Jan 28, 2014

My Weight Loss/Health Journey

People have asked me why I changed my lifestyle to a healthier version to include working out, eating right and losing weight.  My weight loss journey did not start out with me sitting down and thinking “I need to lose weight” or “I need to eat healthier” but my mom was terminally ill.  She had emphysema, COPD, congestive heart failure and cancer.  She was a smoker and we never really had any kind of emphasis on eating right in our house.  Matter of fact, I don’t think we really knew the difference between healthy and otherwise.  I realized that I want my life to be different … free of health disorders.  Especially ones I can control, like my weight.
I noticed that my pants went from a size 9 to 11 to 13 and I thought I was just growing.  I was in my early 20s and the only growing at that age (for girls) is not the healthy kind.  I had not noticed that I was actually getting bigger and I just thought the designers were making clothes smaller which frustrated me when the 13s got tight.  What was really happening is I was eating too much!!  I went from a half burrito at Filiberto’s to a whole one plus some rice and beans…. In one sitting!!!  That is waaaay too much food to consume at one time for someone who is 5’4 and not lifting for a body building competition.

Not to mention that I was going out every weekend and drinking as much alcohol as possible in a few hours, then eating afterward.  Then going to bed.  Hmmmm…..how did I not notice I was getting fat?
Fat pic
Before my mom passed I wanted to make healthy changes in my life because I wanted to live a long time.  I began cutting portions and paying attention to what I was eating.  No more processed garbage, no more butter, sour cream, cheese or sauces…. Basically no more good food.
And I started measuring my food.  I was amazed at how much I was used to eating compared to what the actual serving size was.  No wonder I had gained weight.  Did you know that the average restaurant serves 6x more than an actual serving of pasta?!!  

I began learning about the toxic chemicals that are added to our foods –but that is for another day- and I made small changes at a time.  Things I could commit to and not too much all at once.  There was no way I could give up all the things I was used to eating, in exchange for healthier items, and actually stick to it.

It is unrealistic to make a change like that and expect it to be permanent.  If you love soda and have tried to quit drinking soda – only to find yourself drinking it again then try gradually reducing the amount of soda you drink in a day.  Make a realistic goal, something you can stick to permanently.  This way you can have a permanent result, permanent weight loss.  If you usually have 2 sodas a day, try making a goal that you will have 1 soda a day for the next 2 weeks and after that it will be a smaller serving of soda each day for the next 2 weeks.  Then 1 smaller serving of soda every other day until you are only having 1 soda a week and eventually, only occasionally. Soda is just an example but the same concept can be applied to everything such as the use of butter, sour cream, cheese and other sauces, deserts, treats, etc.

Why is Weight Loss so Hard?

Changes are difficult and many times people are so excited about their weight loss journey that they want to do it all at once.  Many people have success and when they lose motivation they gain the weight back because they revert back to their normal eating habits.  My motivation was seeing the result of the bad habit my mom had, which was smoking.  Maybe motivation for you is living long enough to see all the great things in life your kids will experience.  Even more motivation is doing it without a wheel chair, oxygen or any other food induced ailment.
Butter was a hard thing for me.  We grew up cooking with it and putting butter on everything, even spaghetti.  I could not go without butter so I used less and compensated for the lack of taste with more spices.  This was not easy and most of the time I did not like the food at all.  This worked in my favor because I did not really want to eat much of it when it did not taste good and since I was working on portions, it was a good thing.  After a while I began to enjoy what I was eating.  Did I just say enjoy?  Yes, I learned how to spice up broccoli with lemon juice and Mrs. Dash so eventually I used no butter at all.
I figured out taste buds can and DO change.  There will still be foods that you absolutely hate but the way you are eating today can evolve into a better, healthier way without the extra garbage.  I like to equate it to beer or wine because most of us did not like the taste of either the first time we drank it.  But we DID like the results so we drank it again and again until we eventually liked a specific brand.  The same concept can be applied to finding the right healthy food and spice each of us prefer to achieve results we want.
I had portions down pretty well and I had eliminated the ‘extras’ the next was to incorporate healthier versions of my meals.  So instead of having hamburger helper without butter, I learned to cook healthier meals such as meat with a complex carbohydrate and a vegetable.  I was eating balanced meals so my body was getting more of what it needs from food and this meant my immune system grew stronger and I got sick less and less.
weight loss pic
Small changes allow you to grow accustomed to a little at a time so the results will be long term.  The overall goal is a lifestyle change, not a temporary change.  The result achieved from the temporary change will also be temporary.  Changing too many things at one time can be too difficult to make them permanent.  If you are positive that you will still drink 2 sodas a day, pick something else to change like drinking more water throughout the day or eliminating some of the sweets from your daily intake.
After my mom passed I began training for a marathon so that I could raise funds for other people who were sick in hopes to help find cures and treatments.  This is when I added cardio to my routine.  I was doing the usual elliptical or the bicycle for 15-30 minutes but it was not intense.  For those of you who are already doing cardio, it is a good time to turn it up.  Short bursts of high intensity cardio will blast fat.  I would jog for 5 minutes then sprint for 1 minute then after a couple days I increased the sprint to 2 minutes.  After a couple days I increased the sprint to 3 minutes and so forth.  Eventually I was running several miles a day.  Running.  Not walking, not speed walking, not alternating walking and running… I mean full on running.
It was great!!  I learned what the term “runner’s high” actually meant.  I was on top of the world and the fat was blasting off, not to mention my legs were shaping up.  Would you love to look at your legs and love them?
Those of you who do not incorporate cardio activity into your day, now is a good time to start.  Not only does it burn fat but it also good for your heart.  Start light and, as always, consult your physician first.

Weight Loss is Possible!

What is so significant about my weight loss story?  Nothing.  Lots of people have lost weight and kept it off.  What IS significant is that I have gone through what you are or will be going through.  I experienced it firsthand so the info I am giving to you works and I know it works because I have done it.  So have thousands of others.  I had a chance to talk to a really awesome person who has done the same thing and now she helps others.  I have read some of the success stories and here is her link:  http://happinessisafirmbutt.com/category/success-stories/I am not just gathering information that I have read from a book, article or someone else’s story.  It is real life and I did it.  So can you!
I told you my motivation and, now, you have to figure out yours.  I know motivation does not always come easy and I have written a blog on how to find it and hold onto it.  Staying Motivated to learn how to stay motivated through your weight loss journey.

Post comments on what you are doing for a healthier you.
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  1. You are soooo right about controlling your portions. I am normally a very fast eater (I inhale my food) and I noticed by eating slower, it has helped me control my portions because I get full quicker.This is a different way for me to control my portions and kind of an odd way to do it....but it has been working for me.

    1. Suzette, thanks for sharing and great point! When I worked at Jenny Craig we taught people to eat slowly. It is a GREAT way to control portions because it allows enough time for your brain to signal to your stomach that you are full.

      The faster a person eats, the less time their brain has to tell the stomach it is full. By the time the message is received the person has likely over-eaten.