Early last year, I wrote a few posts about monthly goals. Each of those posts had one goal in common: to get healthier. A large part of that goal, although unspoken, was to lose weight. My weight had crept up over the last several years and it was continuing to do so. I was beginning to worry that my various levels (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) were going unhealthily high in parallel. I hadn’t had any of the levels checked, except blood pressure, and although my blood pressure usually came out exactly at 120/80, there were a few readings that were significantly higher. I usually wrote these off as being due to stress, but I did begin to wonder if it was starting to go high for real. And I didn’t even want to think about what the other levels were doing. To be honest, my diet was not great (basically I ate what I wanted and however much I wanted) and my exercise was inconsistent.
Like so many others who resolve to lose weight, I didn’t make much progress. In fact, I gave up on the monthly goals because I wasn’t getting anywhere. I was still trying to lose weight (at least in theory) and be healthier, but I didn’t speak of it, because then I had to admit I wasn’t succeeding in my goal. The problem for me was, there is always tomorrow. I can eat this incredibly calorie-rich meal tonight and do better tomorrow. I can give in to the excuse for not exercising today, and get back to it tomorrow. Well, as we all know, tomorrow never comes. And so it didn’t.
I went on like this month after month. Jim and I made a point to cook healthier, light meals and we felt like we were going a good job, but we’d get bored with our recipes or be too tired to plan/cook a meal and we’d order in or go out. We’d also eat as much as we wanted. Long story short, both of us would lose a few pounds, only to put them back on, over and over again.
Last fall, when we scheduled our trip to Hawaii for this March, I was so excited, but I also remembered how self-conscious I felt taking the kids to the pool last summer. While we’re not planning on lying on the beach the entire trip, many of our plans do involve being in the water and therefore wearing swim suits. I didn’t want to spend this trip that should be so wonderful and so memorable, feeling exposed and insecure. I started to get motivated to make some real changes. I had 5 months to do it before the trip and a lifetime after that to keep it up.
One big challenge for me has always been meal planning and portion control. I always joked that if I had a personal chef, I’d be golden. For someone like me, who doesn’t have the budget for a personal chef, diet plans that include meals may be the closest thing. I had thought about going that route many times over the years, but I had a few reservations that always stopped me. One was due to the fact that prepared foods are laden with preservatives and sodium, but perhaps the biggest one was that I feared that if you didn’t prepare your own foods along the way, you wouldn’t learn how to eat healthily and therefore as soon as you went off the diet foods, you’d go back to your old habits and regain all the weight and be back to your old problem.
I also felt like I should be able to do this on my own. I have many friends who have just decided to make healthy changes and have persevered to success (or ongoing progress, which is my book is success). Shouldn’t I be able to do it, too? Where’s my will power? Was doing a meal plan diet cheating?
And then I “got real” with myself and realized that all these concerns were standing in my way. What I needed to do was chart a course for myself and deal with all these worries if/when they came up. For instance, it didn’t make much sense to worry about putting the weight back on and going back to unhealthy habits until I’d lost the weight in the first place. As for the processed food concerns, I still didn’t like it, but it was just a step along the way to success. I would cut those out once I got on down the road. I began to think of this as just another step to the process. A step I obviously needed to get started.
But I also knew that I needed Jim’s support to make this happen. There was no way I was going to eat frozen meals for several months while I was either making, or watching him make, tempting meals for the rest of the family. I needed a weight-loss buddy. I knew how Jim felt about processed food diets (he preferred diet plans with menus you make yourself), but I also knew he too wanted to lose weight. And more than that, I knew he is my biggest cheerleader and supporter. So I made my case and I asked him to join me. He agreed.
Together we checked out diet plans online and last November, about a week before Thanksgiving, we settled on Jenny Craig, with the condition that we didn’t have to have a consultant checking on us. For both of us, that was a deal breaker. We were supporting each other; we didn’t want a stranger calling and asking us how well we were doing. The company agreed to send us the materials and the food without having a consultant contact us regularly. We each received an e-mail informing us who our consultant was in case we needed her, but for the most part they let us do our thing.
Of course, we still had to cook for the girls, but their tastes are much simpler than ours (so it was easy to cook healthy things they liked) and we were eating the same meals as each other, so neither of us minded we were eating “diet” foods.
We were surprised at how good most of the foods are. In the beginning, we were overjoyed and surprised at how fast the weight fell off. We added in a little exercise, but at first, we really didn’t change our habits much, just what we were eating. But I’ll tell you the biggest thing we learned was about portions. We thought we knew what a portion looked like, but man, were we wrong. We also learned that our bodies don’t need nearly as much food as we were giving them. We didn’t go hungry at all, but we ate a whole lot less than we had been.
Since we’ve become aware of what our portions should look like and how many calories our meals should contain, we have also learned how to eat out at restaurants and how to indulge in desserts without eating the whole mega-serving.
As of this week, Jim has lost more than 35 pounds and I have lost 21 pounds. Jim also had all of his levels checked recently and they were all great. I still need to do this, but we are confident we are on the right track. We are starting to work our way off the Jenny Craig foods (we still have a lot of food in the freezer, but we have started substituting a home cooked meal in place of a JC meal each day, for variety) and are adding in other parts of being healthier, like more consistent exercise.
One of the biggest surprises for me is that I’m now shopping in my own closet. I saved clothes I had outgrown in hopes I’d someday be able to wear them again. Much to my delight I have recently discovered that I now fit into all of them from shorts to tops to beloved dresses, and I feel like I look good in them. I even wore a shirt tucked in yesterday for the first time in about 10 years. Two friends commented on how good I looked, which made my day.
Jim has lost all the weight he needs to. He’s working on keeping it off and adding more exercise. I still have a little more weight to lose (probably about 5 to 10 more pounds), but we’re making progress, taking it all in steps. Hopefully all of these steps will add up to healthier people. My next goal is to be able to run a 5K (whether or not I actually run a race). Just to say I can.🙂
[Image credit: Yahoo Images]