I wrote about being diagnosed with diabetes a few months ago. It was really a blessing in disguise because, although I'd tried to lose weight over the years, I'd never put forth enough effort -- the diagnosis gave me the kick in the butt I needed. There was good news -- the diabetes had been caught early and if I could lose as little as 10 ten pounds, it would probably go away. Now, this didn't give me free reign to lose the weight and then stop worrying about it -- I will always have to be vigilant and will always carry the diagnosis.
At this point, I've lost about 15 pounds (depending on the scale I'm using -- but it's in that ballpark). And, while I don't have all the answers (who does?), I thought I'd share a few things I've learned. Each person, though, has to figure this out for themselves. Please know that everyone is different -- and what works for one person may not work for someone else. So, here we go:
*I'm doing this myself
First of all, I'm not knocking weight-loss programs like Jenny Craig or Nutrisytem. They have their place and they work great for some people. However, I needed to make a lifestyle change -- I wasn't in the market to lose X number of pounds and then return to my old habits. So, my choices were to either rely on pre-packaged foods forever, use them to lose a set amount of weight, then try to make it on my own or do this myself from the start. Since this was something I would have to deal with for the rest of my life, it made sense to make those changes immediately -- and on my own. If I had decided I needed help, I probably would have gone with a program like Weight Watchers.
*Slow is better than fast
It's seldom a good thing to lose weight quickly. A couple of pounds per week is quite enough. Folks who lose weight quickly tend to put it back on -- I'm not sure why this is except it probably has something to do with quick fixes not allowing enough time to develop a plan you can actually stick with long-term.
*Know and admit weaknesses
If there's a food you absolutely cannot resist, then don't have it in your house! This can be hard if others in your household don't need to avoid a certain food but, hopefully, they'll understand that you need to get your cravings under control. The fact of the matter is, if you leave it on the grocery shelf, it can't tempt you. In truth, my greatest weakness is eating out -- I don't really like to cook and other family members are very picky eaters -- so eating out is just plain easier. We all have our demons and that's mine. It's a struggle but I'm working on loving to cook. Okay, it ain't gonna' happen but I'm trying.
No matter what excuses you make or hear, refined sugar is evil. And it's not just the sugar content in cookies and candy bars and cakes -- there are massive amounts of sugar in many products. I had to learn to really pay attention to labels and to avoid items high in sugar -- for me, this is more important than calories or fat because of the diabetes; however, I learned that items with high sugar content quite often also have a high calorie count -- so it's two birds with one stone.
I've never been a big fruit eater but I've learned to be one. Fruit helps with sweet-cravings and has other properties which are excellent for health. We've always heard about "an apple a day..." Well, there seems to be a lot of truth in that. I try to eat at least one apple per day plus whatever other fruit I want.
*Exercise alone doesn't work
This is biggie. Exercise is discussed and discussed and discussed -- but I'd been exercising regularly for a long time and was underwhelmed with the results. But, when I changed my eating habits, the weight started coming off immediately. So, what have I deduced from this? Easy -- it's food that makes you fat. There I said it. Between watching my sugar intake and skipping the second helpings (unless it's veggies or fruit), I felt a difference during the first week of my "new life". The simple fact is, if you continue to take in more calories than you expend, exercise is not going to do the wonders the gurus claim it will.
*But exercise is still a good thing.
Exercise helps with overall health -- lowering blood pressure, giving you more stamina, helping you sleep, etc. But not all exercise is meant for all people -- figure out what you like to do. If you absolutely hate what you're doing, you will not want to do it. For me personally, there were a couple of things I knew right off the bat -- I won't go to a gym and I can't exercise without a TV. So, I have an an elliptical and a rower in my home -- and I try to use them for an hour, at least five days per week. I don't always reach my goal but I do the best I can. My hubby and I also try to walk when we're able. But I no longer depend on exercise only to lose weight. Again, it just won't work if you continue to overeat.
*Drink lots of water
The debate has gone back and forth about whether water helps you lose weight. All I know is that drinking water helps fill me up and, then, I don't get as hungry during the day. So, in that regard, it's very helpful. Sugar-free drinks help, too, but nothing beats water -- if for no other reason, it's just better for you. I do drink some diet-colas and Crystal Light -- and I drink coffee with skim milk. Milk, even skim, has sugar but this is the one area where I don't worry as much because the calcium is so important (especially at my age). So, I've cut out sugar elsewhere -- I've had to give up my beloved sweet tea -- and I don't skimp on milk.
*Stay off the scales
I do weigh myself from time to time but it's not a habit. There's nothing more frustrating than thinking you may have lost a pound or two but the scales say you haven't. And it's not good to get so wrapped up in a number that you forget the bigger picture -- which is an overall healthier lifetstyle.
*Stop the guilt trip
Sometimes I want and I have a piece of cheesecake or key lime pie. I do eat mac & cheese and potatoes. But I just don't do it every day. If I denied myself everything, all the time, then I'd go nuts. So, let yourself have a treat, here and there. This is nothing new -- folks have been saying this for ages -- but it's very true.
I would love to lose 50 pounds -- and maybe I can -- but it's not going to happen overnight or probably even over a year. So, I concentrate on losing one pound at a time -- but I'm never going to be skinny and wear a size 2.
*Don't call it a diet
Call it, yes, you got it -- a lifestyle change. A diet is a plan for a quick fix. A lifestyle change is forever.
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As an aspiring writer, I blog about whatever happens to move me at the moment -- though some posts contain serious content, my big-picture goal is to bring a little humor into an often humorless world! Welcome, y'all, and make yourself at home! Please make sure you update your bookmarks!
When you are offended at any man's fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger...Epictetus