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A Simple Path to Healthy Weight Loss

A True Story About Weight Loss

Healthy Weight LossFor the first 60 years of my life weight loss was never my problem. I had a completely different challenge.

At 14, I reached my full height of 5 ft. 8 in., which made me taller than all my friends and all the boys.

I thought of myself as a tall, plain, and unattractive Amazon who towered above the rest of the world. It was a constant source of agony until I entered college, where  there were other girls up in the stratosphere with me. That was enough to ease the pain a little.

Finally, when I entered the exciting world of young adulthood, I began to appreciate the amazing gift I had received at birth. I had won the lottery with my gene pool, which included a tall, slender frame, high energy, and extremely good health.

Almost without conscious thought, I made choices that nurtured my body (no caffeine or alcohol, no smoking, and no drugs) and I reaped the rewards of those choices.

When I married and started a family, good health practices continued. Making sure my children had well-balanced, nutritious meals was high on my list. I also found ways to exercise, either jogging with friends or participating in aerobics or Jazzercize.

Then, Things Changed

My healthy lifestyle had served me well over the years. Unfortunately, after my divorce at age 42, it seemed to fall apart. Little by little, things began to change.

My new way of eating included multiple cans of coke daily – or more explicitly – TAB (so a double hit on my body – caffeine and artificial sweetener). Fast food became a regular part of my diet, and eventually, I began smoking and started drinking wine.

Fortunately, my exercise regimen remained constant – aerobics, Jazzercize, and social swing dancing were regular activities. Plus, when I moved to Manhattan, walking was also part of my daily routine.

So, where was the problem? Simple – my other healthy practices were inconsistent. My focus was on taking care of four children as a single mom, running my interior design business, and socializing.

I was a young, reasonably good-looking single woman who didn’t want to be alone for the rest of my life. Finding someone to love was a major goal. It seemed important to put myself “out there” and look good in the process (which was the driver for the exercise).

When you throw into the mix the problem that I am a stress eater of very unhealthy foods (favorites are ice cream, pastries, chocolate, Coca Cola, and Frappuccinos), my healthy lifestyle deteriorated rapidly.

YO-YO Dieting

For the first time in my life, I gained a little weight and began yo-yo dieting. My weight which had been between 130 – 140 pounds on my 5’ 9” frame for most of my life began to increase. I would realize the gain, lose the weight for a while, then, gain it back, plus more.

I started with Atkins, which my body doesn’t tolerate well. Eventually, I tried all the fad diets of the time: Grapefruit Diet, Cabbage Soup Diet, appetite suppressants (Ayds, Dexetrim, and Ephedra – all three were eventually taken off the market), SlimFast, Scarsdale Diet, and, of course, Weight Watchers.

They all worked for a while, but they were not sustainable and none gave me the lifelong change I needed. The weight continued to yo-yo.

In 2010, some personal challenges took all my focus and energy with nothing left for self-care and healthy eating. In December, 2012, my son died and the stress eating flew out of control. I stopped exercising and started to gain weight – pound after pound.

The unhealthy eating and weight gain continued for the next five years because I was in too much mental and emotional pain to pay attention.

Reality Stopped Me Cold

One morning in early January 2018, I stepped on the scales and saw 203.8  pounds – almost 64 lbs. over my lifetime standard of 140 lbs. That was it! The unhealthy eating had to stop!

I did not want to live my life overweight and at risk for serious health problems. Not only was I extremely overweight (borderline obese), my mother had developed Type 2 diabetes in her 70s. I could see myself following in her footsteps. The choice was clear, I had to change the way I had been living for the past eight years.

The irony in this story is that I had been writing a blog for over two years that focused on clean eating and good health, which has always been my passion. I believed everything I had written; but, I had not been following my own advice.

I did a lot of research for my blog and was aware of the harmful choices I was making. I knew exactly what I needed to change in order to create the lifestyle I wanted for the rest of my life. BUT . . . I wasn’t doing any of it. Anger, overwhelming grief, sadness, frustration, and more were ruling my life.

