Hello, if anyone’s listening.
I started this blog in May of 2011. Somehow it’s fitting that we’re approaching May again.
Maybe something about spring cleaning and checking off youre to-do list now that the sun is out again and you actually feel like getting off your arse… (who is ever motivated to keep a resolution in the dead of winter?)
I lost the 20 pounds.
It actually didn’t take the two years that I’ve had this blog sitting here. It actually took about three months.
Now For a Little Bit of a Story:
If I am brutally honest (with myself and with you) when I started this blog, I wanted to lose weight for purely cosmetic reasons. I didn’t consider myself particularly unfit, and I was just a teeny bit overweight for my height. I was also working heavily in social media at the time and kind of caught up in the kool-aid that is the “blogosphere” so I figured, “I want to lose some weight. WhynotblogaboutitbecauseeveryoneelseisdoingitandmaybeitwillhelpgivemetheselfdisciplinethatIamsorelylacking?” And so DownBy20 was born.
I was also working in the health/fitness field, so I spent a lot of time surrounded by that info, and being a naturally curious person, I ended up doing a lot of accidental research and hundreds (well probably really tens) of short-lived self-experiments. Needless to say, I was too undisciplined either to stick to the regimes or to write about them.
In November of 2011, I was laid off from my job. In the month of my unemployment, I actually did a good job of working out regularly and eating more healthily since I had endless hours to devote to the whole lifestyle. It actually worked, and I lost some weight. (I didn’t take too many pictures though, bc I was too broke to do anything exciting…)
In December, I got a new job (that I still have and love), and even though I still spent most of all day on the internet, between work and friends (and eventually a new boyfriend) I was fulfilled and had little free time. Plus, the pounds had started creeping back on.
And they kept creeping, for various reasons. By June of 2012, I was the heaviest I have ever been, weighing in at 167 lbs. On a 5’7” frame. I’m “athletically curvy” and can hold my weight fairly well, but that was too much. None of my clothes fit well anymore. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin anymore. Now the weight loss was less of a “Well, I would like to” and more of an “I absolutely need to.”
Did that make me hit the gym five times a week and stop loving Doritos? Surprisingly, no.
Actually, during my weight gain phase, I had a period where I was going to the gym five times a week. (Still couldn’t quite get a handle on the eating…and now you know why I was still gaining weight.) When I started to lose the weight, what I ended up doing actually worked better than I thought it would.
How I Lost 20 Pounds in Three Months
I am not a nutritionist. I am not a certified trainer. I do not claim to be an “expert” in health or fitness of any sort, even if I am sort of intelligent and have read most of the latest research. (And I continue to read. Old habits die hard.)
When I tell my girlfriends how I lost weight, most of them say they wouldn’t be able to do it. Maybe not. I really didn’t even notice. I didn’t feel like I was starving. I ate when I was hungry, and I ate what I wanted.
First, I did work out regularly, but I didn’t kill myself.
My magic formula for the gym came via this 20-minute Self workout. I still use it regularly, because it works for me and my lifestyle.
I’m lucky that my gym is only 15 minutes door-to-door from my job. And I’m really lucky that my job also allows me to take a full hour for lunch. So what I did, when I started getting into the swing of things, was bring my gym bag to work and head to the gym over lunch.
In my gym bag:
- Sports bra
- Change of underwear
That might seem like a long-ish list, but it all can fit into a surprisingly small space. I use a little tote.
Order of lunch workout:
- 15 min: Train to gym
- 3 min: Change
- 5 min: Arms/chest on cable machine
- 2 min: Abs on exercise ball
- 10 min: Intervals on treadmill (Incline of 2, 90 sec. at 5.3mph, 30 sec at 9mph)
- 10 min: Shower and dressed
- 5 min: Train back to work
When I got back to work, I’d spray the wet gym clothes with Febreeze and arrange them under my desk so they could dry a little without being too conspicuous. That let me use the same gym clothes for an entire week without getting too stinky. So I only have to lug the gym bag back and forth twice a week.
I am not a runner. I didn’t even like running when I started. Running is usually very painful if you’re not already in shape. Your lungs start burning about two seconds in. All that jiggly stuff you’re trying to get rid of? It’s still jiggling and chafing uncomfortably. And if I was going to run at all, I preferred sprinting over chugging along at a steady pace.
The answer? The intervals. On a treadmill. It must be on a treadmill to start. You know why? That little track keeps rolling, so you can’t cheat. (no slowing down to a walk for your “rest” interval…) You have a consistent pace for each interval. And running in intervals gives your lungs time to work hard and then recover, which I found to very quickly increase my cardiovascular capacity.
Of course, working out at the gym over lunch wasn’t my only workout. I couldn’t do that every day of the week, plus as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a curious person. So I added in various night classes at my gym, just taking whatever happened to be interesting/fun and fit with my schedule - lots of zumba and boot camp-style classes.
Now we arrive at the secret ingredient to weight loss that most of us try to ignore:Changing your diet.
It’s true people. Yes, weight loss is a result of the calories in/out equation, but you will never work that equation more efficiently than when you combine exercise with a diet change. I say “a” diet change, because different people get different results with different changes.
In my case, breakfast was:
- One large cup of French Vanilla-flavored coffee, with milk but no sugar
A hard boiled egg
And, drum roll please: I skipped (and still skip sometimes) lunch.
It takes me literally all day to finish that one cup of coffee. The protein from the egg and fat from the milk keep me feeling full. The caffeine keeps me alert.
Of course, I was starving by the time I would head home at 5 or 6 (and tired), so I usually ate whatever I wanted for dinner. McDonalds, Popeye’s, Chinese food, pasta, leftovers. I like cooking but rarely have the energy/patience in the evenings, so I eat out a lot- tuna tartare, ravioli, chicken milanese…my mouth is watering.
Through it all, I never felt deprived. I didn’t feel like I was denying myself the pleasures of the junk food I loved, but I was keeping a pretty good handle on the calorie equation. The little bursts of exercise kept my metabolism spiked. I had finally found a balance that worked for me. In that balance were breaks too: I didn’t go to the gym every day. I gave my body time to rest. I ate like a normal human being on the weekends.
And I lost 20 pounds in three months. By August of 2012, I was down to 147 (from 167), and I’ve stayed around there ever since.
Going forward, would I like to lose a little more weight? Certainly. There are still some soft edges that could use firming up.
Will I make an all-out effort to move past my plateau? Probably not.
I’m back to the same weight I’ve been since high school. I figure that my body just likes being at this weight. I still fit my prom dress. My boyfriend thinks I’m sexy. (He actually said he really liked the bigger me too - go figure!) I run a 10-minute mile. I feel just fine in a swimsuit.
I have other projects, other goals, other things to occupy my thoughts and time besides obsessing about my sushi roll.
My mother passed away suddenly from cancer in December of 2012. I now have a house to take care of, and my father and sister to be there for. I have myself to support. No mommy to cry to anymore. I’ve got a career ahead of me.
Of course, I’ll always be curious. And that little nagging sigh, “I see some dimples in those thighs…” will surely pop up and say, “Booyah! Ya miss me?” I love food. I love nerdy science. I love wacky new gym classes. I love feeling that my body is strong and capable.
Only now I also have my snarky sister as a trusty sidekick (well more like dragged-kicking-and-screaming sidekick, but whatever).
And I’ll try to post more frequently. On FIT PEAS