My Story of Realistic Weight Loss
Water Aerobics is Not Just for Old People!
Be Sensible Regarding Weight Loss
I lost sixty pounds twelve years ago, and managed to keep at least forty five of it off! I cannot say it was easy, but it was not so difficult either. It took will power, determination, and a firm desire to take control of my life. I had to get over some fears too. We all have our demons and excuses. Each little step gave me more confidence. Now I eat healthy foods and drinks, have better health, more energy, and enjoy my life more. At some point everyone needs to lose a few pounds, so I would like to share my experiences with you.
I believe it worked because I made lifestyle changes and didn’t go on a fad diet.
Causes of Weight Gain
I led a completely sedentary life. I was overeating. I was also taking several medications. One was hormone replacement therapy, and the other for hypertension.
The best place to start your weight loss plan is to find out whether any medications that you take might cause weight gain. Ask your doctor or health care provider about any and all medications you take. I did tell my doctor that I began the HRT in May, and by December of that year I had gained twenty five pounds, without changing my eating habits. He just brushed that off! Never settle for this kind of behavior from anyone when it comes to your health! You know more about your own body than a health care provider that sees you several times a year, if that often.
I researched and got new doctor’s opinions and it seems that both of these medications were causing me to retain water. I was able to gradually go off the hormone replacement treatment with no bad effects (that was the main water retention culprit) and I found a hypertension medication that worked better for me. So I already made a positive start!
I decided to cut as much fat from my diet as possible, since high cholesterol runs in my family. Mine was slightly elevated at that time. So I made one diet change first. I had been eating a large bowl of ice cream as a snack every evening. I changed to eating a non- or low-fat ice cream, such as Skinny Cow or Weight Watchers. You can try whatever is available in stores near your home, but try to keep it to no fat or only two grams at best. This change may not seem very significant, but after one month I lost five pounds. This was just from one little snack change!
I felt more in control and decided to make one more change. Oatmeal is very good for you, and many people eat it because it both lowers cholesterol and is also a heart healthy food. A whole bowl is only a little over one hundred calories and really fills you up. I used the instant kind and they come in all flavors. But you probably have cinnamon, raisins, some maple syrup or brown sugar in the house. Use them to give your bowl of oatmeal better flavor and to make it seem more appetizing.
Avoid the “creamy” flavors. They have fat in them. Cutting down on your portion sizes is helpful as well. You do not have to stop eating everything you love. Just eat less of it. I love bagels. But Thomas’, the maker of English muffins, makes mini-bagels that only have about 110 calories and you can go easy on the butter or cream cheese. Coffee and tea have no calories, so as long as you don’t go overboard with the sugar, you can have as much as you want. I hope you are using milk that is at least 2 percent reduced milk fat. Also, sometimes when you think you are hungry, you are just thirsty. You need those eight glasses of water a day, just like your mom told you.
Tips for Realistic Weight Loss
1. Drink 8 glasses of water daily, preferably not bottled. If you need to squeeze a little lemon, lime, or orange in to give it some taste, then you benefit from more citrus too.
2. Plain or flavored seltzer has no calories. I drink it in the evenings.
3. Buy fat free half & half to enhance the flavor of your morning coffee. Plus coffee, tea, and iced tea have no calories until you add sugar. Brew your own iced tea, it’s cheaper, and you’ll have that good, real tea flavor without all the added sugar.
4. I completely stopped drinking alcohol. It’s only empty calories anyway. If you want to indulge though, just alternate drinks with a club soda or seltzer each time.
5. Use unsweetened applesauce or plain or vanilla yogurt in place of the same amount of butter in recipes. Butter and oil are your enemies, use spray oil like PAM on your cookware. Olive oil is good for you, but don’t overdo it.
6. Make dips with yogurt instead of sour cream.
7. Many ice cream companies are making low or no fat ice creams. Check out Ben & Jerry’s new line of “Fro-yo.” It comes in Cherry Garcia, Chocolate Fudge Brownie and several other flavors, with only 2 grams of fat, great tasting. Skinny Cow and Weight Watchers also carry healthier ice creams. I guess you can see what my weakness is!