Change Was the Only Option

When I saw “203.8 lbs.” on the scale, I freaked out. Help was needed, and needed NOW! I opted for Nutrisystem as a starting point.

It worked! In the first month, 10 lbs. came off; but, one month was all I could tolerate. The food grew tiresome very quickly; and, much to my disappointment, there were a lot of additives in the food that I did not like putting into my body. Plus, it was expensive; so, that path was no longer an option.

Nutrisystem was a great kickstart for losing weight. It launched the weight-loss process and taught me a valuable lesson – portion control.

When  I received my first shipment and started eating the meals, the portion sizes were a surprise. They were so small – and yet, they were enough. I was never hungry and started losing weight because I carefully followed the instructions. In other words, I worked the program – and it worked for me.

I knew Nutrisystem was no longer an option, but neither was giving up an option. Determined to stay on track and to get back to a healthy weight, it was clear that I had to find another way.

I finally accepted that reaching my goal wasn’t going to be fast or easy. It would take as long as it would take. Even though the realization didn’t thrill me, I made my peace with it and continued to move forward.

Another Twist to the Story

I started Nutrisystem on January 29. Four weeks later as I was finishing up the first month of my “diet,” I began suffering from agonizing back pain. After two weeks of misdiagnoses, I ended up in the E.R. with the diagnosis of a cracked vertebrae.

I was immediately hospitalized. The first thing they did (after administering morphine for the pain) was to put me in a body brace. Four days later they transferred me to a skilled nursing facility for 3½ weeks where I was given more pain pills than I care to think about, and struggled through daily rehab to get back on my feet and walking again.

This was the perfect excuse to forget about losing weight and eat whatever I wanted. But, to my amazement, I chose not to do that. I was committed to my journey back to eating well and living well.

In a way, it solved my dilemma about what to do next. The facility had an excellent meal service (with good food). Taking what I had learned from Nutrisystem, I practiced portion control and continued to count calories. It worked perfectly.

It not only worked, it set the path that I would follow from that point on.

Everything Worked

Which brings us to the present – one year later.

I have recovered completely from my injury and returned to work. My stamina is increasing because of a dedicated walking routine. In the beginning it was only a few steps a day, and gradually increased to 4000+ steps a day. Fourteen months later and 44 pounds lighter, I am still losing – moving slowly toward my goal of 150 lbs. A frustrating reality is that the last 10 pounds are always the hardest to lose.

Yes, it has been a long, slow process, but that’s OK for several reasons:

  1. It has allowed my body to adjust to the change and I feel great.
  2. I will be able to keep the weight off because I have a completely new way of eating.
  3. There is no flabby loose skin that often results from extreme, fast weight loss.
  4. I started the journey knowing it would take time – my expectations were set appropriately from the beginning.

A New Book Tells the Story

I have just launched a new book on Amazon, WOW! You Look Fantastic. My goal for the book was to share everything I had learned during my journey so others could Cover - WOW You Look Fantastic

benefit from my experience. If you are struggling with your weight, your frustrations, and your lifestyle, this is the book for you. It will show you that healthy weight loss is possible.

I can promise you, from personal experience, that this is the way to reach your ideal weight and to live well for the rest of your life. The solutions are simple, but not necessarily easy.

You must be completely committed to making the necessary changes. You cannot let anything deter you from reaching your goal.  If you want the results bad enough, you will make them happen.

This book will give you a simple path to follow.

Good luck and ENJOY the process.

Nancy

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First published on my website: https://nancynwilson.com/

 

 

Little Extras for Help with Weight-Loss Success

The two basic things you have to do to have a successful weight-loss journey is consume fewer calories (eat less) and exercise more.  It is a pleasure to report that it is possible to do both of these things without feeling deprived or overwhelmed. Just add these two little extras for help with weight-loss success.

