I am neither a nutritionist nor a personal trainer. If you want to learn how to count calories or how to measure your pulse, this blog is not for you! And most importantly, Consult with your Doctor first regarding any physical activities.
This blog is not about how to lose weight. Rather, it’s about giving you hope to motivate and to inspire you, knowing I turned my life around only by sheer determination.
This is my story...
It was right after a friend’s wedding in August 2009 that I looked at my own picture and became overcome with a feeling of shock. Up to that point, I had not been aware of the drastic changes in my body over the years. I had neglected myself emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Two months prior, I had just ended a 20 year marriage that had left me with more questions than answers about where my life was headed. Here I was, a single mother of two with a decent job and no other means of support in any form or shape. It was me and only me. I wanted to look good and feel good. I wanted to do something for me and only me. This wasn’t about society telling me I had to look a certain way. This wasn’t about impressing anyone. This was about me realizing that my health was in danger. I was someone who took pride in eating healthy and keeping fit but for many reasons I had decided to ignore that part of my life style and let go of it. I had taken nutrition courses while in college and I used to read a lot of articles pertaining to health. And here I was with back pain, shortness of breath, and aching muscles.
I don’t like to weigh myself. I even won’t remember the pounds or kilos to tell you. I don’t own a scale! I do remember being size 14-16. I had no money to join the gym nor did I like the idea of joining a gym. I had no money to go on a special diet or those programs that we are bombarded with every day. So, what did I do?
I knew a crash diet was out of the question. I can’t starve myself as years ago I had done it and just made myself sick. I even don’t like the word diet. This time around I told myself I am going to have a different approach. I will be working towards a healthier life style gradually, slowly, steadily, and with patience. I told myself for decades I have neglected myself, therefore, I think I can afford to be patient for an optimal result in a couple of years. For the most part of my life I was size 10-12. I knew getting from a size 16 to 10 required time. I had to start with simple steps. I was determined to eliminate the unnecessary stuff in my life and replace them with things that brought joy and health.
I started reading a lot online and soon I figured out all those articles are giving the same messages:
*Do not eat 3 big meals a day; rather eat throughout the day up to 5 to 6 times/day
*Eat almost everything you want in small portions
*Eat healthy (Canada's Food Guide)
*Don’t eat after 7 pm
*Drink plenty of water
It sounded simple and the only requirement was my willingness to stick with it, be patient, and wanting to do it for me. I was determined to turn my life around and to be healthy. I had started having back pains, muscle aches, all sorts of problems that are associated with being overweight. I wanted to be healthy and fit.
Lunch time at work was either left over from the night before or rushing across the street to buy something to eat and I ate everything! I decided to buy a bag of bread which I kept in the fridge at work plus a jar of peanut butter. Why peanut butter? It was affordable, easy for lunch, enjoyed eating it, and it was a regular source of protein for me.
I started paying attention to my daily routine and questioned them as to be necessary or just bad habits that I had gained gradually without paying attention. I noticed that every morning I stopped by my favourite coffee shop and ordered a large coffee with cream and sugar; and a delicious, buttery fresh muffin. I decided to go for the muffin every other day at first. I did not want to eliminate everything at once. I started reducing the amount of cream and sugar. Next, I replaced the cream with milk and eventually eliminated the sugar. It was gradual and I did not feel deprived or frustrated to say the hell with it, I’m going back to the way it was. I stopped buying a muffin every day. I had a habit of being hungry before coming to work. I made sure I had a healthy breakfast which for years has not changed, raisin bran cereal with 2% milk. I don’t have a fancy breakfast with all calories counting.
For dinner, I ate anything I wanted to but started reducing my portion.
But something else needed to be done.....I had to keep Moving....
I have always enjoyed walking. I had actually come across an article in early 2000 that talked about “Walking it off”. In 2002, I started walking and shed lots of pounds. Based on experience and knowing that I enjoyed walking and it had work in the past for me, I added walking to my daily routine.
*I walked 15 min during my am break. A very fast power walk as strolling yourself has no effect!
*I walked 15 min during my pm break.
* I walked a very fast 20 min lunch walk and had 10 min to gobble down my peanut butter sandwich
*Every time I got back to work, I climbed 4 flights of stairs rather than taking the elevators. Learn how to walk!
For a short period of time from Jan 2009 to 2010 I took up Kung Fu and boxing and loved it. I eventually bought a boxing bag to practice on my own in the basement. The bottom line is to find out what you like to do and do it. Not everyone works out in the gym! Not everyone counts their calories morning and night. Be sensible and make it easy for you and the chances are you’ll stick with it. I love boxing and it helps me tremendously to get rid of negative energy and keeps me fit. You can read many benefits of boxing here.
But what else did I do? I love dancing. I danced. Every opportunity I had, I’d play music at home and just danced away. The combination of dancing, walking and healthy eating was working faster than I expected. Again, since I don’t weigh myself, I did not realize I was shrinking till I had to use a safety pin to hold my pants up. At that point I was probably a size 8 or 10.
Once people started realizing my shrinkage they started asking what I was doing. I told them I’m eating healthy and I’m walking it off! When I finally decided to buy new pairs of pants as all my clothes looked ridiculously too big, I picked up two pairs of pants size 8 and headed to the fitting room. To my surprise they were too big! I double checked the size and couldn’t understand it. The fitting room attendant said “Oh honey, I’ll bring you size 4!” I was like what? I was size four!!! In the fitting room I held my own face looking at my own body and could not believe I had gone beyond what I had intended. It was exhilarating to know I had reached my goal, and I did it without diet, or gym. That has been of one my top accomplishment in my life so far.
I was very good in track and field throughout school years. I started reading more about my favourite athletes. I was finding my way back doing things I enjoyed, cared about and was passionate about. It was motivating to read about their accomplishments and just get excited to see their accomplishments, breaking records, and reaching their goals. I have been a huge fan of the athletics as long as I can remember.I became more motivated I started adding running gradually to my routine.
I couldn’t run far, but I felt great even for that 5 minutes. I was free. The minutes were getting longer and longer. I ran my first 5K with a time of 16 min and 21 sec. I even didn’t know what that translates to! I was just happy to have run 5K. Only a few weeks ago I ran my 2nd 5K and my time was 36 min and 43 second. I’m planning to do more runs and have set goals for myself.
I continued steadily to a size 2, but have been sitting at a stable size 4 for 1 year now. I try to fit walking into my daily routine. The longest walk I’ve done has been 18 Km. I can complete 4.2 Km walk in 25 to 30 minutes. I am aiming to do bigger walks and sporting events.
I hope this blog has been able to give you hope and understanding that we are able to stay healthy and fit by doing little steps. Those little steps eventually lead you to where you want to be.
If you have loads of money to throw a personal trainer and a dietician, go for it. If you don’t have the financial means, know that you can do it with persistence and stamina. Find out what activity you enjoy and do it. The only advice I can give you is to keep moving, eat healthy, don’t deprive yourself and most importantly do things that make you happy.
This article was posted on Facebook today: The Ultimate Guide to Fat Loss!