I’ll be honest. This is not the first time I told myself I was going to eat and live healthier. I’ve problem said this to myself about a dozen times during my adult life. And most of the time, I end up doing it. I ate healthy, worked out every day, and ended up losing 15 pounds in the process. In fact, I was doing great…until the summer.
I dumped my [abusive] boyfriend at the end of May and, after one year off on medical leave, I resigned from my first ‘big girl’ job using my Bachelor’s degree. And I was living at home. I got so busy trying to get my life back on track that the gym and eating healthy went to the wayside. I’ve since gained 7 pounds. My current weight? 173lbs. And I’m 5’2.
I think we can all agree that while it’s not imperative that I lose weight, I probably should anyway because if I don’t change, my weight will most likely continue to go up and I don’t want to be one of those people you see on ‘My 600lb Life’ crying and not understanding how I let myself go like that.
However, I got a new job in August, moved on from my past relationship, and am currently in treatment for my illness. Don’t worry, it’s not a life-threatening illness nor is it anything anyone can catch.
Anyway, I think now is the time for me to get back into the gym and start eating better. I want to get in before the gyms get crowded so I don’t get discouraged from going, but I also want to put an end with ‘Eh, it can wait til tomorrow’ mindset. So here’s a list I made of 6 things I plan to do be healthier.
1. Meal Plan and Prep
This is something I already know how to do because I’ve done it for over a year. The only issue is this time I’ll be living at home with my parents instead of on my own and they have a tendency to eat anything I put in the fridge. But my meal plans are pretty simple because I follow one rule for each meal: No added sugars.
Lunch consists of a protein (Most likely chicken breast because it’s cheap and versatile) and some type of veggie accompanied with not so bad starch like brown rice or sweet potato. Dinner will be the same, but more likely a fish or ground beef with minimal salt.
Snacks will be eaten in between each meal. Usually, I eat every 2 – 2.5 hours to keep my metabolism going. And by snacks, I mean fruit or Greek yogurt or something, not pre-packaged granola bars or anything. Of course, what matters most is what’s on the label, but with more natural foods, I won’t have to worry about the labels nearly as much. I know what’s in an apple. I don’t know what’s in an apple pie. Personally, I like Fage yogurt because I can put in a smoothie or eat it with berries.
More importantly, I will not have a cheat day. Why? Well, because I have no self control and if I have one cheat day, then I'll cheat the next day and the next day and the next day. I suck at cheat days. It's true, I admit it, I'm an adult and can't control myself around the cookie jar.
The ONLY meal I’m having trouble with is breakfast. I am, by no means, a breakfast person. I get ill very easily in the morning after I eat and I have no idea why. I’ve always been that way. I can stomach black coffee (and I mean BLACK that has no sugar or creamer in it) but as far as solid foods? Not sure yet. But I know I need to eat something. Any suggestions for breakfast would be awesome.
I have to be at work at 7:15am, but I usually get there around 6:45am. My gym opens at 5am and is 2 minutes from my house so it’s not like it’s out of the way. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it in the morning, but either way, I’m going. I have the fortune of getting off work at 2:50 every day and I work 15 minutes from my house so there’s no inconvenience and, therefore, no reason why I shouldn’t be able to go other than pure laziness.
However, I’ll be going about it differently this time. Before, my focus was cardio more than weight lifting. I did both, but I made sure to do more cardio than weight lifting. This time, I want to build muscle. Muscle burns fat, right? Cardio isn’t completely out the window. I’ll still do some cardio 2-3 times a week for about 30 minutes each time. But I’m still confused with weights. I’ve received mixed instructions with weight lifting from ‘less weight, more reps’ to ‘more weight, less reps’ to ‘weight lifting is pointless if you don’t do cardio’ to ‘the machines don’t do anything, do free weights only’.
So, again, if anyone has any suggestions on what to do with weights I’m all ears. My focus areas are my arms and stomach but I plan to work out all of my muscle groups.
