How I lost 20 pounds and kept it off
First of all, I’m not a health and diet expert. So you won’t see me writing about calorie counting or doing any kind of exercise regimen. I’ve shed off 20 pounds and I have managed to keep it off, for about a year now. And since it’s the start of a new year and I know that there are people who make New Year’s resolutions and I also know that “to lose weight” is most likely to be on that list, I thought I’d share with you how I lost weight. Maybe it will give some hope and inspiration to those who, like me in the past, has been unsuccessful, no matter how I cut my portions at dinner, cut back on softdrinks (soda, pop), and did a half-hour walking.
How did I gain the weight?
In 2001, I started working at home. My three boys were then ages 3, 7 and 11. My youngest son was in daycare and the high fees were putting a big strain on our budget. When the company I work for offered the work-at-home program, I immediately grabbed it. I pulled my son out of daycare and looked after him at home while I worked. This opportunity also gave me a chance to spend more time with my growing kids. We got to sit down together at breakfast before they went to school, and I was also at home when they came back from school. Oh, how I loved working at home. I didn’t have to rush in the morning, or the kids for that matter. Less stress. I also didn’t have to dress up. It was so comfortable. So comfortable that I took my time at breakfast, took long lunches, munched on snacks – potato chips, M&Ms, candies – I have a sweet tooth, you see.
I didn’t gain the weight right away. It happened gradually. I didn’t notice anything until after about three or four years. My usual attire at home was just a plain T-shirt and my elasticized pants. So I didn’t really notice the expanding waistline. What I noticed was that I would sometimes pant when I went up and down the stairs when I did the laundry. Or when I had to walk for more than 10 minutes. Well, once in a while I did have to get dressed up when we were invited to birthday parties, and then I would notice that most of my decent clothes won’t fit me anymore and I’d have to buy a new blouse or new pants. And then I’d see myself in the pictures and I’d see the double chin or the big derriere, or the love handles (flabby mid-section). No wonder my youngest son would ask me if I was gonna have another baby. At first I thought that he wanted a baby sister or a baby brother. And then he would sometimes call me fat and I realized then it was because of my big tummy. I looked pregnant to him. And when I saw that picture where I looked like I have two sets of boobs, that was kind of depressing
So I started to do something about it. First, I stopped drinking softdrinks. There was a time when I’d drink a glass of Coke at lunch, at snack time and then at supper. I remember Dr. Phil saying on his show that in order to stop eating or drinking something that you want to avoid is to stop buying it. Well, I didn’t actually stop buying them. I would buy just one or two 2-liter bottles per week. For the kids, I would say.
The famous doctor also showed the viewers how to eat a balanced meal. Imagine that your plate is divided in four parts. You put your starch (rice or potatoes) on one quarter of your plate, your meat on another quarter and your veggies and fruit on the rest of the plate.
I also heard somewhere that if you want to cut down on your portions, use a smaller plate. So I did that, too. I started using a smaller plate, 8 1/2 inches, instead of the bigger 10 inches. If I still felt hungry after finishing the food on my plate, then I’d just eat another fruit.
I also realized that being cooped up in the house everyday could be a contributing factor to the weight gain. I knew I needed to get more active. Get out there. I thought of going to back to the office so I could get out everyday. But I loved working at home so much. I got to work and stay at home at the same time. And I just loved being there for the kids. I decided to stay at home but resolved to do something to get my butt off my chair for a few minutes or so a day. So I thought I’d walk for half an hour everyday. I did walk, but not everyday. There was work to do and I didn’t always have the extra time. I also volunteered at my son’s school as a school patrol. That did get me out of the house. Patrolling didn’t really give me a chance to do a lot of walking. But getting out of the house did some good. I wasn’t as sluggish as before. And it made me a bit energetic. So even though I didn’t lose weight, I felt better. No more panting or getting out of breath. And I was happy about that. I’ve learned to accept that maybe I’d be stuck at the size that I was.
The turning point.
Late in 2007, I got recalled back to the office. I had a feeling that it was going to happen. But I was still kinda taken aback. I had mixed feelings about it. I knew I was going to miss working at home. Being there most of the time for the kids. But at the same time I was also excited and looked forward to the changes that would happen. Going through all that morning rush, getting dressed up, trying to catch the bus, literally rubbing elbows with people going to work and interacting with people at the office. I also took a second job at around the same time that I went back to the office. All of these changes that were happening – the sudden activity of getting my butt out of the house everyday and also my second job required a lot of standing and walking, I slowly shed off some pounds. Besides I wasn’t munching on my usual snacks of these.
Yes, I realized then that even though I was cutting back on my portions at lunch and dinner, I hadn’t given up on chocolates, candies and potato chips. Lots of sugar and salt and hydrogenated fat. That was the reason I couldn’t lose the weight.
