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Lose Weight and Keep it Off
Some people are born naturally thin with the ability to eat whatever they want without ever gaining weight. I am not one of them. I am also not someone with a lot of time to exercise. But I love carbohydrates and almost all foods that are bad for me. This combination led me to a 35 lb. weight gain through my late 40’s. There is also a hormone component involved, but that is natural and something we as women have to accept. What we don’t have to accept is the idea that there is nothing we can do about the weight or how we look. I want to share with you some behavior and food modifications that will promote successful weight loss for women of all ages. There is nothing to buy and no charge. Just make a change for the better and be a happier healthier you.
I used to tell myself that I didn’t look that bad, or that my jeans must have shrunk in the wash. I would wear baggy shirts to hide the middle (stomach, waist) weight that I had put on. But it wasn’t my fault, its age, genetics, stress, lack of sleep, and so on. You get the idea. I told myself any and every excuse as to why it was not my fault and I couldn’t lose weight. Obviously, I was in denial. I was also very unhappy which led me to eat even more. Eating brought a sense of satisfaction. You could even say euphoria. I got happy when I ate. Then upset because I ate too much. I had a very unhealthy attitude/relationship towards food. I realized one day that not only was I unhappy with myself, but I was instilling the same food (addiction) brings happiness behavior in my teenager. That plus a bad habit of desert every night indulged by her father caused her to put on pounds as well. I realized what was happening, but without crushing her self-esteem, I was at a loss as to how to help her. Don’t get me wrong, she was and always will be beautiful, no matter what size she is. She is very athletic and active. I just wanted her to be healthier. I knew I had to make changes for myself, but my daughter was my priority. I did not want her to be unhappy/unhealthy all her life or have people make fun (ridicule) her for being not as thin as they were. Girls can be cruel, and I had seen firsthand how devastating this can be. I also knew she had to want to make a change, just like I had to.
It wasn’t until my daughter went to the doctor and he mentioned her weight being a little high that we both realized we had to make some changes. I told her I would do whatever it took to help her. We could go on a diet (I don’t like this word) together. I would support her in any and every way. She asked what we could do, and I told her we would sign up for Weight Watchers (now WW).
I have had very good success with WW over the years. I had successfully taken of 25 of the 35 pounds a few years ago, but then sunk back into poor eating habits. I know that a modified form of the plan works for me. Could it work for both of us? Is there a way for people to successfully lose weight with the same weight loss program at almost any age? My daughter and I went straight home from the Dr.’s office and signed up for WW online plans. Then it was off to the grocery store for food. Armed with our phones, the WW ap scanners, and some recipe’s, we bought “healthy” WW friendly foods. When we got back home, it was time to devise a plan.
WW now has 3 plans (which I will review in another post), but there was only one program when we started. Food is all assigned a point value. This value is primarily based on portion size, calories, sugar content, amount of carbohydrates, and protein content. Foods that are high in carbohydrate and calories tend to be higher in points than those with less carbohydrates and higher protein. There is more to the point assignment than this, but their system is proprietary, so I am just giving you a general idea. Carbohydrates break down into simple sugars, and are good in moderation, but can really pack on pounds if you consume too many. There were a lot of “free” zero-point foods, including lean protein (chicken breast, etc.), fruits and vegetables (in solid form). Smoothies increased in points because there was no sensation of eating, only drinking. We were each allowed 23 points a day. The point allowance is the same for men or women at any age. We were also allotted an extra 37 points for the week and if we ran over our daily totals, we could draw from that. Adding exercise allowed you to earn points as well. It might seem like a lot to take in, but the online ap makes it easy to track all the food you eat and any exercise you do. All you need to worry about is eating food that will fill you up but not be too many points.
Ok, it is not that easy. At first, we starved. It was difficult. And that is an understatement. The program is very “easy” to use, but it still takes good old-fashioned willpower and good choices to succeed. I was shocked at how much snacking I did, and how many points the things I ate out of boredom totaled up to in points. I saw right away that my favorite foods were no good for me. I “knew” this already. I had done this before. But I had fooled myself with the comfort of my favorite foods. What are the foods I love that I can’t eat? Probably some of the same for most people. Carbohydrates, in almost any form, sugar, and cheese. I am crying inside as I write this. I could exist on those three things alone, and I can’t eat them in anything other than very small amounts if I want to lose weight and successfully keep it off. Actually, I had to make the decision to cut them out altogether after the first week because I was using too many points and not going anywhere weight-wise. Mad also came to the same conclusion, and this is when we made the modifications to WW that made it a successful program for us.
