Thinking Differently – Pushing the Elephant Out of the Room

About a year ago, I posted about the elephant in the room and my need to lose weight. Since then, I took on a year-long weight loss challenge and I am coming up on the halfway point on Monday. I’ve never posted what my goal was, but I am going to lose 75 lbs total when it ends. Yep, you heard me right – 75 lbs – the difference in being classified as Obese to sitting comfortably in the Normal range for my BMI at my height. I have had the advantage of my height helping disguise just how overweight I had become, but you can only go so long before you have to acknowledge the weight gain is showing on your face and is affecting your overall health. That brings me to today.
I have already lost 35 lbs, have gone down 3 sizes in my clothes working on a 4th, I approach food completely differently than I used to and now hang out on the treadmill 5 days a week. It hasn’t been easy, but I am going to continue my approach and routine because it is working for me. Why am I sharing this? Because I know I’m not the only person among my friends struggling with their weight (our loving elephant in the room) and I want others to know there are ways of getting things under control. I recognized if I tried to change how I ate and started a workout routine at the same time and I wasn’t successful in doing one of those activities on a given day, I was more likely to quit both as it would be overwhelming and trying to change too much at once. I chose to start with food as I knew it was a way for me to take control of what I could and by learning to make informed choices, it would have an immediate impact.
My Approach to Food
To me, how we eat food every day should not be about being on diet. Diets create fear of certain foods and when you eat something out of a diet’s parameters, it can create an immediate sense of failure. I wanted to set myself up for the best chance of success possible. It was also important to me to be able to go anywhere at any time and be able to eat with friends and family and not feel like I needed to pull items out of my purse to keep me on a diet. It wasn’t a practical approach (or cost-effective) and I didn’t want to be dependent on purchasing certain products to be successful.
Food was something guaranteed I could control day in and day out regardless of how busy I was. I am the only person who feeds me so I am the only one I could hold accountable for what I ate. I signed up for an online app (MyFitnessPal) and through documenting my food choices each day, I was able to learn the calories in each portion of the type of food I was eating. I purchased a food scale and I took the time to measure my food to get an idea of total ounces of my meat portions and what a cup of food would look like. Some of the descriptions I had been told really didn’t really match up and until I saw it with my own eyes, it didn’t resonate. By the way, a cup of wild rice is much bigger than you might realize! Most importantly, I would ask myself a single question before snacking or making my meal choices – do I want this particular item or is there something that is more filling for fewer calories?  For example, I would ask myself if that single candy bar was worth 220 calories or would I prefer a bag of natural popcorn where I could eat the entire bag for a lot less? I could make a choice to eat something or not. Is there anything I have taken off my list that I no longer eat? No, as it isn’t a diet. On occasion, we still eat pizza or go out for Mexican including the chips and salsa. What I have learned is to make choices based on calorie counts and where I want to be every day. It may sound funny, but I am looking forward to Thanksgiving. I have a plan in place for what I’m going to be eating the days before and the days after, but I will enjoy all the food of Thanksgiving.  It will be important for me to control my portion sizes to keep the total calorie count down, but I intend to eat my favorites including the apple pie.
To give you an idea of the impact of our food choices, by modifying my food changes I was able to lose 25-30 lbs. I think if I was a regular soda drinker, it would have been even higher. For me, the best part is I am not afraid of certain types of food like I believe many of the diets can do and I certainly don’t have to experience the feeling of failure for not following the rigors of a particular diet. Do note, this was not something I had control of quickly; controlling my food intake took about four months before I felt comfortable with my day-to-day eating habits.
The Start of Working Out
Even though I do still need the occasional reminder from my supportive husband about my food choices, I felt ready to commit to regular work outs about two months ago. For us and our choice to living out in the country, it meant I would be starting with the treadmill in our house. As I have mentioned elsewhere, I have a love/hate relationship with the treadmill. Building it into my normal morning routine before work, I am now on the treadmill 5 days a week for a minimum of 20 minutes as I continue to increase in intensity and slowly increasing duration. I absolutely dislike having to run on a treadmill and feeling my jiggly parts move with me, but I also enjoy the feeling of the strain of muscles as I know the work is going to help achieve the weight loss I desire. I look forward to the day when things are no longer jiggling! I also know continuing to work out will help me successfully cross the finish line on May 13, 2018, the end point of my weight loss challenge.
While running recently, I noticed something very important – my wedding ring. I think of it now as the ring that keeps my world moving in the right direction as I watch it now spin on my finger when it used to be snug. Every time I run, I now use it as my motivation and focus to keep me going for my entire workout. It is a symbol of my husband, our family and our future and the length we have together is dependent on me being as healthy as possible to be able to enjoy our time on this earth together. When you can start to see the positive outcomes of your efforts, it certainly helps the motivation to keep on going.
So as of today, I am going to say my elephant has been successfully pushed halfway out of the room with the plans in place to keep pushing over the next six months.  For those of you who have seen me in person since I have started this journey, I greatly appreciate your support. For those of you who I will be seeing over the holidays and during the course of the rest of the challenge, know that I look forward to enjoying your company. I hope you will also understand and are not offended if I turn down the appetizers, the sweets, or the drinks. Your friendship, as well as my health, are both important to me.
Please feel free to share this post with anyone you think it could help.  If some of my commentary resonates with you and you have questions, I will be happy to answer what I can.  I’m not an expert, but I can tell you more details of some of the small changes I have made that have been working for me for you to consider. As we get closer to Thanksgiving and the extended holiday season, I wish everyone a happy and healthy season and I look forward to posting a final status in May of my success!

