Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What's Your Secret?

I recently posted a comparison picture on Facebook. The picture on the left was taken on the day after Thanksgiving last year. The picture on the right was taken on Thanksgiving day this year.

Since I posted the picture I've been asked several times, "What's your secret?"

As you can tell, I've lost a significant amount of weight since last year. Since the beginning of January I've lost around 45 pounds. I most recently met my first weight loss goal of thirty pounds down since May. It was in May that I really became serious about losing weight and started tracking my weight loss and inch loss. 30 inches lost to be exact.

So, what is my secret?

The short answer: hard work.

The long answer: hard work.

When I first started receiving the questions about my "secret," I laughed a little. I wondered if people really thought there was some big secret about weight loss. But the truth is, I used to be one of those people myself.  Before this year, I had no desire to work hard and to change my life. I wanted an immediate fix to my problem without having to change anything about my diet and lifestyle. I tried a LOT of diet gimmicks over the years. Some were actual proven and approved methods of weight loss and I actually did lose weight on most of the programs or pills I tried. The problem with programs and pills is that while they may offer some instant gratification in the weight loss area once you stop taking the pills or doing the program, the weight comes back. If what you are doing to lose weight isn't something that you can realistically do for the rest of your life...it really doesn't work.

To truly be successful, I had to make a lifestyle change and work incredible hard. I started small. One pitfall to losing weight is changing too much at once. I had tried that several times and always ended up overwhelmed and unhappy. At first, instead of eliminating things from my diet, I added fruits and vegetables to it. At most meals, I made sure to have fresh fruits and veggies at the table. It was usually a bowl of grapes and a bag of baby carrots. I LOVE potato chips and they have always been a big downfall for me but I noticed that I slowly began to eat more of the fruits and veggies than the chips. Now, I only buy one bag of chips a month. It can be whatever kind that I want and I eat them in moderation, not the whole bag in one sitting. I used to buy two to three bags a week.

Another rule that I have is to never make foods off limits unless I decide that I don't like them anymore. Which has happened since I've become healthier. In past experiences, I realized that as soon as I had made certain foods off limits, I only craved them that much more and when I eventually caved in and ate it, I couldn't stop eating it and before I knew it, I was off the wagon again. However, I do not make it a habit to eat high fat, sugar laden, foods very often. If I really want something then I eat it but before I do, I take into account my activity level and what I've already eaten during the day. I say no to "bad" foods that I don't absolutely love because really, why should I waste calories on something that I can live without? I also began to drink more water and tried to keep diet sodas to an occasional treat instead of drinking five to six a day.

I began to cut fast food out of my diet as much as possible. We started eating at home majority of the time instead of mostly eating out. I began to cook healthy but yummy meals that satisfied and sustained. I haven't done it in a while but I have shared several recipes on my blog in the past. Another downfall of dieting before this year was believing the lie that healthy food tastes bad. You don't have to eat a salad every day. There are ways to make your favorite meals healthy. I LOVE Mexican food and enjoy healthy versions of enchiladas, tacos, etc all the time.

When I had a handle on my eating, I started focusing on fitness and exercise. I completed The Couch to 5K Running plan several months ago. I started this plan in May when I really became focused on losing the weight. I ran a 5K at the end of the summer and since then I generally run a couple times a week. I haven't run much lately but I hit the gym several times a week and go for a long walk at least once a day sometimes twice.

I could share more about my journey but suffice it to say that the secret to losing weight, is changing your lifestyle and A LOT of hard work! It is hard work to make good choices every day. It is hard work to get out of your warm bed to go for a walk or to miss watching your favorite TV show because you need to get in a run for the day. It is hard work to sacrifice your free time to get in a work out. It is hard work to choose to eat something healthy when everyone around you isn't making good choices. It is hard work to prepare healthy meals for your family instead of just heating up a frozen pizza. But every time you work hard, sweat, and make good choices, you are changing your life. You are one step closer to the "you" you want to be. Trust me, I know.

I know just by glancing at the picture above that I "look" better but what you can't see in that picture is that I "feel" better. My body is healthier. I have more energy. Fitting into a smaller size and liking the way I look is a bonus to living a healthier lifestyle.

The secret is out!

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,


Monday, November 28, 2011

Four Years

I had planned for this post to be completed and ready for automatic posting last Monday. However, due to my lack of proper time management, I didn't get around to it before I left town. So here it is, a week late...

On November 21, 2007 I gave birth by C-section to a healthy, beautiful, 7 pound 8 ounce, 21 1/2 inch long baby girl. We named her Abigail Rose Foster. Since that day my life has changed so much. I have grown up, grown in my faith, been stretched as a person. Parenting has had it's ups and downs, from changing dirty diapers and potty training to watching all the milestones and seeing Abigail grow into the beautiful young lady that she is becoming. My heart swells with love for this four year old little girl. She makes me laugh. She makes me cry. She brings joy to our home. She has her own personality and style. I love watching her and seeing those things with my own eyes. I pray for her continually that she will grow up to know God and love Him and receive Him as her Lord and Savior. I pray that I do my very best to always point her to Him.

Her she is just moments after her arrival...

It's not her most attractive picture but I am always amazed by this picture. :)

All cleaned up...

First birthday...

Two years old...

Three years old...

(Picture by Amberly Foster Photography, Claxton, GA. You can check out her amazing work here)

Four years old...

Abigail, you are such a joy and inspiration in my life! I love you sweet girl! It's been a wonderful four years!



