TITLE: Weight Loss 101
By Kim Sandstrom
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Are you over-plump, under-happy, fashion-deprived, and movement-impaired? Hope is on the way! Notice, I didn't say "help is on the way", I said "hope". That is because the real answer is to find hope for your own future, your own possibilities and to completely believe that it is never too late to become the healthy individual you were born to be.
Hope is found in the understanding that God has built Grace into our very being. If it were not so, when we gain and gain weight, we would be stuck there "forever" without "hope" of losing those pounds. There are self-imposed conditions in life, where Grace is harder to see, but nothing shows God's built-in Grace in our bodies than the ability to let the weight fall away from our body when we eat right and move more.
For me that meant at the age of 46, seeing myself for the first time like others saw me: whiny, complaining, negative about skinny people (I persecuted thin people by the way I talked about them), wincing in pain all the time, lethargic, sluggish. This was how I was and I was a mother to 6. I weighed 225 lbs. I was miserable. But then
I made a decision to lose weight and gain strength “by any healthy means necessary”.
At the end of one year, I had lost 90 pounds, put my arthritis into remission, and found new personal strength in my body and lifted my self-esteem. Where I once wore a size 22, I now wear a size 4-6. I used to fall from lack of balance and now I can run again. I was once afraid of being in front of the public, now I can speak out to help others.
Perhaps you will be inspired to begin that journey with me.
I learned and created my own bag of tricks that helped me live a healthier lifestyle. I think “learn” is an operative verb for our purposes because learning how to help your body and mind become healthy is a lifelong process for most of us in this over-fed, under-exercised world.
When I began my vision quest, I knew, like most of us, that fewer calories in, more calories burned, equaled weight loss. I knew that basically, we need less food than we think we do. I understood that we are a much more sedentary society than we think. A tape that played frequently in my mind, was “you are what you eat”. I knew that fruits, vegetables, lean meats and better oils were important. I knew that sugar just couldn’t be as good for you as it tasted. What I didn’t know was that potatoes, white rice, white flour were not as good for you as they tasted either. I didn’t know that if I went off of sugar for awhile, that even pecans would tasted like a candy bar! What I also didn’t know, until I did some historical research, was that mankind in early times, before we were an agrarian/farming society, lived and thrived on these basic foods: fruits and berries, vegetables, hunted meat and nuts and seeds. I discovered that there was a name for this diet and it is “The Paleolithic Diet”. When we became an agrarian society, harvesting grains and making flour and breads, scientists, medical researchers, anthropologists all began to see the advent of the big three diseases: cardio-vascular disease, diabetes and arthritis. As you may recall, I had suffered from arthritic disease since childhood. After I had lost about 25 pounds, and researched healthy diets, I concluded that this may be the diet that works best for me. What I also discovered was that nuts were one of the most underrated foods in the world. I read that even a half a cup a day of nuts, though caloric, was so healthy and filling that it would not cause a person to gain weight. I began to add nuts to almost all of my dishes; breakfast, lunch and dinner. But even beyond my food choices, was the understanding that I overate, and I don’t just mean by unconscious snacking. I overate at every single meal, every day. A revelation to me was understanding that my stomach, when empty, is the size of a fist. If you eat just enough to fill this fist-sized organ, you can be full. I try to remind myself of this. Good health is cumulative, taking place over time. Bad health is exactly the same. Your healthy lifestyle is not “broken” by a single unhealthy act every once in awhile, but by successive unhealthy acts done repeatedly. When you fall away from a healthy way of living and eating, in the words of a Soprano, “fuggetaboutit!”. Start anew, every day.
After becoming my own personal medical researcher on healthy eating, (hey, with the internet and magazines it is pretty inexpensive to be your own trainer!), I continued to work on the way I thought about myself and food and exercise. One of the first stands I took for myself was to walk into that gym and declare to the world (inside my own mind), that I belonged there as much as the next person, no, MORE than the next person. I claimed the gym as my own personal gym. Someone told me too, that if I was friendly and made friends there, I was more likely to come back, and so I did. I smiled, chatted, being mindful not to interrupt someone power lifting 250 pounds. But I was also careful to really get in a work out and not be overly social. For many, many months, I went to the gym nearly every day it was physically possible to be there. If I did not want to go, I put my gym shoes on and drove there anyway, telling myself, that even if I didn’t want to go in when I got there, I would still drive there. I always got out of the car and went inside. It was too silly not to. If I felt I didn’t have the energy to work out, I went in anyway, telling myself I would work out for “a little while”. Then I would push it out another 10 or 15 minutes and sometimes much longer.
