There I was. Lying on my back on a vinyl covered exam table with needles sticking out of my shins, doing my best to lie still and let the dry needling do its work without damaging the tender tissues beneath them. The receptionist asked my Physical Therapist, “Are there any bacon donuts left?” “There is one”, he replied, “…and I will fight you for it!” As much as I was charged with lying still, my head popped up, showcasing the look of confusion that draped over my face. “Is this not an office of healthcare professionals? And you are arguing over bacon covered donuts?” My Physical Therapist, who actually turned out to be a decent guy, but highly skilled at mansplaining and letting me know that he indeed has a Master’s Degree, and my Personal Training certification is laughable, noted to me that they work out enough, so they can eat whatever they want. I laughed, “I work out enough to know that you can’t shovel garbage in your mouth regardless of the amount of time you spend working out.”
So what makes me so smart? It’s ok, I’m used to having to demonstrate that I’m not actually just full of opinions. When I was in high school, I was 5’8″ and 115 lbs, or about 52 kg. I was somewhat active, ate what my parents put in front of me, snacked on celery and ice burg lettuce, which I always called “watery goodness” because I loved them both. As soon as I started working, I ate Taco Bell, Burgers, Fries, Shakes, and stopped activity. By the time I was 31 years old, I was up to 265 lbs, or 120kg. I had been asked, whilst purchasing a package of cigarettes, why I’m still smoking since I was pregnant, when I was not pregnant. I was asked to join a group in my employers inagural ‘Biggest Loser’ challenge, because they needed someone on their team who could really stand to lose a lot and help the team win. My chiropractor fired me as a patient (though to this day, he argues he didn’t fire me, he just told me he couldn’t help me if I wasn’t willing to make some changes. As it turns out, I have been rehired as a patient). It took me 13 months to lose 125 lbs. I never quite got back to my high school weight, but that never mattered to me and still doesn’t.
Since I went through this very public change, many of my work aquaintances felt like they went through the change with me. I have heard everything from, “You have lost too much weight, and you look too skinny” to overly excited male co-workers who were convinced that I lost weight for their benefit, and began to pay me unwanted attention to the point of inappropriate behavior. People who had always scoffed at me, and treated me like I was less than human suddenly wanted to be friends and go out to lunch. People I thought were friends were suddenly so overcome with jealousy because I was now receiving attention, that they could no longer be my friend anymore. Unconsciously, people still watch what I eat and judge everything I consume and weigh in on whether or not I should be eating this or that, even though it’s been almost 10 years since I completed the weight loss journey. Interestingly enough, I did not win the ‘Biggest Loser’ challenge. However, I am the only participant that has kept the weight off. I am a legend amongst my peers. When new people come to work there, I am introduced as the person “…who lost half of her body weight”.
Now, this is not a Trump-style bragging party. I just want for you, dear reader, to know the point of view from which I have gained first hand knowledge of food, weight, exercise, and general health, and what each can and can’t accomplish.
Yes…these are my before and afters (you can see more of my story here: https://www.oxygenmag.com/fat-loss/head-games-11222
I generally need to plan on interruptions to my daily routine for the quiet question that always comes. “Chris, what is the fastest way I can lose weight?” I do not receive this question with an eye roll or a sigh. I am immediately taken to that place of complete desperation. I know that I have a problem, but I have no idea what to do. I will admit that usually I will laugh at the question itself, not to put the asker down, but because the question is related 100% to the story I started with. We have a massive problem as a society. If I want something, I can go on the mystical interwebs, tell my friend Amazon that I NEED to have a robot vacuum cleaner, and I can have it to my door in 2 hours. Not only that, but we put so much faith into our health care providers, that they know EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING, when in reality, doctors are not required to have any education in diet or exercise. I don’t mean to pick on my Physical Therapist, but his comment demonstrates my point beautifully.
So let’s get to the meat and potatoes of the deal, shall we? Losing weight is not as simple as calories in less than calories out. Side note: Everytime I hear someone spew this as fact, I want to punch them in the throat. If our bodies were that simple and that predictable, then we wouldn’t have any problems with losing weight. If you say this, do me a favor..don’t. It’s not that simple. There are many factors that play in, but the best place to start is always in the beginning. My first bit of advice is to look at what you eat. When I ask this question, 100% response is “I don’t eat very much, that’s why don’t understand why I’m so big!” Then I ask them to take me through breakfast. “I eat oatmeal! Oatmeal is good for your cholesterol!” So I dig deeper. What kind of oatmeal? Homemade or packaged? I have actually been asked how it is possible to make homemade oatmeal. I don’t blame people. I blame convenience food companies. Then we get to talking about lunch, “I only eat a frozen Mac and Cheese meal!” So, you start to see the pattern. “Hear me now, and believe me later”(Hanz and Franz):
You can’t put garbage in your body and expect it to react well.
