Herbs & Things

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Weight Loss Journey | 6 Months In

I haven't posted a weight loss blog update in awhile, so I wanted to do it at my 6 month mark. I'm going to be raw and real, because that's what I am! I'll take you through my successes and my failures. I'll show you the things I used to do, and the new things I've found that work even better for me. But most of all, the grace that I learned to show myself is the biggest thing I've learned, and the biggest key to making this work and last.

Let me start from the beginning. Six months ago my husband bought my mother-in-law an UPmove. It is very much like a fitbit, only less expensive. This isn't something that I, myself, would be interested in. But she was a fitness guru so naturally, it was totally her. She started talking about how neat it was, and a few days later I decided to buy one for myself. 

I knew this wasn't going to work if I wasn't serious about it. And so I got real with myself. I hated myself. I hated the way I looked. I used to think I was fat even when I was skinny 10 years ago. I realized it was a heart issue, not always a food or laziness issue. If I didn't feel good about myself, I wouldn't love myself at 120 lbs anymore than I did at 207 lbs. So I took a photo of myself. I looked at it, and I cried. Was this really me? Was this really the girl I had become? I was disgusting, or so I thought to myself. I had zero self-confidence. But you know what struck me the most. My husband loved me when I was 50 lbs lighter, and he loved me just the same now. I needed that love. I needed to love myself right where I was -- whether I was "fat" or "skinny". 

So I bought the UP...... and I.was.addicted.

It was so much fun, but also the challenge I needed, to see how many steps I was taking. I was surprised to see that my average was only 3,000 steps a day. In order to lose weight, I had to take 10,000 steps a day! It was extremely hard to accomplish at first, but I got the hang of it. It caused me to make time for those steps. And if I didn't have time to exercise, I walked in place while doing dishes. I stood and walked in place when folding laundry, instead of sitting down. I ran up and down the basement stairs 5 extra times when I'd take laundry down. I found simple, everyday things that helped me get those steps in.

In the first 8 days, I dropped some "inches" around my upper waist. It was visible by photo as well (I highly suggest doing weekly photos!). My legs also slimmed down just a bit. It was proof that these 10,000 steps a day were working. I was a "prove it to me" girl, and I was proving it to myself. More than anything, I could tell a difference in my skin tone. I always had this purplish reddish skin before, and clearly it was due to poor circulation. Now that I was on my feet all the time, my skin was much different. I felt good in those 8 days.

I continued this same routine for 7 weeks straight. I also noticed that I wasn't eating nearly as much as I normally would, because I was too busy trying to get my steps in. We had started a cleaner eating lifestyle before this started anyway, so that helped as well. 

At the end of 7 weeks I had lost some weight, but more-so, I felt a lot better and I had lost inches all over my body. Just from making sure I got in 10,000 steps a day. That's it. It was hard in the beginning, but it was worth it, and something so simple that didn't require a gym.

But then what? What happened after those 7 weeks?

Let's see.....

Life got busy. I got busy. Work took priority. Homeschool took priority. I was lucky if I did my "steps" 4 times a week. I gained 2 lbs back, but that was all, thankfully. What I noticed most is that I still had that fire burning inside of me. This was a temporary side track. I knew I could come back from it but I had to do it myself, no one else could do it for me. I needed something new. The monotony of just getting steps in everyday wasn't challenging enough for me anymore. Not to mention, it took up too much of my time. I needed something that I could really feel. Something I could do in addition to steps. 

And that's when I realized it....

I didn't want to be skinny. I wanted to be strong. I'm only 28 years old. Often times, I feel like I'm older, because I have been married since I was 18 and a mom since I was 21. There are women my age who aren't even thinking about being a wife and mom yet, and they are hard core. I can be a hardcore wife and mom, right? Strength training was always something that interested me. And everyone starts somewhere, right?

