Back in 2001, I graduated from college having developed some really terrible habits. I tended to study in some serious Danger Zones: places like Bakers Square, Denny's - you know, the open-all-night joints that will give you all the coffee you want and as long as they're not busy, you can stick around till you've finished your homework.
|This is a TERRIBLE picture of me, but a good example of where I was at. This is, I think, Summer 2000|
|Graduation (duh) May, 2001|
Once I found a job and passed the CPA exam, I stopped eating out as much (my time was taken up with more "normal" activity working in an office, not surrounded by food all the time.) I don't recall joining a gym or really exercising much, but I'd guess I dropped 10-15 pounds just from changing my daily routine.
Jason proposed about a year later. For various reasons, we wanted to have a long engagement - we had about two years to plan, prepare, and save up to pay for the party we wanted to throw. And, of course, to drop that excess weight.
I joined a gym and took a hard look at what I was eating, and how much. I set out to lose 1.5 lbs per week, and actually placed my weekly goal weights on my calendar at work. Again, I don't remember what weight I started out at, but I do remember that I was "predicting" that I would reach my goal weight (between 140 to 145) a few weeks before the wedding.
As I recall, a typical day's food intake went something like this:
Breakfast: protein bar (250 cal) or a fat-free yogurt (this in the days before the wonder that is Greek yogurt, which I eat all the time now and really love. I really didn't like the stuff at all - the old yogurt, that is)
Snack: none, but I was usually starving by lunch time so I would take lunch a bit earlier.
Lunch: Frozen entree, something like a Lean Cuisine or Michelina's (250-300 cal), or a protein bar and possibly some chips. I did try the Slim-Fast shakes, but those left me so hungry, that really didn't last long.
Dinner: this was a lot more flexible, as Jason was (and is) the main cook in the house. I was really rigid about keeping the portion sizes small and never, never, ever having a second helping.
I worked out several times a week. I paid $9.99 per month for a web site that would give me workout routines so that I had some direction when it came to strength training. (This in the days before the wonder that is the Smart Phone App, I received a daily email with my assignment for the night, very specific with pictures and descriptions of the exercises, # of reps, and how much weight to use. I would print that out and take it with me to the gym. I always felt a little conspicuous walking around with my paper and pen, taking notes about any variation I did on the fly, but it worked for me. It was actually a LOT like the app I use now.) I avoided the treadmill like it was a high school bully out to get me. Most of my cardio came on the elliptical and the StairMaster, though I did try out a few group classes now and then - I particularly liked the "Boot Camp" class, it really kicked my ass every time I did it. I did 5 minutes or so of stretching before and after every workout. I weighed myself weekly at the gym but didn't have a scale at home.
I started out at a small, locally-owned women-only gym. (It was not a chain, you've never heard of it, I really think it may have been one-of-a-kind.) Part of the gym's program was to take my measurements once a month - upper arm, thigh, calf, waist and hips. Jason worked on Saturdays then, and I stopped going out on Friday nights. Instead, I would hit the gym and then have a "cheat" meal afterward, but no booze and I hit the sack early. About a year in, I changed gyms. I moved to Gold's Gym, mainly because they had a tanning bed on-site (wedding tan, you know). I would "reward" myself with a tanning session after each workout. It was there that I learned that those big, bulky guys in the "free-weights" area and at the cable station were really nice, very helpful and super supportive! I really felt like I was walking into someone else's territory in the first few months, with my assigned workouts and my pen & paper, but eventually I learned to "own" it and started feeling like it was "my" area too.
WHAT I GOT RIGHT
- Exercise! Yes, I was working out 4 to 5 times a week. Cardio, check. Strength training, check!
- Food: meh. I was working with severe portion control, but it was enforced by eating packaged foods. Super high sodium, not really balanced, just eating as little as possible.
- Well, I DID lose the weight. Again, it was a really long time ago, so I don't remember what my weight was just before the wedding. but I can tell you this much: my dress was too big.
WHAT I GOT WRONG
- Food: yeah, thinking of all that packaged food now makes me feel a little sick. This is not the path to portion control. This is not a healthier relationship with food!
- Environment: I didn't really have much in the way of a support group - honestly I didn't know what I was missing. Jason was, of course, incredibly supportive as always.
- Goal: Here's where the biggest problem is, I think. My goal was inappropriate. I had a short-term vision for what has been a lifelong challenge. The goal was "to lose 1.5 pounds per week so that I look good in all those damn pictures, and maybe on the honeymoon too. Yeah, that would be good, I would like to look great on my honeymoon too." The RIGHT goal would have been something like this: "I want to be at a healthy weight so I live a long time with my new husband."
Despite the major flaws listed above, I DID lose the weight. I don't mind telling you, I looked damn fine on my wedding day. I'll venture a guess that I was as small as a size 10, something I hadn't seen since high school. Some of my favorite pics:
|Best. Picture. EVER. Taken. of me.|
|My mom's favorite. She says I look like royalty.|
Okay, this is partly an excuse to put up my favorite wedding pictures!
|Last one. From our honeymoon. What was I doing, wearing jeans in that weather? But wow, they look WAY too big.|
WHERE IT WENT OFF THE RAILS
I swear to god, I actually fell off the wagon at the wedding reception! Okay, maybe not quite that fast, but by the time we got back from the honeymoon I was up at least 10 pounds. Which really wasn't so bad, I mean I could have happily stayed at that weight damn near forever.
Of course we all know THAT didn't happen. Changes were ahead, and MANY of them for the better, but for my health / fitness... well, maybe not so much.