So, last week we flashed back to what made me start changing in the first place. This week, I’m going to explain how I lost 50 pounds in 6 months and all the stupid things I did to get there.
Like I said, I started losing weight in June 2009, and before I found anything online…I probably was losing weight the best way for my body. For the first three weeks or so, I practiced what I now know is called “intutive eating.” I was simply a bit lazy and not to into the whole weight loss idea yet, so I told myself I wouldn’t eat unless I was truly hungry, I’d eat smaller portions, get more fruits and veggies, and attempt some kind of exercise. This was a very low stress way of doing things, and I think my first month I lost about four pounds. I was tracking on FitDay off and on, and eating between 1700-1800 calories a day.
Then, in July, I found Sparkpeople. Let me be clear: I like this website, and I think their general outlook is good, but I think there are some flaws in their system that can really screw people up if they’re not knowledgeable about finess. Sparkpeople recommended I eat 1200-1500 calories a day. I immediately freaked out and thought, “ohmygod, I’ve been totally pigging out before! No wonder I’ve only lost four pounds in a month.” Naturally, I decided 1200 calories was much better than 1500, and never, ever let myself eat more than 1250 calories a day. At this point, I was working out six days a week, for an hour a day. I obsessed over every tiny nibble. Did I lose weight? Oh, yeah. Tons of it. Fast. This is me, in August 2008:
In September of 2008, I challenged myself to not take a single rest day for the entire month. (facepalm) Rest was bad! I was lazy if I rested! I achieved this awful goal and worked out every single day, either a workout DVD or running. Sparkpeople adjusted my calorie intake up a little slightly to account for the increased exercise, but I was still eating maybe 1400 calories a day, maximum. At this point, I was probably about 170 pounds and burning 600 calories/day through exercise, leaving my body a measly 800 calories to subsist on every day. The calories I was getting at this point were largely processed–Special K for breakfast, Lean Cuisine and HFCS-infested yogurt for lunch–and I was eating mostly simple carbs.
This is October 2008, probably pretty close to the peak of my weight obsession:
I was addicted to two things at this point: the scale and the compliments. Tim, I think, was a little worried about me, because I weighed myself obsessively. Confession: Tim, you thought I only weighed myself every morning, but I was doing it probably six times a day. Just about every time I went to the bathroom, I’d strip down and weigh myself. The tiniest fluctuations would freak me out. In October, he started hiding the scale from me and only letting me have it every few days, because we talked and I told him how I was feeling.
Another confession: when he was hiding the scale from me, I still weighed myself at the gym.
I was also addicted to the compliments and positive attention. When you go from 200 pounds to 150 pounds in 6 months, people notice. I’m a big old attention hog, which is partially why I have this blog, but I LOVED it. I was obsessed with the idea of seeing my family for the first time at Thanksgiving and doing a “big reveal.” I did, and everyone was impressed, and I got positive reinforcement for my unhealthy habits. By Thanksgiving, I was running 6-7 miles a day on the treadmill, 6-7 days a week. I didn’t cross train, I didn’t lift weights, and I didn’t really enjoy what I was doing. I did it because I had to or, ohmygosh, I’d get fat again. I may not be the most enthusiastic exerciser all the time now, but I do what sounds at least somewhat fun to me and I focus on the health benefits of it now rather than what burns the most calories.
Finally, and thankfully, in December of 2008 two things happened that really changed how I thought about myself. First, I got a stress fracture in my foot from all that compulsive running, and second, I discovered and read The New Rules of Lifting for Women. I’ll talk about how these changed my outlook on fitness on the next Flashback Friday–maybe not next week, because of Christmas, but soon.
In sum, here are the things I did wrong and I wish I’d learned at the beginning:
- Somewhat paradoxically, your body needs food to lose weight the healthy way. Eating too few calories for my activity level made me weak, anxious, and probably unpleasant, and led to injury. Eating too little can stall weight loss because your body thinks it’s starving. Sometimes, you need to eat more to lose more. A car with no fuel won’t move, and a body with no fuel will remain similarly stagnant.
- Weight is secondary to health. I weigh 162-ish pounds now, but I’m stronger, happier, and healthier than I was as a 150 pound person who didn’t lift, restricted calories too much, and used exercise as punishment. Focus on being healthy–your weight will follow.
- Weigh yourself once a week, once every two weeks, but don’t get in the every day habit. I thought I could handle it, but it was really, really mentally taxing.
- Rest is just as important as exercise. Rest days are when your body builds muscle and repairs the damage exercise does. If you just keep tearing your muscles and bones down day after day after day, you’re going to get injured.
- Nobody’s perfect.
- Focus on learning what your body wants and is telling you it needs rather than calorie intake in the long run. In the beginning, yeah, I needed to count calories because my body was telling me it needed all sorts of crap it doesn’t need. But now that I’m healthier, if my body says, “Bananas, please,” I say “Okay, body,” but if it also sometimes says “I would very much like some pie,” I give it some, too.
What’s your “I wish I knew then what I knew now” thing?
Filed under: fitness, food, Uncategorized | Tagged: flashback friday, weight loss | 18 Comments »