Sunday, November 2, 2014

My Weight Loss Journey - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Have you fallen victim to those high-cost fad diets? You know what I'm talking about - the diet pills, the shakes, the flavor shots and teas before each meal? They cost an arm and a leg, and although they typically work in the short term, it's tough to stop using them because you fall back into old habits and pack on the pounds quicker than you lost them.

I know this because I've done it too. I lost 11 pounds using Herbalife back in 2011, right before my wedding. And as soon as I weaned myself off the twice a day shakes, then off the once a day shakes (seriously, who has money to pay for shake mix for the rest of their lives?), I gained all the weight back and then some.

And when my tiny, 4'11" frame teetered towards the 150 lb mark this year, I realized that I had simply let myself go. My self-esteem had gone in the crapper and my image reflected that. I trudged to work wearing whatever I could find that would fit over, or under, my muffin top that morning regardless of how sloppy and unkempt I looked. And many weekends, I'd stay in my elastic-waisted pajamas for as long as I possibly could.

I knew that diet pills, bars and shakes weren't going to be a permanent solution and my doctor cleared me of any and all medical reasons I could use as excuses to justify my hefty size. So I finally listened to my husband and sought the professional help of a nutritionist.

(If you don't think a nutritionist is for you, that's cool! Skip to the end where I impart some free and near-free tips for weight loss that I've picked up along the way).

Nutritionists are EXPENSIVE! At the time I didn't think my insurance would cover visits, so I paid out of pocket. My first visit was $85 for a 45 minute to an hour long session to discuss my habits - eating, exercising, vices, etc. Follow up visits were $150 for a package of 5 30-minute sessions where we discussed the previous weeks successes (or lack of) and concocted plans for upcoming weeks.

Downsides of Professional Nutritionists:
-If you ignore advice, the visits are useless
-If you are not committed, the visits are useless

Advantages of Professional Nutritionists:
-You can limit the expenses; stretch your visits out as far as you'd like to minimize costs
-In my opinion, the expert advice and information is well worth the cost
-It holds you accountable; nothing is worse than feeling like you let someone down
-Visits MIGHT be covered by your insurance! A good nutrition center will verify with your insurance company

I've been visiting my nutritionist since May. It was slow going in the beginning and I had a HUGE set back when my 17-year old kitty passed away in July. But since July I've officially lost over 15 lbs!

I weighed over 146 lbs at my first weigh-in in May.
I weighed 130.8 lbs at my most recent weigh-in last week.
I weighed 128.8 lbs the other day on my own scale wearing my birthday suit.

Inexpensive Tips for Weight Loss
1. Keeping a food and exercise log has helped me realize how much (or how little) I was putting in my body. Believe it or not, eating too little is just as bad as eating too much. I started with a paper-based food diary but I would leave it at home or forget to log each night. So my nutritionist suggested MyFitnessPal app for my Smartphone. This is a FREE app that can be customized to your height, weight, exercise level and overall weight-loss goal.

2. Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Something is better than nothing. I bought the cheapest recumbent bike I could find from and I watch TV at night while logging miles. In good weather, I also go for walks and runs with my husband or by myself. I have a horrible habit of wandering grocery store aisles for hours to avoid housework, so I log a lot of miles doing that too!
The FREE app MapMyRun for the Smartphone can keep track of your activity. I run with my cell phone in my hand and set up the tracker on MapMyRun to log my miles and calories burned. If you also use MyFitnessPal, the MapMyRun app will automatically transfer activity logged into the MyFitnessPal app and deduct the calories burned from the calories used for the day.

3. Find someone to hold you accountable. Sadly, I discovered that my husband cannot be trusted to hold me accountable. He is a natural skinny-minnie and is easily demotivated so if we make plans ahead of time to run after work, he frequently changes his mind which gives me an "out" for my day's physical activity. HOWEVER... Social media has become a quick source for accountability. There are many Facebook pages for people looking to lose weight together. And I've received so much support from my Instagram followers. It's so awesome to post a quick photo of my weekly weigh in and get a ton of positive comments from complete strangers. It helps maintain my motivation and it boosts my self-esteem.

4. Give yourself a tangible goal. I signed myself up for a few running races. I paid money to register, so it made me less likely to give up. Some races have really high fees, while others are only $10-20. By registering yourself for an event and paying out the cash for it upfront, you can trick yourself into having no choice but to work hard to be successful in that particular event. I ended up finding that I enjoyed running and continued running even after my event was over. I started running 12-minute miles. I can now sustain 9 minute miles!

5. Find what works for you! Avoidance of temptations is the only thing that works for me. If there are cupcakes in the lunchroom at the office, I'll avoid that room all day. I pack a lunch every day for work to avoid ordering out. My husband and I avoid restaurants that have nothing on the menu I can modify and eat -- bye bye Hooters!

My weight loss journey in photos. I've still got another 15 or so pounds to go, but I'm well on my way!

Disclaimer: Before starting any exercise or diet routine, I strongly encourage you to discuss it with your physician.

Happy Couponing!
-Coupon Mama Massachusetts

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