You need protein. You NEED carbohydrates. YOU NEED FAT. Your body is like a Ferrari. When you feed it quality fuels, you will see results. Protein sources need to be quality. Hot dogs, processed meats, highly salted meats are not quality. Beans, nuts, vegetables (yes vegetables do have protein), quinoa, fish, chicken, turkey. Seasoned but not heavily salted. Grilled, roasted, steamed…not fried. If you choose to rock a protein shake, and I do this for breakfast, find one that’s not full of sugar and garbage. I like Sun Warrior products. I can’t speak to whey protein, as I have no experience here. READ INGREDIENTS! If you don’t know what it is, question it.
Stay away from as much packaged/convenience foods as possible. This is where I usually get the most resistance. “Chris, I don’t have the time to make meals!” Listen to yourself. You absolutely do have time. I don’t have any more time in my day than anyone else. In fact, I may have less because I go to bed by 8pm every night. Every time you are on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Hulu, etc, ask youself if you have time then. Even I get caught up in time wasters! It’s our nature. Somehow, though, I can still exercise every day, walk my dogs, make dinner, clean and do laundry, work full time, plan meals, pack lunches, blog, take French lessons with Duolingo, and more! We all have the same tick-tock.
Losing weight takes a lot of self exploration, examination, and above all, honesty. You are going to have to call yourself out on your own bull puckey. I tend to waste a lot of time on news shows. I try to keep my political leanings at bay, but the state of the world really gets me in a tizzy. I often have to have a stearn conversation with myself. “Chris…are you going to change the state of things by watching hours of this, or are you going to change things by talking to other people, getting people excited about voting and the future, being kind, talking about common ground so people with a differing opinion might see that we are all just people, not the enemy?” I limit my intake now to NPR in the car to and from work, and one national nightly news. OK, two. I like Vice. I will post more on organization strategies in a future blog. I know you are on the edge of your seat!
- Journal what you eat for two weeks, and don’t cheat. Every single thing that goes in your mouth, beverages included, gets logged.
- Pay attention to ingredients. Even items that tout ‘Only five ingredients’ can have two piles of crap contained in the 5. Fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and meats are always better than convenience foods.
- Know what is considered a serving size, and use that information to reduce your intake to what is acceptable. A serving of ice cream is 1/2 a cup. Not 1/2 a carton. Live by it! Measure it out! Get a scale and weigh it. You don’t have to do it forever, because after a while, you will instinctively know.
- Don’t think that your doctor knows. I’m not advising you to ignore your doctor’s advice, and I am in no way educated as a doctor. What I am saying is, get a Registered Dietician involved in the fight! You are the only person who has lived in your body for your whole life. Guidelines are guidelines. But what I know is that every single BODY is different. Learn what works for you and what doesn’t and go with that. If you have stomach aches, what you are doing isn’t working for you. Learn to recognize and listen to the language of your body.
- Plan it and stick to it. If you are going to lose weight, stick with it! If you screw up on a meal, move on and do better.
- Know that you can’t just exercise bad choices away. Once you put the garbage in, your body isn’t going to forgive you just because you walked an extra mile. That’s nonsense. Know that food choices are totally independent of exercise.
- DRINK WATER.
- GIVE UP SODA. What is soda anyway. Read the can. Still sure you want that in your Ferrari? (Hint: IT IS GARBAGE)
- Acknowledge a job well done. Learn to reward yourself with things other than food. Do good on your eating plan? Allow yourself some alone time, take a walk, get a new top…treats do not have to equal sweets!
- Sleep. Yes, you heard me. Sleep 7-8 hours a night. Your body needs it. Don’t sleep all day. Just 7-8 hours should do the trick.
- Talk to people who have actually been though weight loss SUCCESSFULLY. Everyone has an opinion. Surround yourself with people who will guide you, encourage you, and have actual experience. Don’t listen to all the noise coming your way. Focus on the facts from people who have been through it and fight the good fight DAILY!
I am here for you. You can reach out to me in the ‘Contact’ form, and I will always respond. You are worth every sacrifice. It is never to late! If there is one thing that I have learned, through all of my ups and downs, it is this…
You’re probably not crazy!