I developed these bad habits when I was working at home. I was mostly alone at home and I didn’t have to worry about anybody seeing me in a bad posture, for instance. I would sometimes have my feet up on my chair while typing on the computer. Watching TV while working. Bet you can’t do that in any other workplace. And of course, having food in front of me, munching all day long. Hence the weight gain. But when I went back to the office, I had to give up all these bad habits. I didn’t want my co-workers to see me with my feet up on my chair, or munching on junk food while I work. I observed proper work behaviour at all times.
Now, I’m not saying that working at home was bad. No, please don’t get me wrong. It had been a really good experience for me. I wouldn’t trade those six years for anything in the world. I had the time of my life. There were just some things that I did not handle right. Looking back, I think I should have given more thought on time management. I guess I was trying too hard to be a super mom, or a super woman. I thought then that since I was at home, I would be able to do everything. Like do my work and also the house chores and still tend to the kids. Or like when I realized that I should be getting out of the house for a few minutes a day, I should have been more disciplined in that matter. Maybe I should have set aside a specific time of the day instead of getting distracted by the TV or the internet (blogging). :)
Getting recalled back to the office was the saving grace for me. I guess I was in denial at that time. I think I knew deep inside that I wasn’t happy at home anymore. The kids were getting older and they didn’t need me that much. Also, I was getting bored with the daily routine. I was just scared of the prospect of change. But you know, change is good.
In regards to losing weight, or kicking out any bad habit for that matter, I have to agree with Dr. Phil, that we sometimes have to make significant changes in order to be successful. You have to change your environment or substitute a bad habit with a new one. Like for example, I wanted to stop drinking softdrinks. I replaced it with juice and milk. I have never been a milk drinker, but I realized that I am in my forties now and I need calcium for my aging bones anyway. So why not start drinking milk now? I just hope it’s not too late. I also always have a bottle of water beside my desk.
Last summer, I bumped into friends who I haven’t seen in about six months or so. Some of them noticed my weight right away. “You lost weight!” “You look good!” “Gumanda ka nung pumayat ka” (You look prettier now that you’re thinner.) I’m sure she didn’t mean that I looked ugly when I had some extra weight on me. :) But these comments were all very flattering even if they came from my girl friends.
Some has asked me how I lost the weight. And sometimes I would just give a quick response that it was because I was working out of the house now. It was the mobility.
So just to summarize, here’s a list of the things that made me lose the pounds and help me keep them off. I hope these simple tips will also help anybody who wants to lose weight.
1. Give up the softdrinks. Please people, if you have to go cold turkey, please do. It doesn’t mean that you have to give it up forever, just at least during the first few months that you are trying to lose the weight. I, myself, have never given it up completely. I still drink Coke but only on special occasions. And when I do, I actually find it quite strong for me.
2. Stop snacking on potato chips, candies or chocolates. Also go cold turkey if you have to. Replace it with fruits or veggies like carrot sticks or celery sticks, or my favourites – grapes or orange slices. Or chew a gum if you feel the urge to munch on something. Like the softdrinks, you don’t have to give it up forever. I would still eat a chocolate bar every now and then, but not every day. :)
3. Use a smaller plate for meals. And distribute your food like this:
4. Use the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator.
5. Take the bus to work.
6. When you take your car to go shopping, don’t park too close to the entrance. A little walk will do you good.
7. Take a walk at lunch time. If you don’t have time to do a 30-minute walk today, 15 minutes will do. Not only will it re-energize your body, but also your mind, especially if you’re having a bad day at work.
8. Before you go to a party or any handaan, eat a little snack at home. It might not make sense to you. Why eat at home when you’re going to a party where you will eat anyway? Well, it’s just to curb a huge appetite. If you’d had a little something before you left home, you won’t have the urge to fill up your plate with a mountainful of food.
9. If you don’t work, let’s say you’re a stay-at-home mom, and you think that you might also need to lose some weight, but can’t find the time to go to the gym or do some exercise. Maybe you can make arrangements with other stay-at-home moms that you know. Maybe you can take turns looking after each other’s kids and then you can go to the gym, or take a half hour walk. Or maybe find a part-time job or do some volunteer work. Just a few suggestions.
10. Have a specific and realistic goal. Don’t say that you want to lose 20 pounds right away. “I want to lose 10 pounds in two months” is a more realistic goal. Last summer, I was glad that I was able to finally wear this pink blouse that I wore on my 40th birthday. You see, I only wore that pink blouse a couple of times. The following summer, it won’t fit me anymore. And it is one of my favourites because I like the colour and the style. Now that it finally fits me again, I dread gaining weight again. So that’s sort of a motivating factor for me. To stay in this size that I am right now.
Disclaimer. This account is not intended to substitute or replace any medical or professional advice. Please consult your physician before you try to lose weight especially if you have a medical condition.