So last week, on New Year’s Eve, I posted the above image of myself on Facebook and Flickr.
It’s rare that I’m proud of myself. I consider most of what I do to be remarkably easy (if you have the right personality and skill set, of course). But there are two things I’ve done, both in 2010, that are so friggin’ hard I’d give myself a medal if I could. One is staying sober (260 days and counting!). The other is committing to and achieving healthy weight loss.
Emphasis on “healthy.” Stick a pin in that.*
On April 18, 2010, I decided to change my life in quite a few ways. I decided once and for all that I would never, ever touch alcohol again. I decided I wanted to be a better, less selfish partner — my actions and attitudes had ruined every past relationship I’d attempted. And I decided that along the way, heck, why not try to get my health back?
I had accrued around 40 pounds of extra weight, enough to look chubby. Folks who were kind said I wore it well, but it certainly didn’t make me feel good. I’m not talking about cosmetics, either. It didn’t feel good to heft myself around, to try to jog down the street, to climb stairs.
Another thing that happened in 2010: I turned 29. And it’s true that as you get older weight loss becomes a lot more difficult. In fact, when I committed to losing those extra 40 pounds, I had no idea exactly how hard that would be. It was so. Freaking. Hard. I felt like I had to fight for every ounce of fat I lost and muscle I gained. It was at least 10 times harder than the (albeit unhealthy) weight loss I’d achieved earlier in my life.
*As an older teenager and young adult, I’d resorted to unhealthy weight loss a couple times. That’s the kind of thing young girls do when your life is out of control and you can’t fix your problems; you try to control and “fix” your weight. Of course, your weight ends up becoming a problem in itself as your obsessions grow and your BMI dwindles.
At one point, while eating between 70 and 200 calories a day, I got down to a cool 98 pounds, dangerously underweight for a 5’7″ lady, before I discovered that I was still miserable and ugly on the inside, that I’d never, ever like what I saw in the mirror until I liked me.
So this year, I got my life in order to the point that I now like myself just fine. As for what I see in the mirror, I have the suspicion I’ll never perceive that quite correctly; but what I do have now is health. I love that block-long sprint to catch a bus and that quick jog up a flight of stairs.
For those of you who tuned in because you want to know my “secret,” here it is…
Diet and exercise. No, really.
It’s so, so simple to figure out how to lose weight. Most people just don’t man up and do it. With the exception of those with glandular and other medical problems, weight loss is simply a matter of commitment. Like I said before, it is so freaking hard, hard enough that most of it talk about it, complain about it, plan for it, and never actually do it.
So DO IT ALREADY.
Set a reasonable but effective diet and exercise program for yourself, and stick to it. Don’t cheat. Don’t slack off. Don’t get discouraged that you didn’t lose as much this week as you did last week. Just keep going; once you’ve been doing it for long enough to make a habit out of it, you’ll stop missing the cheeseburgers and chocolate cake because your health will have become more important.
To make sure I was sticking to a healthy weight loss plan (as I have the tendency to undereat and over-exercise), I used FitDay, a thorough and free tool for calculating the calories and nutrition of everything you ingest and the caloric expenditure of everything you do throughout your day — even sleeping.
At this point, I’ve been eating between 1,200 and 1,300 calories and getting some kind of exercise almost every day since April, and I’m about ready to tone that down while continuing to tone my muscles and all that fun jazz. I’ve reached a healthy weight, so for me, eight months of diet and exercise was enough. I’ll still be eating sensibly and working out at least three times each week, though.
Here’s to my health and yours in 2011 — and Happy New Year!