Add a Little Extra Exercise to Your Daily Routine

Little Extras for Help with Weight-loss Success
Image by AndreyPopov

A simple way to increase the level of exercise during your week is by adding a little more effort into your daily activities – the things you are going to do anyway.

For example, we all have to do housework right? So, that is an easy one! Instead of taking your time and working at a leisurely pace, work faster.

As you sweep and mop the kitchen floor, put some oomph into it. Work at a steady, brisk pace. Stretch your arms and use your muscles. This will definitely increase your heart rate, and burn more calories.

When it’s time to clean the windows, reach up as high as you can – stretch to the top of the windows and be sure to get into the corners. Then, buff the glass to a high sheen, which will involve a little more elbow grease than normal.

When you scrub out the tub and the shower, do it with energy and a song – make those tiles shine.

Play fun music and dance when you sweep, mop or vacuum.

Work for longer periods of time – 20 to 30 minutes of active cleaning is much better than 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there. It gives you more time to get your heart rate going and a better boost to your metabolism.

These are things you can do to keep your house sparkling and build the new you. So, start throwing in an abundant amount of gusto for extra calorie burning and body shaping.

Add Two Healthy Snacks to Your Daily Meal Plan

A great way to focus on success with your weight loss journey is to plan what you are going to eat in advance. When you shop ahead and know exactly what you will be eating, temptation to fall into old eating patterns – and indulge in foods that will throw you off track are taken out of the equation.

Be sure to include at least two healthy snack options in your daily plan. They should not only be healthy choices, but foods that are easy to grab when you are feeling a little out-of-sorts – and also handy when you are on the go.

Planning ahead ensures that you will eat healthy snacks that you enjoy as well as satisfy your hunger. Make sure they are nutritious and satisfying, and fit in with your diet all at the same time.

You can find suggestions for healthy snacks everywhere – in books, magazines and all over the Internet. Just be sure that they are in keeping with your diet of choice and give you the nutrients you need.

You can find a few good options at the more health-focused stores (Trader Joes, Sprouts, or Whole Foods), but read labels VERY CAREFULLY if you are buying pre-packaged snacks. Many of them have hidden sugars, additives and empty calories, which will NOT be good for your weight-loss journey. Try to stick with fresh fruits, veggies, raw nuts (use roasted peanuts) and seeds, etc.

One of my favorites is my version of mixed nuts (macadamia, almonds, pecans, and pistachios) with a few dark chocolate chips in the mix (use the chocolate chips sparingly).

Make small snacks packs of two tablespoons each and keep them available. Toss ONE into your lunch bag each day. It is a also good idea to have one in your car cubby for a quick pick-me-up when you need it – a much better choice than a candy bar.

Another excellent choice is a generous serving of fresh blueberries, raspberries or strawberries with a dollop of Crème Fraiche (or plain Greek yogurt with a little organic honey) – YUM!

It is important to find your own preferences that fit your personal taste and dietary needs. Set aside time each week to prepare home-made options that can be stored and used whenever you need them.

In Summary

Try these two little extras for help with weight-loss success. Adding a little extra exercise and adding two healthy snack options each day will make a big difference on your weight-loss journey. They will help you reach your destination – a healthy, fit and happier life.

Mediterranean Diet Is Not for Everyone

For the past few weeks I have been talking about the merits of the Mediterranean Diet. However, I have to acknowledge that no diet is perfect for every single person and Mediterranean diet is no exception to that rule. The Mediterranean Diet is not for everyone.

There may be some people who find that they have negative reactions to some of the foods on the diet – others may find that it simply is not suitable for their lifestyle.

Excellent Choice for Most People

Explaining the Mediterranean Diet
Image by karandaev

However, it is an excellent choice for most people because the health benefits are tremendous. Lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol levels, reduced risk of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes and much more.

The diet is based on consuming wholesome fresh foods in their natural state and by cooking them in a healthy ways.