One Step at a Time

I recently bought my husband a Fitbit for his birthday. Everyone who has ever met him knows the man has difficulties sitting still.  As a full-time farmer/rancher/handyman, he is always moving from the time he gets started in the early morning until the time he quits at night.  When I got him his Fitbit, I had no idea what we were about to see.  In the last 5 days, he has averaged – AVERAGED – 22,535 steps a day.  That is the quivalent of 9.7 miles. Think about that – walking almost 10 miles a day without even trying.

And then there is me.

We laugh now when we compare our numbers.  I’ve had my fitness watch for a couple of years.  Some days are better than others when I might reach 5,000 steps as part of my day-to-day movements.  I can reach 10,000 with extra effort and making sure I get time outside helping with the animals or gardens, but that certainly is not an every day thing. Working at a computer for long hours a day, I don’t get many steps as I go to the restroom and to the kitchen for lunch and snacks.  Is that an excuse? Maybe. I’m not trying to make one.  It is the reality of my choices.  I have not committed to the additional movement I need to make my goals a reality.

Let me go back to my husband for a minute and why I brought him up in the first place. I tell you this not only because I am proud of him and everything he does for our family, but I also think he is a living display of the difference in having vision and focus and how far it can take a person.  Does his day start with trying to walk 10 miles a day? Absolutely not. It is a positive byproduct of a larger plan he is following in his head.  Has he ever shared a grand vision with me of everything he wants for us and our farm?  No. However, every day he has three things he focuses on and doesn’t quit until the day’s tasks are done.  It ranges from the routine daily feedings of our animals twice a day to all of the maintenance (fixing fences, treating animals) to working on the next big project in his head for what he wants to do next. Right now, it is clearing out trees one at a time with a chainsaw to feed the limbs to our goats, cutting up the trees for firewood and dragging out all the brush as he works on creating a new pasture field.  Does that mean some very long days for him?  Yes it does, but he also is committed to create the best situation for our farm and that means putting in the time to get these things done. I stress the word committed.

Now, as I look at my week and the perspective my husband gives me, I owe it to myself to figure out a few things to give direction to my days and by extension, my life.

  • What is my vision for my life?  What do I see next for me as I figure out how to move forward? I don’t think I necessarily need to figure out what my vision is for when I’m 80 (several decades away), but I can focus on what I would like to achieve by the end of the year, a year from now, or 3 years from now.
  • With my vision in mind, what items do I need to focus on to get me there?  We all have many different ideas of things we want to complete/accomplish, but I think we get distracted with trying to do too much at once.  There are only so many hours in the day so focus is essential if we are going to complete any of them.  I know I can make the extra items my next “big thing” to focus on after I accomplish the first one.
  • With focus on a particular item, what do I need to do today?  Do I have items on there that hit the 3 categories – Routine, maintenance, and action towards achieving my goal to get me to my vision?  I need to keep in mind my routine and maintenance could be things I need to do to take care of ME to make sure I am in position to achieve my next big thing.  Do I need to get time in for more exercise? Or time to relax and meditate?  Or reach out to family and friends for support? I need to consider them all as I figure out today’s “MUST DOs” and doing it again tomorrow and the next day, and the next day…

I know what I need to do and I’m hoping by sharing this with all of you, it helps hold me accountable and encourages you to do the same.  Put simply, to achieve so many great things, it all starts with knowing where we want to go and taking it one step at a time and I am committing to my vision so I can focus and do just that!

“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life.”


Here’s to our many steps and wishing you life’s greatest success!