Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Great Eight for Losing Weight

My gym is crammed to the ceiling these days. It always happens in January, after people have made their New Year's resolution -- once again! -- to lose weight. They start to slack off around March, and then the Bikini Brigade arrives, wanting to get in shape for the beach.

I joke about it, but I'm in sympathy with my fellow gym-nasts. I tried a lot of avenues to weight loss before I zeroed in on what worked for me. Let me share with you a few of the ideas and practices that I have depended on to lose 30 pounds and maintain my weight loss.

Nothing tastes as good as thin feels. This saying has been getting a lot of flack lately for supposedly promoting anorexia. As Mythbuster Adam Savage would say, "I reject your reality and substitute my own!" This is an absolutely true statement. I hope you get to enjoy the feeling, too.

It’s calories in, calories out. Not everyone—especially low-carb aficionados—agrees with this, but it worked for me. In November 2007, when I broke a foot, Heidi Bylsma (whose weight loss story I shared earlier in this blog) encouraged me to keep this in mind. In the three months that I couldn’t exercise, not only did I not gain weight, but I lost two pounds to boot.

Am I really hungry? Once I began asking myself this question, I cut way back on mindless eating. Brian Wansick, the author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More than We Think, says that in regard to food, Americans have essentially three states of being: 1) I’m starving 2) I’m stuffed, or 3) I could eat more. This is hilarious, but it’s also too true. We're never satisfied! I’m trying to exist in a fourth state, that of contentment.

Salad fills you up as much as a piece of cake will. This is another craving-buster. Although cake might satisfy something in my psyche that salad doesn’t (that’s putting it mildly!), I don’t need to reach for it when I am hungry. Veggies and fruits do take care of hunger, and they keep it at bay longer.

I don’t need willpower; I need strategies. I always thought that losing weight was about toughing it out. Now I realize it’s about planning ahead. Stocking the refrigerator with the good stuff; taking it with you when healthy options aren’t available. I brush my teeth in the early evening, so I’m less likely to snack after dinner. I exercise early in the day, before the pull of inertia exerts itself.

Life can be more than steamed greens. Many weight losers tell me they no longer cook, except to grill meats and steam vegetables. I like to cook, and I need variety. So, I’ll pan-sear or roast vegetables in a bit of olive oil. Steaming vegetables may be healthier, but I love the sweet, smoky taste of charred carrots, onions, green beans, asparagus and snow peas. With a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of sea salt, I can eat a boatload of these veggies! I beef up my recipes with the high-fiber and high-water-content fruits and vegetables of Barbara Rolls's Volumetrics plan.

Walking counts. It’s so silly! I'd drive to the gym to swim my laps, and then spend 10 minutes looking for the parking spot closest to the door. The irony of it struck me one day. Now I park in a spot at the end of the furthest row. It’s never taken.

Fifteen minutes is fifteen minutes. As the mother of a young child, I didn’t have an hour a day to devote to exercise. But I did have fifteen minutes, and my fitful bouts of swimming added up over time. Even now, I rarely have extended periods free to exercise. I’ll have to leave the marathons to others. On the days I don't swim, a swift walk to the post office and back works for me.

These are my Great Eight handy-dandy helpers. I'm sure you have your own. I'd love to hear what they are.


  1. I'm so glad I found your blog - you are a great writer! Your comment made me laugh out loud and made me realize I felt good again. Thank you! I loved your list and look forward to reading in the future!!

  2. Thank you for your kind words, Tina. Glad you're feeling good.