But before we get to that point, let's go back to the 4 to 6 weeks where I did NOTHING.
  • I was not a failure. There were days when I did exercise. I did my steps, above and beyond, but nothing consistent. I read that you should never allow more than 3 days in between movement/exercise, so I tried to stick to that. Many times, I failed. But not beating myself up about it was the key. I learned more about grace than ever before during this time. Not only would I not beat myself up about it, but I refused to allow others to beat me up about it. I was not a failure. And if I knew that about myself, no one could make me believe otherwise. I was simply sidetracked. I was not going to have to start over. I would start from where I left off. It takes 4 weeks for the body to create a new habit, this is why I had not gained weight back. My body was still used to the new habit. If I kept up with it little by little until I got over this hump, I knew I would break through in the end. And I did.
  • I felt yucky. And that was enough to motivate me to get back in gear and find something that worked better for me. I felt so much better, and a lot less bloated, when I exercised.
  • I remembered what I was before, and I wasn't going to go back to that girl.
  • I stopped weighing myself. And that was a good thing. Because I was pleasantly surprised to find that when I stopped weighing myself, I stopped judging myself.
  • I learned to love myself where I was. Jesus meets us where we are. Why can't we meet ourselves where we are? You must understand what your potential is, and it is unlimited. I realized that I was refusing to allow myself to meet myself right where I happened to be in that point of my journey. And then I remembered....
  • ...this is a journey. This isn't a wham-bam-thankyou-ma'am one time deal. This is a lifestyle. This is something that I cannot realistically expect to just happen and stay happening. It's something I had to challenge myself to do every single week. It's really no different than my relationship with Christ. I had to push myself to make time for Him every week....and the same went for my exercising. This was a relationship, and I needed to invest into it.
  • I set non-scale victories for myself. Like getting back into my favorite t-shirt. Or seeing my feet smaller than they used to be. And watching my double chin shrink.
  • I also set realistic "long term" goals. I no longer thought that losing 50 lbs in 6 months was a good goal. The healthy way for me to lose weight, and the way to stick with it. was to lose it slowly. 

So here I am, 6 months later. I could have probably lost more by now if I would have stuck with it those 2 months where I was side tracked. But you know what, that's not that point. The point is that I am still on this journey. And it is my journey. And I am totally going to kick this journey's butt by this time next year.

The differences I see this far -- 

My shoulders are more toned because of recent exercise changes.
My arms have gotten smaller.
My stomach is changing daily. What you can't see are the sides of my stomach, which are no longer bloated, but are beginning to tone. Now, if the lower stomach would follow, I'd be happy.
My butt is firmer, ha!
My legs are becoming muscular.
My posture is a lot better than it was before -- straight back, shoulders back, chest out, stomach in.
My double chin isn't so "double" anymore. I can finally see my neck again.

Here's what I'm doing NOW, that I wish I would have done in the beginning.
  • Calisthenics. I am an advocate for natural living. So lifting 300 lbs was never my goal. It might be my husbands goal (and he can do it), but not mine. I wanted to be strong, but I didn't want to do it in an unnatural way every single day. I wanted something I could do from home with what I had, and that was natural for my body, not stressful on my body. Calisthenics is the way to go. It uses your own body strength to gain muscle and become fit. It is big on core muscles and balance. This is something I really enjoy. Calisthenics is like hardcore yoga, but builds strength and muscle by pushing your body weight up, doing pull ups, hand stands, etc. But how do you train to do handstands (which I won't master any time soon) and balancing appropriately?....it brings me to my next point....
  • Crossfit. Oh.my.word. I love Crossfit. And it's something I can do in the comfort of my own home. I have only been doing (as of today, this blog) Crossfit for a week or so, and it has already kicked my butt. Now you should know, Crossfit does use weights, but I have been doing the exercises that do not require weights so that it goes along with my Calisthenics method. I started with this Yumi Lee exercise video. It is only 10 mins long, but let me tell you, it is a workout if you're just beginning. And it's fun! But, a word of advice, let your body rest one day in-between each time you do this workout. Your muscles need time to heal, and your body will  hurt the next day. If you do not allow your muscles to heal, you'll never gain new muscle. Muscle is created when the burn and pain begins, and doesn't form completely until healed.
  • Eating less and the 10 minute wait. Too much of a good thing is still not a good thing. I realized I was eating a lot at certain times during the day because I was bored or procrastinating. I start with half the portion I would normally take (including major meals), and then wait 10 minutes. If I'm still hungry, I'll go back for just a bit more. The waiting period has really worked well for me. It takes a little while longer for my body to realize that I am full because I apparently eat quickly. I've always been a quick eater. So the 10 minute waiting period is really a necessity for me. At the end of those 10 minutes I ask myself, am I really still hungry, or do I just want the food? Now I've gotten so used to the new portion size, that the scale is beginning to go lower and lower each and every day.
  • Set a timer. There are days when I still wear my UPmove because I really want to focus on steps those days, and steps only. I still highly suggest the UPmove. But recently I have found that setting a timer every hour helps me get up and move. Since I work at home, it's easy for me to get sidetracked. Unfortunately 9 am turns into 3 pm quickly, and then I've lost an entire day of exercise potential. Setting a timer every hour or two in a different part of the house (a different level is suggested) makes me run up the stairs to turn the timer off, set the timer again, and then do some kind of exercise -- whether it's running up and down the stairs for 2 minutes, push ups, cardio, etc. 
These new changes have put me back on track, and I am loving it. But I'm not going to down myself if I get sidetracked again. After all, it's a journey. I actually do love waking up to sore muscles though, because I know it's working. It became impossible for me to get 20,000 steps in a day, which is what I would have needed to do since my body got used to 10,000 steps a day. There just wasn't enough time in the day when I had a job, a child, homeschool, and everything else going on. I had to add something else on top of it. And I couldn't be happier that I did.

