Trust me, I wish there were a magic pill that would effortlessly melt away the pounds.
I mean, really....how nice would that be? Just pop the pill in your mouth each morning, wash it down with a chilled can of soda and scarf a couple donuts along with it...and then just watch the pounds magically disappear.
Yeah and you might as well believe that childbirth isn't painful, while you're at it.
The REAL secret to losing weight is that there IS no secret. It takes tons of hard work, patience, persistence and an extreme amount of willpower.
How do I know? Because my life for the last 9 months has consisted of nothing other than hard work, patience, persistence and an extreme amount of willpower. And I'm happy to share what's been working for me so far.
January 2011 May 2011
That first picture is downright embarrassing. I look bloated, tired and just plain old. That's the heaviest I've ever been.
It was taken after a particularly grueling workout, having been convinced that I would be happy to have this picture to reflect on someday of how far I've come (SO true!).
You see, at the beginning of the year, one of my good friends convinced me and another friend to take on a personal trainer at a local gym here in town. We were totally on board, loving the idea of getting in shape together. We're all busy moms with 9 kids between the 3 of us but we were committed to making 2011 the year where we would take our health more seriously and finally do this.
We met with one of the owners of the gym and he recommended one of their female trainers, Jillian.
The minute I heard the name Jillian, I'll admit I had a vision of a totally rock-hard, muscle-clad chick yelling in my face, "Pick your fat, pathetic ass up off the floor and get back on the freakin' treadmill NOW!"
I imagined her breaking me down emotionally and getting in my face, making me reveal to her the deep, dark secret I was harboring, which was ultimately preventing me from losing weight.
And then she'd be all disappointed when my juicy confession went something like this, "Well, it was a combination of severe sleep deprivation, leftover pregnancy hormones and, simply, my love for Ben and Jerry's Phish Food that made my ass puff up to a size XXL."
Much to my delight, Jillian wasn't like that at all. I instantly liked her, even though I would soon learn she was born the year I graduated from high school.
But how could I hold that against her...it wasn't her fault that she had no clue who Joan Jett was OR that she lacked even one ounce of cellulite on her youthful body.
So we jumped in with both feet and hit the ground running. At first, we worked out with Jillian 2 days a week but then, shortly, as we would go over our schedules for the following weeks, she'd increase our workouts to 3 days, then 4 days and, soon, 5 days a week.
At first, the weight came off slowly...like, super slowly...often leaving me frustrated and wanting to throw the towel in.
That's when it became apparent that exercise wasn't the problem....my diet was the problem. I wasn't eating enough.
Yeah, that's what I said....not eating enough. I was taking in maybe 900-1000 calories a day, with the belief that I needed to cut back the amount of food I ate to lose weight.
In reality, my body was hanging on to every single calorie, especially on the days I worked out.
Poor Jillian kept trying to get me to realize that I needed to increase my calories in order to shed some serious pounds. It seemed so backwards and I had a difficult time accepting the fact that I was supposed to be eating anywhere from 1400-1500 calories a day.
Once I finally came to grips with the idea of seeing food no longer as my enemy but more as fuel for my body, that's when the weight began to come off at a quicker rate. I was burning fat and, at the same time, gaining muscle...resulting in a faster metabolism, which helped me drop even more weight.
Since August, I've discontinued working out with Jillian because Tim and I agreed to only a 6-month gym membership.
As crazy as it sounds, I miss her kicking my ass in the gym on a daily basis. I was never one to look forward to working out but there's definitely something about having a personal trainer on your side, looking out for your best interests and helping you stay motivated toward reaching your goal.
Now, for exercise, I take walks often, which is a wonderful family activity. This usually consists of my kids riding their bikes and me chasing after them, panting like an old fart as they scream, "Come on, Mommy....hurry up!"
Or I'll do one of the levels of Jillian Michael's 30-Day Shred DVD, as I yell at that crazy bitch the whole time and wonder how the hell she stays in shape when she basically just stands there during the entire 27 minutes and yaks at us about "not phoning it in".