I have been married for many years and I have discovered that there are at least four things that we don’t always feel up to doing, but when we do them, we always feel better for the effort: paying bills, going to church, being a lover to our spouse and working out. It hasn’t failed for me and I guarantee it will be true for you too.
Another trick to working out regularly is making a game of it. I have a great imagination when I exercise it. I would get on the treadmill or elliptical and tell myself that I was in training for a great sporting event, or the role of a lifetime in a movie or any number of scenarios. Let your imagination run wild! No one will know and it will keep you going! The people around you may think you are a little goofy for the silly smile on your face, but what the heck, “by any healthy means necessary!”.
Here’s another favorite tip of mine that works well with eating in restaurants. I love to go out to eat and so does my family. When I go out, I frequently will order and ask the server to cut my portion in half in the kitchen and put it in a to-go box. I also request that they bring me my to-go box at the end of my meal. This works for so many reasons. The first is that we are served an entirely exhorbitant amount of food when we eat out. We are super-sized to our physical destruction. We need half of what is served, if that. When I take my box home, I may or may not eat it. Many times I simply forget about it. By doing this, you are at least afforded time to think about how much you need, you are not necessarily depriving yourself and you are not wasting it if you can eat it at another meal or give it to a family member.
This all brings me to one of my hardest points to make: we are not wasting food if we don’t eat everything on our plate. I am 50 and I was brought up that you eat everything on your plate. This has been true for quite a few generations and in places where families farmed and walked everywhere, this was not a bad thing to say. But our lifestyles are vastly different now. Eating everything on our plates is disfiguring us and killing us. What is the harm in throwing food away? The harm is in eating it all. I honestly have to tell myself that ultimately it is not wasted because at some point this biodegradable substance, known as food, is absorbed into our atmosphere. The true waste of food is when it is deposited on a body that does not need it. Throw, throw, throw it away or give it away. My daughter-in-law recently said that if it would make us feel better, then we could, for every meal we don’t completely eat, think of the money involved and donate that much to Feed the Children or another like organization. I thought it was a helpful point.
About food choices, there are several power foods that simply do wonderful things for you: blueberries, almonds, olive oil, salmon and broccoli. Put them altogether sometime! It is delightful!
Concerning movement, start slow, increase a little bit every day. At a certain point, when you have achieved fitness goals, shake it up by doing something different and new and don’t be afraid of a challenge. You know you are working when you break a sweat. Give yourself little challenges along the way just to keep you pushing a little harder. Those challenges might include going one minute longer, three repetitions longer, adding an extra workout a week until you make your goal.
The most important tip I want to leave you with this issue is to think about what it means to be an adult. When I gave seminars in Beginning Weight Loss 101, the part of my program that got the most response was this: we grow up to the adult responsibility of paying our bills, holding our tongue, cleaning our home and taking care of our yards.We don't break the law, we pay our taxes and so forth. We take care of our spiritual needs by going to our house of worship, by praying and reading inspirational material. We are good to our parents, raise our children the best way we can, but we do not behave as adults when it comes to our health and our bodies. We behave like children. For some of us, this is the last part of our personality to mature. Some never do. We want what we want when we want it. We are "King or Queen Baby"! We won't defer pleasure for a more appropriate time and place or occasion. Eating large fries in the car really isn't true eating pleasure. Melted malt balls on our face and pillow isn't attractive! People have come to me and shared that this was the most significant "food for thought" for them and helped them become responsible for their health. Of course, pleasure eating has a time and place and it will not hurt you on occasion. It is time to grow up.
Frankly dear friends, it is time for me to go to the gym today. I don’t feel like it. I am a little creaky today, a little cranky, but I know, that I know, that I know, I will move better, feel better and sleep better because I have moved my body. I hope you are inspired to get back on the optimum health wagon once again. Let me know how you are doing. I would love to hear from you. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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