Thursday, October 16, 2008

Changing the game plan

I'm still not keeping up with this blog like I want to, but my life has been very busy lately -- which is definitely a good thing!

As most of you know, over the last year and a half I've lost a lot of weight. For the first sixteen months or so, I lost almost sixty pounds simply through exercising -- I started out with two half-hour sessions a week with a personal trainer (focusing on strength training and cardio), then later increased those to two one-hour sessions, and added in a yoga class and an extra day of swimming or biking here or there. No surgery, no pills, no starvation, just exercise.

This summer my weight loss began to slow down, then pretty much stalled completely. I stepped up the exercise routine to 3 days a week of strength training and cardio, one yoga class and an extra swim, but I was still stuck. I had my trainer change the routine, but nothing changed. Finally I had to face the truth: I had to change my food intake if I wanted to lose more weight.


Here's the thing: I think I've read and tried every diet book known to womankind. They're all good in theory, but you get to a point where you just can't take it anymore. Every time I lost any weight dieting, I would wind up gaining twice as much as I lost when I stopped following the diet. And of course that would make me feel terrible about myself. So at some point I promised myself that I would never diet again.

So I found myself with a dilemma. I don't want to diet; I want to make healthy changes to my eating habits so that I can continue to lose weight, but I don't want to feel deprived or restricted. I started by keeping a log online of everything I ate each day (there are a bunch of websites where you can do this, and they count the calories for you -- yay!) I've always thought of my diet as pretty healthy -- I make sure to eat lots of fruits & veggies, protein, more whole than not-whole grains, and very little processed food. The problem wasn't the foods I was eating, but how much I was eating. At that many calories a day, even with all the exercise I was doing, I was just maintaining my weight.

I thought about it for a while, explored my options, and I decided to try Weight Watchers. I made this decision for a number of reasons, the main ones being 1) I needed to learn portion control (what exactly *is* a serving, anyhow?), 2) there aren't any strictly forbidden foods, which means I won't get obsessed with what I can't have (like when I did low-carb and all I could think about was pasta and cake), and 3) I have an appointment with the scale every week, and I have to pay for it, so there's a lot more accountability than if i just read a diet book. Plus, WW have been around for a long time, and I think their plan actually works if it's done right.

I was scared. I could think of as many reasons *not* to do WW as I could *to* do it, but I sucked it up and went to my first meeting almost two weeks ago. The first week was hard as I adjusted to smaller portions and low-fat versions of the "regular" foods I enjoy, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It forced me to get creative in the kitchen and eat lots of veggies, which I enjoyed. And at my first weigh-in, lo and behold, I had lost 7.75 lbs. Very cool.

I'm almost finished with my second week now, and I've been presented with a few challenges, such as going out to eat, and birthday celebrations -- but I'm surviving. And every day that I work out, I get to eat a little more than on other days :)

But most importantly: I'm resigned to not buying into the whole diet mentality. I don't hate my body or think that happiness can only come from being thin. I love my body and I want it to be healthy so that I can live a long, happy life. I've been amazed at how my body has responded to exercising, and I know now that it's a permanent part of my life and not just a means to an end -- and I'm going to treat WW the same way.



Ty-Anna said...

you've reached the ultimate in body perception. love you for you and know you deserve to be healthy to live long and happily...but YOU hold those cards and what others think or say can't change your passion to be happy.


Misty said...

love this... good for you. you are so inspiring!

Sheri said...

Maggie, you are an inspiration and I'm so proud to call you my friend!
I, too, have finally come to realize that if I want to live a long, healthy, happy life I need to make some changes to my lifestyle including diet and exercise.
Go us!! :)

Lauren J said...

So glad to hear you've found some great tools to make your life and health better! I need to take some inspiration from your efforts!

Buddhist In The West said...

Well, i would not PAY for dieting advice, myself - but GOOD LUCK!!!! I hope it brings what you are looking for!
In regard to portions, I find that cooking for others helps - as my pans only hold so much food, so the more diners the less dinner for me!

Anne said...

WW truly is a good, strong program. A few of my low-point faves:

WW Chocolate chocolate chip muffins (so rich, half a muffin is a good treat!)

Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches

Pirate Booty snack puffs

Pineapple angel food cake - angel food cake mix, can of crushed pineapple, mix and bake.