my sugar intake. 

I started packing my lunch – and snacks – for work every day so that I wouldn’t be tempted to go get fast food during my lunch break or buy a sweet treat out of the vending machine in the Teacher’s Lounge.  Not only did I save my waistline I saved some money too! 

I was realistic, though, and implemented a “cheat day” every Sunday where I could still have the foods and treats that I wanted.  As time went by, though, and I started really assimilating my new way of eating, I found that I didn’t need the cheat days as often, and that I actually craved veggies!  Not only that, knowing how hard and how long I had to work to burn off that dessert, was the only deterrent I really needed! 

I continue these healthy habits to this day, and since healthy eating and exercise have become a part of my daily life, I don’t really ever even thing twice about them. 

Step 3 I changed my physical activity… 

 …or, started actually started working out.  That’s probably more accurate to say! J

I knew the working out part wouldn’t be too hard for me.  I had been an athlete for most of my life.  I knew that working out 3-4 times a week was for maintenance and 5-6 times a week was for weight loss.  I knew about creating a calorie deficit and that burning 3,500 calories would equal one pound lost.  I knew that high-impact cardio activity, coupled with weight training to build muscle and burn fat, was the best way to go.  I knew these things…but actually doing them would be a whole other story!


I wish I could say that the first thing I did was check with my doctor (as any good fitness pro will tell you to do) to make sure I was physically ready and able to launch my 5-6 times a week high-impact/vigorous cardio activity routine. But I didn’t.  Matter of fact my first time back to the gym I did a Step class and just about died.  Almost, but not quite. J


I wish I could say the next thing I did was go out and invest in cute new workout clothes and some good-quality cross training shoes.  But I didn’t.  Matter of fact, I used old gym clothes and hand-me-down Nikes.

I wish I could say that I did the smart thing and slowly and cautiously eased into a workout routine so as not to harm my body or injure myself.  But I didn’t.  Matter of fact, my first week back to the gym (after seven years of very little physical activity) I went six days in a row, and ended up doing Step classes, Zumba classes, and Body Pump.  I’m a “full monty” kinda person.  I almost did because the classes were crazy hard…but I kept at it.


Here’s what I DID do:

1. I bought a heart-rate monitor to start tracking calories burned and learned all about my heart-rate zones!  To read more about this, click here. 

2. I figured out approximate calories burned in the different exercises that I was doing.  I really wanted to know so that I could keep track of calories in vs. out (and know when I could eat a little more!).  I used the website NutriStrategy to help me, but there are a couple more that you could also use, here and here.

3. I became a gym rat and started working out ALL THE TIME!!  I did a variety of different types of workouts so I wouldn’t get bored: step aerobics, spinning, Pliates, body pump…and later added Zumba and running.


And I knew, from past experience, that after the first couple of weeks of panting, dying, and wanting to quit, my body would adjust and the physical part would get easier more manageable.   


I started working out in March and by July I had dropped about 20 pounds.  I worked out all summer and by the beginning of the next year (2010) had dropped another 20.  By now I had lost about 40 pounds in a little less than a year.  One thing I noticed is that the weight was coming off a lot more slowly now (that I was 30) than it had when I was 22 and had lost all of that weight when I first moved to Houston.  I continued to workout and weight train and maintained my weight loss because of this, but also because by now I had learned how to eat.  That summer I hit it hard at the gym, working out twice a day and really concentrating on my weight-training program. 


Because of this, I lost another 20 pounds.  It was shortly after that that I hit a plateau and felt like it was time to kick it up a notch.  That’s when I started running.  By the end of 2010, I had run two more 5Ks and a 5 miler.  I ran six more races in the Spring of 2011, and dropped another 15 pounds. 



So here I am now, three years and 75 pounds lighter.  I have lost body fat, gained muscle, am healthier than I have ever been, feel better than I’ve ever felt, eat better than I’ve ever eaten…and I’m a runner!  I finally got my mojo back…and worked darn hard to find it…so I am not about to do anything to jeopardize it! J  I wish I could say it’s been an easy journey but I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I did.

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! – CHECK
Step 5
maintain the weight loss so that I stay healthy from now on. …still to come


***Stay tuned for Part 4, the last post in the series, where I share my AFTER pictures and talk about what I do to stay healthy and maintain the weight loss.***

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