Red meats are eaten only on occasion; sugar, processed foods filled with additives, fast foods, and junk food, which are the cause of so many illnesses in today’s world are simply not eaten.

It should not be news that most health problems in the US can be attributed to a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle.

The Mediterranean diet solves both problems, if you let it. It provides the healthy nutritious foods your body needs for energy and well-being; plus, it incorporates exercise to solve the sedentary lifestyle issue.

Potential Difficulties

Let’s look at some of the potential difficulties.

1. The diet can be expensive.

When you eat primarily fish, fresh (preferably organic) fruits and vegetables, nuts, etc. you will find that they are more expensive than grabbing a cheeseburger from a fast food joint or buying junk food from the vending machine at work.

But . . . if you consider the health problems you may endure in the future and the cost of health care that goes with those problems, you may want to think twice about the actual cost. The healthy foods on the Mediterranean diet may not seem so expensive after all.

2. Possible food allergies.

It is possible that some people may have allergic reactions to some of the foods in the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil may not agree with their digestive system, etc. It happens. If you have serious reactions to any of the foundational foods of the diet, you would probably want to choose another diet – just make sure it is a healthy one.

3. The toxicity of fish.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fish and is one of the most toxic foods on the market today because of pollution in the world’s waterways

Educate yourself and find out which fish are richest in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, lowest in mercury contamination, and sustainably produced. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) there are better (and worse) choices when buying fish.  Check out their website for details on how to buy fish – The EWG’s Seafood Guide.

You can also get your omega-3 fatty acids from sources such as flaxseed, walnuts and Brussel sprouts.

4. Cost and availability of fruits and vegetables.

It may not always be easy to obtain fresh seasonal produce and some of the more common choices in the Mediterranean Region may not be available in your area – or the cost will be prohibitive – especially for organic.

Easy to Adapt?

Will it be easy to adopt the Mediterranean Diet with a full commitment?  Maybe not.  It may take some serious adjustment and determination to stay with it.

As Americans we are used to eating whatever we want, whenever we want it. If we are feeling hungry or blue – grab that tub of ice-cream. When we are bored, frustrated or angry, we reach for comfort foods like a bucket of fried chicken with mashed potatoes and biscuits form KFC.

Food has become far more than sustenance for many people. It is frequently used as a form of ‘medication’ for emotional problems. It that plays into your eating patterns, staying with any diet will be challenging.

When you start the Mediterranean Diet it can take time to adapt to the practice of thinking about what you are eating and being willing to make healthy choices. Eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes with thick gravy is not encouraged. The tub of ice cream should be replaced with a bowl of sweet, healthy fruit that is preferably high in fiber.

Such dramatic changes in your approach to food and eating habits may not sit well with some people. It may be too different and troublesome. Maybe that will be the case initially. But, you know that anything worthwhile often has challenges that must be faced. Major accomplishments rarely come easily.

Adopt the Mediterranean Diet!  Give it your best shot (including your time and energy), keep a positive attitude no matter what, and you may be surprised at how fast you realize that this is diet you want to stay with the rest of your life.

Your body and health will reflect the benefits of this diet in time . . . give it a real chance!

 

The Danger of a Frenetic Lifestyle

The frenetic lifestyle that many people live today is very harmful. Rushing here and there, being constantly on call, balancing multiple layers of responsibility may give you a sense of accomplishment – even make you feel important, but it takes a huge toll on every aspect of life.

Image by stokkete
Image by stokkete

When you constantly push yourself to take on more and more challenges, it is easy to lose sight of why you wanted to be successful in the first place. For many, the reason was to be able to spend less time working and enjoy life more.  A frenetic, high-pressure lifestyle creates exactly the opposite.

There is a very dark side to constantly pushing yourself to produce more and more. Unfortunately, it creeps up on you and becomes a serious case of self-negligence.

