Monday, December 31, 2012

No time like the present

Tomorrow is just another day... in a way. January 1, 2013. Just one of 365 days in the year. But every year, thousands of people mark this day as a special one of resolutions. A time for new beginnings.

And the #1 New Year's resolution? Weight loss. It's no wonder: We've just come through our annual orgy of eating and drinking, and we all feel a little guilty about the excess and its unwanted effects.

To give you hope that you can accomplish this goal, I want to share with you one story from my book How We Did It: Weight Loss Choices That Will Work for You.

It's the story of Lori Kimble, a woman who lost 105 pounds on a variety of weight loss programs, including Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers and the Zone Diet. No matter what plan she was using, one thing was constant: she counted calories and added exercise to her day.

I'll let Lori tell you her story in her own words. It's contained in Chapter 4 of How We Did It. She's just one of about 30 people in the bookwho succeeded at weight loss using many of the popular plans, as well as plans of their own making. I wish for you the very same success!

Lori's story:

Remember the Looney Tunes character Wile E. Coyote? He was always rigging up a contraption to drop an anvil on the lightning-fast Road Runner. That cartoon image is embedded in Lori Kimble’s mind.

“At my heaviest, I weighed 250 pounds,” says Lori. “I saw that number on the scale and I had this image in my mind of one of Wile E. Coyote’s anvils marked ‘250 lbs.’ It dawned on me then—250 pounds is halfway to 500 pounds and I could see myself weighing that much if I kept going the way I was.”

But having that realization and acting on it was two different things for Lori.

“I was frustrated because I thought, ‘I’m going to weigh 500 pounds because I don’t know what to do about it,’” she says.

Lori recalls always being heavy—or at least chubby. She has no memories of ever being a healthy weight. From an early age, she was drawn to comfort foods like mac ‘n cheese, pasta, white rice, bagels and spaghetti. Hamburger Helper was a dinner staple at her house. The only vegetables she liked were broccoli and corn. She and her sister snacked at home, and they liked their sweets.

Like many people frustrated with their weight, Lori was always trying one diet or another, but she failed every time. “I had in my head that I only had to put up with this diet for awhile, and then I could go back to eating the way I always had,” she says. “It was an all-or-nothing attitude that just wasn’t working for me.”

In 2003, Lori read The Sugar Addict’s Total Recovery Program by Kathleen DesMaisons. The book made her realize that her previous weight loss attempts may have failed because she was simply replacing high-fat foods with seemingly healthy low-fat foods that were instead loaded with sugar. By weaning off of processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sugars and what she calls “white things” and replacing them with proteins and whole grains like brown rice, she lost 20 pounds in one year.

This success spurred Lori on to address other problems with her diet, like portion control. She joined Weight Watchers and lost another 60 pounds but then hit a frustrating plateau.

“I was eating very little point-wise, exercising hard and seeing no progress,” she says. “I cried every week weighing in. This went on for six months.”

At the time, living in temporary housing without a kitchen, Lori and her husband began picking up food from a Mexican takeout place, and her weight started coming back on.

“I tried eating right again, and I tried going back on Weight Watchers and several other things, like eDiets and the low-glycemic plan GI Impact,” she says.

But by this time, Lori was exhausted. “I was tired of thinking about food all the time. I just wanted someone to tell me what to eat,” she says.

Lori found relief by joining NutriSystem and ordering their packaged meals for a few months. She found it to be helpful in once again training her to recognize an appropriate portion size. She liked the balance of fats, proteins and carbs—the meals included more protein than she was used to having, and that helped her stay full longer.

When she felt ready, Lori transitioned from NutriSystem to cooking her own meals. She combined some elements of NutriSystem and The Zone Diet to come up with meals that combined nutrients in a way that kept her from feeling hungry.

Exercise also figured into Lori’s success. She and her husband John Vaughn are avid bike riders. They generally take one long bike ride each weekend—at least when the weather in upstate New York cooperates—usually about 40 miles. She is training for a 100-mile bike ride and has participated in her first triathlon.

Gradually, Lori began to see success again. “It was a slow process, but that just made my weight loss feel more permanent to me,” she says. Within a few years, Lori’s total weight loss came to 105 pounds. At 5-feet, 2-inches, she wears a size 8 today, where once she wore a size 24.

Although Lori’s success came from several different programs, one thing remained constant—calorie counting. Throughout her weight loss journey, Lori logged the caloric value of her foods. She either used the system provided by the plan, like Weight Watchers Points plan or NutriSystem’s calorie counter, and when she was on her own, she sought help from an online calorie counting program, LiveStrong’s DailyPlate.

Determining her ideal daily caloric intake was a process of trial and error, Lori says. She eventually settled on about 1,500-1,600 calories a day for weight loss. “Anything lower than 1,400 and I get cranky,” she says. When she is in a maintenance mode, and on days when exercise has her body crying out for sustenance, she might up the calorie count to 2,000 a day.  

Logging calories and exercise choices isn’t a chore for Lori. “I’m a bit dorky that way,” she says. “I like seeing the numbers.”

Another motivator for Lori has been tracking her progress on her blog Finding Radiance. Her blog is filled with photo after photo of her colorful and appetizing meals.

“Once I began arranging meals on a plate to take photos, my food looked more appealing to me, and I began to get excited about food again,” she says. “I’m not afraid of food anymore. Cupcakes aren’t evil. If I really want something, I can make room for it and really, really enjoy it.”

Today, Lori continues to track her calories, food choices and exercise. For her, it’s the key to success. “Now, I have the complete puzzle put together! I feel like I can live this way for the rest of my life,” Lori says.