The lessons we learned included carbohydrate, sugar, and cheese (diet killers) are not our friends. Using the full number of daily points will not promote weight loss, especially if you choose the previously three mentioned items. Exercise in mandatory, not to add points, but to burn calories. The most important lesson we learned is that “free” foods are not free! If you eat too much of anything, it is simply too much. So, we tracked our food (this is key), we cut out as much of the three diet killers as possible, and we started walking or some other form of exercise 3 or more days a week. We also found a food we loved and could fit into our plan that didn’t cost too many points. A secret weapon food, also known as a quarter (or half a half) turkey sub. We also discovered a couple things that are WW friendly guilty pleasure foods. We used these to reward ourselves for sticking to the program. Mine was frozen fruit (free) and Mad’s was WW brand chocolate mug cake (3-4 points). Because Mad is younger than me, and more active, she was also allowed a few more of the diet killers than I was. This is for her health. And that always comes first. As a scientist I am first and foremost concerned with creating and maintaining a healthy weight loss program. Fortunately for me, WW has a great one that we could modify to suit our needs.
Did you know you can buy WW food. This is food you can buy online from WW or select items at meetings if you attend them. They have quite a few good tasting low point items and add more all the time. There are desserts as I already mentioned, protein bars (delicious), pancakes, muffins, chips, and more. They are a little pricey, but we would stock up whenever they had a sale. I have a pantry full of all sorts of WW foods that I can reach for whenever I want a snack, and I don’t have to feel guilty. We have incorporated several of these items into our daily menus and they remain there today. WW Pancakes and muffins make great breakfasts for busy women : )
Having someone to go through the struggles and triumphs with you is important. Someone to push you to exercise or stop you from giving up. We are fortunate to not only have each other, but a group of friends who supported us as well. We thank them for their love and support. If you are going to diet, find a support system! WW also has a great online social network. Connect with them or contact us here at MadandMom.com or our Facebook and Instagram pages. We are happy to motivate and encourage you! Take some before photos for motivation. Weigh in only once a week so you don’t become focused on the scale and move. That is so important I want to say it over and over. Exercise, move, exercise, move. This will help burn calories and the more you do the better you will feel. Exercise releases “feel good” hormones called endorphins. You will love the way you feel after a good day of healthier food choices and a walk!
Were we successful? A resounding yes! Mad lost 30 lbs., 4 sizes, and many inches. Her before and after pics are inspiring. I lost all of the weight I gained plus 15 more. We did this in 5 months! Yes, 5 months. Actually, probably a little less. Have we kept it off? Again, a resounding yes! We have started to allow a little more of the killer foods back into our food choices, but we know that this is a lifestyle change and moderation is necessary. We did go up and down a couple pounds at this point as we determined what it took to maintain the weight loss. We did not cut anything out entirely. Unless there is a medical reason to remove something from your daily diet permanently, you set yourself up for failure when you say never. Never say never! The only “guaranteed” way to lose and keep weight off is to find a way to moderate food choices, increase exercise, and control portion sizes (MEP). I’m sure you know this already, we certainly did, but until you truly commit yourself to those behaviors, successful maintained weight loss will elude you.
As I mentioned, this article is about providing tips and information on how to successfully lose weight regardless of age. Just joining WW, Jenny Craig, or similar weight loss program alone is not going to work. They help keep you “honest” or on track, but first you must change your mindset. There are surgical options available to some who are acceptable candidates. There is absolutely nothing wrong with going this route if needed. Please consult your doctor as I am not providing any advice regarding these procedures. No weight management program can be successful and sustainable without MEC. In the end, those three things are the key to permanent weight loss.
These are the points we want to share with you on how to successfully lose weight and keep it off:
- Find a weight management program that will suit your lifestyle. I highly recommend WW, as we are proof that it works. Don’t choose something so extreme there is no way to stick to it!
- Find a support system or person of some kind. This can be online groups, someone to text, or contact us at MadandMom.com or our social media accounts!
- Devise a realistic exercise plan. Start small and add time and intensity as you gain strength.
- Get a journal or notebook, nothing fancy necessary and write it all out: menus, exercise, thoughts, goals, rewards, things that work, and things that don’t.
- Make healthier food choices. Lower carbohydrate, lower sugar, and less fat (cheese has lots of fat). Please consult your doctor to make sure moderating these things won’t negatively impact your health!
- Move (exercise) I told you this was too important to say only once.
- Reduce portion size. Most of us have no clue how big a portion is. An inexpensive food scale is a great way to do this!
- Take a multivitamin to help ensure your body gets the vitamins and minerals it needs. Please consult your doctor for recommendations.
- Forgive yourself if you “cheat” and start again. Put this on repeat!
- Believe you can do it. These things don’t happen overnight. You didn’t gain the weight in a week or two, so don’t expect to lose it that fast!
We did it, you can too. Please share your stories with us, we would love to hear how you are doing.
Please check out some of our other articles, How to Train a Yorkie Puppy