What I Have Learned About Weight Loss

Breathe

I’ve been on a health and weight loss journey for the past year.  In that year I have lost over 30 lbs, gotten off Metformin, a diabetes medication, and gone from not being able to run a block without breaking out into a cold sweat to being able to run 4 miles with no adverse affects.

I have learned a few things along the way.

1.  Be patient.  This is probably the hardest lesson to learn.  We all want instant results.  But I didn’t gain the weight in a day or in a week and I won’t lose it that quickly either.  Nor will you.  There are many fad diets out there.  Juice diets, shake diets intermittent fasting, etc.  They almost always promise quick results.  They almost always cost money and almost always are not worth it.  They may help you lose weight initially but when you come off them if you go back to your old eating habits you’re just going to gain that weight back again.  All I did was join a site called MyFitnessPal.com and log my calories.  Every day.  It sounds like a chore but in truth it just takes a few minutes a day.  It keeps me accountable.  I keep track of what I’m eating.  More important, it works!  And it doesn’t cost me a thing.  It taught me so much about my eating habits and how to keep my eating under control.

2.  A bad day shouldn’t derail you.  We all have bad days where we just want to binge.  If you have a day like that just pick yourself up, dust yourself down and start again tomorrow.

3.  It’s all about calories.  If you burn more calories than you eat you will lose weight.  It’s pure science.  If the weight isn’t coming off there may be a prevalent medical condition that is derailing you.  If you aren’t losing weight but you’re convinced you’re doing everything right get yourself checked out by your doctor.

4.  Weightloss is a simple process.  But it isn’t easy.  It takes determination.  Discipline. Patience.  Have I said that word already.  You will learn.  Patience is key.  But if you want it badly enough you will achieve it.

5.  Dieting is simple.  Keeping the weight off is the challenge.  This is the journey I’m about to embark on.  I’ve lost the weight.  I’m determined to keep it off.  Never go back!

6.  The most effective way to diet is not to go on a diet.  Sound confusing?  How many people do you know who go on a diet?  Then come off the diet and go back to their old eating habits and wonder why they’re gaining weight again?  If it’s your old eating habits that caused you to gain weight then of course you’ll regain the weight if you go back.

7.  The scale can lie!  When we want to lose weight we want to see the number on the scale drop like a stone!  Sometimes we hit a plateau and the scale stubbornly refuses to budge.  Don’t get disheartened and give up.  Look for other signs of success.  Look for NSV’s (non-scale victories).  Even when the number doesn’t drop other things are happening.  Maybe your clothes are fitting better.  Or getting looser.  Maybe your collar bones are starting to pop out, or your hip bones.  Maybe you find yourself able to do things you couldn’t do before.  Walk further or run without getting out of breath.  These are all signs you are on the right track.  Just keep doing everything right and the scale will start to drop again.

Through the past year I have learned a lot about myself.  I have patience and if I want something bad enough I can achieve it.  That’s very empowering.

Before And After

before and after

Sometimes when you look in the mirror it’s hard to see just how far you have come when you’re looking to lose weight.  The best way to really judge your progress is take photographs.  If you’re starting out on a weight loss journey I’d advise you to take several photos before you start.  It’s always good to have something to compare.  The photo on the left was taken in 2009 when I was at my heaviest.  The photo on the right just a couple of months ago.   Here I can really see the difference.  I’m almost at the weight I want to be.  It’s time to start maintenance.  I have made a vow to never again look like I did in the pic on the left.  I wasted 20 years of my life looking like that.

Never again!

The past year has certainly been eventful.  Getting off diabetes medication.  Losing over 30 lbs.  Getting fit.  Running.  And this is just the beginning.  I intend to start lifting weights more now.  I’ve lost the weight.  Now I want to tone myself up and get myself in better shape.  The weight loss journey may be ending.  But the healthy lifestyle is just beginning!

My Home Workout Routine

I thought I’d share my home workout routine.

I start with this one.  I don’t know what to call it so I’ll share the video the idea came from.  It’s the very first exercise.  I can testify you really feel it in your abdominal area.  I do 10 of them.

Then I do 10 leg raises, where you lie flat on your back and raise your legs, then lower them so your feet are just off the floor.

Then still lying flat on my back I lift the weights straight up and slowly lower them.  Again I do ten of these.

Still lying on my back  I lift the weights and stretch my arms behind me, before slowly lifting them back up and down to my side.  For the last one I also lift my feet off the floor slightly for a count of ten seconds.  Another set of ten.

I do five sets of each of those routines.

I then move off my back for the next round.  On all fours I stretch my left leg back out so it’s straight out behind me and back down for a count of ten then do the same with my right.  This works on your glutes and thighs.

Then a 50 second plank.  I’m working up to doing a minute plank.

Then ten push ups.

Again, five sets of this section.

For the final round I’m upright.  I do ten squats (although I’m going to increase the number.)

Ten bicep curls.

I lift the weights from my side straight outwards and back down.  Ten of these.

Then what I call my stretch and bend.  Where I lift the weights straight up above my head then bend to touch the weights to the floor.  You guessed it, I do ten!

