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Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Struggle to Lose Weight

Anyone who has never had to struggle with weight is very lucky. An ABC news reports in 2012, 12 billion dollars was spent on various forms of weight loss products and aid, everything from gym memberships, to pills, to fads, to books and more. Clearly, most people have or struggle with trying to lose weight.

Like everyone else I have struggle with my weight, losing weight then successfully keeping it off. My senior year of college and the year after I graduated, I ran 3.2 miles a day and dropped to 98lb. However, I ended up hurting my knee and started law school which prevented me from running as often, or really at all. So I put the weight back on plus a few pounds. Recently I have decided that I need to shed the pounds and be toned and fit again. But I really did lack motivation. I would look at all the clothes in my closet that I love so much and can’t wear and I became sad at what I was and how I just let it all go when it came to my health. Getting “back into” working out is just as challenging as losing the weight. I became determined to find little motivations to help me get up off the couch and back on the treadmill.

First, I had to accept I couldn’t jump back in and run 3.2 miles in 25 minutes like I used to. I have to build back up to that, which is frustrating. So, I have started slow by walking and every week increasing the speed and incline. I am now up to a 5.6 speed on an 8.0 incline and I do this for about an hour. In two weeks I’ll walk a mile then run a mile then walk a mile for a cool down.

Coming home from a long day of work, cooking dinner, then hopping on the treadmill is not how I want to spend my evenings. Especially because I am so exhausted by the time I get home. Instead I thought, maybe if I lose a little weight I’ll have more energy, then I’ll at least be inclined to work out. I made 4 easy adjustments to my day and diet and dropped 5lbs. I felt better, looked a little better and found that at least 3 days a week I could make myself get on the treadmill. These worked for me and gave me motivation so I hope they will work for you too.

1. Remove carbs from just one meal a day. I kept a food journal for two weeks and when I went back and read it, I noticed just how many bad carbs I was consuming a day. I love carbs, pastas, bread, all of it, but I didn’t need to be eating as many as I was. Think about it, if you have cereal for breakfast (carb), sandwich for lunch (carbs) and spaghetti for dinner (carb), you just had carbs at every meal! I knew I could not cut out all carbs, so I decided to have one carb free meal each day. Instead of ceral I’ll have yogurt and a banana, or for lunch I’ll do a chicken Caesar salad. Taking away carbs from just one meal is simple. I had to consciously think about it for the first two weeks, but now it is easy to do. Planning breakfast and lunch for a week in advance really helps too.

2. Drink lots of water. Sounds easy enough, but you’d be surprised how much water people do not drink water daily. In the morning many people drink coffee and at lunch maybe a caffeine soda to keep them going, maybe even another soda or cup of coffee at their desk during the day. I don’t drink coffee, but I do drink Diet Coke, a lot. I always rationalized my Diet Coke consumption by saying, “at least there are no calories or sugar, so it’s not that bad”. My mother-in-law gave me one of those cute little plastic tumblers with a straw for Easter last year and I never really used it. I brought the thing to work and now drink 5 cups of water a day. All that water actually helps you stay hydrated (good for your skin) and helps keep water weight off because your body isn’t retaining water to stay hydrated. I’m going to be blunt here, I had to urinate a lot the first few days, but I noticed it was helping me lose some weight too, we’ve all heard of water weight, well there it went. I felt better and even a little more energized.

3. No eating after 8pm. After you eat, your body takes 2 hours to digest the food and go back to a “regular” state. If you eat late at night or before bed, you are not going to burn the calories off and then all that food just turns to fat and you gain weight. By not eating after 8pm I drastically reduced my chances of randomly gaining weight even though I am walking on the treadmill and cutting calories. Eating late at night just undo’s all the efforts you made throughout the day.

4. Took Otis on longer walks. Now I know not everyone has a dog, but I do. John and I walked Otis the .25 miles around the circle where we live in the evening. He’s little and we thought this distance was just fine, plus it’s cold. One evening I decided to add an extra lap. Otis did great and even went to bed a little earlier than normal, which meant I could go to bed sooner instead of playing indoor fetch with him so that I could tire the little guy out. Just adding this extra bit of exercise, walking half a mile, does make a difference. John often comes with me and we catch up on things, talk about random topics, or stuff we have coming up. It’s like a little 20 minute date every night, which makes me feel relaxed and when I’m not stressed I am much happier, as I would assume most people are.