Tuesday, July 19, 2016

This Five Month Journey

Over the last five months I've set out on a journey that I wasn't really intending to be on. And during this journey I've had to confront head on two of the dirtiest words that kept coming at me.

Diet & Exercise. Those two words have been uttered by doctors, friends, family and exercise fanatics all around the world to many people. And for the first time in my life, I was saying them to myself...and meaning them. Sure, I've done some exercise before...and some quick diets or cleanses. Hell I even, in a moment of what I think was a drunken stupor, purchased the "Insanity" workout program and made it through most of it. But through out all of that...I was never happy, nor was I serious about getting things under control.

This time, the whole thing was kicked off by a family photo shoot that was looming in the future. I had in my mind that I was going to do another one of my "9 day cleanses." You know the ones...hell I've even asked people on here to join me in one! And none of you did...which I was disappointed in at the time. Ha! I had it in my head that I was going to do the T-25 work out along with the 9 day cleanse and then drop some weight so I didn't look like a beached whale in our family photos.

I'm not exactly sure what switch flipped inside me this time, but after a day and a half of the T-25, I realized that this wasn't what I wanted. I was miserable. I had headaches from the cleanse, and I absolutely hated, with every fiber of my being, Shaun T and his stupid 25 minutes of hell he wanted to put me through every day.

The flipping of that switch was crucial in this whole process. I finally wanted to get things under control, and keep them that way. It wasn't just a quick cleanse to drop some weight...then go right back to the weight I was at before it all began. That seemed to be my pattern. You know what I just realized? For the first time in my life...I'm like Oprah! Okay...I couldn't resist that comparison! But seriously...she has done every fad diet known to man...she's lost weight, told people, "I GETTTTT ITTTTTTTT!!!!!" And then she's gained the weight back.

On February 15th, I weighed myself...and I was at 206 pounds, the heaviest I'd ever been. I no longer liked to look in the mirror. I didn't like pictures of myself, and whenever I did my facebook videos I was constantly adjusting my shirt or holding the camera up higher so my double chin wasn't as noticeable. All of this was taking its toll on me. Michael even sensed how unhappy I was. But, god love him, he was always supportive of me. Never trying to tell me to lose weight or to change things. I think he knew that him telling me, or even my doctor telling me, to lose weight wasn't what I needed. It had to come from me, otherwise it wouldn't ever work.

So I set out on this journey, one that I'm still on five months later. So how did I do it? Well, that's where those two dirty words come in to play. Diet & Exercise.

Now let me get one thing straight, when I say "diet," I don't mean the *cut everything you've ever loved out and only eat wheat grass and drinking water from artesian wells from the purest sources.* I mean the kind where you watch what you eat, and start controlling your portions.

In order to do this I knew I needed something to help me. So I set out on my phone to look for an app. Good lord, there's an app for everything! On one of my other failed attempts at losing weight I started using an app, but I didn't really utilize it like I should have. The app is called "MyFitnessPal." This app is amazing. It allowed me to track everything from my weight to helping me determine how many calories I needed to be eating in order to lose weight. And I was determined to make it work this time.

I also downloaded the sister app, "MapMyWalk," which can utilize GPS to help track how many miles you walk, run, bike, or even mow the lawn! It tells you how many calories you've burned and really proved to be a great tool to get me to better my times while exercising.

With the help of these two apps, and my determination to make this time different, I set out on a journey to get down to 185 pounds. I began diligently counting my calories, looking at portion sizes on packages or in recipes, and doing what I felt was the best exercise for me...walking. That's right...walking. Some people think in order to lose weight you need to exercise hard core at the gym, or do some crazy workout tapes (hehehe man I was dumb). But I set out walking. My first day I walked 5 miles, and did that in just over an hour. It wasn't long before I was up to 8 miles and doing those in just under an hour and forty minutes.

Each time someone asks what I'm doing for exercise, I tell them that I try to walk 8 miles every day. I usually get the response, "Oh I could never walk that far!" Well guess what, I didn't think I could either. Yet here I am. We are our biggest obstacle, and we need to stop throwing up road blocks and just get off our asses and do what we know we need to do. So you can't walk 8 miles, or you don't have that much time...then walk as much as you can in the time that you have. Don't let the fact that you don't have an hour to commit to walking stop you. Do you have 20 minutes? Then utilize that! What? You work in an office, have a long commute and are tired at the end of the day? Well no excuses...I used to do the stairs in my office building during my lunch hour. Any exercise is better than no exercise at all. Stop taking the elevator or escalator...take the stairs. So what if it takes you a little extra time to get where you are going.

Most doctors, and even the app I use, tells you to shoot for at least 10,000 steps a day. That seems like a ridiculous amount...but it *is* doable. Stop looking at these numbers like they are unattainable. Stop letting yourself keep you from doing this. Make it a priority. Man...exercise is still a dirty word!

