Featured in

Featured in: Tiny Buddha, Halifax Media Coop, Fine Fit Day, Simplify the Season, La Presse, Filles, Le Canada-Français

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The cruel truth about weight loss




There are many reasons why we want to lose weight: to improve our health, to feel better, to look nicer.

One thing that does not vary, however, is this cruel truth: losing weight (and keeping it off) is a tremendous feat.

One of my friends, who's recently been told she has high blood pressure, had been trying to lose weight for quite a while, by exercising regularly and by being careful about what she eats...

... to no avail.

Eventually she started journaling her food. Halfway through the first day, she said to me "Huge reality check! I though I was doing good, but I was still eating way too much!"

I could only acquiesce. I've been there.

Recently I completed a 1-year fitness journey with a personal trainer. I have now been "maintaining" for almost 4 months.

I have also been reading testimonies by other people who have lost weight/have gotten fitter.

What have I discovered?

I discovered that you can reach your goals if you are willing to put the effort. That does NOT mean to starve yourself and exercise like you're preparing an Everest ascent. In fact, I never suffered from hunger or from exercise-related exhaustion.

I discovered that the real key words of weight loss are NOT "difficult" and "painful" (although it WILL be challenging), but rather gradual and sustainable. With this in mind:

- I ate around 1800 calories/day (they add up faster than we think!);
- I aimed for the right proportion of macronutrients (carbs-fat-protein), without excess;
- I exercised intensely 1 hour/day, 6 days a week;
- I was allowed 2 "treats" per week (e.g. wine, dessert, etc.)

I had to make adjustments, but I found this reasonable. I simply did what I had to do, day in, day out.

HOWEVER, what struck me was how little wiggle room I had. This aforementioned program was not too hard to follow, and did bring about the results I was looking for, BUT...

... I soon realized that there was no goofing around. This was my new life, period. Each time I departed from the guidelines, I would almost immediately stop improving, and if I stayed on the wrong track for too long (i.e. more than a few days), I would regain fat and weight, and my workouts would start feeling laboured.

In short, I realized that one of the main components of a healthy lifestyle was consistency. There would be no slacking off, no excuses. Going on vacation? Having company over for a few days? Experiencing stress? Those make it harder to stay disciplined, but you still have to.

Another thing I discovered is that society and the media have been lying to us. Those skinny people you see eating junk and dessert and caloric drinks on TV? A huge lie. You just cannot eat like that and be a thin, fit adult. Sorry folks.

Finally, I discovered that it's totally worth it. The benefits you gain from being slimmer and fitter far exceed what I could fathom.

What have YOU discovered?



23 comments:

  1. Wow - I'm so happy to see a picture so that I can have an image with the words!!!
    You look great - your hard work has totally paid off!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The new challenge is to maintain! That's just as hard!
      Wish you the best with your goals as well. :-)

      Delete
  2. Great post Julie! I've been needing to start the journey (again) for over a year but get overwhelmed when I think of what it means to be consistent and the lifestyle changes I need to adopt to maintain my goal. Consequently, the weight has slowly kept creeping up while I try to muster the energy to start. So cruel! Here's to getting back on track, one meal at a time, one day at a time

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You seem to know exactly what the whole process implies, which is a great thing; you won't have bad surprises. I really, really hope you make it! You're doing great on so many aspects already. :-)

      Delete
  3. Je suis une usine à cortisol thats Why.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ouain... ça n'aide pas, c'est certain... Je t'envoie du courage... et des ondes zen! :-)

      Delete
  4. Hi Julie:) Interesting post! I have discovered that to change your body, you must first change your mind. I also had to change my relationship with food.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right. It's all between the ears.