8. Don’t buy fattening foods. If they aren’t in the house, you can’t eat them. If you have a sweet tooth like me, dried fruits are good. No Pudge makes a great no fat brownie mix. You can eat one or two dark chocolate squares, it’s good for you. Several M&M’s a few times a day to quell cravings won’t hurt you either.
9. If you really feel hungry, eat. Your body needs it.
10. Friends and family may not be as supportive as you would expect. The fact that you are trying to change may make them feel threatened or frightened. Or you may have an overweight friend who is unwilling to try to lose weight with you. I once read in a psychology journal that some people “need” to carry extra weight to protect them from certain fears Think how safe you feel when you are tucked in under your covers at night. You are “tucked in” those layers of fat too.
11. Don’t get discouraged if you hit a plateau, and can’t lose weight even though you are exercising and watching what you eat. It happens. Try a new exercise routine, or change around your diet habits a little bit. It will pass. You always have two attack modes, eat less, exercise more!
12. Take lots of pictures of yourself looking thin and wonderful! Mail them out in your holiday cards, or whenever you get a chance to remind yourself of your monumental accomplishment!
Realistic Weight Loss Includes Regular Exercise
Once I made a few diet changes, I knew a few physical ones had to come next. I could no longer avoid exercise and had to find ways to move around more and not hurt myself. I have a spine curvature called Scoliosis, and it causes me trouble at all kinds of unlikely times. I can walk a few miles one day and feel fine. Then I can trip over something the next day and mess myself up for weeks.
The easiest exercise in the world is walking, and many doctors say one half hour daily is the ideal. So I began to walk that Spring, although I was tired and got sore at first. I was motivated, and began to walk fifteen minutes at least three times weekly. I was so out of shape I even felt that, and was still fearful of hurting myself. I stayed with the walking, and by April I had lost fifteen pounds! As long as you are doing more than you formerly did, you will lose weight! It was finally getting noticeable, as my slacks fit better and some of my shirts were getting too big. What a rush!
I live in New Jersey, and the winters are cold. Walking outside can be difficult if the weather is icy and snowy. Some shopping malls in our area have Mall Walking Groups. At the time there was one only fifteen minutes from my house. I began to go there, or walk outside if possible, but worked my way up to walking six days a week for a half hour. You do not need to have a group, you can go to any mall to do this. Please do not tell me or anyone else that you do not have the time! I know most women have a lot of responsibility, and it’s hard to make time for ourselves. But the martyr attitude has to go! You wouldn’t believe the amount of female acquaintances I had who told me I looked great, but wished they had the time to themselves to do what I was doing. It was jealous, condescending, and just plain dumb. We should always have time to make having healthy bodies a priority. We make sure the rest of our family does.
We see many advertisements on TV for boxed food diets, such as from Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem. But for how long do you think you can feel satisfied from eating boxed foods? Who needs the extra expense in their budgets? It’s impractical to be eating different meals than the rest of your family. It does seem to work for some people, but is unrealistic to me. And many of the people who use these systems gain all the weight back when they begin eating “real” food again. It’s necessary to make permanent changes in your eating and exercise habits if your want to lose weight and keep it off. That’s the bottom line.
I went on a cruise, and everyone told me I would gain ten pounds. No way. I worked too hard losing that thirty pounds I just kissed goodbye. When your metabolism is speeded up, you can afford to eat off the dessert table and splurge on calories once in a while. So I did. But I also walked around the Promenade Deck for one hour every night with my husband, exercising while enjoying the starry skies over the ocean, and still keeping off the pounds.
