I recently lost 50 pounds. Only 5 pounds remain to my final goal. I am often asked how I did it, and this will be the first in a series of posts about my healthy weight loss journey. I feel compelled to share my story, not only because so many people ask what I did to make it happen, but also because there is no in-a-nutshell answer. No single answer works for everyone and this series will simply address what I did to make it work for me.
Step 1 in my Healthy Weight Loss Journey
The first thing I had to do was re-evaluate my relationship with food. I would eat well for a few days and then, bam, hit a bump in the road and tumble tail-over-teakettle off the wagon. One setback had me diving into a bag of potato chips every day for a week.
In all honesty, I could not explain why I would do that. I knew in my head that eating a double portion of chocolate cake wasn’t worth sabotaging my progress for the rest of the week, but I found myself repeating this behavior repeatedly.
All the calorie counting and exercise that one person can do will not help you lose an ounce of weight if you have an unhealthy relationship with your food. I found myself spiraling out of control and gaining weight faster than a roller coaster at a theme park. I had to regain control and that meant finding out why I felt insatiable all the time.
First, I stopped counting calories for a while. Gasp. I know. But, I had to get a handle on things and needed to take one thing at a time. Why did I have such a desire to binge? I started a daily journal detailing what I binged on, time of day I binged, where I was, and how I felt.
Next, I looked at when I was over-eating. I enjoyed the late night snacking with David over a bowl of Spicy Sweet Nacho Doritos and a tub of sour cream. We mindlessly ate a bag a night while gaming or watching TV.
I also realized we ate out – a LOT. The kids didn’t want to eat what I was cooking and it was just easier not to fight them on it. I was working long hours and didn’t feel like cooking anyway. Restaurant food isn’t exactly known as health food. Additionally, we had befriended the owners at 3 different restaurants. It wasn’t just dinner out. It was a social call. Frequently, we invited friends and their families out.
I realized that I rarely ate anything at all if I was alone. If I became hungry, I would grab a bowl of cereal.
Then, I noticed that I tended to binge when I felt stressed. Drama between David and his ex-wife ate at my guts like termites on wood. The stress carried over in the children’s behavior and how they treated me. My own two sons were failing school and, no matter what I tried, I felt like I was trudging through mud uphill. We had to fight the school to follow their IEPs and fight the boys to do their schoolwork.
After moving back to Florida, stress levels didn’t improve. We still experienced high conflict between David and his ex. My youngest son stayed behind in Minnesota and wasn’t doing well, so I worried about him. Our parents and older relatives here at home began experiencing increased medical issues.
Escaping into a bowl of chips did a lot of good to assuaging that stress, but not so much good for healthy weight loss. I found I would get lost in the crunchy, spicy, salty, slightly sweet chip dissolving on my tongue and an XBOX game in front of me, I didn’t have to focus on the day.
After reviewing my daily journal, I realized that my physical health wasn’t the only thing I was sabotaging. I used food to bridge my relationship between myself and other people. When I ate with others, I felt a connection to them. I was the food version of a social alcoholic. I also realized that I used food as a temporary vacation. While it helped in the short run, in the long run, I was just stressing myself out more and destroying my healthy weight loss goals.
Armed with those epiphanies, I came up with a game plan. I decided I would only eat when I was hungry. I would stop skipping meals when I was alone and eat healthy foods instead of fast foods. Instead of bingeing at night, I would allow myself a single, measured serving of a favorite snack. I also had to start cooking more so that I could have better control of what I ate. Food is still a social outlet for me, however, eating even if I am alone has helped me to stop bingeing later – as is filling my kitchen with people I love and healthier food options. Not to mention I’ve learned some cooking skills beyond opening a box. New skills are a real confidence booster.
Before I could even focus on losing weight, I had to figure out what my roadblocks to healthy weight loss were. My challenge to you: start a food journal. Don’t track calories, carbs, fats, etc. Instead, record when you catch yourself mindlessly snacking, bingeing, or eating when you are not hungry. Who are you with? What has your day been like so far? How are you feeling? What are you eating?
Hopefully, you will start to notice patterns of behavior in a few weeks and realize why you are doing what you are doing. Some people find the physical act of writing stimulates creativity and healing. Some people prefer the efficiency that recording on a computer or other electronic device affords them. I have an android device and used theMemories app. It’s free, optionally syncs with Google Drive, encourages flow of thought, can link journal posts, and, of course, has a password option for your privacy. Find something that works for your. Record. Reflect. Let me know if it helped you.
We enjoy hosting parties and my husband and I are both avid gamers. You can find me on PS4 as SunshineFlaGirl. We also play tabletop RPGs and eurogames.