Dear Miss A:
I am 32 years old and struggling with my weight. I used to be a great size. I won’t say what it was since we all have our own definition of what small is these days. However, I was tiny and very comfortable with my shape.
In the past year and a half, due to stress at work (and sometimes at home) I have gained roughly twenty-five pounds and hate my body. I loathe getting dressed up and going out for this very reason. I am too embarrassed to go to the gym. What can I do to get out of this slump and be the fabulous (skinny) girl I used to be? Can you offer tips on how you stay small despite a life on the go?
In Need of A Change
Dear In Need of A Change,
Now, hopefully I won’t get myself into trouble like I did several years ago. I’m not sure a thin woman can ever discuss losing weight without turning some people off, but here I go! I’ve been there. In 2006, I was dating a guy who was 6’4″ and ate all the time, so of course I ate more than I normally would have. I got up to a size 6, which is really big on me.
Some people gain weight when they are depressed, and others gain weight when they are happy and relaxed. Sounds like you “stress eat” and use food as a reward or to put some happiness in an otherwise stressful life.
YOU’VE GOT TO WANT IT
In my opinion, the bottomline when it comes to your ability to lose weight is that “you’ve got to want it”. You’ve got to want it more than anything else. You have to want feeling good when you look in the mirror, or feeling good when a man you’re dating sees you naked, or having your clothes fit right again MORE than you want those french fries, pizza, hamburger or slices of imported cheese.
If you truly make it a priority and remove the “triggers” that cause you to eat, you’ll have success. Food and drink is so central to our social life. It’s actually kind of ridiculous when you think about it. You’re so much more likely to be asked to go to lunch, dinner, or drinks, than to go play golf, go for a walk, or take a look at a new exhibit at a museum.
So if one of your girlfriends eats really unhealthy food, don’t meet her for lunch or dinner. If another friend is a bad influence because all he does is drink a ton of beer and watch sports on TV, don’t spend Saturday afternoons with him. You know what they say about “birds of a feather” and it’s true. You are more likely to eat a lot around others who eat a lot. You are more likely to drink a lot with friends who drink a lot.
The same hold true for quiting smoking. I went to boarding school and college in Winston-Salem, home to RJR Tobacco and you could literally smell the sweet smell of tobacco in the air depending on which way the wind was blowing. So I smoked for several years. To break the habit, I thought about when I was most likely to smoke – in the car, at home, at bars, and stopped letting myself smoke at home, then stopped smoking in my car, then took a 6 month hiatus from going out to hear live music and slowly just quit.
GET ACTIVE & NOT JUST AT THE GYM
Think about your friends, and spend more time with the ones who are physically active, and eat and drink responsibly. Think about which friends play sports, whether its kickball on the Mall, or tennis, or friends who participate in walks and marathons for charity. Get involved and participate with them. Find other ways to spend time outside of work besides eating and drinking. There are so many ways you can volunteer in the community and get exercise at the same time such as the Sierra Club’s Inner City Outings where you take inner city at-risk children hiking, Habitat for Humanity where you are physically working, and there are so many walks and marathons you can participate in to raise money for great causes.
SET A REALISTIC AND HEALTHY GOAL
Set a realistic goal for yourself. Don’t try to lose more than two pounds a week. Remember if you are exercising more, you will need more energy to get through your workout, so make sure you eat properly. You should consume carbs before your workout and protein afterward. Once you meet your goal, don’t keep resetting your goal, or you may become anorexic.
DON’T PUT UNHEALTHY FOOD IN YOUR GROCERY CART
If you know you can’t control yourself when you have a gallon of icecream in your freezer, don’t buy it in the first place. You may be a cereal eater, but honestly corn is fed to cows, so consider switching to having nonfat yogurt with fruit. Eating protein will keep your blood sugar level more balanced, and you won’t feel hungry as soon.
If you’ve ever consumed an entire bag of Cheetos by yourself, don’t buy them. Even if they are packaged in “convenient” portion sized, it doesn’t matter how they’re packaged because you’ll still eat them all. So really think about what you tend to eat that’s bad and just don’t allow yourself to buy it.
If you are one of those people who shops for healthy food, but picks up the phone and orders really unhealthy take out, delete the numbers from your phone and throw away all the menus. Just don’t allow yourself to call. This is what I mean by “you’ve got to want it”.
Try to eat a lot of salads with protein in them like Salmon, Tuna, Chicken or Steak. At the end of the day, we all know what is healthy, but we don’t always do what we know is right.
Cut out some pictures of what you’d like to look at, or dig up some old photos of yourself when you were the size you’d like to be. Post them on your refrigerator and cabinets so when you’re at your weakest, you’ll remember why you are “depriving” yourself of junk food. When you’re trying to quit smoking, it’s really motivating to keep all your cigarette butts in a bowl to see how much you smoke and how disgusting it really is.
JUMP START YOUR EXERCISE
Consider joining an “adult gym” like Equinox Fitness in Tysons Corner or another gym off the 20-something, social path. You need to workout somewhere you feel comfortable and won’t run into “that guy” you have a crush on, or the skinny girl at your office who intimidates you a bit.
Find a place that is near work or home, and force yourself to go there EVERYDAY. You may not feel like it and you may be dragging getting there, but you’ll leave with more energy and a bounce in your step.
Consider spending your money positively with a personal trainer. Set up appointments twice a week for four to six weeks to jump start your exercise routine. This will force you to make it to the gym when you are just starting to get in the exercise groove, and this is the hardest time to get motivated to go. After a while, your mind and body will remember how rewarding the experience is and you’ll actually become addicted to working out.
Set goals for yourself. When you accomplish those goals reward yourself with healthy things such as a new outfit, a new tennis racket, a new pair of running shoes, a cute workout outfit.
LIFE IS LONG – YOU CAN CHANGE
One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone stereotypes themselves by saying “I’m not artistic”, “I can’t cook”, “I’m not an outdoorsy person”. People need to just stop, and try something new. It’s never too late to change and evolve. I’ve been a lot of things over the years that I’m not anymore. I’m no longer a smoker, a keg beer drinker, a party girl, or the girl who put on some weight — not to say I won’t ever go back to these things. We all grow and change throughout our life.
Many things can take their toll on our weight — getting in or out of a relationship, having children, going through the loss of a loved one or a job. You don’t have to go through the rest of your life as “the fat girl”, or “that girl” who hates her body, or someone “who hates to exercise”. You don’t know what the future holds, and it’s never too late to change.
– Miss A