In 2016 I found myself at my highest weight ever and in desperate need of a weight loss plan. More importantly, I felt as unhealthy as I have ever felt in my life. The combination of asthma and a previous damaging respiratory virus left my lungs functioning the same as someone more than twenty years my senior. Walking short distances left me breathless while simple chores like carrying laundry baskets became daunting. I was also dealing with depression and anxiety, no doubt exacerbated by my health issues.
My husband was dealing with his own weight issues so we made a decision together to make some changes. Rather than try to jump into something immediately, we took some time to research and plan and changed how we live with the start of 2017. It was less about a New Year’s resolution than it was about getting through the holidays and starting fresh without immediate temptations.
Six months have passed and I’m happy to say that I am 40 lbs lighter (and my husband has had similar weight loss) and I’m stronger and healthier than ever. I haven’t had a recent lung function test, but I know that I have seen a huge improvement with my breathing. My resting heart rate has decreased by 30% and I actually look forward to getting out for some exercise. However, this journey has not been without some challenges. Temptation is everywhere and these are some times I’ve struggled and how I’ve worked through it.
Since we choose to eat a ketogenic diet, we don’t go to restaurants or get take-out as much as we did in the past. Obviously this is a positive thing for our health and our wallets, but sometimes you just want to go to a restaurant. This is surprisingly easier than I thought it would be. Most restaurants have options that are low-carb, even if they aren’t marketed that way. We often ask for an extra serving of vegetables rather than the potato/rice option on the menu. Choosing water is always better than a sugary drink, but if I really want a sweet taste, I go for the diet drinks. Fast food restaurants are a challenge and I do try to avoid them, but there are generally salads available. I check the MyFitnessPal app for nutritional information before I order so that I don’t end up being surprised later on.
The important thing while traveling is finding a balance between indulging yourself and being healthy. It is possible! One of my past downfalls was “cheating” and then giving up. I no longer have the mindset that making one bad choice will lead to another. If I choose to eat carbs at one meal, the day isn’t lost. Even choosing to eat carbs for a week doesn’t set me back permanently, but it obviously makes it a little harder to beat the carb cravings. So, I weigh my choices at each meal. Often it is easy…choose bacon and eggs, yogurt and berries at breakfast and skip the baked goods. I’ve enjoyed the contents of fish tacos without eating the shells. I am fully satiated with a cobb salad and of course can find any entree without carbs just by asking for a substitution. Then come the times where you just want what you want.
On a recent trip, I divided my meals fairly evenly between keto choices and non-keto options. While I didn’t gain any weight, I wasn’t feeling as energetic as usual. I knew that I needed to get back on track when I got home. We also may have enjoyed all of the craft breweries a little too much, which obviously played a role in how I was feeling. You can watch me discuss this in a brief video on facebook.
When I do go off track and find myself slipping, it can be hard to get that motivation back. Working with my husband on improving our health has been a big motivator for me. I am not just trying to succeed for myself, but also for him. It’s easier to make good choices when his health also depends on it.
When I’m craving a lot of junk and can’t seem to stop, I get out and exercise. When I’m focusing on fitness, the good choices in the kitchen seem to follow along. To get moving, I use a few digital tools. To track steps, I wear a Fitbit Surge. I am a competitive person so the Fitbit challenges are a valuable tool to get me out moving, and I’ve recently discovered the Carrot Rewards app that gives me Scene points just for walking. Pokemon Go is another app that I find motivating. I started playing it with my youngest son but now I just enjoy seeing how many eggs I can hatch by walking. Listening to the 2 Keto Dudes podcast while I walk has also helped me follow my weight loss plan.
Fitness programs can take up a lot of time. I spend at least 2 hours a day being active and it can be hard to invest so much time. I’m self-employed so I can answer emails and take calls while walking. I occasionally grab some photos or take a video for my job. I use my time at the gym and while running to listen to business webinars or podcasts. When I just want to be entertained, I listen to music or to podcasts that aren’t business focused. Feel free to ask me for suggestions!
Eating Right, After Taking a Break
There is no trick to getting back on track with your weight loss plan. It’s not about self-control or will power or the availability of the right food. It’s simply about making a choice. Sometimes I choose to eat a well balanced low-carb diet and follow my weight loss plan, and sometimes I binge on potato chips and ice cream. I don’t let a binge day take away from the hard work I’ve done thus far. However, there are things that I find make it easier to avoid binge days. Making a weekly menu and shopping once a week makes it easier to avoid the impulse purchases and take out dinners. Keeping healthy snacks on hand, drinking lots of water and tracking what I eat through MyFitnessPal also helps me make better choices.
Celebrate Success in your Weight Loss Plan
Everyone has a different opinion on the scale and BMI, and if we should use them as tools. I personally find it helpful to rely on both, but not entirely. I use the Fitbit Aria scale which provides both weight and body fat percentage. There have been weeks when I didn’t lose weight but I did lose body fat. I use the BMI chart as a guideline and for some of my goals. I recently met the goal that moved me out of “obese” and into “overweight”. Some people wouldn’t celebrate that but I am and I’m using it as a stepping stone to the next goal. I also take my measurements regularly and monitor my heart rate and strength. Together these things show me how I am changing my health for the better. None would do that on their own.
I’m halfway to my weight loss goal now. I’m still carrying a lot of weight on my stomach, which is where I’ve always seemed to store it. Unfortunately, it is also the most unhealthy place to have excess fat. Although I haven’t seen any weight loss over the last month, I haven’t gained either. I’m trying not to get discouraged and to keep my focus on my success.
What have you found kicks starts your weight loss?