Megan: My Own Weight Loss Journey
I’ve been writing this blog for well over a year now, so maybe it’s time to tell you about my own weight loss journey. This isn’t something I have an easy time writing about or talking about for that matter. I feel like I should let you know right away what my answers have been in the past to this question, because yes, people ask! It’s often something along the lines of “how did you do it? I just want to do what you did” or “you look so healthy and comfortable in your skin, what steps did you follow?” or “what was your journey like, how long did it take you to lose 20 lbs?” I’ve been asked many other outlandish questions but these are the most common and the ones I get from people who already know the type of nutrition I practice. I will be honest and just say I haven’t done a great job of answering these questions in the past, I’ve given all sorts of different responses some as simple as “I don’t know” or “just because something worked for me, doesn’t mean it will work for you” when the truth really is that I found small changes to introduce healthier habits into my life. A very key point being, MY LIFE, that doesn’t mean they will work for you. What’s a small change in my life could be something huge for you or something that was a healthy change for me could potentially be an unhealthy change for you or no change at all. If you’re still following me I’ll let you know the changes I made with the caveat being that these changes may or may not help you. When you’re ready for nutrition advice you should seek out an expert who is willing to learn about you and make recommendations based on your life.
9 strategies I used feel better and lose weight
This is a journey and it took me a while to figure that out. The journey wasn’t always about weight loss and for me, I’m done with weight loss and focused on maintaining my current weight.
I increased the amount of walking I was doing, this actually meant I went to the gym less but I made sure to get 10k or close to 10k steps per day. I was walking to and from work, 15 minutes in each direction and walking a lot while I was at work. At the time it was part of my job to be in many different places throughout the day, which really helped. I pretty much always took the stairs, my office was on the 3rd floor and I was often coming up from sub-basement, that’s 5 flights just to get to my office and I did this multiple times a day.
I joined a soccer team, this wasn’t part of my strategy but I think it had a much bigger impact than I imagined. I joined the soccer team to be more social, make new friends and stay active but what it did was bring fun back into exercise. I’d been going to the gym to lift weights and glare at anyone who looked in my direction… I had angry thoughts when I was at the gym like; “what are you looking for? You think girls can’t lift weights?” “Yes, I do know how to use this machine and no I don’t want your help!” “how quickly can I get out of here?” Yup, that was me, I had all sorts of negative thoughts and they made me feel confident in an angry kind of way. For me, soccer is competitive but more than anything, it’s fun and social. Why has soccer had such an impact on my health? It’s consistent. Every single week other than a Christmas break, I’m out running, sweating and smiling for at least an hour.
I started eating more vegetables and less starchy foods. I focused my efforts on my dinner meal. For me this looked like salad mixes that come in a bag with chicken, it’s not glamorous or fancy but as a single girl working full-time it was affordable and ensured I didn’t waste food. Tomato and meat sauce with broccoli for dinner where I could prep the “burgers” beforehand and warm them up in the tomato sauce right before I wanted to eat. I went from having chicken curry with rice and naan to chicken curry with rice or naan and a side of vegetables.
I stopped eating sweets every single day at 3pm. Looking back it’s hard to believe this was a habit, at least during the week, but it was! By myself or with a co-worker I would have afternoon coffee with a brownie or biscotti, sometimes I would share the sweet but other times I would eat the whole thing myself. This was a tough transition and it actually started by going cold turkey, a challenge my boss at the time was doing so I decided to join (remember, I’m a bit competitive). I kept my afternoon coffee habit for at least a year after kicking daily afternoon baked goods. Having a warm comforting food without a billion calories really helped me break the sweets habit, for me, I take milk in my coffee but no sugar.
I ate something healthy before going out to meet up with friends. I didn’t do this every time but it helped me make better choices once I got to the restaurant and sometimes save a bit of money. I did get criticism for this from those who believed I might be restricting my eating or skipping meals completely. I can honestly say that was not the case, I’ve never been a meal skipper. I stopped having dessert every time I went to a restaurant, I used to have an entire dessert even if I was already full! This type of action made me feel sick from being too full and exhausted which would often roll into how I felt the next morning.
I found an exercise accountability partner. Luckily, this wasn’t hard, a friend asked me if I wanted to do a half marathon with her and instead of being afraid and saying no, I said yes! Do I find the idea of running on pavement for that long appealing, no but, you remember I told you I’m a bit competitive? The fear of not training enough and not enjoying the experience pushed me to run an extra 2 times per week. This was not a weight loss strategy and I made sure to eat extra on the days I went for long runs.
I almost stopped baking. I love to bake and that hasn’t changed but now I ensure I’m baking for the purpose of sharing instead of eating two-dozen cookies to myself just because they are there! I weaned myself off of this, which looked a bit like baking for events like other peoples birthdays or celebrations at work, I would have a small sample before but that’s it until the party. I made cookie dough and froze it in a roll, something like Pillsbury but homemade where I would cut off one cookies worth and bake it fresh for myself if I really wanted homemade cookies.
I stopped buying the foods I would binge eat. I talk about sweet and salty popcorn a lot because this was one of my trigger foods, you should know, it isn’t anymore. How did I make this change? I removed the temptation from my “safe places,” for me it was my apartment. This meant no more buying the big bag of Orville Redenbacher even if it was on sale, if it’s not in my house when I’m having cravings in the evening I’ll have to get creative! The cravings went away because I chose other foods, I had more fibre at dinner time, I stayed hydrated and Mr. Redenbacher and I took a much needed break.
I should mention I also tried to knit to keep my hands pre-occupied but this didn’t last, I was getting hand and finger cramps like no other! I think it’s important to mention a strategy that didn’t work because that’s reality. Not everything is going to work for each of us. We don’t need to be perfect at each strategy, instead we need to find the strategies that work for us and focus on those. I strengthened my relationship with food by taking control, it wasn’t easy but now I focus on what’s in the food instead of what isn’t. I’m no longer searching for over processed foods that have no fat or have been jam packed with functional fibre. You’ll notice I didn’t mention sugar-free because I’ve always found the taste of sugar substitutes horrible and usually headache inducing. The best part about going through this journey is that losing weight, being healthier and feeling better gave me the confidence and courage to start my own nutrition and weight loss service, something I’ve dreamed about since I first learned about it 10 years ago. It’s hard to believe we’re going into our 3rd year of business soon and it’s all thanks to your support. We’re looking forward to what 2019 brings for all of us!