Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Secret to Weightloss

I remember it like it was yesterday.  My college roommate and I were in our apartment, and we were discussing exercise or weightloss, or something along those lines.  I was in the midst of losing quite a bit of weight, and she was and always had been "normal" sized.  I don't remember how it came up exactly, but I will never forget when she said "if I feel like my jeans are getting tighter, I just eat less until I'm comfortable."  Not only do I remember that, but specifically, I recall the horror I felt.  I kept a poker face, but inside my head, I was going crazy.  I thought to myself in a borderline panic "what does she mean, eat less?!  That's not an option, I have to exercise, I have to be on a diet, and, and, well, eating less?  What?  No.  That's ridiculous.  I need a certain amount of food.  I can't just eat less.  Pffft.  She doesn't understand."  It took me a long time to realize it was me who didn't understand.  
The secret to weightloss?  Eat less.  It's that simple.  Ask any person of healthy weight (and healthy relationship with food) what they do to keep their figure, and most likely they won't even be conscious of it, but I can tell you for a near fact, they eat less.  Period.   
What is NOT simple is figuring out what YOU as an individual has to do in order to be able to eat less, or rather eat food at amounts that support whatever your goals are at a particular time.  It is a process.  It takes time, especially if you body is not functioning properly, or your relationship with food is poor.  If you are trying to lose weight a significant amount of weight, it takes a lot of time.  Anyone can have motivation to eat less for a short period of time, but unless the root issues are fixed regarding why you tend to put more food in your mouth then your body needs, you efforts will not be lasting ones.  This leads to the worn out saying by every single overweight person- "I've tried everything."  The funny thing is, ALL of those "things" work in terms of weight loss, it's no fault of the method, it's the fault of the person for relying on the method to do the hard work, and ignoring what hard work they need to do themselves, internally. 
To think that weight loss is just about finding the right diet, or lifestyle change, or whatever, is missing the point completely.  In addition to finding the right diet/lifestyle change, a person has to learn about their body.  What foods fuel it?  What foods make it feel bad?  Do you eat when you are happy, sad, angry?  Do you crave bread/sweets?  Do you know when your body is maintaining, losing, or gaining weight without stepping on a scale?  Do you know how to best regulate your blood sugar levels in your own body- intermittent fasting, higher fat, frequent meals?  Are your food issues so bad that you need to seek therapy?  This is just a sampling of the research you need to do on your own to figure out how YOU as an individual can choose to eat less if you are trying to lose weight.  If the thought of eating less sends you into a panic like it once did to me, you aren't there yet. 
All those years back in college when I lost a good chunk of weight 50? pounds, and I thought my roommate was nuts for saying all she did was "eat less" I didn't get it.  When I reached a weight that was normal, I fell back into old patterns.  I was able to maintain my loss for a year or two with my habitual running (also, when you are smaller and have more muscle mass your body is more forgiving on what you can eat), but during a chunk of time when running took a back seat to beer, and I paid no attention to my jeans getting tighter (must be the dryer) I found myself right back at square one.  My years post college were spent yo-yo-ing- spurts of running, eating less and losing weight followed by weight gain.  I didn't know how to get off the merry-go-round, and I blamed everything around me.  I could tell you how many calories were in any food item, or how many calories an exercise burned in 30 minutes, yet a little over 2 years ago, I was the fattest I'd ever been. 
In the past two years, I've put in a lot of work.  I've gone from hitting the YMCA eliptical for 30 minutes and eating oatmeal for breakfast to the 30 day shred to "1/2 marathon training" (and gaining) to a Paleo diet and CrossFit.  I've gone from wanting to get to a certain goal weight to not giving a shit about my weight and just wanting to be able to do a pull-up (or 10).  I've recorded triumphs and failures, learning a little more about myself each time- more so from the failures then from the triumphs.  I have been determined to find a way of eating that suits my body.  I wanted a method I can use for when I want to trim pounds, and a method to use to maintain my weight.  When I hit a road block or found something wasn't working for me, I made changes, and took notes of what worked, and what I liked.  I left myself open to try new things, but hands down the most significant thing I found as my downfall was sugar and grains.  The longer I abstained from those items, the better I felt.  Sure I tested myself many times with eating them.  I would fall off the wagon and end up eating those items numerous times over a week or two period of time before I could get my shit together, only to find the same result...they make me feel like crap, gain weight, AND make me want more sugar/grains/crap so the cycle is never ending.  After many "tests" I finally learned abstaining is better then moderation for me. 
It wasn't until a few weeks ago when it finally hit me.  I FINALLY got it.  If I want to lose weight, I need to eat less (for me, that is still a diet of meat, vegetables, real food, etc., just slightly smaller portions).  There was no panic about this, it was just truth.  When I'm eating the correct foods, my blood sugar is stable so I don't crash after a few hours of no food, nor do I get crazy irrationally hungry.  I know I can eat whatever foods I want, but I also know the consequences (so I won't).  It's almost annoying how simple it is (after I did all the work fixing my battered body/taking the emotion out of food).  It always HAS been, but I've been the one making it so complicated.  It took me a long time to reach this point.  I may not be perfect or have it all figured out yet, but I know how good I feel, how awesome my workouts have been, and just the fact that the idea of me eating less food doesn't send me into a panic is a giant leap forward. 
Oh, new PR today at gym- 3 rep max deadlift- 215#  Previous 3 rep max was 200#.  Yay!     


  1. Wow, look like a different person!!

    I have friends that "just eat less" when their pants get snug. I, like you, did not appreciate the simplicity....not sure if I do even now.

    Weight loss is always such a big project for me...takes a lot of mental energy for some reason. My gym owner told me one time to work smarter, not harder....simplicity...
    And yes, when I looked around the gym I was the fat chick working harder than anyone else...and going home and eating the wrong foods.

  2. Just wanted to say: I find you and your attitude really inspiring (not to mention: I am always in awe of Cross-fitters and their workouts!). I really like this post. Realizations like this are hard but so important!

  3. I always blame tight clothes on the dryer! It is funny how (us women) never blame clothes being "stretched out" when they are too loose!

    Also... I like the home gym you are making. Looks like you will be having some fun in the warmer weather!

  4. Yes, it definitely makes sense that to be able to lose weight, you need to eat less. It doesn't mean that you have to starve yourself, it just means that you should eat the right amount of food. Discipline is always the key. Thanks for sharing your story! You are indeed an inspiration!