It's Never Too Late to Start
The title is one tip that our this week's featured member, Jenpnc would like to share with you. She’s 53 and she was resigned to the fact that her weight was slowly creeping up on her. Then she started counting calories and lost 21 lbs. Losing that weight gave her self confidence back and she's living a much healthier and happier lifestyle.
She contacted us through our Share Your Story feature, and provided the following answers to our questionnaire.
1. What made you decide to lose weight this time? Did you have an "Aha!" moment?
First, let me start by saying, I'm 53 years old (still can't believe it). I was getting resigned to the fact that my body was just becoming more "soft" because my age was determining my metabolism. Still, I didn't like it. Over ten years I had put on about 20 pounds. Though I wasn't way overweight, I felt sluggish and out of kilter. My first Aha moment was when my husband and I were channel surfing in Jan 2010 and caught a quick news clip of a Martin Luther King Jr march back in the 60's. We watched for a few minutes, then looked at one another and said the exact same thing at the same time: "Look how skinny those people are!" Old, young, white, black... all thin. Why were they so thin? What has changed so much about our diets in the last 50 years? Honestly, most of those people would almost have been considered anorexic by today's standards, but they weren't. They were just... thin. It made a huge impression on me.
2. What other "diets" (programs, products, plans, or services) had you tried in the past?
Like most women, I have always been conscious of my weight. And for the most part, I've maintained a normal weight for my height. I never really officially "dieted" except for a few months of Atkins several years ago. I lost 15lbs and gained it back with interest the minute I started eating carbs again. My only other try was a book called "The Three Hour Diet" which is actually very good - and I still use some of the techniques I read about. But most of my dieting efforts involved cutting back on sugar, fried foods, etc. It was very hit-or-miss. I never took the time to really think it through. I just kind of watched the scale and assessed how my clothes fit - doesn't everyone have that pair of jeans that we use as the measuring tool?. But as I've grown older, it's become much, much harder to lose weight in that cockeyed way and by January 2010, when I saw that news clip, I had gotten very frustrated about how I was feeling and looking.
3. What changes did you make to your usual diet, activity, lifestyle, and attitude?
My second Aha moment came on Feb. 8, 2010. It was a Monday. I woke up feeling completely gross. I knew I had eaten way too much the day before as we had gone out for breakfast and then ate two other meals as well. I remember one of the meals was homemade tacos. We didn't eat any desserts (I was probably on one of my "no sugar" kicks). We went for our morning walk and when I got home, I bit the bullet. I forced myself to sit down and write a list of every single thing we had eaten the day before. Every spread of butter, every spoonful of guacamole, every almond, everything! Then I went online and did a search for a calorie count website and found Calorie Count. My total calories for that Sunday were nearly 3,500. It was a huge eye opener. I was shocked beyond belief. If anyone would have asked me to estimate what I thought I had eaten, I would have said around 2,000 calories.
4. How did Calorie Count help you to lose weight?
Oh, I could write a book about this! Ever since I was tiny, I have been aware of "calories". My parents were very health conscious and for that inheritance, I'm so grateful. But my knowledge was quite vague. I knew that about 3500 calories equals a pound, but I didn't really pay that much attention to the portions I was eating. When I signed up for Calorie Count, I began an education that continues to this day. I began actually measuring so that when, for example, I put "Light Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette" into my food log, I knew it was just one tablespoon. I knew those 40 calories were accurate. And I got obsessive about tagging foods because I really like to get things done in a hurry. So one day I sat down and just tagged everything I could possibly think of, that my husband and I normally eat. It made logging my food much easier. I also tagged a lot of them into groups (our breakfast smoothies for example). It took me several hours but wow - just like any filing system, the work was all at the front. All this was immensely helpful in keeping me focused. And I started watching the weight fall off. The first week I lost two pounds and felt great, mostly because I was eating "A" grade foods - the kind that packs the most nutritional punch.
5. What was most challenging about losing weight?
Making it a lifestyle, not a diet. This is just one of those crazy little things - but when I'm in the kitchen cooking or preparing food, I sample. So my Calorie Count self made a deal with my snacking self, that my snacking self would not eat anything if I was standing in the kitchen. I had to take my slice of bacon or cookie, or spoonful of pasta and put it on a dish and go sit down to eat it. Naturally, being greedy and impatient, my snacking self hated this. I can't count how many times I would have something halfway to my mouth, thoughtlessly tasting or "testing" -- and I would literally say out loud, "NO!" I was amazed. It still happens now and then but my snacking self is much better disciplined.
6. How long did it take you to see results?
I started feeling better right away, just because I truly worked hard at eating right. I cut way back on sugar (but didn't give it up altogether) and ramped up on fruits and vegetables. I lost about seven pounds that first month. We adopted a wild child of a puppy right around Valentine's Day, and he needed so much exercise that I got out and moved much more often than I would have. Between that and staying very committed to logging my calories, I started fitting into my old clothes within two months.
7. When did you realize that you were a success?
Interesting question. I never thought about weight loss or gain as success or failure. The person inside is me, no matter what the body is on the outside, but I want my body to be a reflection of who I know I am. When I started seeing food as this wonderful gift, it was an enormous revelation. I want to give my body the foods it needs to keep me focused and sharp and happy and energetic. When I realized that was my new "diet"- and it wasn't a diet at all, I wanted to jump for joy. How exciting is that!
8. How do you prevent relapse?
The hardest times for me are when we travel, and we travel quite a bit. I put an app on my phone for calorie counting, including restaurants. That's been a big help. I also give myself some leeway at all times. If I want a couple cookies or some frozen yogurt (LOVE that stuff), I will have them - but I keep them in perspective now. It's so much more fun to eat something that you've "earned."
9. How has your life changed now that you've lost weight?
My husband, all on his own, joined CC after I'd been on it for about a month, when he saw how happy it was making me. He has lost 20 lbs. To me, that was such a wonderful thing - to have him along, 100% enthusiastic and supportive, with me on this lifetime trip of good eating and great health. Yes, being thinner is wonderful. But it's wonderful because it enables us to get out there and be the energetic people we want to be. My life has much more clarity, and food is in its rightful place.
10. What five tips do you have for other dieters?
- It's never too late to start.
- Cut out all thoughtless snacking, especially when preparing food or
- Do all the "heavy lifting" of tagging foods up front, so that logging them isn't so time consuming. Then log, log, log, at least for the first few months. You'll be amazed at how much information you absorb.
- Spend at least 15 minutes outdoors if at all possible - even if it's just sitting in the sun or strolling around the block. Adopt a pet if that's something that will work in your lifestyle- and then exercise it! Or offer to walk your neighbor's dog. We find that our dogs are a definite force for the good - they get us outside every day.
- Read the CC emails - they are always so interesting, and the Monday Success Stories are so inspirational - I love them! Congratulations to everyone who's lost the weight!
If you would like us to feature your success story, you can submit it here. The most insightful stories will be featured on this blog and in the weekly "Success Stories" newsletter.
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