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.

If the Exercise Doesn’t Kill You, the Food Just Might

Since giving birth a year ago, losing weight has been a bit of a struggle. Okay, it’s been a seemingly impossible task. I have been more successful lately since no longer having to take in extra calories for nursing purposes. Now, it’s all on me without an excuse of “well I just had a baby”. That excuse sailed the minute my baby turned one. I don’t need to lose weight for my husband; that poor sap loves me regardless. This is for me so I can feel myself again. I never once stopped to think that I would never want to feel my limbs again. To assist me in this, I use Noom. This app on my phone can easily be a credit to my losing the 15lbs I have since my stalemate with the scale after the scale stalled when I lost the water weight and swelling. Not bad in a month and a half.. I don’t think so anyways.

Exercise helps, but the main culprit is the food you take it and how much of it you take in. I count my calories… well I log my food so Noom can count my calories. It’s hard sometimes to enjoy yourself though, as I’m currently writing this while suffering through a Healthy Choice meal consisting of whole wheat ziti. The rest of the food wasn’t so bad… but damn that pasta tastes like cardboard. The rest of the meal was barely tolerable, leaving me to realize that Lean Cuisine makes the more palatable diet food. But Healthy Choice was on sale… I’ve started with Slim Fast shakes, which once you get over the weird chalky feeling left in your mouth and the constant need to shake it if you don’t chug it in one shot otherwise it tastes vile, isn’t so bad. I’m finding half the time lately I’m eating less because the food is sometimes terrible and not because I’m starving myself to be an anorexic twig.

I do my exercise diligently, alternating daily with which routines I do. Yesterday Noom dared me to do 10 “burpees”, which I had never heard of but decided after watching the video that it couldn’t be that bad. Today, my legs feel like they are detached from my body and I cringe when the baby asks to be picked up because I want to forget I have arms. I am happy to report I did successfully accomplish 13 of them though. But at what cost? I didn’t need to walk or do anything with my arms anyways. I’m a glutton for punishment so after Zumba tonight, I will try to beat my record. In fact, I’m going to try every day to beat whatever record I have set because if I’m this sore the day after, it must’ve been good for me.

That’s the biggest lesson I have taken away from this: if it tastes bad or makes you hurt afterwards, you’re doing it right. Not really. You can luck out and have fantastic diet food. Lean Cuisine pizzas are better tasting than most of the frozen pizzas I have come across. But you don’t necessarily have to restrict what you eat, sometimes just not having as much of it. Portions seem to be the real key. I’m losing weight, and I’m feeling pretty well. I have more energy, which is great because on days like today I feel like I need more energy to try and move my muscles around. I hope to meet my targets I have currently set: I want to be back to my pregnancy weight by my husband’s work’s Christmas part; I want to be a few pounds less than that for my birthday; and I want to be back down to my weight in college by the summer. These are achievable goals, especially if I keep at this nearly 15lbs a month loss. Losing weight takes work and it takes a level of discipline and will-power. You can’t expect to live off of fast food and take out and lose weight. Starving yourself makes matters worse, not better. And exercise is great for your physical and mental health. Don’t give up though, imagine how much time it took to put on that weight and it’ll probably take that if not more to lose it again. I focus on that and how I want to be around to see my future grandchildren, and it helps keep me focused and determined to get healthy.