When you are busy and driven every minute of every day and well into the evening, it is easy to neglect important things in life that keep you healthy, happy, and create quality of life.  A continual stream of urgent tasks that must be completed will overshadow the not-so-urgent, but important activities that make life worth living.

It is not just physical well-being that is neglected – mental and emotional well-being also suffer when there is no time for self-care.

Areas of Neglect

Nutritional Needs

When your daily schedule is crammed to overflowing one of the first areas of neglect is your diet. Eating regular, nutritious meals become a thing of the past. You are not only too busy to sleep or even take a deep breath now and then, there is no time to prepare decent meals

Convenience foods, frozen dinners, take out and fast foods become the norm. It is a steady diet of additive filled, sugar and fat-filled dishes, loaded with empty calories that provide minimal nutrition and damage the body. It is impossible to sustain any level of good health on such a diet.

Adequate Rest

When you burn the candle at both ends, there is a good chance you will pay the price of poor health.  Inadequate rest carries both short- and long-term consequences.

Short-term lack of sleep can affect moods, cognitive ability, memory, judgment and increase the risk of accidents and injury.

Long-term, chronic sleep deprivation can set you on the path to serious health problems such cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even early death.

In addition to endangering your own health, you may also be endangering others because of the toll it takes on your perception and judgement. In the work place it results in inefficiency, decreased productivity, and dangerous mistakes that can cause accidents. And, of course, driving while exhausted can be deadly.

Regular Exercise

Far too many people are overweight in the United States and obesity is on the rise. Many are calling it an epidemic of the 21st Century. This is primarily the result of poor diet and lack of exercise, which are the result of busy, hectic, work-focused lifestyles.

Regular exercise is a critical factor in maintaining good health. That will never change.  When it is a missing piece, sustainable good health is nearly impossible. Even if you take the time to eat well – if you live a completely sedentary life, you are putting your health in jeopardy.

Lack of exercise is as deadly as smoking. Physical inactivity has been declared the culprit in the rising death rates from coronary disease, type 2 diabetes, plus breast and colon cancer.

You should never be too busy to exercise!

Recreation

Busy people forget to have fun (re-create themselves). If you ask a very busy professional what s/he does for fun, the answer may be anything from a blank stare to a quick, “Who has time for fun?”

This may not seem serious at first glance; but, never having time for fun and relaxation can have serious negative impact on mental and emotional stability. They are just as important to good health as nutrition, exercise, and sleep.

Hobbies, play, relaxation techniques, and simple fun activities have therapeutic and regenerative effects on both physical and mental health.

Studies show that people with anger management issues or who struggle with anxiety and/or depression can often trace the cause back to a lack of joy in life that is found in fun and relaxing activities with friends and family.

Regardless of your profession – doctor, chef, mechanic, professional athlete, or garbage man – you need time to unwind and enjoy yourself

Without fun and relaxation as a significant part of your lifestyle, you are setting yourself up for problems related to chronic stress.

Stress is a killer! It leads to obesity, heart attacks, high blood pressure, chronic headaches, depression, and temporary personality disorders, etc. It can also destroy relationships, break up families, and decrease the desire to continue living.  There is no aspect of life that is free from the necrotic touch of chronic stress.

Dreams No Longer Matter

Another serious danger of a frenetic lifestyle  is that you can eventually reach a point where dreams no longer matter, which can alter the course of your life.

Life-long dreams –  the catalyst to your ambition – the ideals that pulled you into the future may dim and eventually disappear completely from your consciousness.

After years of life-draining work, the dream can be forgotten and  replaced by the time-consuming, demanding career that takes everything you have to give.

No one intentionally gives up on achieving their dreams, but the intense focus of a person’s mind, life, and soul around the means to the end eventually becomes the end in itself, leaving no room for the original dreams to exist.

When a person places all his time, talent, and energy on something long enough, that “something” begins to absorb the entire mind and becomes the central focus of his life.  It is the only thing that his mind is capable of comprehending – and possibly the only that he is capable of wanting.