As far my daily diet, I still stick to the 12 Power Foods (ala The Abs Diet, which is mentioned in my list below). I'm always switching things up...taking in 1200 calories one day and maybe 1400 the next. The key to my success, I have found, is constantly keeping my body guessing at what might come next.
I've dropped a total of 35 pounds so far (a total of 21 inches lost!). In addition, I've been able to lower my dosage of thyroid medication and discontinue the cholesterol meds my doctor had me on.
I've got another 15 pounds to go to reach my final goal. There have been weeks that have passed where I've lost absolutely no weight at all, between vacations and nothing other than pure laziness.
And, truth be told, there have been weeks where I've had a "screw this" mentality and I've eaten everything not nailed down. It certainly hasn't been all sunshine and roses.
While there are no quick fixes or easy ways to lose weight, I've found some things along the way which have been helpful....
1) Drink caffeinated green tea at least two times a day. According to some studies, green tea helps inhibit fat absorption and can also increase metabolism.
2) Eat 3 servings a day of low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Dairy is known to help the body absorb less fat.
3) Take supplements. I take fish oil capsules, calcium with D3, a multivitamin and L-Carnitine. While I do eat fish at least 2-3 times a week, I take the fish oil capsules mainly to help with my mood and to help lower my cholesterol but it also has been shown to help with weight loss.
I heard about L-Carnitine after watching a Dr. Oz segment. It's supposed to help your cells burn fat more effectively and increase your energy level, which I've definitely noticed since beginning to take these.
4) Eat every 2-3 hours. Instead of 3 large meals, eat 6 small meals.
5) Carbs and fats are not the enemy, as long as they're from healthy sources. Carbs can be whole grains or from fruits and veggies....good fats can come from nuts, fish, olive oil and canola oil.
The perfect snack = a 1/4 cup of almonds and an apple or a few whole grain crackers smeared with hummus and a handful of grapes!
6) Stop the insane cardio routines! Mix strength training in with your cardio to help tone and sculpt your body. Yes, muscle weighs more than fat BUT muscle increases your metabolism so you burn calories at a faster pace. Lifting weights will NOT turn you into a tough looking quarterback!
7) The New Abs Diet. Seriously, it works. I hit a plateau shortly into my weight loss "adventure" and happened to stumble upon this diet. After reading the book, I shared it with Jillian to get her thoughts on it and she was just as excited as I was to try something different.
It basically consists of eating 12 power foods each day, like nuts, green veggies, eggs, etc. What I love about this plan is that it's realistic. It's not necessarily a diet but more of a lifestyle change because you can honestly maintain this way of eating for the rest of your life.
You are discouraged from eating white sugar, white flour, white pasta...all the foods that have their nutrients stripped from them.
But...and this is a huge BUT...you are encouraged to have one cheat meal per week while you're trying to lose weight. Yes, you can have whatever you want! And once you're at your goal weight, you can even have an entire cheat day! The author of the book actually says that a cheat meal/day is an absolute necessity in order to shock your body and change things up. What's wierd is that I tend to drop the most weight after my cheat meal. Go figure.
The book also shares a workout plan, along with pictures describing each move. It doesn't require you to spend hours at the gym or expect you to go for a 3-mile walk every day. The workouts are concise and spend your energy wisely so you get the best workout possible in a minimum amount of time.
8) Get a workout buddy. Not only does working out with someone keep you accountable, you'll benefit from the encouragement and support of someone who's doing this side by side with you.
I'm definitely not a weight loss expert by any means or being paid to endorse the Abs Diet...I simply wanted to share what's been working for me so far.
So, the moral to the story, is that there is no secret to losing weight...no quick fixes, no magical pills or powders (as much as the Kardashian sisters would like you to believe)...
It just takes some good old-fashioned hard work to get the results you want, people.
Got a tip you want to share, which has helped you lose weight and stay motivated? I'd love to hear it!