It's been quite a ride since I originally decided to go public with my weight loss challenge to myself. To celebrate my 20 pounds milestone, I thought I'd take a trip down memory lane and list the top things I've learned about myself, weight loss, and life.
You've got to dig down deep to find what will really motivate you. For me, it was the public accountability that I needed to really be successful at losing weight. For many people, that approach wouldn't work. But for me, putting it out there on record for the world to see has made me much more accountable. I've been in several situations since I started my weight loss effort -- be it a tempting food situation or a day where I don't want to go to the gym even though I should -- and I think about my blog and all of the messages of support I have received, and it keeps me going and motivates me to do the right thing. Other people might be motivated to lose weight by setting a goal of participating in a marathon or triathalon, or trying out for Survivor (yes, someone who reads my blog did that and made it a couple of rounds!). None of these would have worked for me, and it just took me really digging deep to figure out what would.
I'm a social eater. I've always been jealous of the people that lose weight when they are under stress. I'm not an emotional eater. I don't pig out when I'm stressed, stuff my face when I'm sad, or binge when I'm frustrated. I'm a social eater, one that uses food to celebrate. But the problem was, I'd always find a reason to celebrate. It's Friday! It's the last day of school! Will got an A on his report! It's Saturday! It's payday! My self-designated celebratory meals and social events are where I historically tended to get in trouble. We rarely eat out anymore, and when we do, my choices are a lot less cheesy and creamy. When we go to social gatherings, I make it a point to arm myself with healthy options. I also bank my additional exercise points and weekly bonus points when I know I have a big party to go to over the weekend. And I get a pedicure instead of a pizza when I'm proud of myself.
Celebrating at a crab feed!
It takes a village. I have been so blessed to have such a wonderful and supportive husband helping me behind-the-scenes of my weight loss effort. He makes my lunch every day! Sure, I think his original motivation was to save us money so I wouldn't buy my lunch out all the time. But once I really got committed to losing weight, he began faithfully packing my lunch with Lean Cuisines, Greek Yogurt, fruit, veggies, 2-point Weight Watchers Almond Sensation Bars (the best!) and Vitamin Water. Andrea has been a great workout buddy and we keep each other accountable, making sure we get our butts of the couch and onto the recumbant bikes and elliptical machines at Benicia Health and Fitness. My Weight Watchers leader, Norma, and my fellow Tuesday night Weight Watchers friends are a must-have to celebrate all of the 5-pound milestones. After all, it's all about the 5-point stars and the rounds of applause!
My husband the lunch-maker and official Christmas-tree-cutter-downer
Motivation is contagious. When I first started my Jen's 40 by 40 blog, my only goal was to keep me accountable to lose weight. I really hadn't considered that I would inspire others to adopt healthier lifestyles as well. But now I have a handful of friends who, inspired by my blog, have embarked on weight loss challenges of their own. Who knew?
Don't take yourself too seriously. A co-worker of mine suggested I watch Kirstie Allie's Big Life, a reality show that chronicles the actress's latest attempt to lose weight. One night, I decided to watch it. If you have seen it, you'll know that Kirstie enlists her hefty handyman, Jim, in her battle with the bulge. She makes Jim participate in weigh-ins with her, go through rigorous workouts, and frequently embarrass himself. In the episode I saw, Kirstie had six-pack abs spray painted on Jim -- a technique she noted is common in Hollywood. It was so hilarious to see his "six pack" abs sprayed onto his enormous bulging belly. Likewise, Jason Alexander, who played George in Seinfeld, recently donned spandex (and then the "full monty") on a commercial that celebrated his 30-pound weight loss on Jenny Craig. Here's a link if you haven't yet seen it: http://www.jennycraig.com/commercial/jason. I think a sense of humor is important when battling the bulge, and my blog has helped me add a little sense of fun and humor into my own effort.
Exercise won't kill you. Now that I've been going to the gym 3-4 days/week, some of my friends have asked me if I find exercise addicting. The answer is no. But, what I can say is that I definitely can't envision exercise NOT being a regular part of my life. This is a HUGE transformation for me. After nearly six weeks of working out My knee pain is virtually gone, which if you read the week's post about the months and months of pain I'd been having, that's really significant. I thought for sure I'd need surgery to fix it, but it turns out that exercising has helped strengthen it enough to make the pain go away. It's interesting that simple vanity didn't do enough to motivate me to work out all these years. I guess that's because it's easy to hide flabby thighs in jeans, tights and skirts. But what has kept me motivated to work out this time, is my desire to strengthen myself so I don't have do deal with joint pain and other aches associated with gettting older. I want to be strong, vibrant and healthy in my 40's, 50's and beyond.
And lastly, it feels great to be 20 pounds lighter! I want to thank all of my friends, family members and colleagues who have been such a great support system for me. Check out my progress in pictures:
Me pre-diet at a Project Linus Event (2/20/10)
March 25, 2010
April 15, 2010
And today (after a workout)!