He loses his healthy zest for life,  and he has nothing but obligations, responsibilities, and productivity goals – with no end point in sight. Life is about the work and nothing more.

Living in a constant rush of cortisol and adrenaline, a person loses the ability to enjoy friends, family, hobbies and life – hopes and dreams for the future no longer exist.

Instead of enjoying life, one merely tries to beat it.

Don’t Let Life Lose Its Meaning

Living every day filled with hectic, intense activity and constant stress creates an existence of a meaningless chain of milestones that lead nowhere.

You must take the time to stop! Disconnect! Breathe!

You must remember that life exists outside of work.  Without the little moments of love, joy, laughter, and even struggles, life is meaningless.

Setting goals and milestones can be great as long as you don’t forget why you set them. There were reasons – don’t lose sight of those.

On the other hand, everyone has crazy days or weeks now and then – that is part of life in the world today.  But notice, I said “now and then” not all the time.  SLOW DOWN and LIVE!

What to Do to Get Started Walking

In my last post we looked at eight reasons why you should walk for your health: to lose weight; for heart and brain health; to get happy endorphins flowing, for more energy and general well-being. Hopefully, you were inspired to include walking as part of your daily activities. Today, we are going to talk about what to do to get started walking.

There are a few important things your should do to get started with a walking routine that will lead to a healthier life:

Check with Your Doctor

Image by wavebreak_media
Image by wavebreak_media

Starting any kind of exercise regimen should include a physical check up by your doctor. You want to make sure that what you have planned will be good for you – and not detrimental in any way.

Chances are your doctor will be completely supportive of your plan, but s/he may want to check your heart, your blood pressure and other vitals before you begin just to make sure your body can handle increased physical activity.

He may also request that you return for a follow up after a specific period of time, to make sure everything is going well.

Start Slow and Steady

For anyone starting a new physical exercise routine, starting out slow and steady is a good idea.  It is important to let your body adjust to the rhythm and energy you will be exerting.  This is particularly true if you are not accustomed to exercise, are terribly out of shape, and/or have been living a sedentary life for quite a while.

Start as slow as necessary – just be sure that you are moving your body a little each day, and that you are committed to increasing your time or distance every three or four days.

Listen to your body. Trying to do too much too fast can create serious problems.  You could strain muscles, have muscle cramps, feel weak from too much exertion . . . and also take away your motivation to continue walking daily.

Do what you can each day – be persistent – stay with it. I promise, you will begin to enjoy the process and your body will thank you.

Have a Schedule that Works for You

For most people it is a good idea to have a walking schedule. Each day after you have finished your walk, check it off. This reinforces the feeling of satisfaction that comes from having accomplished something important.

You may want to buy a special calendar for this purpose and write out your walking goals for each week.

Set up your schedule – start slow and gradually increase how far you walk or how long you walk. You can choose which of those things you want to use as your measure. For me, it is how long I walk.

If you are a complete novice at walking (and exercise), start with 5-10 minutes at a time for 3 to 5 days.  Then, increase it by 2-3 minutes and gradually add more days.

Continue until you reach a level that seems a good length of time for you.  My recommendation would be to work up to 30 minutes if at all possible; with 15-20 minutes at least 5 days a week as your minimum goal.

A Healthy Diet Is Part of the Plan

Image by klenova
Image by klenova

Walking is wonderful for your health, but you should also be eating healthy foods as part of your new routine. Even if you walk everyday (which is great), but continue to fill up on fried, fatty, sugary, processed foods, it will be more difficult to sustain the energy you need to walk regularly and for any extended period of time.

Feed your body fresh, whole foods, lean protein for energy, fruits and vegetables, and lots of whole grains. These foods will keep you feeling satisfied, they are good for your body, and provide the energy needed for walking (and everything else you want to do).

Do what you need to do the get started walking. Then, plan your new walking routine beginning today – and stay with it for the long-term!