I didn’t even know it was happening, but a couple years ago, I was steadily and sneakily gaining weight. At doctor’s appointments, I was used to saying “Start it at 250,” but one day they had to move that big metal counterweight over to the next slot on the scale. Ka-CHUNK. Over 300. I was used to being stuck at 280, but where did an extra 20 pounds come from, and how could I make it go away?
Being fat, or large, or overweight, or obese, or whatever you want to call it – being fat doesn’t necessarily mean you are unhealthy. I believe in the health at every size movement and I believe that you can have a healthy lifestyle while wearing double-digit pants sizes. However, I was not healthy. Not only was I obese, I had low energy, I could hardly get up the stairs, and I was depressed. Something had to give. And I sure wasn’t happy with that big 3 in my weight.
I did workout videos. I joined a gym. I drank more water. Blah, blah, blah. I got back down to about 280 where I stayed for over a year.
Last year in the summer, I began a goal of taking a walk each day. And I did. It wasn’t always a long walk, but I took a walk every day. It helped boost my mood and made me feel overall better in my body. Sadly when the weather turned cold, I stopped going outside to walk. So I joined a gym, and promptly ignored my gym membership. I have gone to the gym 5 times in 6 months.
How, how, how could I focus on getting healthier and losing some of the excess weight?
As my regular readers know, I changed my eating habits a few months ago and reintroduced meat into my diet after a year of being nearly-vegan. I also cut gluten. A funny thing happened as I started eating eggs and bacon (sans toast) for breakfast. My pants got looser. Diet change alone lost me about 15 pounds in about four months.
I was intrigued. Now that I was eating a healthier, more mindful diet that was helping my body to thrive, perhaps exercise would help really kick it into gear. I am still struggling to exercise each day, but I do find my body “craving” movement if I sit too long. I want to get up and move, to go to the gym, to go for a walk. Just incorporating a little bit of exercise here and there has lost me another ten pounds.
At last weigh-in, I was at 254.4.
Do I have a goal weight? No. Well, sort of. I have a target weight that I think I will end up weighing, but I’m not stuck on the numbers. My goal is to be able to get up my stairs without breathing heavily. My goal is to be able to jog a mile without stopping. My goal is to provide a healthy role model for my friends and family.
Caitlin’s Minimalist Weight Loss Plan
Step 1: Food. You cannot out-exercise a crappy diet. Stop eating processed food. At least 80% of your diet should NOT come from a box, bag, or jar. Eat what makes you feel good, but eat real food. Mostly plants. High-quality meat, eggs, and dairy (from humanely treated animals). If it says “low fat,” put it away. (A) You’re not supposed to be eating things with labels in a box, and (B) the words “low fat” can be effectively be replaced with the words “chemical shit storm.” No.
Step 2: Exercise. Devote 30 minutes each day to intentional movement. If you want to include household chores in your “movement” count, that’s fine, but really be moving for those 30 minutes. Sitting on the floor sorting a box of stuff is not high-octane physical activity. Be honest with yourself. Go for a walk, go to the gym, run around in the yard with your kids. Just MOVE.
[EDIT] Step 3: Water. I cannot believe I forgot to mention how important water is to your health, wellness, and weight loss goals. Your body NEEDS water, and many times what you think is hunger (cue mindless snacking!) is actually thirst. I don’t always succeed at getting enough water in my day but I find that if I start early, I continue drinking it all day. If I forget to get a cup from the dispenser at work in the morning, I’ll forget until lunch and then I am way behind. I have read that you should divide your body weight by 2 to find the number of ounces you should drink. If I’m 250, that’s 125 ounces of water that I need each day.
You do not have to join a gym or eat special diet food. In fact, special diet food is mostly crap. Joining a gym is great IF you want to spend the money and IF you will actually go. I have not been utilizing my membership and I’m out $20 a month to stay at home and write blogs about why you should be exercising.
The importance of food
I write a lot about food. I think food is miraculous. We take in something from the earth, or from an animal, and turn it into fuel for our bodies. When you understand the function of food, you appreciate the importance of good, healthy foods instead of processed food-like things. I used to mow down candy bars, and now the sugar in a piece of fruit is sometimes too sweet.
The most important thing about changing your diet is that you understand it’s not “going on a diet.” It is changing. your. diet. Your diet is the food you eat. Change the food you eat, change your diet. For me, it’s quite simple to turn down food that I know is bad for me, because I simply do NOT eat those foods. Hot dog at a fair? No, I can’t eat the bun and I am certain the meat doesn’t meet my standards. Popsicle from the ice cream truck? No, I don’t eat processed sugar or corn syrup. Doughnut at the office? Absolutely not. (In fact, office visitors have started to bring me apples, strawberries, and salads instead of doughnuts).
I was told on a recent vacation that I would probably have to relax my rules s a little because it would be hard to find food that met my high standards. Challenge accepted and met. I didn’t eat a thing that I would normally avoid. You just make a commitment to only allow certain foods into your body. And then you do it. Once you understand that food has a direct impact on your wellness, you eat differently. Or at least I do, your mileage may vary.
The moral of the story
I am apprehensive about sharing my weight on such a public forum, but it helps me to share my journey with my readers, even this journey. When you don’t like something about your life, you need to change it. I didn’t like weighing over 300 pounds, so I changed it. I didn’t like weighing 280, so I changed it. I have weighed at least 250 pounds since high school. I am currently at my lowest weight in seven or eight years, and it’s great. I feel more energetic, I have far less joint pain, and I feel happier. My weight does not define me, but it is something I have to literally carry every day. By deciding to change it, I am taking control of my life and my health. It really is as simple as eating and moving.