Monday, December 21, 2009

But How Did You Do It?

When you lose a lot of weight people start to notice. And then come the questions..."But how did you do it?" One person at work asked me about it and before I could even open my mouth she followed with "You have to give up fat and carbs, right?" Um, no. People have so many preconceived (and often wacky) ideas about what is healthy and how to lose weight that it's often tough to explain how I changed my life and lost 93 pounds in the process.

My unhealthy lifestyle and weight gain wasn't caused by just one thing so it would be unreasonable to think that there is just one thing that helped me lose weight. Looking back over what I've done over the past 14 months one always comes to mind, I've taken time to learn about health and nutrition. There is some great information out there. I've gleaned what I found the most useful and applied them to my life. Because "rules" sound so rigid, I like to call them "strategies." This is how...

1. My juicer.
My juicer is the cornerstone of my healthy lifestyle. It's hard to eat the amount fresh vegetables and fruit required to keep the body strong and healthy but my juicer makes it so easy. I get all the nutrients and goodness of fresh, raw veggies with a bit of fruit each morning, any other produce I eat the rest of the day is gravy.

2. You can't change everything all at once.
I didn't gain my unhealthy habits overnight, so trying to change my entire lifestyle in one fell swoop would be completely unreasonable. Making small changes one or two-at-a-time and working on them until they become habits is a fairly painless way to living a healthier lifestyle.

3. Don't diet!
I've said it before, I'll say it again: THERE IS NO MAGIC BULLET! Diets that encourage pills, powders, giant cookies with a water chaser or giving up entire food groups may work in the short term but inevitably lead to the ugly cycle of deprivation, binge, weight gain, guilt, new fad diet and so it goes again. After years of the ugly diet cycle, a sane and balanced approach to eating was the only way for me to go. Whether you utilize portion control or calorie counting, eating a wide variety of delicious and nutritious unprocessed foods will help you feel great and keep you interested long term. Diets promote an all or nothing mentality, an on-again/off-again cycle that is unhealthy and frustrating. Which brings me to...

Learning this one was a major epiphany, click the link above to read more.

5. Learn to deal with emotional issues/stress/anger in a non-food way.
The weight of emotional overeating is two-fold, excess weight on the spirit and excess weight on the body. Learning to deal with my emotional issues in a non-food way was the first step in lightening this burden to my spirit and my body. I've learned to eat slowly and thoughtfully as not to fall into the trap of mindless eating. It's something that I will always have to be vigilant about because I don't want to relapse into using food as a crutch. Don't bury your feelings under a mountain of food, feel the feelings, process them and let them go.

6. Listen to your body.
After years of abusing food, I had no idea what real physical hunger felt like nor did I know what actual comfortable full felt like. The Four Golden Rules are a fantastic tool to start learning about your body's signals. It's also important to learn your body's signals especially when you start adding exercise into the mix. Your body will tell you when to slow down and when it is ready to do more. Which brings me to...

7. Exercise is non-negotiable for a strong, healthy body.
You know the title of the blog but I've learned to embrace the benefits of a good workout. My posture is better, I'm stronger, I have more endurance and don't even get me started on those lovely endorphins. Just 30 minutes a day, three times a week is all it takes to get started. Click the above link to read more about wonderful benefits of exercise. Make it a priority, put it on your calendar, "just do it."

Take some time to think about what it means to be accountable. For me, it means that I am the one in charge of my health. I can most likely prevent a future full of depression and disease by taking care of myself now, by treating my body with respect and love and nourishing it with healthful things, plenty of water and giving it lots of rest.

9. Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
Whether it's making sure I have a healthy snack at the ready at all times or batch cooking to stock the fridge and freezer, it's really important that I don't let myself get hungry or get caught without something delicious and nutritious to eat. This keeps me out of the drive-thru or having to call for take out.

10. The numbers on the scale only tell part of the story.
I'm living the life of a fit, healthy person and with each passing day, that fit and healthy person emerges a little bit more. I feel happy, energetic and stronger than ever. Feeling lighter, feeling freer, meeting and exceeding closet goals? Yes, yes and yes! While it's a good gauge of progress, I am not defined by the numbers on a bathroom scale.


  1. Great post.

    For me, #2 said it all. This is a change for the long haul and these new habits have to become second nature. Not a novelty act.

  2. You are so write about the numbers not defining you on the scale. I cannot say enough about how you should only weigh once a week. As women we fluctuate so much with water retention it's sick! I also read the post about your friend's dog and am honestly a little emotional right now. I have two wonderful little Chihuahuas that I adore like they are my children and do not know what I will do when that time comes, hopefully a LONG time from now. I actually posted a similiar topic about my LOVE/HATE Relationship with the scale, might be of interest to you :)

  3. What a great post - I plan to link to it and pass it on to some friends. Thank you!

  4. You are so amazing, Andra! I am constantly amazed at how far you've come, how well you communicate, your willingness to share all of this, and how interesting and informative your blog posts are. Thank you!

  5. Andra, thanks for this post - it's full of wisdom and plain good sense!

  6. I saw your recommended food list. It was very good list of healthy items. You should be very proud of yourself for making the change.