A year ago last December, I started on a journey. We moved to Baton Rouge a little over a year before then, and as I was in the long process of unpacking, I could not find the bathroom scale. I decided this was a pleasant thing to lose and thought I would just enjoy life without one. But since my clothes were feeling more snug and my face looked fuller, I looked for the scale a little more diligently, and unfortunately found it. I hopped on and was surprised to see I was at my highest non-pregnancy weight. I knew I needed to change my habits and my relationship with food.
It took me a few weeks to decide what to do. I was used to eating when I felt like it. Did I need to grade some papers? Should probably grab some a bowl of cheese crackers while I finished those up. Food was my comfort and fun, and made everything a little better. A lot of my eating was unconscious, I would just grab a handful of this or a handful of that. Time for a change.
I started eating within a more structured plan (I chose WW on-line) that included foods that were higher in protein and less processed. I did not cut out carbs, but I ate way fewer processed ones. The biggest thing I did was change my portion sizes. If I was craving something, I let myself have a couple of bites. I decided that the most important part of weight loss for me was: know thyself.
While I don’t have much willpower when there are lots of high fat foods around me, I do like to plan. So my weight loss journey was about planning, not willpower. Also, I know the kinds of foods that I really like. Ice cream, cream cheese, chips, cheese dip, chocolate, etc. So I went looking for low calorie, higher protein versions of these foods that would trick me into feeling satisfied. Non-fat Greek yogurt was a win, because I can add fruit to it or cocoa powder, and it tastes a lot like ice cream. Or for people who really don’t jive with yogurt, low calorie fudge pops are perfect. For my chocolate fix, I bought a bag of chocolate kisses, and would have about 1-3 per day. That portion size is pretty small compared to a regular dessert. Although I love chips, what I really like is the salty, crunchy flavors. So dill pickles were my fix there.
I also connected with friends who were on the same journey. Several friends from church, work, and fellow bloggers were also trying to make healthier food choices and lose weight. We started group texts and shared healthy foods and recipes that we were trying. This support was immensely powerful. We shared funny things that happened during the day as we tried to make better choices. Most of all, we knew we were not alone! We celebrated in the success of each other.
If I was going out to eat or to someone’s house, I would think ahead of time about what I would like to have so I was indulging in a couple of things and not ALL of them. I might decide, “I really want a handful of chips and cheese, but I’m good with skipping dessert.” Then it became more about choices instead of about depriving myself. I also upped my exercise routine. I was in the habit of going walking a few times a week, but instead, I tried my best to go for a walk daily, and sometimes I would even turn it into a jog.
I planned family dinners that were higher in low-fat protein and with lots of fruits and veggies. I brought salads with my favorite toppings to work. A baby spinach salad with lots of fruit on top hit the spot. But what was bigger than any of these individual choices was the mindset behind it. I thought to myself,
There is no amount of food that is going to make me feel better. Food will not solve problems or ease pain. My job is to work through everyday issues instead of using food to mask them or numb out. I have to be intentional about what I choose to eat.
I also focused more on people instead of food when going out. I would think to myself how much I was looking forward to seeing the people there and being in that atmosphere more than the food that I would be eating. I didn’t need a specific food to make the night enjoyable.
I’m happy to say that I lost about 15-20 pounds with my new eating choices. My goal is to lose another 5-10 pounds, but I’m encouraged by my progress so far. Since I’m pretty short, 15-20 pounds feels like a lot! I also have so much more energy and feel better in general. I’m excited to see how I can continue to strive towards this goal in 2019!