You may go out to dinner and order your favorite dishes. Just don’t eat out as often, maybe cut it down to two times a month. And make sure you do not weigh yourself as soon as you get home. It will look like you gained four or five pounds, which is only temporary, you’ll be down to your lower weight in the next day or two. It would be good to try to cut calories for a few days afterwards though. I weighed myself every other day, and that way if you see you gained a pound back, or hit a plateau and nothing else is coming off, you can change your strategy.
Get Walking or Hiking!
Vitamins are Part of a Realistic Weight Loss Plan
I used to catch colds and get sick a lot too, so had to add more healthy items to my diet. I began drinking one bottle of Vitamin Water around mid-morning every day. It’s almost one hundred fifty calories for twenty ounces, but I found I did not get sick as much. It is sensible to take a daily multivitamin as well, although many people have trouble digesting iron, so make sure the one you choose has only the percentage of iron right for you at your age. Airborne is a great way to get a vitamin boost as well, especially if you will be around lots of children with colds, in the office with sick co-workers, or in an enclosed place like an airplane or bus. You just put an Airborne tablet in a glass of water, and it fizzes up, giving you lots of vitamins and minerals in a jiffy, and for ten calories! You can find it at a drug store or even at a regular supermarket. Now it’s available in a powdered form in a straw, and you just sort of eat it, It’s like colored sugar, but if you don’t have drinking water handy, it’s good to keep a few in your purse or car.
Water Aerobics or Mall Walking Keep Off the Pounds!
I heard many positive things about water aerobics and decided to try it. The buoyancy of the water and the natural resistance that it causes are challenging to the body, but make it easier for you to work out. I embarked on a ten week course, one class a week. I was not able to keep up with all the moves and the pace at first, but did whatever I could.
My new philosophy was “As long as I’m moving and not eating, It’s good for me.” I still had to start slow and work my way up, and consider my own special limitations, and I hope you are careful too. I still get hurt sometimes, and I get sore the day after a class, but realized that happens to everyone. I Iearned I could do so much more than I thought I could! My energy just soared, and I felt so good about myself!
When I began that second ten week water aerobics course, I had lost forty pounds, and was still walking on the days I did not have a class. My classmates all remarked on the difference they saw in my body, and in what I was now able to do in class! But it was not weight now. I was losing inches! I was down to wearing medium sizes in clothes, when I had been wearing One Size Fits All or 2X, or sizes I was ashamed to admit I was wearing when I was so heavy.
Continue with the Diet and Exercise Changes You Made
Now I was feeling confident and taking water aerobics two times weekly, walking on the other days. I still stayed away from fat, always looking for lower fat foods and healthier alternatives. I went to Jamaica for the first time the following summer, about eighteen months after I began dieting and exercising, and had lost sixty pounds. I was stronger, healthier, and feeling better than ever. I was fifty years old that summer, but I felt like a Queen! I was a size small and could fit into my old high school bell bottom jeans. I kept most of the weight off, except for a ten pound gain after a minor surgery which caused me to stop my water aerobics for a few months. But now I knew I had two ways to attack those pounds, eat less, exercise more! And I keep that in mind until this day.
While recovering from the surgery, I found a walking at home system by Leslie Sansone that you can buy in DVD form. They begin with four basic steps, but after that have all kinds of workouts, some with one or two pound weights, or with a stretchy band. You can do one mile or five miles, and some come with Pilates workouts. I have used these DVD’s with success, because you can pop one in your video system whenever you feel like it, if it’s raining, or if you just have some spare time.
There are so many methods of exercise available to all of us. If you gain a few pounds, it is easy to lose them once you know how! If I could make these changes in my life at fifty, you can do it too! Go for it! Your energy level will soar, and you will be able to be so much more active than you ever were. And when everyone around you starts telling you how good you look, it is very gratifying! So many people need to lose weight, and are capable of doing it, they just need the motivation to start. Just begin anywhere you feel the most comfortable! Keep thinking about how much healthier you are, and how you are prolonging your life for yourself and your family. I know you can do it! Please feel free to share your success stories, or make some comments if you need a little encouragement. We all do at times