I am not thin: a three month update

False Bay in Cape Town, South Africa

Just under 90 days ago, I published a blog post announcing to the world that I was no longer a thin girl, along with an action plan on how I was going to remedy what I didn’t like about my body. To recap where I started: roughly 90 days ago I decided that I wanted to do something about the extra fat around my middle. I’d been exercising at the gym for a solid year and hadn’t seen any real results yet. I decided that the devil was in the details of my diet (as in, what I ate). While in my mind I’d been eating mostly “healthy foods,” in reality, I was eating way too many carbs. This is where I found myself at the beginning of July.

I am happy to report that my test was a success. Limiting myself to one carb and one alcoholic beverage a day has paid off! I have lost 10.5 pounds along with one inch or more on each measurement of my bust, waist, and hips. Overall, a success! I was relieved to see the caliber of progress my changes had made. Sure, I felt better and looked better in the mirror, but it’s always good to see the cold hard facts (especially when they are positive!). This progress has me convinced that limiting carbs is a viable way for me to stay trimmer and more fit.

But it’s actually more than just that. To what exactly can I attribute this success? I’ll tell ya!

Making a plan and sticking to it – First of all, I’ll say that it really helped to have announced all of this on my blog. Overall, I’m pretty good at making decisions and sticking to them, but putting it out into the public domain really helped to keep me accountable. I made some slight modifications to the original plan that I laid forth in my first blog post, but overall I stuck to one carb per day. I loosened up on the starchy vegetables (1/2 cup per meal allowed) and the dairy (just aimed to be moderate here), but otherwise, I was pretty successful at sticking to my one carb per day policy. Sure, I had a few “cheat” days, but they were still moderate by most standards. Also, I still recorded everything I ate, even on cheat days (more on that later).

Moderate but very regular exercise – So, I did end up beefing up my exercise a little. I said I wasn’t going to, but I did because I realized that I simply wasn’t moving enough in any given day. Therefore, in addition to my three full workouts per week (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays), I added 25 minutes of moderate treadmill walking on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Basically, I go to the gym each weekday, which is fine because I drive Jeremy to work daily so I’m downtown anyway (I work out at NOAC). Adding the extra cardio helps to keep me heart healthy and allows me to be in better shape cardiovascular-ly and from an endurance perspective. I don’t think that walking helps much on the weight loss side, but that’s not really why I added it in the first place. My full workouts (M-W-F) consist of arm work, waist work, ab work, and 20 more minutes of treadmill cardio. It takes me about an hour and 10 minutes each time. I am still only doing moderate cardio because my knee still isn’t 100% – no elliptical or stair climber for me anytime soon. This moderate but regular exercise helps to augment the changes I’ve made in my eating patterns. The two go hand-in-hand.

Writing it all down – Something I didn’t put in my last post, but did adopt, was keeping a food diary. Basically, I wrote down everything I ate and drank over the last 90 days. I didn’t really do portion sizes, per se, but I did record each item. I used portion sizes in relation to carbs and the items I was looking to limit. That really made a huge difference. I knew that I couldn’t expect real results without getting 100% totally honest with myself about what it is that I was consuming. As I said earlier, even when I had a “cheat day,” I still kept it pretty moderate – like I maybe had two or three carbs instead of one – and I still wrote it all down. I even highlighted the misgivings in red so I could see when I exceeded my limits. Writing it all down was a significant key to success for me and has helped tremendously in propelling me toward my goals.

Being honest with myself – Along with writing it all down goes being honest with myself. I didn’t try to lie or cover up when I messed up. I owned it all and recorded the good, bad and ugly of food related matters. I owned all of my actions and choices. That’s empowering in itself. At the end of the day, I only have myself to answer to over this whole matter, and I’m only hurting myself with bad choices, so it seemed like a no brainer to me. Same with workouts – I basically go to the gym every weekday, but every once in a while I have to miss, and that’s okay. That’s just life. But I don’t skip because “I don’t feel like going.” I only miss when it’s a legitimate reason, and then I try to do some walking to compensate. Bottom line, being honest and straightforward with myself was key in all of this.

Saying “no” – Temptations abound! Oh yes, you bet! But I taught myself how to say “no.” I made bets and deals with myself to make sure that I could stick to the overall goal. Many times, I just said, “no.” This was mostly to myself, too, by the way. I don’t think there was one instance of someone taunting me with chocolate cake. No, it was just me and the battles I fought inside my own head. In the end, I overcame almost all of them. Sometimes I slid on the carb rule, but I always made sure to pick back up where I left off next time a decision needed to be made. I would like to note that I have stuck within the parameter of one drink per day. The only exception was during Tales of the Cocktail in mid-July, and even then, I never got “drunk.” I maintained a moderate drinking schedule and ended up feeling wonderfully empowered after that event, not defeated and worn out like I did last year (due to over-imbibing, of course). All in all, learning to say “no” and to keep my ultimate longer term goals in mind were critical to the success I’ve achieved.

Choosing myself – Finally, I chose myself. I decided that I was important enough and that I deserved this. By “this” I mean to look good, to feel good, to be healthy, to be fit, to be happy with my body. I decided those things were important to me and that I was going to do what was necessary to accomplish them. I chose myself over bagels and donuts and peanut butter M&Ms (three of my weaknesses prior to this period). I chose myself over drinking yet another beer just because I was bored, not because I needed it or had to have it. I became mindful in my choices and deliberate in my eating and drinking practices. Of all the things I did, this was the most powerful because had I not decided that I was worth it and that I deserved all of these good things, all the other stuff couldn’t have happened. Choosing yourself is essential in any major shift or change you’re trying to make.

So, what’s next, you may be wondering? Well, I’ll tell you. I am still going to keep up my food diary and my one drink per day habit. Although, I am going to up my carb intake to two per day. HOWEVER, to have two carbs, one must be a whole grain like bulgur, quinoa, brown rice, or something comparable. So if I want to eat tabbouleh for lunch, I can still have a snack later or white rice with my gumbo for dinner, for example. I’m also staying committed to a diet that consists mainly of healthy meats and non-starchy vegetables. Honestly, I believe that focusing more on those foods and eliminating the starchy/sugary carbs has been the tactical change that made all the weight loss and inches loss possible. I am now fueling my body with actual fuel as opposed to the bread and sugary junk food I found myself eating before. I still eat lots of food, but I just eat better food. The key here is not depriving myself. I eat until I’m full, and I regularly fill my body with the protein, non-starchy vegetable carbs, and fat that I need to keep my body going. This is the greatest dietary takeaway I have from all of this, and I’m surely keeping it a center point of my life.

I’ll be sure to check back in at the end of the year when I hit the six month mark. I’m confident that I’ll have even more good news and new insights to share.

What about you? Have you made a significant lifestyle change recently from which you’re already reaping rewards? Are you perhaps pondering such a change? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear what you’ve tried or are considering trying.