How did I get this fat?

It’s very, VERY embarrassing for me to admit, but I recently tipped the scales at 40 pounds over the acceptable weight-range for my height. It’s more than 60 pounds over my acting -student-skinny weight when I was 20-years-old. My mom told me once that she remembered folding her mother’s giant underwear during her teenage laundry duties and thinking, “I will never get this fat,” but then she did. I folded her laundry as a kid and thought, “I will never get this fat,” but I’m darn close.

Photo courtesy of puuikibeach

Given the recent studies around what happens to our weight once we marry, the general problems with obesity in the United States, not to mention my family history, this is not a surprise. But, it’s also frustrating because it’s not like I don’t know how to eat and exercise. A year ago I was halfway to losing that 40 pounds when I was thrust into a very stressful situation and all the weight came back.

A few weeks ago, however, I started making lifestyle changes (again). What amazes me is how easy it is once you make it a priority. It also amazes me how easily I forget this. These are my layman’s tips to getting (back) into shape.

1) Find a weight loss buddy. I’m fortunate that my husband decided to follow the same diet plan and increase his exercise regimen at the same time. It’s totally possible to do it on your own, but it helps to be accountable to someone whether that’s a best friend, registered dietitian, support group or a sports team.

Photo courtesy of LuluLemon Athletica

2) Diet AND exercise (duh!). Recent studies suggest that changing diet is more important than exercise if you’re going to lose weight. If you’re only exercising you might not lose it. That’s said, exercise is still important.

3) Find a sensible diet plan. I’m not going to endorse any specific plan, but do your research. I’m suspicious of plans that restrict calories to an extreme or rely too heavily on one type of food or product. I’m using a well-known, well-respected plan that has online tools and doesn't restrict certain categories of food. It teaches you how to eat as well as how much you can really eat (it’s always less than you think). Also, some health insurance plans will cover a consultation with a registered dietitian (different from a “nutritionist” -   which is a label anyone can use). If you’re at a loss - just ask your doctor for starters.

4) Find a physical activity that you love (and maybe mix it up a little). My husband recently decided to join a rugby club because he likes the sport and he likes the people on the team. A few years ago I joined a charity fundraising group that trained us to run a half-marathon. I don’t love running, but I did like the women I met while running and we raised money for a great cause. Exercise can be free or cheap too.   If you love nature   - explore hiking and biking trails. Are you more artsy? Take a dance class. I’ve also discovered discounted Yoga and Zumba classes on daily deal coupon cites. I get bored easily so I like trying new things. A few years ago the hubby and I paid for expensive Kung Fu classes, but we liked it better than paying for the gym and it was something we could do together. Since then, we’ve looked for more economical choices. I recently noticed that my cable provider has “on-demand” fitness classes.   I can see this being beneficial both in terms of saving money and time. Some people make exercise social. I remember that a group of middle aged folks in my hometown lost weight by meeting at the high school track almost nightly. They would chat, gossip and laugh as they walked around and around. When I was a kid, and my parents were more fit, I’m sure that my dad benefited from playing catch with me or teaching me tennis. Family time can be fitness time.

Photo courtesy of gigi.cinese.bianco

5) Eat tasty, healthy food. “Diet” food doesn’t have to suck. One of the things that I like about my diet plan is that they provide lots and lots of delicious recipes - including easy to make desserts. Lemon-yogurt tart? Yes, please! You don’t have to buy their pre-packaged food unless that’s what you want.

I realize that I’m fortunate right now. I live in a part of the country where being active is part of the culture. Going to a farmers’ market for fresh produce is convenient and commonplace. But, no matter what your resources, it’s possible to lose weight and improve your health. It only takes a few weeks to start feeling the difference.

I’ll write an update in a few months. Let’s see if I stick with it.