So in our (almost) weekly How To Series we are sharing information and tips on something we have learned through our travels and experience. Right before we left on our road trip I finished up a long effort to move from the obese weight range to the healthy weight range.
In January 2010, I weighed in at 190 lbs. At 5′ 6″, I was tipping the scales into the obese category. I didn’t believe it. How could this have happened? I was only a few years out of college, and although I had been overweight throughout my life, I was always only 10 or 15 pounds from the healthy range and always thought I could lose it in a couple of months of hard work. Now I was 30 pounds away from the healthy range and things were getting out of control.
Jump forward to today, I have been on the road for over seven months and have managed to hover between 155 and 165 pounds. In other words, I have kept off the weight that I lost in 2010 and am still in the healthy range, if on the high end. Having gotten to this point I am ready to share how I did it and hopefully inspire someone else to make health a priority in her life.
- Give yourself time. I gave myself an entire year to lose 30 pounds. My goal was 1 pound a week during good months and maintaining during difficult times such as the holiday season. Be realistic when setting your goal.
- Make a specific goal and write it down. Instead of focusing on the weight (which can be influenced by multiple factors and can be extremely frustrating), look at “higher level” goals that will get to the same result. I set three goals, 1) eat more vegetables … 2) Limit sweets to Saturdays and Sundays … 3) Exercise at least 30 minutes everyday. For me, these activities would end up keeping everything else in check. Figure out what your key behaviors are and focus on those.
- Keep records. I used the free Lose It app on my IPOD touch to record everything that I ate and my exercise. Recording everything keeps you accountable and stops you from slipping back into bad habits. I also weighed myself everyday, but only recorded it once a week.
- Learn to like things that are good for you. Your tastes can change and if you have developed a taste for fake sugar (soda) or fried foods it can take a while to adjust your tastes to healthier options. However, once you have found healthy foods that you like and are sticking to them it will taste strange or even make you sick to go back to fake food. I tried to follow Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules”. I started snacking on yogurt (the kind without fake sugar) and tried new vegetables like swiss chard and beets. I also fell in love with roasted chicken and realized how easy and affordable it is to roast a whole chicken!
- It takes both healthy eating and regular exercise. I have tried focusing on one or the other (eating or exercise) but ultimately I realized you have to do both. If you don’t exercise regularly, start by adding a little of each type (stretching, aerobic, and strength) to your daily routine. A lot of people just focus on walking, but I think that adding stretching and strength will get you better results faster even if you are not doing a lot of them.