Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rules for weight loss

You are all, by now, familiar with my picture of me with Pugsley, who is now healthy and on the road again. I have another picture of me with the same car soon after I bought him. I'm standing behind him, he's blue instead of yellow, and I'm considerably heavier than in the current picture. I keep the older, fatter picture on my dresser so I have to look at it every day. It reminds me of one of the reasons I run.

I approached weight loss from the perspective that I wanted to be slender for the rest of my life; I didn't want to lose weight and then gain it back. So I decided that a diet wouldn't work for me. Instead, I had a set of rules that I started following, and that I follow to this day:

No food is off limits. If I decide I'm not going to eat bread or cheese or cookies, then those foods just become the things I would crave. So if I want a cookie, I eat a cookie. The thing is, I only eat a couple of cookies-not the whole bag. This is the hardest rule to follow, but the most important, and it's all about discipline.

I stopped eating fast food lunches, except as a once a month treat. The rest of the month, I brown bagged it for lunch. But you should have seen my brown bag lunches-they were truly works of art! There was tons of stuff in there-beautiful salads brimming with tomatoes, gourmet lettuce, mushrooms-every luscious veggie I could stuff in to it, then topped off with low fat dressing. I had fruit for snacking, any low-cal sweet stuff I found at the store; honestly, I actually had more stuff to eat at work than when I had fast food lunches. And once a month I had a cheeseburger. Refer to rule one! Now that I'm retired, this rule is easy to follow, and I now longer have a cheeseburger once a month.

I never set a weight loss date. I never said "I want to lose 20 pounds for my class reunion next month". If being a normal weight was truly going to be a lifetime thing, than it didn't matter if I lost the weight tomorrow or next month or next year, so long as I lost it. So I went to Hubby's class reunion heavier than I wanted to be, but I was ok with that. I'm thin now, years later, and there will be more class reunions in the future.

I realized that the discipline necessary to lose weight was more important at the supermarket than at home. If I didn't buy the 5 pound bag of chips at Costco, it wouldn't be calling to me, a siren song of calories and salt, until I devoured the whole thing and licked the inside of the bag. Seriously. Chips have always been my downfall, so I just never buy them.

No more "post dinner dinners". That was a huge weakness of mine-I would get up late at night and literally eat a "snack" that was as big (maybe bigger) as the dinner I had eaten just a few hours earlier. If I was really hungry late at night, I would drink water. If that didn't satisfy me, I had to make do with carrots or fruit, since that's pretty much the only snack food I keep in the house.

Exercise. Every day. A little, a lot, as much as I could handle. I discovered that I could not lose weight without exercise. So I got an elliptical machine and started using it every day. When I started, I could barely do 5 minutes-I was mortified by how out of shape I was. But I did it, and gradually I went from 5 minutes to 10 to 30.

So here I am, years later, slim and trim. My rules seem to have worked and they've become habit. I thought about posting the old picture of me and Pugsley; perhaps if you, faithful readers, really want to see it I'll put it on my next post. Trust me, it's bad!


Sarah said...

I think that you have presented great ideas for a healthy lifestyle for life. I am still working on my last 15 pounds of "baby weight". I know I need to stop buying the chocolate, just as you suggested. I would love to see your motivation pic. :)

robison52 said...

You're a great example of how exercise and diet "rules" create a basis of a lifetime of exemplary health & fitness, my running cap goes off for you!

I also find that without my running I could not lose weight, but it's not a panacea for my own weight loss...I eat healthy with good portions during the weekdays, now if I can only stop binging on my weekends off!

BeachRunner said...

Great post. I love your thinking and your approach to diet. It is very similar to my approach when I started running. I had no particular goal other than to become fitter over time and remain a runner for life (stay fit).

Sherri said...

great post I'm going to share it with a friend that is trying to lose weight now. So true. all that you said. it has to be a lifestyle and you have to limit but no forbid any foods.
glad pugsley is back in working order!

SuperDave said...

What great rules to live by. I'm sorta following your plan. Don't buy what I think I can binge on. I always love before and after pics. I'm just afraid to show mine until I get closer to goal weight.