When I began my weight loss efforts the Monday before Thanksgiving last year, I was not a happy camper. I did not want to exercise. I did not want to watch what I ate. I did not want to try to lose weight. I think, most of all, I did not want to fail. Again.
I never dreamed, that Monday back in November, that I would actually succeed in my goals. I never dreamed that I had it in me to lose 60 pounds. I never dreamed that I would inspire myself, let alone anyone else. I never dreamed that people would be asking me how I was accomplishing my goals
And, I had no idea that losing weight really isn't rocket science.
Because, really, with all my previous starts and failures, it really did seem like some big, unattainable mystery. But, I'm living proof that it's not. The bottom line is: I'm eating less and moving more. Period. It's no big mystery, no magic pill. If I can lose 60 pounds, anyone can.
I do think, though, that there have been three key factors in my success, so far. And, I guess that's what people really want to know when they ask me how I'm losing weight. Those factors are:
1. Mindset. As I said, I started this journey kicking and screaming. I was mad that first day I got on the treadmill. I felt forced into doing something that I didn't want to do (because I was sure I was only setting myself up for failure again). No one was forcing me. I wasn't getting any pressure from my husband or anyone else, but for some reason I just felt forced.
I think it was the success of that first week -- I lost over four pounds the week of Thanksgiving -- was what changed everything for me. That and the epiphany that I had that week. I realized that week that all my past weight loss failures were the result of quitting. I didn't fail because I kept trying and just wasn't successful. I failed because I gave up. That day I decided that I was going to do this thing. And, ever since then, through the good weeks and the bad, I knew that I was going to succeed, eventually, because I wasn't going to quit this time.
Even now, when I've been lazy over the summer and the weight hasn't come off as quickly as I'd like, I know that I'm going to reach my goal. It may not happen as quickly as I'd like (or it may...I'm still working with a goal date of Thanksgiving 2010 in mind), but it will happen because I'm not going to quit.
2. Accountability. This blog has been a wonderful source of holding me accountable. I knew myself well enough to know that it would provide that accountability for me; that's why I started it. I knew that if I said, aloud, to a bunch of people, that was I was going to lose 95 pounds, I'd be much more likely of sticking to my goals than if I only told my husband and a friend or two.
I think it's very important for anyone beginning this journey to have a strong source of accountability -- not someone who's going to be your "diet police" because that's just annoying, but someone who will hold you to your commitment to lose weight when it gets tough.
3. My bodybugg. A friend asked me, several months ago, if I thought I'd have been as successful without my bodybugg. I can honestly say, no, I don't think I would have. If it weren't for my bodybugg, I would never know exactly where I stand as far as my calorie burn goes. I wouldn't have understood, several months ago, why the things that had been working were no longer working because my body was becoming more efficient. Because that is the science of weight loss: you have to burn more calories than you consume in order to lose weight.
Now, I know that a bodybugg is a rather expensive (but totally worth it as far as I'm concerned) tool that not everyone can afford, however, it is important that you find a system that lets you see how many calories you're burning versus how many you're consuming, whether it be Weight Watchers, Spark People, or plain old pen and paper. There are calculators online that will tell you how many calories certain activities burn.
As a starting point, I've found that I burn about 1 calorie per minute just breathing. So, that's about 1440 calories a day. You have to burn about 500 extra calories a day to lose one pound per week because it takes 3500 calories to lose a pound of fat. So, if I want to lose 2 pounds a week, I have to burn 1000 more calories than I consume. I've found that around 1500 calories is a very comfortable calorie consumption for me -- I'm not starving and I don't feel deprived.
That means that I have to burn 2500 per day to lose 2 pounds per week. So I know that I have to workout and stay active enough to burn about 1100 calories per day above and beyond my sedentary calorie burn. That gives me a reasonable goal for working out. I try to burn 500-700 calories a day through working out, knowing that I'll usually get the rest through normal daily activity.
Now, that might not be what works for you, but it gives you an idea of what has worked for me and maybe it gives you some ideas of where to start so that you can reach your own goals...because you can reach them.