Monday, November 7, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes

Today, I find myself on the brink of meeting my first weight loss goal. As I was thinking back over my almost year long journey, I thought about what I looked like around this time last year. Right before Thanksgiving, I bought a pair of jeans. They were the biggest pair of jeans I have ever bought...a size 18. At Thanksgiving time, they fit OK but by Christmas they were beginning to be too tight. So even between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I gained weight. Today, I decided to put those pair of jeans on to measure how far I've come. Now, it's hard to imagine having been that big. I've worked so hard to get where I am and I still have a long road ahead of me to get where I want to be. For someone who has always loved being in front of the camera, I became camera shy last year. There aren't a whole lot of pictures of me that really show how big I was and even though they are hard to look at, I am thankful for the few that there are because they show my journey in a way that only pictures can show. So, here is a picture of me from last year...a couple of days after Thanksgiving. It's only a face shot.

And here is a picture taken just a couple of weeks ago...

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,


Simple but NOT Easy

Losing weight is not easy. Gaining it, however, is. But like the saying goes, "You didn't put it(the weight) on overnight and you can't take it off overnight either." Gaining weight is simple. All you have to do is eat. Eat  whatever you want and do nothing. The more you eat, the better. The more processed, fatty, sugary food you eat, the better. If you're an emotional eater, even better. That's what I am. I started to type, "that's what I was" but thought better of it. I still am. There are days when I am stressed or upset and my first thoughts turn to food for comfort. It is a battle and a struggle every time I feel that way.

Losing weight is not easy but it is simple. Eat right, drink a lot of water, exercise, and get enough sleep. It's a simple plan to follow but there is nothing easy about it. Losing weight takes hard work...A LOT of it. Some weeks or months may be easy for you. You are enjoying the plan. But eventually, at some point on your journey, something will come along and try to derail you. Sometimes you will slip up and make poor choices. Other times you will fight the temptation and come out on top. The key to losing weight is planning and making good decisions.

I am a planner by nature but when it comes to food and my body, I developed a fly by the seat of my pants theory. I ate if I wanted to. If it was going to make me feel good at that moment then fine. Inhaling a half a bag of family size salt and vinegar potato chips was nothing to me. Because, well, if it made me feel good then I should do it. It's the same way with sin. By the way, you know gluttony is a sin right? I wonder why preacher's never preach on it. I mean, it's one of the seven DEADLY sins. I realize that there are other ways to be gluttonous but obesity is rampant in our culture and even our churches. But alas, this is not the point of this post.  Planning has been the key to my weight loss success and lack of planning has the been the key to my weight loss setbacks and failures.

I won't go into my whole story again because most of you already know it and if you don't you can look at past posts. But in January of this year, I decided to make a change in my life. Not just for the betterment of my own health but that of my child. I wasn't setting a very good example for her and she was eating a lot chicken nuggets and fries, chips, and just plain junk. Now, she is a super food eater. She loves asking whether or not something is a super food. Last Wednesday during supper at church, she was eating collard greens. I don't know many three year old's that eat collard greens. The couple sitting with us was amazed that she would eat them when they wouldn't. The week before she had cleaned her entire plate of food. The same couple sat with us that week and was equally surprised at how well she ate. There is not much that she turns down. She is an exceptional eater and loves to try new foods. We used to be the type of parent's that would turn her down when she wanted to try something. We decided for her. If we thought she wouldn't like it or it was too spicy or if it was something we didn't particularly like, we wouldn't give it to her. We changed our philosophy. We let her try pretty much everything unless, of course, it something not good for her. She's such a good eater now that if she doesn't like something, we don't force her but we do make her give it a good try first. If she doesn't clean her plate, that is fine by me too, as long as she's eaten enough of it. I struggle deeply with the clean plate rule. As a child, I was always made to clean my plate. If I didn't, I wasn't allowed to have a treat later on. As an adult, it is very hard for me to not finish my plate even if I am full because I feel like I am doing something wrong. I am thankful that I took control of my health while she was still young. I hope and pray that making good decisions now will keep her from having the same food issues that I do.

Um...back to planning. I get side-tracked easily. Ha. But yes, in January, I started making some better decisions. We ate more fruits and vegetables and cut way back on fast food. I began losing weight once a lot of the processed food was out of my life. I was too scared to weigh myself because of how much I had gained. Eventually I incorporated the Wii Fit into my life and lost even more weight. By the middle of May, I had a real plan and real goals. I began to lose weight every week. Mostly a pound or two but every once in a while I would lose about four pounds in a week. But after I completed The Couch to 5K training and ran my 5K, I sort of hit a wall. I lacked purpose. I still had my initial weight loss goal in mind, 30 pounds by September but September came and went and the scale hadn't budged. I did enough to keep from gaining weight but not enough to lose anything. But for the most part, it was due to a lack of planning and good decision making on my part. The plan was still simple but I wasn't following the plan. I stayed up late, drank diet coke all the time instead of water, ate haphazardly, and exercised without any true regularity.

Over the last month, I've gotten back into a groove. I took back charge of my life and health. I planned and made better decisions. Today, I am excited to say that this past week, I've lost the most weight during one week that I have in a long time. I lost three pounds this week!!! This puts me only one pound away from my 30 pound goal! I am beyond excited. One more pound and I'll be the smallest I've been since before Abigail was born and she'll be four in two weeks!

Losing weight really is simple. You just have to follow a plan, make good decisions, and be consistent. It won't be easy and you'll have to fight for it. But it is worth it!