I hope you all had a wonderful New Year’s holiday and are settling into 2015 pretty well so far. I know we’re only two days in so I’ll cut you some slack if you’re still trying to find your footing! (*wink*) Earlier this week, I hit the six month mark on my experiment with limiting carbs and increasing exercising. Today’s post shares the results with you and thoughts on my keys to my success. This post is long, but hopefully, it’s a good and inspirational read for you.
I’m pleased to say that the results are looking pretty darn good. Since July, I’ve lost 16.5 pounds. Honestly, I didn’t even realize this was possible. Seriously! I thought perhaps I could lose a few pounds but never dreamed it would be near twenty! I’m pretty amazed. What’s even better than the weight loss is the total number of inches I’ve lost. Granted, some of these measurements go back to July of 2013, when I started working out (again, consistently). I use six months as the benchmark for the weight and my waist size because I was actually a couple of pounds heavier in July of 2014 than I was in July of 2013 when I started. And somehow, my waist was a whole inch larger year over year as well. How, I am not sure. Let’s just say my first year of this particular fitness attempt wasn’t exactly fruitful and as effective as it could be. However, where I’ve been pretty consistently (but slowly) losing girth is in my bust and hips measurements.
As of this week, I’ve lost a grand total of 5.5 inches on my hips in the last 18 months. That’s mostly belly fat and some side fat. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with a good-sized derriere. It’s really the tummy that’s my problem spot. I’ve also lost three inches in my waist in the last six months. That’s pretty astounding to me. I didn’t realize my waist had gotten away from me like that. Finally, I’ve lost an inch and a half in the bust in the last 18 months. That’s pretty good for me. I didn’t really have overly large boobs to start with and my bra size hasn’t changed so I don’t know where that went. Probably just excess fat around the boob area.
To say I’m thrilled with these results is accurate. Honestly, when I set off on this more serious commitment to overall health, weight loss, and trimming/toning in July, I didn’t really have high expectations. I had hopes of losing weight and inches, but it had been so long since I’d seen any positive changes in my body composition that I just didn’t want to set myself up for hurt if I didn’t succeed. Even now, I don’t have any specific weight loss or inch loss goals. I just keep doing the work that I’m compelled to do, and I let my body and the work sort it out. If I didn’t lose another pound or inch, I’d be just as happy. I finally feel like I look good and I feel great, too.
You might be wondering how I did this. Well, to get some deep background, you can read about my journey in my first (July) and second (October) posts on this subject. To be frank, I must attribute this success to three major factors. I don’t think one alone is responsible or is MORE responsible than the rest. It’s the combination of the three that’s really helped kick-start my body. The three factors are limiting processed carbohydrates, consistent (but not brutal) exercise, and limiting myself to one alcoholic beverage per day (on average).
Between improving the quality of fuel I’ve been putting in my body and the increase in consistent physical activity, I’ve seen more success than I dared hope possible. The key to success with these three factors is the word moderation. For me, nothing is off-limits. I still eat candy and ice cream, just far, far less than before. I still love French fries but, I only rarely have them. While I do still drink, I keep it to one drink per day on average for the week. This means I don’t exceed seven drinks in a week. That’s helped quite a bit!
What I do focus my eating on is lean animal-based proteins, non-starchy vegetables, and healthy fats. I have also trimmed down the quantity of what I eat. As I’ve been eliminating many snacks and carb-heavy things, I just don’t find I need as much food. My body is getting better quality fuel therefore it can use it more efficiently and effectively. I have also stopped doing breakfast most days. I know having breakfast is a cardinal rule, but I don’t need it. By the time I get home from the gym and shower and what not, it’s already after 9am. I’m not even feeling hungry at that point yet.
What I have been doing is eating a robust, healthy meal in the mornings around 10am or so. What I normally have is a huge salad filled with delicious and satisfying things like hearty leafy greens, homemade vinaigrette for dressing, whole grains like spelt or bulgur, cheese, avocado, tomato, cucumber, yellow or orange bell pepper, boiled eggs, smoked ham, pickled jalapeños, roasted eggplant, sunflower seeds, olives, celery, and more. (I’m rattling these off because I’ve been using some combination of these lately as my winter salad mix.)
After I’m done with a salad of that size, I’m usually not hungry until dinner. But if I get hungry, I eat a snack. For me, snacks are typically peanuts, cheese, or soy nuts. I limit myself to a fourth-cup of nuts and just two ounces of cheese. Sometimes I include a veggie, but it’s usually not necessary. For dinner, I eat something normal. This is when I usually have my one allotted carb for the day. But sometimes I save it for my dessert or later-in-the-evening snack. It just depends. Something I never feel is deprived or hungry or like I’m missing something. Nothing is 100% off-limits for me. I even have a Coca-Cola every now and then if that’s something I’m craving. But that’ll be my carb for the day if I do! Again, moderation, not elimination, is a key to success for me. When something is made off-limits it becomes something to obsess over and be tempted by. When I *HAVE TO HAVE* fries (this totally happens), I make sure that fries are my carb for the day. I’ve eaten many bun-less burgers to satisfy my fry craving. That’s how I have found success: in trade-offs and making good choices.
Also, I’ve held myself accountable. That really helps. I write down everything I consume – not specific quantities, of course, but if it’s eaten, it gets a mention in my food diary. And on the days when I bust over my limit of carbs – because yes, that happens sometimes – I highlight those transgressions in red. Not to shame myself, but again, to hold myself accountable. I like to track my progress and see how long I can go without busting over my carb limit. My longest stretch was 12 days, but I can frequently go 5-6 days without going over my limit. As you may have guessed, limiting processed carbs is pretty difficult these days. It seems that EVERYTHING is based on processed carbs. Most ethnic cuisines are carb-heavy. Most of the best tasting food is processed carbs. Sugar is also a weakness of mine so I must be careful of that.
But the food diary serves as a tool to keep me honest — brutally honest — with myself. Honesty is the best and most effective policy, in my book. If you can’t be honest with yourself or hold yourself to the standard required to achieve a particular outcome, don’t expect much in way of results. Achieving real results requires taking a hard and honest look at your habits, diet (what you eat), and mindsets. The work in the gym is only part of the equation. If you’re over 30, just working out is probably not going to cut it. It takes a whole lifestyle change and mindset adjustment to make big or meaningful changes in life. Accepting, dealing with, and pushing ahead in that reality is how to succeed.
The last six months has been an interesting journey for me. I’ve dedicated myself to this new lifestyle, and I’m going to stick to it. At this point, I don’t think I’m going to change anything. I’m getting along well with my diet (what I eat – because I am NOT “on a diet”), my exercise, and my alcohol consumption. What I am going to do is test how well the results hold over from the changes I made last time, which was just adding in an allotment of a whole grain carb in addition to my processed carb each day. That’s had nothing but positive impacts so I’d like to see how those results hold over a longer period of time. I’ll provide an update again in early April for you.
So, what about you? Have you recently lost weight or are you struggling to do so? Have you made any big commitments to yourself that you didn’t make good on? Or on the other hand, have you had some big success lately by getting honest with yourself? Please tell me about it below in the comments! I love sharing stories of both challenges and successes with you! And thank you so much for being on this journey with me. Your support and kind words mean the world to me.
Disclaimer: This post chronicles my own journey. If you want to embark on a weight loss or wellness journey, consult with your physician or a licensed professional, especially if you have existing health or wellness issues. This post is not a substitute for professional health advice and guidance. Its sole purpose is to get you thinking about how you might make changes in your own life.