Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Weigh-less Wednesdays

So, how'd you do it?

It's easily the question I get asked the most when people find out about my weight loss.

How'd you do it?

Sometimes I wish I really did have a secret. I wish there was something that would make people gasp, or run out to the nearest grocery store or drug store and buy Secret Weight Loss Formula.

But I don't have a secret. And it's really deflating, because inevitably there is no payoff. Question-asker goes away feeling empty-handed while answer-giver feels helpless.

How'd I do it?

There was no miracle cure. No magic potion. No pills or shots or vitamins or creams or lotions.

How'd I lose 120 pounds? I just ate right and exercised.

The exercise part... well, that's tough. Yeah, I can explain all about where I am now, how running 25-30 miles a week is great because I actually have to eat more calories than I would otherwise in order to sustain my body and give it the ability to log that many miles. But I only took up running after I crossed the century mark with my weight loss.

I could tell them about the initial exercises I did when I weighed more than 300 pounds, about how the first gym session I had with my trainer I did eight minutes on an exercise bike and seven minutes on an elliptical and how I was sore for about three days afterward, and how I started from the ground up, but a lot of the actual exercises and pieces of machinery I used would require us to go to the gym, and maybe the answer to "How'd you do it?" wasn't really intended to include a gym outing.

But I can tell them about the first part of my anticlimactic response, the "eat right" part. Now, I can't tell them specifically what kinds of foods to eat or rather stay away from. It's easier to say "omit sodas, fast food, chips, candy, cookies, things like that from your meal plan" than it is to say "incorporate more vegetables and fruits and whole grains" and such because the latter only works if you give up the former.

What I can tell them that will work, that is something I can personally say with utmost certainty, is this: eat five small meals a day.

Breakfast. AM snack. Lunch. PM snack. Dinner.

It worked for me. And isn't that what they wanted to know in the first place?

How'd you do it?

I counted calories. I limited myself to about 1800 calories a day (I believe the exact figure was 1734). I ate five small meals a day. I had a breakfast, like a bar or small bowl of cereal, which was about 200-300 calories. A piece of fruit for a snack added another 100 or so, and then at lunch I had maybe a sandwich and some plain yogurt with fruit, or a veggie wrap and some fruit, and that was maybe another 300-400 calories. After another piece of fruit for a PM snack I had only eaten about 900 calories, so I had about 800 calories to play with at dinner. Do you know what you can have for 800 calories? Lots of good stuff, like a chicken breast with some rice and maybe a roll, or a bowl of chicken tortilla soup, or even a plate of pasta with some garlic bread.

Well, that's kind of a long answer. But that's the heart of the matter. When I feel someone is genuinely interested in how I did it, I'll give them that sort of answer. If they're just reacting to having found out that I dropped more than 100 pounds, I'll say "It was the easiest plan to come up with but the hardest to follow: I ate right and exercised." I can sometimes feel the air come out of their balloon of excitement, as if they really did want the name of the magic elixir I used. And I really don't like to disappoint people, but they wanted the response.

I think sometimes they want me to say "I got surgery" which a lot of people assume I had. In fact, some people used to ask me if I had gotten sick. Now that I run marathons and half-marathons, it's pretty evident that I'm not sick so those assumptions went by the wayside.

Still, getting sick, having surgery or having consumed the perfect weight-loss drink would likely appease people more than saying "I ate right and exercised."

Boo! That's BORING!! That ain't no kind of answer!!!

Perhaps, but it's true.

I ate right.

I exercised.

I lost 120 pounds.

What more is there to say?


Book Worm Runs said...

People are always looking for that quick fix and are often dissapointed when it doesn't work out. Seriously, what happened to good old fashioned hard work like you did?? Way to go on doing it the right way and congrats on the weight loss! That is amazing :o)

Jephy's Mom said...

What I would want to know, would be how did you stop yourself from reaching for chips or cake when others around you were eating just that. How did you keep the discipline going for the weeks and months it took to lose the weight. Did you still have cravings to eat the way you used to? How did you block out the emotional pull to food that actually has nothing to do with hunger. To me that is where the magic comes in.

tahoegirl said...

Why does one (me) gain weight during marathon training? Boo! I am so amazed by your journey.

Kathrin said...

I experience the exact same thing. While my weight loss by far is not as impressive as your's, I get the same question. And my answer is "Changed my diet and started working out"... It's sure not what people want to hear, but there is no miracle cure for this... Even with surgery, people don't stay thin if they don't change their lifestyle. And top of that, being thin doesn't also necessarily mean being fit or/and healthy.

In order to make a longterm change you have to change your habits longterm. So simple and so hard at the same time.

Tales from the Back of the Pack said...

To Jephy's Mom above: It's a very slow process (5 years for me) to finally easily be able to NOT reach for those chips or cake. There were many times I did reach for the chips and cake but would shake it off and move forward. Don't give up!

Nobody wants to know it takes years to lose and maintain a significant weight loss, but think about it, do you still want to be overweight years from now? May as well get started!

Glenn Jones said...

Outstanding! Congratulations on your accomplishment.