Now lets talk about food. Oh man, do I LOVE food. I've never met a tater tot I didn't like. And this time I decided that I wasn't going to deny myself anything. If I wanted tater tots, by god I was going to have tater tots. BUT, I was going to have the serving size. Did you know that a serving size of tater tots is 9 tots? That's right NINE. How sad is that?!?!? But I made those nine tots, ate them and enjoyed them! If I wanted a steak and potato dinner, I had the proper serving size of all items. Counting calories along the way.

I won't lie, counting calories sucks hard. But I was determined to get this done, and I needed to see this stuff in front of my face in order to keep myself motivated. I became one of those annoying people who looks at a package to see how many calories were in a serving size. I became one of those people who said, "Thanks, but that will throw me over my caloric intake for the day." But the difference was, I wasn't mad about it, I didn't feel forced into this. Sure I could have eaten anything I wanted, drank anything I wanted...but I knew that I had a goal, and that only I could reach it.

The other important thing when it comes to reaching a weight loss goal, especially when exercising, is drinking plenty of water. I'm seldom seen without my water bottle anymore. I started drinking so much water that I began to worry that government officials were going to come knock on my door because I was single handedly draining the world's water supply. I had to go to the bathroom ten million times a day, and it always seemed like my eyeballs were floating. But staying hydrated is important for many reasons, but I knew that if my stomach was full of water, I'd be less apt to stuff food in my face.

With all of these things combined I began dropping weight. I noticed my clothing was starting to fit again, and I no longer looked like an over stuffed sausage casing in some of my clothes. I saw my face beginning to slim down. And I noticed that walking became easier, and that I was able to get my average minutes per mile down. I started to feel better about myself, and I wasn't avoiding mirrors or pictures as much. The biggest thing was that people around me started to notice.

By the middle of May I had not only reached my initial weight loss goal, but I had surpassed it by almost 17 pounds. I was down to 168.2 pounds! I didn't realize how much weight I'd lost until I accidentally purchased a t-shirt that was a "small" instead of the "medium" I intended on. And when I put it on at home, it fit...and it actually looked good. I think my jaw hit the floor.

The biggest thing through out all of this was the support from Michael, my friends and family. Without that I don't think I could have sustained it. Looking back over the last 5 months I watched myself transform. Thinking about how I was carrying 37 pounds of unnecessary weight around almost makes me feel ashamed. But then I stop myself and remember that I am the one who started this journey. I did this for me, not for my doctors or those around me...but for me.

At the beginning of this journey, I only intended to do this until March when the family pictures were slated to happen. But as time went on, I kept going. I did take a two and a half month break from walking after exceeding my initial goal weight. But within the last few weeks I've started walking again. I stopped making the excuses, I've stopped settling with where I am at, and what my health was going to be like. I know that it's not usually right to pat yourself on the back...but in this instance, I'm proud of myself. I'm proud of myself for taking this seriously...for not letting some rain stop me (I'd just get on the elliptical machine instead of walking), for not forcing myself onto some fad diet or cleanse to quickly drop the weight like before, for not letting myself get discouraged during the weeks when my weight seemed to plateau instead of continuing to drop. And I'm proud of myself for keeping the weight off.

You have to want this, you have to be determined and show self control. That is the only way that you can accomplish something like this. We've always had sweets, alcohol and wonderfully fatty foods in the house. I knew that none of them were off limits...but I knew that I needed to account for the calories.

Life is too short to force yourself into exercise routines, or infomercial exercise programs and fad diets/cleanses that make you miserable. You have to find something enjoyable. For me that is walking. I put in my headphones, turn on the music (or lately audio books) and let my feet hit the pavement. It's not easy, I won't lie to you. There are days that I just don't want to do it. And you know what? That's OK! You don't have to walk every day, take a day off. Give yourself a cheat day when it comes to food. But know that you have to have enough control and desire to jump right back in the next day.

This morning I didn't want to go for my walk. It was gloomy out...and all I wanted to do was stay in bed. But I forced myself to get up, get dressed and get out there. And I have no regrets about it at all. I have no idea how I'll feel tomorrow, if I'll want to go for a walk or what. But I know that if I decide to take a day off...I won't beat myself up. Beating yourself up isn't worth it. We have enough things in our world today that beat us down constantly...don't let you be one of them.

Weight loss is a journey. And just like any other journey there will be tears, anger, sadness, joy, jealousy and everything else. But it's a  journey that I'm happy to be on, and even happier that I've decided to make it a priority. Will you make it a priority? If you say yes, then get off your ass and do it. It's time to stop saying, "On Monday I'm going to start working out and eating right!" It's time to say..."Tomorrow is Wednesday...that seems like a PERFECT day to start my journey." Do it...stop putting it off. But make sure you do it for you. The most important thing is that you are looking out for your own happiness, not that of others.

Thank you for sharing in this journey with me. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll notice I tend to post a picture of myself every day while I'm out walking. I do it for a few reasons...I'm vain and now like pics of myself (totally joking on that one...kinda), and by showing you the pictures it holds me accountable for my journey and I feel like I'm having you all help me with it too. And every now and again I get a message from someone saying that I've inspired them to get up and go for a walk. And that is an amazing thing.

Until next time....Keep Cookin'! Walkin'!

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