3. Keep Track Of My Weight
I saw my doctor about 2 months ago. He told me that if my goal was to lose fat, then my weight should decrease by 30lbs. minimum in 6 months based on my lifestyle, ethnicity (I’m black, not white so apparently my healthy weight range is different than a white person’s) and past as an athlete. However, he also told me that if my goal is to burn fat, but also gain muscle (which is what he recommended) then my weight should decrease minimum 20lbs in about the same amount of time. Why? Because muscle weighs more than fat, which I already knew, but I’m not a math person. I’m not very good at determining how much weight I should lose in what time span. When I told him how much I wanted to lose (overall 40 pounds in like 3 months) he almost laughed me out of the office and told me I’d never get to my goal if I didn’t exercise some amount of patience. My doctor is pretty cool, so I appreciate his honesty.
He recommended that I check my weight once a week. Same day, same time. He also told me I need to accept that there will be weeks that I don’t lose anything at all or, possibly, even gain a pound or two due to my gaining muscles. He also said that, despite what many women think, what’s important is the inches you lose, not necessarily the number on the scale. For instance, my waist is 33 inches. If you think this is astonishing considering my height and weight, my doctor did, too. Anyway, if gain a pound but still lose half an inch, then I’m on track to reaching my goal.
4. Avoid Alcohol
This actually isn’t really hard considering I don’t drink alcohol that much in the first place. I had wine last night, but other than that, I can’t remember the last time I had an alcoholic beverage. I think it was back in April or March and I got a Long Island ice tea with a dinner at Applebee's. And I didn’t even finish drinking it.
5. Understanding That This Is A Lifestyle Change, Not A Diet
If I could summarize why I’ve failed at weight loss, it would be narrowed down to two things. The first is that, until I was 23, I never really had a weight problem. My highest weight was 183, but when I graduated college, I was 140 and I played soccer and ran track, so I had plenty of muscle. Getting a job and no longer making my health a priority has really showed. My doctor told me the only reason I haven’t hit the 200lb. mark is because of the leftover effects from my being an athlete accompanied with my yo-yo exercising and dieting.
This leads me to my last detail. I want to make this a lifestyle, not a diet because diets don't work. I want to make it part of my routine. I don’t want it to be any different than me getting up, going to work, and coming back home. It’s something I should HAVE to do, not something I don’t feel like doing. And I want it to be something that I sustain for the rest of my life. I want to condition myself to stay away from unhealthy foods and crave the healthy ones. I want the idea of working out to appeal more to me than playing Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare for hours at a time. And I want to influence my family to eat better, too. I come from a family of overweight people, and I want to help them become healthier, too.
And I’m not an idiot. I know there will be days I don’t want to go work out or eat right just like there are days I don’t want to go to work. But I’m still going to do it.
6. Be Positive
This is going to be the hardest part. Remember the illness I mentioned before? Well, it's Bi-polar Disorder. Dun dun duuuuuuuuuuun...
It's not the worst thing I person could have but when it flares up, it is a bitch. Literally. It's a bitch, especially the depression aspect. Only a week ago I was contemplating suicide. I thought I was going to have to have my parents take me to the hospital. I've come a long way since May but I still have negative thoughts. I'm fat. I'm useless. I'm ugly. I'm undesirable. Single. Waste of space. Mean.
Whether or not these things are true, thinking this way certainly isn't helpful, and it's definitely hurt my weight loss goals. The feelings of hopelessness and irritation when I don't get what I want in terms of weight loss and other things in my life have not helped at all. But none of this will change if I don't even take the first step. It'll be difficult but this is something I can do. I may not be able to do it as easily as others but I CAN do this. The only person stopping me is me. I'm not making myself beautiful because I already am. But I'm not healthy. Being unhealthy doesn't make me happy. And I want to be happy. Plus, should I ever find the right guy, I want him to be in shape, too. So...how can expect this of my partner when I'm no longer this way myself? Sound like a double standard to me, does it not?
I wrote this not necessarily to tell you or anyone what you should do in order to be successful in losing weight. How can I when I have yet to be completely successful myself? But I want it documented for anyone who needs a little motivation and doesn’t know where to start. Plus, I want it written somewhere in case I get in a funk and start losing interest. I want to remember WHY I’m losing weight and how I’m going to do it so this time there’s literally NO excuses.