Thursday, February 26, 2009


Okay, so I've been claiming my 100-pound loss ever since I hit about 94 lbs lost. But now it's finally official. I never in a million years thought that I would be capable of something like this, and though I'm not usually one to brag about my own accomplishments, I have to say it feels pretty goddamn good.

To mark the milestone, I've written a list of things I've learned on the way to my 100-pound loss. (It was originally going to be a list of 100 things, but let's get real -- who can think of 100 things? and who has time to read all that?) Some of these are just personal observations, some are tips I've used and feel are worth repeating. Most of it could be taken as advice, even though I hate giving advice (because how can I possibly know what's right for anyone else? I have enough trouble keeping my own life in order! But when you lose 100 lbs, people start asking.)

So, without further ado...

If you can only do one type of exercise, do strength training (aka: weight training, resistance training, weight lifting). Building stronger muscles will improve your overall metabolism, so you'll use calories more efficiently even when you're not exercising (you'll burn fat in your sleep, dude.)

Baby steps. You can't go from being a total shlub to running marathons. Seriously -- I started working out for just 30 minutes, two times a week, and worked my way up from there. Now I hit the gym at least 3 times a week (for at least an hour) and I try to get a walk or run in on the days I don't go, or sometimes a yoga class. And nobody was ever a bigger shlub than me.

Love thyself. Seriously, this is HUGE. All the times I started a diet and/or exercise plan because I hated what saw in the mirror or the number on the scale/BMI chart/clothing label, I failed. When I made a conscious decision to take better care of the body I have, so that my body could better take care of me, I was able to make permanent changes.

Shit happens. Nobody is perfect. I make mistakes. I slack off. I eat pizza. I drink alcohol. Monthly hormonal fluctuations occur. Holidays take place. I gain pounds back. It happens. I have to keep loving myself through it, and taking care of my body, rather than letting one setback lead to a total meltdown. As my friend Joe says, "This too shall pass."

Sometimes, you need hand-holding. I can't stress enough how big of an influence my personal trainer has been on my life. I trained with her for a year and a half, and I still go to her for help when my workout routines get stale or when I just need advice or encouragement. She taught me how to exercise, and more importantly, she pushed me beyond what I ever thought I was capable of doing. My Weight Watchers leader is also a huge help to me. She's funny and patient and encouraging, and I look forward to seeing her every week.

If you hate it, it's probably good for you. Not food, but exercise. I was once told that you should find an exercise you like, and do that, because if you're doing something you hate, it's not good for your stress level. Maybe so, but I've found that if I enjoy something, it's probably because it's super-easy (and therefore, will probably have no effect on my body). The stuff I hate, like squats, step-ups and the rowing machine, are the things that really get my heart pounding, my teeth gritting, and my body changing.

If you get stuck, change it up. I think I once heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results? Anyhow, yeah -- it's good to change things up every so often, especially if you're seeing the same number on the scale week after week. Try a new exercise, or try increasing the weight/time/intensity on something you already do. Try a new recipe or a new veggie. Make things interesting :)

I can't not eat pasta! Or birthday cake. Or butter. Any eating plan/diet that tells me I absolutely CAN'T eat a certain food is a setup for failure. It won't work in real life. For me, it only creates unhealthy obsessions with the forbidden foods. I think the trick is making healthier choices most of the time, and saving certain things for special occasions. That being said:

Whole wheat pasta is not bad at all. Neither is low-fat cheese, or fat-free yogurt. (I still don't like light mayo, though!) It helps to make healthier choices/substitutions. When the substitutions taste good, that is ;)

Slow and steady wins the race. It's taken me two years to get to the point I'm at now. but I think slowly developing heathy habits over time leads to permanent change (as opposed to quick fixes, like the cabbage soup diet!)

I have to belong to a gym. I have to have somewhere to go where exercise is all I can do, because otherwise I won't do it. I have about 20 exercise videos at home. Know how many I've done? One. Once. There are too many other things in my house I like to do better than exercise.

Get your thyroid checked. Seriously -- I know more people with thyroid problems than without. If I hear that someone's having trouble with their weight, the first thing I ask is whether they've had their thyroid checked. And if your doctor says your levels are "normal", ask them for the numbers. And then call me ;)

You can do it. Because I did it. I'm not Oprah -- I don't have zillions of dollars to hire a personal chef and a trainer who comes and gets me out of bed and watches me to make sure I don't eat crap. I'm a real woman with a home and a family and a million things to do every day. I'm not naturally skinny or energetic -- my metabolism is complete shit, because I have autoimmune thyroid disease AND hyperinsuliemia. Plus I have endometriosis, which means I'm in pain most days of the month. I have to fight with myself every damn day to get my sneakers on and get out the door, because I'd rather stay on the couch. But there hasn't been one moment when I haven't thought it was worth it. I'm worth it. I did it. I'm doing it. You can do it, too.

Me two years ago:

Me now:


bloodthirsty~girl said...

congratulations! that's a hell of a milestone. thanks for putting advice up here because good advice is hard to find. i so know what you mean about exclusion diets. when i hear somebody talking about how they can't eat this or that, i want to shake them. i used to do that and bad food became like an addiction. i also used to give up every time i didn't like what the scale said-it's taken a long time to get to the "slow and steady" mentality. (i think there's some irony in that statement, lol.) i so want to come to philly and go running with you! ;)

Tatybear said...

I am so proud of you!! Congratulations!! Like I always say your a big inspiration, with a tiny body ;)!! I'm so happy to see you happy, and thank you for the advice, and don't worry about bragging you deserve it 100%! Way to go girl!

Gail A. Laursen said...

Awesome! Happy 100, Maggie!
You've offered some good advice, too. You've given me something to think about on gym and trainer issues...sounds like they've really helped keep you on track.

Anonymous said...

Wow, thanks for writing this practical post, and Wow! congratulations on hitting 100. That. is. AWESOME. And very inspiring.

Matt said...

I'm so proud of you. I love you!!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Maggie! I am so proud of you. You have given me hope that I too can lose my extra pounds. Keep up the great work. you look fantastic!

Denise Schreiber said...

The anonymous above is me, Denise. Don't know why it came up that way.

Ty-Anna said...

Phenomenal! What a wonderful journey of self exploration. Everything you said touched me in one way or another and I now feel like I can do it!

Knowing being a shlub is not as horrible as it seems and that things are still possible means a lot. I've watched you grow healthier and healthier from your pics online.


and thanks :-)

Misty said...

you are stunning Maggie! And truly motivational! So proud of you, you are AWESOME!

Anonymous said...

You are awesome!!! Congrats my cousin...ur an inspiration girlie!!! xoxoxo

Tashai said...

Just found your blog....

100 gone! You go girl! That's so awesome. I lost 15 lbs. last year. Then the long winter hit and I gained 10 back! I'm going to bookmark this post so I can read it when I'm feeling low. :)

Laura said...

Not sure if you remember me from MySpace or not, but I followed your blogs there too. I was bored tonight and figured I'd read old blogs. You are awesome! Like someone else are an inspiration and if/when I finally want to stop being a schlub, I'll read this again, lol. I'm almost there! Almost! WW is really the only plan that makes sense. It does work and I know it does......sigh...........