I cannot wait to take next week's photo. The crossfit exercises have kicked my butt this week, but I have noticed my core muscles have really changed my stomach, back, and shoulder area in just a short 7 days. My body is not yet used to the above workout I mentioned, because I still wake up sore. I will know when my body is used to this workout and my muscles have gained as much as possible from them when I wake up not feeling sore, in which case, I'll switch it up and try new crossfit exercises. 

Most of all, I'm thinking rationally. And it's paying off. I don't want to just be "skinny in 6 months". I want to be strong. I want to inspire others to be strong. I want to be a hot wife and fit mom. I want to be an example. But most of all, I'm dong this for me. Not for anyone else. And that's what makes all the difference. I have set year long goals for myself rather than monthly goals. And that helps as well. 

I've lost 10 lbs in the last 6 months. Some people would say that's not much, but for me, it's a lot. I am finally under 200 lbs, and only I know how good that feels. Not just to lose it, but to keep it off. I have kept off 10 lbs in 6 months. That's a record for me. I have not only lost weight, I've gained muscle. And that makes a world of difference, too.

If I can do this, you can do this. And I encourage you during your weight loss journey -- whether you're thinking about it, or you're a year into it -- never give up. This is a journey, not a race. Take your time. Make realistic goals. And if you get bored with something, switch it up. It doesn't mean you've failed, it simply means you deserve something different and better. Nothing worth it comes quickly. It takes time and patience.

Here are the things I've done that really help make this journey work for me....

  • Make non-scale goals. Whether it's fitting into an old pair of jeans (not from 10 years ago, let's try from 6 months ago!) or being able to fit in a booth at a restaurant, you can do this when you can "see" the difference.
  • Make scale goals. But realistic ones. Try losing 10 lbs in 3 months rather than 1 month. Try losing 50 lbs in a year rather than 6 months.
  • Don't weigh yourself for the first 6 weeks. It's going to be hard, but trust me on this one. If you are exercising, your body is going to gain weight before it ever loses weight. If you aren't exercising, your body is still going to gain weight because it's trying to figure out what to do with all the new changes. It takes 4 weeks to create a new habit, so consider that 4 week mark your starting point for your body. You won't see any changes before then. 
  • Figure out why you're doing this. Because if you aren't doing this for YOU, it's not going to work. You can't do this for your kids. You can't do this for your spouse. You have to do this for YOU. Why do YOU want to do it, and remember that feeling.
  • Take weekly photos. Because you're not going to notice the changes by looking in the mirror, trust me. I didn't know my arms had gotten smaller until this week when I took the photo. Weekly photos are a MUST.
  • Measure inches instead of weight. This is good if you're just dieting, but not exercising. Your inches will fluctuate since you are gaining muscle. Measure your arms, waist, stomach, hips, thighs, ankles, calves, and neck.
  • Try the 10 minute wait with food. Do a half portion, wait 10 minutes, and then see if you're still hungry. 
  • Strive to never over eat. If you start paying attention to how you feel, the feeling of NOT over eating is so much more satisfying. You'll crave that feeling more than the "stuff everything in your mouth because it's so good" feeling.
  • Make a fitness goal and work towards it. Do you just want to be healthier? Do you just want to be slimmer? Do you want to be stronger? What is your overall fitness goal. If it's just to "be skinny", you're not going to stick with it.
  • Find an accountability partner. Someone you can talk to about your struggles and your successes. Someone who isn't going to judge either of those -- there are people who will be jealous of your successes, and it won't make you feel very good about yourself. Don't listen to them, that's their issue not yours. Find someone you can share all of those things with who will just listen to you and cheer you on. My mom does this for me, and I can do it for her too. I am so proud of the weight she has lost alongside me over the past 3 months. She has been amazing. My husband is also a support partner, as he is trying to lose weight (and has lost a lot!). He makes me feel amazing!.
Good luck on your journey, I would love to cheer you on and hear all about it!