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This page was last modified: February 28, 2006
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How Did I Do It?
11/06/04: After noticing how much weight I've lost and that I seem to keep losing it rather than gaining it back, a lot of people have asked me, "How did you do it?" I'm going to attempt to explain that here.
Let me start of by saying that I had been wanting to lose weight for several years, and I would half heartedly make attempts, but never really could get determined enough. I always knew that I was going to have to actually change my mindset to really try to lose weight. I'm the type of person that once I decide I'm determined about something, I actually accomplish it. Changing that mindset was the hardest part. Both fortunately and unfortunately, I suppose, I had a bit of a push to help change that mindset.
In October 2003, I decided to that there were several things about myself that I wasn't happy with, not just my weight, and not just my looks. So I decided it was time to make myself a better person (I won't get into those details here since this page is dealing with weight). Part of that process was going to a Weight Watchers meeting with my friend Heather. I bought the intro package and decided to just track what I eat, without actually trying to make the effort to follow their daily points goal just yet. Boy was I way over-eating!! I think I was supposed to have 23 points per day and one day I actually had 47! Anyhow, by simply tracking, I lost 3.4 pounds in just two weeks...scary to think that I must have been eating even more when I wasn't tracking.
Then it came time for me to sit for the CPA exam and I stayed in a hotel for a couple days. I stopped tracking what I was eating and kept saying I would get back to it later. I maintained the weight I lost, but I didn't lose any more.
Let me backtrack here for minute. In September 2003, on my Dad's birthday oddly enough (and the day after John Ritter died from heart issues), I felt a fluttering in my chest while I was at work and got light headed. It was the strangest thing I had ever felt and I couldn't shake the memory of it. Even now, I can remember exactly how that felt. There were many times after that when my heart would feel kind of "funny" but it wasn't quite the level of fluttering and I didn't get the light headedness with them. The flutter/light headed combo happened two more times, I think about a month apart, but I don't really remember.
In December 2003, I went to see a doctor about various issues. During that appointment, I mentioned the fluttering and light headedness. The doctor did an EKG and said that it did look like something was not quite right, so he was going to set me up to put me on a heart monitor for 24 hours. It was a strange experience because I remember my dad having to wear a heart monitor...boy did he hate it. The results came back that I have an irregular rhythm that's not consistently followed by rapid heartbeat. (Whatever the heck that means) So for now, we will do nothing, but I should get it checked out every year and see a doctor if the flutter/light headed combo persists. So I'm 26 and I have a potential heart problem. That's enough of a kick in the butt to get me to change my mindset regarding losing weight, don't ya think?
So I got serious and decided to make a real lifestyle change. I have a boyfriend who is pretty healthy and he helped me out and more or less put me on the diet I've been on for almost a year now.
Breakfast: I have cereal in the morning (usually "healthy" cereals like Life, but I grew up with variety in my cereal, so I always have quite a selection, some not as healthy, but I mostly try to get the whole grain cereals) with Vanilla Silk® soy milk (no cholesterol and it tastes pretty good...just don't get the Very Vanilla flavor).
Snack: Usually a banana a few hours after breakfast.
Lunch: The basics that I started with here was a turkey sandwich on wheat bread, NO MAYO. I would eat Subway® when I could, but they didn't have Subway® on base, so I would just bring in my own sandwich. They have since opened *2* Subways on base, so I eat there pretty much every day: 6-inch turkey on wheat, onions, bell peppers, lettuce, spinach, carrots, sometimes avocado, sometimes cucumbers, no cheese, no mayo, no mustard (mustard isn't necessarily that bad, but it has sodium and I notice that when I have it, the flavor makes me crave more instead of being satisfied with just the 6-inch), no pickled stuff (again because of the sodium and flavor cravings), and no other dressing that they offer (my boyfriend asks for just one swipe of oil and vinegar [you have to specify one swipe otherwise they still put a lot when you ask for only a little], but I don't get it when I order mine).
Snack: For a while I was doing well here by having an orange or vegetables, but I've somehow gotten out of that habit and I tend to go to the Snack Room in my building and get something that's not so great. I really need to stop that, sweets are my downfall. Sometimes I bring in a Special K® bar, which is better, but still not as good as fruit or vegetables.
Cooking at home. This was a little harder for me to get down because if you know me, you know I don't cook. But my boyfriend has actually taught me how. When I cook at home, I have one of 3 dishes: salmon, arabic chicken curry, or arabic meatballs. All 3 dishes my boyfriend taught me. I eat all 3 meals with Thai Jasmine rice. I used to cook one cup and have half with each meal. That's what I recommend starting out with. Lately, I've noticed that I don't have to eat so much rice to get me full anymore, so I have a third with each meal.
Eating out. When I eat out, I usually have Thai food or Japanese (mmm, sushi...). I don't overeat; I'm a big leftovers fan. When we go out for Thai food, it'll usually last me three meals...one at the restaurant and two at home. I essentially never eat fast food anymore (this was hard the first two weeks because every time I would smell it, my stomach would lurch toward it, but I had will power and resisted. I eventually got used to it and I *enjoy* what I eat, so it's really not that hard for me anymore. I more or less stay away from Mexican food and anything greasy. In fact, greasy food kills my digestive system now--my body completely rejects it.
So that's the basics of what I do eating-wise. The biggest thing is portion control. You only want to eat until you're approx. 70% full (I think that's the statistic I've heard). I almost never have cheese. When I do have cheese, it has the same effect as the mustard or pickled stuff--I crave more and don't necessarily stop eating when I'm full. I don't keep snacks in the apartment, because if they're there, I'll eat them. My biggest challenge has been sweets. I've gotten over my greasy food cravings, but I've been including sweets a little too often. I think I'm really going to have to work on cutting them out in order to lose these last 10 pounds. Oh, and I only ever really drink water. When I go out to eat, I usually ask for water with lemon. Occassionally I'll have juice. I almost never have soda. That wasn't actually a change for me becuase I always drank a lot of water and hardly any soda, but I wanted to add that in for people who may be considering following my diet.
Exercise: I was very fortunate that the Air Force started offering 3 hours of fitness time during work week (no more than 1 hour per day) and that the Agency I work for decided to adapt that practice. It's hard to pass up getting paid to go to the gym for an hour. So I started going on the treadmill or elliptical machine. Then at a women's health fair, I discovered that they have aerobic classes on base and I met a lady who loves racquetball, but could never find anyone to play with. I love racquetball too, so we exchanged numbers and emails and started playing racquetball about twice a week. I do cardio kickboxing once a week. I need to work on getting some more exercise in my routine, but what I have isn't bad. For a while I had a second racquetball partner to play once or twice a week in the evenings, so that was great.
So that's basically it. I stick to a low fat, non-greasy diet with small portions and fruit/vegetable snacks between meals. I do aerobic exercise and racquetball every week. I did lose a lot in the beginning without adding exercise because my eating habits previously were SO bad that even the smallest change made a big difference. I really enjoy what I eat now and I don't feel like I have to work at it anymore (other than my sweets weakness). I do fall off the wagon sometimes and have not so healthy food when I'm out with friends, but since I eat healthy most of the time, it's not as big a deal. I just try not to do it that often and I always apply portion control. I can't guarantee that it'll work for others, but it's what I've been doing for almost a year now and I've lost 32 pounds and have no trouble maintaining my weight (it's just slow going to keep losing it, but again that's probably more the sweets issue than anything).