(This is part 2 of my weight loss series. Read part 1 here)
As I touched on in my introductory blog, I utilized medications to help with my weight loss. However, medications were not solely responsible for my weight loss which is why I need to discuss these key foundational pieces that aided in my success. I needed to make some major life changes and this was how I did it. The part 3 blog will discuss the medications I took and how they affected me but please remember that a medication alone is not the answer.
I always found that long term goals were very difficult to accomplish for myself. This is because I am an instant gratification type of person but I also understand that things take time. So yes, I did (and still do) have a longterm goal in mind but I also know that there are smaller steps I need to take in order to be successful in getting closer to my longterm goals. With that being said, I am going to discuss the mini goals I set for myself in order to become successful in my weight loss journey.
But first, I need to discuss the problems I was facing to better understand how these mini goals became my resolution to the problems I was having.
Problem: I drink too much soda and not nearly enough water. I need to stop drinking soda completely.
Goal: Eliminate soda intake and increase water intake.
Solution: I found it easier to keep track of my water intake by using regular 16.9oz water bottles than I did with larger sized bottles. In the morning with my breakfast, I would drink one bottle of water. On my way into work (a 15 minute commute), I drank another one. I would fill up my water when I get to work and consume one water bottle in the morning. I would have one more on lunch break and another one in the afternoon and/or before I arrived home. In this scenario, I increased my water just from the hours of 8am-5pm to 84.5 ounces! And if I had 2 bottles of water between the time of when I got home from work until I went to bed, that was almost a gallon of water! I felt it easier to do it this way when I set up this mini goal by saying “okay, finish this bottle before I leave the house, this one on the way to work, this one before lunch, this one during lunch and this one before I get home.” By doing it this way, I was more aware of how much I was drinking and with all of the water consumption, it COMPLETELY deterred me from soda. Problem solved.
Problem: I’m too sedentary and I don’t exercise enough.
Goal: Exercise at least 30 minutes daily.
Solution: I was able to acknowledge that I was being 90% sedentary at work and I knew I had to be diligent in moving more. It comes down to the basics of burning more than what you consume so I put in some serious effort to burn off those extra calories. But what assisted in making me more aware of how much movement I was (or wasn’t) doing, was my Apple Watch. If you don’t have an Apple Watch or a similar device, I HIGHLY recommend it in order to keep track of your movements. It records so much data and has been an incredible tool in keeping my activity level up to par. Being able to see the data in black and white was incredibly helpful to understand where I was at activity wise plus it also shows you how your exercise abilities are changing which is exciting to see that the hard work you are putting in is paying off.
For exercise, I started out by walking on my lunch break by first going a 1/2 mile and then as time went on and the more in shape I got, I was able to walk an entire mile on my lunch break. I never thought that I would be that one to EVER walk a mile on my lunch break but here we are. Also, after dinner, my boyfriend and I would go for walks. We would walk for 2-3 miles just around the neighborhoods and exploring new things. I started noticing that I wasn’t being challenged anymore with walking so I wanted to try jogging to get my heart rate up a little bit higher than walking so I pushed myself to jog a 1/4 mile, then a 1/2 mile, then an ENTIRE mile! This was a huge milestone for me as I have never jogged a mile in my life.
My boyfriend and I loved to explore new things so we made it a point to try new scenery for our walks, explore hiking trails and we even climbed a mountain! Here’s a proof of that because I was SO proud of myself for hiking up that mountain. It was for sure challenging and really tested my physical ability at that time but we did it… we climbed a mountain. And mind you, I was down only 40lbs at this point. Also, take a look at how many calories I burned on that hike!
Problem: I eat too much. I don’t know when to stop.
Goal: Stop eating when I am full . Monitor portion control.
Solution: In the morning, I always kept it very simple and easy. Peanut butter toast and milk – that was it; and surprisingly, this kept me full until lunch. Lunch usually consisted of a sandwich either ham or turkey and a small 100 calorie bag of Smartfood. It was enough to where I felt satisfied but not starving. Dinner was always an interesting time because I was cooking for my boyfriend who was not on a diet as I was so it was probably the most difficult to watch myself at dinner because it took a lot of self-control to not go for second helpings. But when I was done, I went for my walk so keeping myself occupied helped to keep my mind off of food. I also love chocolate so as a way to help satiate myself, I would have two Hershey Kisses in order to get my chocolate fix without the guilt or the over indulgence. I didn’t want to deprive myself so I settled for self-control.
Problem: I don’t keep track of the things I am eating therefore I don’t know exactly how much I truly am consuming.
Goal: Utilize food diaries daily.
Solution: Using a food diary app like myfitnesspal was incredibly helpful in keeping track of what I had eaten. It counts calories, can determine the macronutrients of the foods you are eating (you can read about what macronutrients are and why they are important here), post progress pictures and interact with a community that is on a dietary journey as well. It really does set you up to be successful and accountable in your eating habits. It can also link to your Apple Watch so it even takes into account the amount of calories you have burned from your activities. I can’t speak highly enough of this app as it is truly an amazing tool to have.
Problem: It’s going to be too hard to get to my desired weight.
Goal: Set realistic weight goals.
Solution: When I first weighed in with my doctor at 302lbs, my first longterm goal was to be back at a weight that I was at in my early 20’s… 220lbs so an interim goal of losing 82lbs. This was not my ultimate goal but it was a goal that I knew I could probably accomplish eventually. So even though I had that goal, I needed to have smaller goals along the way in order to be me motivated especially when I reached those small milestone goals. In the beginning, I knew that the weight would come off fairly fast however, I still needed to set small weight goals for myself to inch closer to my first longterm weight loss goal. I was seeing my doctor on an every three week basis so I always tried to aim for around 8lbs in those three weeks. I didn’t want to be too overzealous because I didn’t want to disappoint myself which would cause me to lose my motivation again. I realized that if I hit that 8lb weight loss before I saw my doctor, I knew that every ounce loss from then on was an extra bonus which made me feel more proud and accomplished. Continuously, week after week, I was reaching my goals. I did eventually plateau and am stuck at my current weight but I don’t consider it a failure, just an endeavor I need to work harder at completing.
Setting these mini goals for myself helped to keep me going. It forced me to push myself harder, to see how much further I could get. Also, by setting these goals, I satisfied my need for gratification by actually being able to say “I did it”. Maintaining the motivation throughout this journey has been very challenging for me and I am sure others struggle with it too but the end result is so worth it. And always remember that one off day does not mean that you have failed completely. Tomorrow is a new a day! A new day to start over, to retry where you may have not done so well yesterday. So find out the reason why you didn’t do well in order to come up with the solution to not do it again.
Please follow along in my series and stay tuned for the next blog which will discuss the medications that I used to aide in my weight loss!