Friday, July 16, 2010

Top Five Things to Consider Before Starting a Health Kick

After the birth of my son, I decided it was time to get healthy and start taking care of myself. I was taking a long maternity leave, so I had no excuse not to use that time to figure out how to eat properly and learn to love exercising.

Since Hideo's birth, I have lost 76 pounds. It took me less than a year, which is remarkable. I have kept the weight off, and I truly believe that I will never go back to my unhealthy ways. This is my new life, and I love it.

Like many people who have accomplished a big goal in their life, I am now a true believer, and I love talking about how other people can get healthy. However, I also know that most people don't want to hear about it. So instead of chatting up random people, I figure I'll just blog occasionally about things that worked for me. That way you can read if you want. No pressure.

To that end, here are the top five things I think you should consider before embarking on a new healthy lifestyle.

5. You will be surprised at how many people will not be supportive of you in this endeavor. This was something I did not expect, but people start to feel threatened when you make a big change in your life. Even my husband had a little trouble adjusting, although he came around and managed to lose 35 pounds himself, thanks to our new commitment to healthy eating and exercise. So don't expect people to be as helpful as you might want or need. Some people will, but you may actually lose some friends along the way.

4. Think about why you want to make these changes. If you think that losing weight is going to make all the problems in your life go away, you will not be successful. Because it doesn't work that way. Losing weight isn't going to make you more popular. It won't make your mom love you more. It can't fill in for other things that might be missing from your life. I'm a lot thinner now, but I'm still the same crazy person I ever was. I decided to lose weight so I can be healthy and hopefully stick around long enough to see my children grow up. I think the reasons for starting this journey are really important.

3. Portion size and exercise are crucial. I used to work out regularly, and never weighed less. I would even write down every bite I ate. But I wasn't eating less food, so the exercise didn't really matter. Exercise is very important, but if you don't change the way you eat, it won't be enough. You have to put the two together. I joined Weight Watchers, which helped me figure out what a normal serving size was. I don't recommend WW, however. It's expensive and there are free programs that can provide the same service. is basically a free WW -- they have food journals, message boards, the whole bit. The main thing is to get some measuring cups and a food scale, and measure out your portions. And aim for exercising at least 30 minutes a day five to six days per week. Walking counts.

2. Microwave popcorn is your best friend. When you are accustomed to mindless eating, and you start eating normal portion sizes, you will think you are going to starve to death. 94% fat free microwave popcorn helped bridge the gap between how I used to eat and how I eat now. The first two weeks of my new life, it was so hard. I was so so hungry. Popcorn (you can eat the whole bag of the 94% fat free kind) really helped me get used to this new way of eating.

1. It's going to suck for six months. Seriously. You will be miserable and pissed off and hungry and probably a little bitter for about six months. I was definitely miserable my first two months, and fairly miserable the next four. At first you are working harder than you've ever worked in your life, and you don't look any different. You don't get to buy new clothes yet. You will weigh yourself and the numbers might go down, but it feels like you have this huge mountain to climb and you don't see how you will ever get there.

Just hang in there. I swear to god it gets easier. If you can make it six months, you will start to see changes. All of a sudden, you'll look in the mirror and you'll look different. You will put on your pants, and they will swallow you. You'll go to a restaurant, and not panic about what to order. It all just comes together. And then you'll know that you can do this.

You can do this. It is so worth it. I wake up full of energy. I used to have sleep apnea and had to sleep with a CPAP machine. Which I hated hated hated. For those who don't know, it's a machine with a long tube that fits over your nose. It forces air through your nose to keep your passages open so you don't stop breathing in your sleep. It's awful. But I don't have to use it anymore.

I'm now training for my first half marathon August 1, and I'm running my first full marathon February 6. I ran ten miles this morning. When I weighed 230 pounds, I never would have imagined running 10 miles. It feels like such a gift now.

Blah blah, enough about me. If you want to make a big life change, you can do it. I'm happy to help any way that I can. I hope maybe these suggestions will be helpful and perhaps a bit motivating. I'll post more ideas every so often. If there are any topics you would like me to discuss, just pop me a message and I will be glad to do it.

Now get out there and get moving!

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