Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Weight Loss Story: 2000-2009

When we left off, I was around 240 pounds.  When did I decide to do something about it?  I didn't, really.  In 2003 I joined a gym, mainly because it was a perk of my husband's work and I love free things. I attended an orientation and got my membership card but felt like I didn't have even the minimum level of fitness needed to work out in public so I didn't go. I decided that before I attempted working out at the gym, I needed to build up to that base level at home. I tracked the number of days/month that I worked out, doing mainly Denise Austin's Daily Workout and Fit and Light that I taped off the tv onto VHS!  I also taped (and still Tivo) Wai Lana Yoga.

Here is a sampling of my workouts for 2003
May-12 days
June-11 days
July-18 days
August-9 days
September-10 days

I continued tracking like that through 2005 and in 2006 I joined the Discovery Health Channel's Body Challenge, which I had seen on tv. One thing you should know about me is that I LOVE a challenge! Anything with rules and levels and points and prizes, I am ALL about it!  Following that, the gym that I had VERY rarely gone to (mainly to walk on the treadmill in bad weather) hosted a fitness challenge that I decided to join. The program was called Inferno and it was based on % of body fat lost as well as bonus points for food journaling, attending classes, etc.  I came in 3rd, going from 40.2% to 37.2% in 2 months! And I had lost 20 pounds total and was down to 223. It had gotten me into the gym and I started taking classes like Step and Pure Energy (an aerobic dance class). That challenge and the support I got from the gym staff was really what motivated me to stay on track and continue on the long road to health!

The program at the gym got me started thinking about not only my physical activity but also what I was eating with a couple of nutritional seminars where I learned to read food labels and compare that to my body's daily needs. I started tracking my food on Fitday but was not really following any eating plan or even really striving for any nutritional goals. Many of my entries include Taco Bell, milkshakes, diner food, Totino's pizzas, soda, and huge portions (3 cups of potato soup!, 1/2 large pizza, 4 biscuits with cheese and jelly). Writing down what you eat and when helps you realize what you're eating and maybe why but it doesn't really tell you NOT to eat it and I hadn't yet decided to get on board with healthy eating. Luckily I was heavy enough that just exercise was enough to drop pounds in the first couple of years.

In 2006 we adopted Sully and that got me started on outdoor exercise.  I walked him at least twice a day and after I mastered long walks, I wanted to tackle running!  I had seen other people do it so I tried it, made it less than a block, hated it.  I didn't try again for 3 years.  But I did keep walking, doing yoga, going to gym classes and  playing Dance Dance Revolution at home.

In 2007 I walked my first 5K. And I didn't really like it! My friend said I had the wrong shoes, my laces kept coming untied and although I walked with the dog twice a day I hadn't really done any speed walking to prepare and I pushed a little too hard.  Later in 2007 and early 2008 I got complacent (and busy) and had a slight gain, which I maintained through most of 2008.  I knew I wasn't at my end point but I wasn't keeping up my exercise and I wasn't yet eating properly.  It was a hard lesson to learn, but after seeing the scale creep up and those pounds I had worked hard to shed coming back, I decided to buckle down and get serious.  I needed a goal, something with clear, measurable milestones.  Running was perfect because you can run x miles in x minutes and have a very clear record of your progress.  In 2009 I did the Couch to 5K program in order to start running.    And in November 2009 I ran my first all running 5K.

I reached another milestone in 2009. I got under (and have stayed under) 200 pounds!  2009 marked the beginning of more seriously considering not only physical activity but also what I put into my body.  I started tracking my food on SparkPeople and got more involved in that community.  At this point I was mainly concentrating on measuring in order to get familiar with regular portion sizes and eating more whole grains and less junk food.  That's not to say I wasn't eating junk because I was a fan of Hungry Girl and her low-calorie but still-junky-food alternatives and recipes.  I also started working through the different levels of the President's Active Lifestyle Awards and another challenge at our gym.

Next up:  I stop eating junk and start fueling my body for even more serious physical activity!

*Note* How do I know all this? No, I don't have an amazing memory.  I have kept a paper log, sporadically, throughout this entire process.  It's nowhere near complete but I am happy for the information I did write down. It really helps to see where I've came from, in black and white. Not just as some abstract concept of "I was fat" but to know that my body fat % has come down from 40.2% to 26.3%!  As a goal-oriented person, it is so crucial for me to be able to quantify and measure my successes and know that I am winning!

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