Is it just me, or do other people also have a harder time eating well when it gets cold? I may be one of the few people on the planet who actually adores that upcoming holiday fruitcake. But, I am at a point in my life where losing weight is not a matter of looking cute in a mini-skirt – it’s a matter of being able to sleep better at night and stay awake during the day, and doing all I can to relieve joint pain. It’s a fight I’m determined to win this time.
Television ads pitch a myriad of “no fuss, no muss” diets. You don’t have to give up a thing or do anything special – except, well, buy their product. Okay, I confess – I did try that stuff you sprinkle on your food and some other “natural” capsule. I was feeling desperate. However, they only work, I fear, if you eat them and nothing else. Unfortunately, neither of them helped me crave salad or overcome the urge to eat a container of ice cream at one sitting. Before I go much further, I should warn you that there is nothing new under the sun in terms of the diet and exercise part of losing weight. You still have to eat better and exercise more – that will never go away – but there are some new things that can help motivate you.
For most of my life, I have been defiant around losing weight. You can’t tell ME how to eat! Write it down? I don’t owe anyone any explanation of what I eat!! Well, for the first time in my life, I have surrendered to the concept of tracking my food. I finally got to the place where I can accept that this is not the state police telling me that I’m bad but, rather, that I am being mindful of what I consume. I am still in control and still making choices that work for me, but boy, oh boy – some of the calorie counts are shocking!
I don’t give up the first time I can’t figure out exactly how to track the food any more, either (that was always a good excuse in the past to sabotage my efforts and return to my old habits). I just make the best estimate I can. Every single day, I eat something sweet because I love sweets and would feel terribly deprived if I didn’t plan that into my eating. I pay for a plan, because that motivates me to get my money’s worth. And, I bought a smart phone so I could do my food tracking without the excuse of not being near a computer.
They say if you do something for 30 days that it becomes a habit. I’ve been tracking my food for five months now and have lost 32 pounds. Now, I know this is not a dramatic weight loss, but slow and steady wins a long-distance race, and weight loss is certainly a long-term commitment. And, for the first time in my life, I feel like I can keep this up for the long haul, mostly because I am feeling so many wonderful physical changes. Weight gain is so sneaky that you don’t even notice that it’s happening – you just keep living with the discomfort because you’re not being mindful.
One of the greatest things that has happened to me is less pain. There are a few reasons why pain is alleviated when you lose weight. One is that you are simply hauling around fewer pounds and there is less stress on your joints and muscles. The other is that when you eat a high carbohydrate diet – lots of bread, pasta, and sweets – those carbs can create inflammation in your tissues. That inflammation can affect the joints, so you have not only the mechanical stress of carrying more weight around, but you have these inflammatory substances in your blood creating pain inside the joint, as well. Other inflammatory agents affect the lining of the blood vessels – this is what can cause heart attacks and strokes. Even the lungs, believe it or not, are affected by these inflammatory substances – if you have any asthma or reactive airway disease, a high carbohydrate diet is making it worse.
If you are going to lose weight, you have to eat fewer and more nutritious carbohydrates. The great thing about lowering your carbs is that you get the weight loss AND the added benefits of less joint pain, risk of heart attack and stroke, and fewer asthma symptoms. The interesting thing is that many overweight/obese people complain of chest tightness without really having asthma. If you’re one of them, see what happens when you cut down on the carbs.
So, how will you know what to eat? How much to exercise?? How you are doing with your efforts??? There are many programs available now – there are even apps that you can download on your smart phone or computer. If you think you’ll be more motivated by paying for a plan, try Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig. If you don’t want to pay for a plan, there are many programs out there that allow you to track your food and exercise for free. There are even some programs that pay you for losing weight! Betting to see who can lose the most weight among groups and individuals can have a positive effect. A few scientific studies have found that this is a very good way to help people be successful in their weight loss efforts.
Some free online weight loss websites which offer everything from calorie counters, weight loss journals, healthy recipes, support and more include www.sparkpeople.com, www.myfitnesspal.com, and www.fitday.com. To help you determine and set your goals (and then keep them), visit www.stickk.com, which helps you make any type of behavioral change. If you are not ready today, these things will be available when you decide to start “counting down” the pounds and increasing the joy you experience at feeling better! Good luck!!