Did you ever see one of those before and after weight loss transformation pictures and think, That doesnt even look like the same person! or They purposely picked an unflattering before photo?
I have lost almost 100 pounds, and have kept it off for so long that there are people I know now who never knew me during the time in my life when I was heavy. One such friend saw an old picture up while visiting and said, I still cant believe it, you look so different, Id almost think you had cosmetic surgery. If she had a true understanding of my intense fear of needles (I passed out getting my ears pierced!) shed know that absolutely wasn’t the case.
Another time, a house cleaner didnt recognize me in my own wedding photo and, when I confirmed it was me she looked at her friend and said something in Portuguese that included the word gorda. After three years of high school Spanish, I know the word fat in Spanish when I hear it!
Which brings me to this point: You’ll be surprised how weight loss affects you. I mean, sure you think youll look better, and you will, but the way you feel, the manner in which you hold yourself and the amount of times youll flash a smile, all change too.
Because of the dramatic changes my body has undergone since I lost weight, I get asked quite a lot how I did it, so here is my own condensed guide to getting into great shape. Let’s call it the Cliff Notes version of everything I’ve learned along my weight loss journey.
1. As a general rule, unless its cauliflower or a White Chocolate Luna bar, if its white, dont eat it.
2. Think of food as a choice, and not as a reward or a punishment. You dont deserve a decadent dessert, nor are you depriving yourself if you dont have it.
3. Dont get comfortable with some success. Theres no finish line or touchdown dance. As I was losing weight, and every time I went down a size, I would only buy one pair of jeans, one pair of tan pants, and one pair of black pants. I wouldnt spend a lot, and I would tell myself, Dont invest in this size, as youre not going to be staying here for long.
4. BLTs count: Bites, Licks and Tastes add up and Sips too (so try your best not to drink your calories!)
5. Eat foods in their lowest common denominator: Think orange, not orange juice, and shop the outside aisles of the supermarket. Its where the least processed foods are.
6. Avoid any food that has a television commercial.
7. Do, dont watch.
8. Make rules for yourself. I have a rule that, unless its a family movie or sporting event that we are watching as a group, I DVR my favorite programs and hop on my exercise bike when I want to watch. Do you have a pedometer? Make a minimum step commitment for each day. I also have a rule of not taking the elevator unless its going up or down more than 20 flights.
9. Never walk by a source of clean water. Drink up!
10. Make your workouts like brushing your teeth, just something you do without question.
11. You getto workout, you dont haveto workout. (This one is a biggie!)
12. Meals should be a balance of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.
13. A stumble doesnt have to be a free fall. Having a row of Oreos doesnt have to be a full out surrender.
14. Nix the excuses. Youre no busier than a fit person. Theyre all busy too.
15. And now, to quote Vezzini from my favorite film, The Princess Bride: You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The first is, never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well known is this
16. Never order a grilled chicken Caesar salad and think you ordered a fit and clean meal. Theres as much fat and calories in this standard restaurant salad staple as a cheeseburger and French fries. Still want the salad? Get it without the cheese and croutons, and skip the Caesar dressing for a lighter dressing on the side and drizzle, not drown, your greens. Plenty of times people go off track as they ate something they thought was a good choice.
17. Never avoid lifting weights thinking that they will make you bulky. If it was that easy to bulk up, there would be a lot more men walking around looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his heyday. Speaking of lifting weights, nix the weenie weights too, unless thats really your starting point. If you can breeze through twelve repetitions of a move, its time to increase that weight! Heavy weights do great things for your body. Resistance training boosts your metabolism, burns more calories, even after youve stopped working out, and builds muscle, which burns even more calories at rest.
18. Its very tempting to let food be a stress reliever. Theres a reason why theres the term comfort food. My suggestion is just to try to be accountable for what you decide to do or not do. Ultimately, youre captain of your own ship, and you shouldnt put the wheel in other peoples hands. Caught up in some drama? Figure out if its really your problem. I find myself breaking out the Not my circus, not my monkeys, idiom a lot. Even when it is my circus and my monkeys, I tell myself that working out will give me the strength to handle it. If I decide Id rather trade my dinner for martinis and tortilla chips, I do my best to take responsibility for my choice.
19. Never solely rely on your workout buddy or diet challenge friends when weight loss is on the line. While it can be fun to workout with a friend, or as part of a group, ultimately your weight loss and fitness goals are an individual achievement. If your friend needs to skip the gym one day, thats not a license for you to do the same.
20. Likewise, if youre out on the town and a challenge mate suggests splitting the fried Blooming Onion, youll need to be the one throwing a fork at them, I mean, politely declining. Did you ever hear that expression, Show me your friends and Ill show you your future? If youre trying to develop healthier eating habits and a solid fitness routine, you may be surprised by how those people closest to you respond. Ive said it a hundred times, saboteurs are everywhere with their very tempting catchphrases: Well start tomorrow. Just this once. Youre no fun anymore. Dont deprive yourself. Youre going to need to be the captain of your own fitness ship. As captain, you should also be aware that your crew is not always going to be supportive or encouraging. There may be for a million reasons why, and youll drive yourself crazy trying to figure it out.
Charlene Bazarian is a fitness and weight loss success story after losing 96 pounds. She mixes her no-nonsense style of fitness advice with humor on her blog atFbjfit.comand on Facebook atFBJ Fit.