Monday, July 12, 2010

Tips from a perpetual dieter

People have been asking me about my weight loss. Lots of people want to know what I am doing to get such big results. I think some of them think I have some secret or something. I'm not taking any weight loss supplements. I haven't had surgery. I don't even depend on things like Slim Fast. As a matter of fact, I don't even think I'm on a diet anymore. To me, a diet implies that it is only temporary. This has been a lifestyle change that I can see myself living by for years to come. Not everyone is the same, but I hope you can find something to take away from this. Here's what I can offer: 

You have to want and I mean REALLY want it.
It can't just be another diet. You have to want change and be willing to fight for it. Two years ago, I hit the point where my fattest fat pants no longer fit. Finally, something clicked, and I was disgusted with myself. While I have been obese all my life, I had finally had enough. I wanted to get healthy. I wanted to be able to wear clothes I liked rather than the clothes that were offered in my size. I wanted to be free of "fat-phobia" and no longer worry about fitting on airplanes, turnstyles, roller coasters, etc. Well, I had lost about 37 pounds that time and slowly gained over 10 pounds of that back. Last August, I bought a gorgeous wedding dress at The Running of the Brides at Filene's Basement that was my pant size (not my jean size) for some extra motivation. I've now lost over 65 pounds, but I have a lot more to go, so, here I am.

Learn your weaknesses and how to cope with them.
Unlike alcoholics and drug addicts, people with food “addictions” have to face food everyday. We have no choice but to eat. Abstinence is NOT an option. So, you have to learn coping skills. I’m sure I sound ridiculous, but I had to learn how to handle being around food. Hell, I’m still learning. It took me years to realize that I have limited self-control around food. I’m ashamed to admit that in my life, I have made myself SICK (literally vomited) from overeating at a buffet. I love the way something tastes, thus I want to eat more despite being beyond full. Part of the problem comes from growing up “poor.” We had to “eat our money’s worth" at the buffet. Similarly, I have a very hard time saying “no” to free food. I could have just had lunch, but if someone brought in brownies, pizza, and sometimes food that I don’t even like, I would feel compelled to eat it. It took me awhile to notice this, but now that I’m aware, I’m learning how to fight it.

Eat what you want/need will little consideration towards cost.
I know this sounds crazy, as if I have lots of expendable money, but I don’t. The truth is that losing weight is expensive. If you want to exercise, you will likely put money towards a gym membership, workout videos, workout clothes, equipment, etc. Healthy food is also expensive. There are far less fillers in healthier food… hopefully. Point is, know that cost comes with it, and don’t let it control your decisions. Panera costs more than McDonalds, but that’s were I’ll pick for take-out because I have more options and my “points” go further. Yes, I’ve griped about the cost of grapes, Vitamuffin Tops, Al Fresco chicken sausages, etc. But you know what? It is worth the cost to me because I snack on red grapes every morning rather than splurging on the free office doughnuts or hitting the vending machine for candy. And I will make yummy dishes with those chicken sausages that make me crave them until I eat them again. The cost of veggie burgers is almost double that of those heap “beef” burgers, but are they exponentially better for me? Hell yes. Sure, Oncor frozen entrees, chicken nuggets, and Kraft macaroni and cheese make cheaper dinners, but they also make me fat. It’s a choice I have to make, and I chose ME. I put MY heath and MY happiness before the cost. So, I might not be able to spend money on clothes and entertainment as often, but I am worth it. And don’t be fooled, I shop around to find those healthy foods at the lowest price I can, even if it means going to three grocery stores in a week. It’s time consuming, but I’m on a budget and I “need” this. This way, I don’t feel guilty picking up something healthy that actually sounds appetizing while I’m out because happiness has been key to me keeping this up for so long.

Retrain your taste buds.
 As I said before, I grew up “poor” and overweight. As a result, I have “fat kid tastebuds.” I love foods like mozzarella sticks, fettuccine alfredo, cheese steaks, pork roll, cheeseburgers, you name it. If it’s horrible for you, I probably love(d) it. Seriously. I hate salads. I kid you not, I have lost over 65 pounds while still managing to not eat very many salads. I just don’t love lettuce. A salad has to be exciting, like the ones you get when you’re out. So, I had to figure out what I like about those. The dressings? Fine, I bought them. Was it the array of toppings? I bought those too. Whatever it takes to make me enjoy eating lighter. Truth is, I’d rather have something loaded with veggies than a big bowl of lettuce. For many of the “bad” foods I like, there are no healthy substitutes so I was forced to expand my food horizons. It was the best thing that could have happened. This week, I tried Poland Spring Sparkling Water. I’ve never liked sparking water, but the Mandarin Orange flavor was surprisingly nice. It smells more than it tastes (it’s nothing like a flavored water because it’s more like a zest of orange), but for some reason I can really drink that stuff fast. I have difficulty drinking the daily requirement of water, but I will drink this stuff with ease. I wonder what it is about it… I also love eating Mexican and Greek food. Mexican has strong spices and flavors that don’t add a lot of fat. Plus, I can easily substitute my recipes with low fat or fat free dairy products to make the dishes healthier. Now, we have some sort of Mexican food once a week. Our current favorite is pulled chicken enchiladas. I also love Greek food because the dishes I like provide a twist to something ordinary. Take Chicken Souvlaki for example. It’s grilled chicken, diced and thrown into a pita with lots of raw veggies like lettuce, cucumber, tomato, onion. Sometimes it has feta cheese. Then, it’s got a cucumber yogurt sauce called Tzatziki sauce (don’t knock it until you try it). It’s like eating a chicken salad on a pita but much tastier. Believe it or not, you’ll get to the point when you crave healthy foods! Sure veggie burgers aren’t the same as their beef counterpart, but they’re worth experimenting with. Try different brands and flavors. You will be surprised. Dan and I even prefer mini veggie corn dogs to their meat counterpart! Don’t be afraid to try new things.

That's enough for you to mull over now. Next time (between wedding posts), I'll discuss tips on getting active, eating what you "want," and knowing where you're going wrong. If you have any questions or topics you'd like me to discuss, please feel free to leave comments. Feedback is appreciated!

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