Taking Advantage of the “Free” Time

It wasn’t too long ago that I was at the healthy weight I wanted to be at, keeping in shape for a while. Then specialists appointments and evaluations and youth sports and changes of medication all hit at a time that ended up snowballing into weight gain. Combined with the fact that once you pop over that 30s milestone, your metabolism is nowhere near what it used to be. I didn’t prioritize myself, which is a common factor among most women who are struggling to breathe most days let alone worry about whether or not they got their workout in.

Right before the pandemic hit, I had been switched to a new medication and was able to start losing weight. Then that weight loss vanished and went to a significant gain while I had to manage my workload, remote learning responsibilities, trying to be an occupational therapist with no training, and managing reminding my oldest about his AP exams. Then there was the also trying to keep everyone behaved upstairs and on task while keeping the youngest away from Daddy, who was working in a makeshift office in the basement.

One of the problems that happened with my first round of weight loss was that I stuck to a severely strict diet, which really wasn’t going to be maintainable after the fact. I didn’t care, I just wanted to lose the weight fast. I enjoy working out, it’s just finding the time. I enjoy salads, fruits, and veggies. It’s just when you add in other things, such as convenience meals and eating on the go, that becomes a problem.

I had to take a look at what my problem was. It wasn’t that I over-indulged when eating. Even at my heaviest, I couldn’t eat a lot in a single sitting. My problem was the snacking. The mindless eating at my computer as I worked or when I stress ate snacks without paying attention to how much of it I was eating throughout the day. Those are the things that added up. Those were the real lifestyle changes I needed to make.

After doing some research, I did find myself interested in intermittent fasting. What this would do is take an entire piece out of this equation: the mindless eating as I worked. By timing my daily “fasting” with my work schedule, I would eat a light lunch of a sandwich or salad at around 1 or 2, eat supper at 5:30-6:30, and maybe have a light snack if I felt like it at the end of the day. I would eat in the kitchen, standing at the counter after I made my lunch. If I wasn’t done with work, I would go back to it after I ate and was careful to only bring a glass of water back with me. I would not eat anything past 8 or 9, and do the routine again the next morning.

I didn’t work out the couple weeks of the fasting. I wanted to see it work on its own and I manage to lose about 5-10lbs by sticking to that. I focused on portion sizes without giving up something I enjoyed. For instance, I would only have a single slice of pizza and eat a leafy green salad. The important thing was to I wanted to make sure there wasn’t any negative side effects, like dizziness or other issues that would impact working out. Plus, losing a little weight before getting back into it would probably make working out more effective, or at least help me have the stamina to do a workout.

Here we are today. I started probably back in the latter part of May and I’ve successfully hit a major milestone and am back to my pre-quarantine weight, if not less. But it’s not about the weight. It’s about staying sane in a time when things are on fire in the world around me. I do yoga every morning, followed by a workout or two (dance workouts, usually). On days when I feel overwhelmed, I do another workout (usually something like an MMA-style workout) instead of grabbing a snack. I feel better afterwards, and I’m getting healthier and stronger every day.

This isn’t about looking cute in clothing or trying to make my husband happy by getting into shape (because he honestly doesn’t care about that). My priority is getting healthy because I want to be healthier. Before, it was about getting into my pre-baby clothes or that astonishingly skinny level I was at when I was a teenager/early twenties. That was another change in mindframe from the last time I lost weight. I wanted to not look horrible in photos or out in public. This change of focus has really been a key factor in my success.

The takeaway here: my approach changed and my weight loss has been significantly more successful. I didn’t lose much during my dreaded female time, because I can barely function like an actual adult, but I still lost something. I acknowledged the realities of why I gained weight/maintained higher weight, and adjusted it to my lifestyle. It’s not about looking good; it’s about feeling good. It’s not about following a bunch of rules or giving up the things you enjoy; it’s about learning how to enjoy them in a different way. These are the things that helped me. Intermittent fasting isn’t an ideal choice for everyone, for health reasons. But this was the best way to resolve an issue I had with my eating habits.

I look forward to what the future will bring in this new journey to a healthier me. Because this is something sustainable. And I look forward to not feeling too terrible to run so I can get back to that. If you want to get healthier, the point is to find the best approach for you because we’re all different. You need to find something that you can stick to. And you need to be sure that you do it for you.

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