      Changing my relationship with food was the single most important factor in me getting leaner. I'm very proud of it... although it still kills me sometimes when the kids eat cookies right next to me! What a torture. LOL

      Delete
  5. Hi Julie! So very true! Oh, I can't even eat 1800 calories per day! I have to stay a little bit under that--like 1600 or a little under that. And people often think, "that seems like enough calories." It is enough, but there certainly aren't calories to squander. And many people who are overweight but believe they eat in that same calorie range we are--are not counting all of their invisible calories, all those taste tests, nibbles, sauces, butter, dressings, etc... I think many people at about 300-400 invisible calories that they're not aware of. And that does not even count all of the junk food. I'm often a little bit hungry during my day to keep at my weight. And that is something I have to live with--as a lifestyle.

    And I bet that everyone assumes you don't have to try to keep slim. Lol. :D

    :-) Marion

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. People who think 1600 calories are "enough" are right, but I would love to see them sustain it long term!

      I love what you say about invisible calories. That would warrant a post, for sure.

      I do feel a little bit hungry when meal time approaches, but nothing terrible. I don't think it's "normal" to never feel hunger (which was my case before).

      I really dislike when people tell me I'm lucky (about my weight). I'm not lucky. I work hard and make sacrifices every single day. The personal trainer was not cheap, either. But I chose to invest in that rather than other things I probably would have really enjoyed... because I made my fitness a priority. :-)

      Delete
  6. I've discovered that it takes diligence, realistic goals, and making the commitment to "never go back" to the life I lived as a 300+ pound woman.

    Congratulations to you!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have all my admiration, Diane. Really.

      Delete
  7. I'm glad you found a way that worked for you, Julie!

    There are many paths that lead to the top of the mountain, but if there was one commonality, consistency, as you so aptly say, is it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Consistency ought to work for all. :-)

      Delete
    2. unless you consistently eat too much! ;-)

      Delete
  8. At the end of the day there are but two truths in weight loss; consistency, and honesty with one's self.

    This is my livelihood. I have been beside dozens of people who have lost 50 pounds or more and kept it off. Though they have may things in common, chief among them are consistency in behavior, and the a the ability to be honestly self-critical.

    BTW: I love your blue print :-) Jhciacb

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's nice to have my ideas confirmed by someone who has first-hand experience!

    Yes, I could have added honesty. When we lie to ourselves we get nowhere.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I LOVE your advice that the only way to truly change your body is through gradual & sustainable methods. It drives me crazy to see the media championing the next fad diet, reality shows pushing unrealistic levels of exercise, and the advertising industry setting us up for failure with their ridiculous ideaa about beauty!

    You look amazing, BTW! I also don't know how you survive on 1800 calories a day! Eventually I'll need to figure out my ideal caloric intake for my activity level & metabolism. It's hard right now because I went from nursing my youngest to marathon training, so I feel like a human garbage disposal right now!! Gotta love that benefit of marathon training!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If drastic diets and exercise programs worked, everyone would be fit...

      Nursing and marathon training surely increase your caloric need. And everyone is different. I've played with my caloric intake until I found what worked for me; everyone should probably do that. :-)

      Delete
  11. Thank you for stopping by my blog. This is a great post. I can't lose if I go above 1400, and consistency is a must. One day off plan, and the next day on plan, equals weight gain for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1400 calories would kill me! LOL But I do spend a lot of energy. As long as we know what works, right? :-)

      Delete
  12. You are so very right. Weight loss and maintenance are HARD. Consistency is hard work and it's something you need to do if you want to stay slim due to the huge fact that we now live such sedentary lifestyle especially when it comes to our work. We are constantly sitting in front of computers the whole day.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have some friends who have been thin their entire lives. And they eat like there is no tomorrow. Seriously. But for those of us who have to be mindful of our caloric intake, consistency is key. And even adding walking, but regular, 6 day a week/40 min walks, helps speed the process. Some years ago I had a gastric lap band procedure and it was the single most important thing I could have done for my overall health and fitness. Got rid of sleep apnea, severe asthma, unbearable acid reflux, dropped 100 lbs. and feel/look so much better. This, after years of yo-yo diets and struggling to keep the weight off.

    ReplyDelete