Then it’s twenty Jumping Jacks.

Then I run up and down the stairs ten times.

Once more I do these in five sets.

The whole routine takes me one hour.

I finish with a delicious protein shake.

This is especially good when I can’t get to the gym or go for a run.

Plateau’s And How To Bust Them

“Weight loss is not linear.”  I’ve lost count how many times I’ve read those words on the MyFitnessPal forums.  And it’s so true.  Most people when trying to lose weight are ruled by the number shown on the scale.

The scale doesn’t move for a few days, or weeks.

Frustration.

The scale goes up a pound.

Freak out and reach for the nearest donut.  This is obviously not working!

But the scale doesn’t tell the full story.

And the scale lies.

I’m close to my goal weight now.  For the past two weeks or so I’ve been fluctuating up and down a pound.  Then I gained an extra pound.

I did not worry about it.  I did not stress out.  And I did not reach for a donut.

It’s all part of the game.

There are other ways to see the changes happening to your body.  Changes that are often more motivating than the number on the scale.

Your clothes start to fit better.

You can see changes in your face.

You start to feel bones you never felt before.  Or not for a long time, anyway.  Collar bones, hip bones.

If you work out, your fitness level starts to increase.  You find you can do things you couldn’t do before.  You can go longer.  You have more energy.

These are the things you need to look for when you’re on a weight loss / health journey. These are the things I used to keep myself motivated when the scale didn’t move.  No matter how frustrating a plateau can be, just keep doing the right activities.  Keep exercising.  Keep counting calories.  Plateau’s are just tests of your willpower and your determination to succeed.

My weight had gone up two pounds.  My wife and I went to a Zumba class on Saturday.  We had an hour of intense movement. And yesterday we had pizza for dinner.  Sunday I dropped a pound.  Today I’m another pound less so I’m back to my lowest weight since I started my journey a year ago.  In fact we’ve both lost two pounds!  Sometimes plateau’s happen because we get into a bit of a rut.  Our bodies get used to our routine.  The old saying, “a change is as good as a rest” is especially true when it comes to a healthy lifestyle.  Doing something different seems to shock the body into getting back on track.  Now I’m looking forward to resuming my weight loss.  I only want to lose another five pounds or so and then I’ll be in maintenance.

For those of you who are frustrated if your scale isn’t moving I hope this helps motivate you to keep on track.  And to stay away from those donuts.  Unless you can fit one into your weight loss plan, that is.

Zumba

One Incredible Year!

Chris before and after

before and after

The Runner.jpgWhat a year it has been, health-wise.  I started my health journey around the beginning of March 2015 after my A1C was 7.2 and my doctor wanted to put me on a second diabetes drug.  I’d already been taking Metformin since August 2008.  That second drug is strongly linked with causing liver damage.  I knew enough was enough.  It was time to take my health seriously.

After a brutally cold winter, March finally ushered in milder temperatures and off I went.  I walked at least an hour every day.  I slowly introduced running, using a variation of Couch To 5K.  My first major milestone was running my first mile.  By late April I was able to stop taking Metformin.  In June my A1C was 5.8.  In October it was 5.5 and I was told I was out of diabetic range.  I’ve lost nearly 40 lbs in the past year through a combination of counting calories and running.

My wife watched my dedication and it inspired her to join me in July.  We joined a gym and we love working out together.  She has lost 40 lbs and she is addicted to lifting weights.  We’re both in this for life.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my parents lately.  They both died way too young.   My dad passed away aged just 38.  He had a brain hemorrhage.  It was so sudden.  My mum died from leukemia at age 54.   Losing your parents so young makes you think of your own mortality.  Neither of us want to die young.  So going on this health journey is the best decision we could have made for our health.  We want to grow old together.

Being active is addictive.  I did an hour workout this morning.  Planks, squats, push-ups, leg raises, weight exercises and running up and down the stairs.  It was energizing!  I’ve actually done this same routine for the past 8 days.  I did each exercise in 5 sets.  For the planks I raised each one from 30 seconds to 45 seconds.  The last plank was for a full minute.  Each week I’m going to slowly raise the bar.  That stops the workout becoming stale.

If you need to lose a few pounds, or if you just want more energy I highly recommend some kind of exercise.  Your body will thank you for it.  It isn’t easy.  It requires commitment, dedication.  But the more you push yourself the better you feel.  And exercise becomes so addictive.  I can’t imagine not doing some sort of activity at least 4 or 5 times a week.  If I miss a few days I feel the difference.  My body becomes sluggish, lethargic.  And it can be a very sociable thing.  I’ve met a great bunch of people on Twitter.  Especially runners.  They are a great group of people and really encourage each other.  If motivation doesn’t come easy for you, finding someone to work out with might be the answer.  Christine and I motivate and push each other.  Accountability can be a powerful motivator.  I’m grateful that the doctor wanted to put me on a drug that’s linked with causing other major health issues.  Whether he intended to or not, he gave me all the motivation I needed to get my ass in gear and get moving.