(I know last week’s blog post talked about a plateau – that blog was written a few weeks ago. This one was written recently, so don’t mind the sudden change in “I’m in a plateau” to “I’m making progress!” There’s more time between these two blogs than one week, I promise.)
So, I’m a little over thirty pounds lost after six months, and I just completed four weeks of fitness. And I’m stoked! I had intended to do an end-of-the-year blog post analyzing my weight loss and fitness goals. But in speaking with my husband the other day, I was amazed at some of the things I’ve already noticed and how these changes have made an impact on me.
My story is not one of those amazing transformations. I mean, I’m halfway to my ultimate goal, and a little over halfway for my 2015 goal. But we’re not talking hundreds of pounds lost. Nonetheless, changes have already happened.
To be honest and upfront, my weight loss up till recently was almost solely calorie counting. I did some walking in the months up till four weeks ago, but for the majority of my weight loss, simply eating less was key. Not healthier, although I would like to do that and Nathan and I are doing what we can afford financially for now. But just less calories.
I didn’t know that this was normal, but I hit a plateau a little over a month ago. There’s a lot of different factors that cause plateaus. Getting lax in calorie counting (also known as actually still eating too much and just fooling myself that I’m not), eating too little, salt which can cause bloating, gaining muscle weight, and even (for us women) our time of the month can cause weight fluctuations. And then sometimes, just because.
Regardless, I wasn’t prepared for the plateau and I almost quit as a result. Still, I managed through, and made three specific changes:
- One, I changed my goals on my calorie counter (I use MyFitnessPal.com) from losing one pound a week to losing half a pound a week. This was a difficult change because, for all intents and purposes, I won’t make it to my 2015 goal weight by the end of this year because of this change. But I decided that in the interest of continuing to make progress, it was better if it just took longer.
- The second thing I changed was that while I gained more daily calories from the switch to losing one pound a week to half a pound a week, I stopped eating back any of my exercise calories. This means I could potentially meet my weight goal, but more importantly I won’t be trying to estimate how many calories I burned. Because that’s a really, really difficult thing unless you have a heart-rate monitor, and I don’t have one right now. I’ve also come to see exercise as a “bonus” towards my weight loss, so I’m more excited to exercise. The unexpected bonus in all of this is that even on my rest days, it’s not as much of a struggle as it was to stay within my calorie limit.
- The third thing I changed was that I started working out. I had planned on making fitness my 2016 goal, but it dawned on me that there was no reason to wait. Sure, I might gain muscle weight and thus mess with my weight loss goals for 2015, but did I really want the scale to determine how “fit” I was?
What’s been amazing to me is that in six months of weight loss, thirty pounds lost, and only four weeks of consistent exercise (cardio and strength training, for those of you wondering), and I’ve already noticed some differences. Here’s what I mentioned to Nathan and I now note to you:
- My stomach pain (indigestion) went away within weeks of portion controlling. I was eating too much.
- My stomach pain from my pants digging into my stomach is gone.
- My knees slowly went from hurting all the time to only occasionally, and right now I can’t remember the last time they hurt me.
- My back pain has become less and less frequent.
- I’m no longer winded when I walk up the stairs to the third floor of our apartment.
- I have more energy. Unfortunately, this one’s not quite as calculable. Regardless, I can sense it.
- I more-often now feel pretty. It doesn’t matter that I have a little more fat weight to lose, I just feel good about myself because I’m taking care of me.
- It’s not perfect, but now I feel in control of food. Like many others, I’m an emotional eater. I’ve probably been on the verge of binge-eating, to be honest. Now? I can actually say “No” to food. It’s the weirdest thing, and it’s so surreal.
- In the same regard, my confidence in myself has also gone up. I can’t tell you how strange it was when I was running the other day, and struggling – I was very sore, stiff, and tired – and I actually thought to myself, “You can do this. You got this. You’re not injured, and you’re going to make it through. It’ll be okay.” Even weeks ago, the mantra in my head was, “I don’t think this will work, you’ll probably just mess it up. You should just quit. There’s no point.” Again, this isn’t a switch in my confidence – more like the dial has switched over from pessimism to optimism.
Please note that none of this was overtly obvious right away. It wasn’t something that happened overnight, although I’m amazed that after only four weeks of consistent exercising there are small steps I’m noticing from the fitness. But the reason I say this is that it’s so easy to get discouraged when you don’t see immediate results.
So after six months of painstakingly calorie-counting, and four weeks of intentional, increased fitness, I’m starting to see results. In the grand scheme of things it’s not that long, but when you first start out it can be hard. When I count my calories and weigh all my food and drink for one day, I want to see a decrease in the scale tomorrow. I go on a walk/run, and I want to see results when I get back inside! But it just doesn’t work like that, and I’ve learned that you have to mentally prepare yourself to be in it for the long haul.