Monday, February 9, 2009

Demystifying Weight Loss

You would think that since it took me 3 years to get to my 160's, that this weight loss trip has been hard. But it wasn't.

Easy? No.

But difficult? Eh, not really.

The concept of weight loss is simple and pure: Burn off more calories than you consume.

There is no magic diet, program, DVD or self-help book that is going to change the basic game plan of weight loss. You simply have to watch what you eat and exercise.

So, why did it take me 3 years to get to this stage? Attitude. I just didn't want it bad enough. I didn't want to, for instance, put down that 2nd and 3rd glass of wine. I didn't want to get out of bed an hour earlier in the morning to ride a bike.

This all changed for reasons more thoroughly explained here and here.

But trust me, there was no grand epiphany. The heavens didn't shower golden light down on me and angels didn't sing in chorus when I figured out what I needed to do. I didn't go to hypnotherapy. I didn't have my brain scrambled.

When a solution is presented to you that is plain as day, there are only so many ways you can react to it. To kick and scream and agonize and resist is more exhausting (emotionally) than the solution. Really, the path of least resistance is to just do it. And so I just started doing it.

I got up an hour earlier and started exercising. I didn't always like it, but I did it.

I cut back the drinking and watched what I ate. Nothing complicated. I didn't deny myself foods I liked. I just didn't indulge in the same quantities. When you give yourself some slack, and allow yourself to have what you want in moderation, there is not much of a tendency to binge. In any event, I wasn't punishing myself.

Many people call weight loss a "struggle" or "battle," like it's some major foe to be fought. Quite frankly, that is B.S. Moving for an hour a day is not a struggle. Yes, I sweat and breathe hard. But it's not struggle. I don't feel like I'm some warrior fighting Orcs when I can *only* have one bowl of chocolate raspberry truffle frozen yogurt a night. Oh dear.

When we use this kind of rhetoric, it wreaks psychological havoc on the brains of others who want and need to lose weight. See, I also thought it was really hard in the beginning because that's what so many people say. So I put off what I thought was going to be a war with my ass and my fridge. It terrified me. And when we use these types of words to describe our experience, then what kind of message are we sending to others who are trying to lose weight?

Does weight loss require discipline? Oh sure. Like I said, I didn't say it was easy. But it is no harder than 90% of the other things we do every day. Those tedious, tiresome, soul-sucking things like jobs, child care, chores and taxes. The difference? With diet and exercise, we are taking care of ourselves, remaking and remolding us in ways that a plastic surgeon will never master. We are making ourselves a priority.

Weight loss is not a mystery.

And to celebrate the fact that all this non-battling has reduced my weight to the 160's--just 20 pounds away from my high school weight *sighs dreamily*--I thought I'd engage in a little self-indulgence and post another B & A:

Here's me in March 2007 (that's Tura Satana on the right. Google her. She's all kinds of awesome.). Love the fat apron protruding under the jeans, and the fact that I seemed to perpetually sweat:

And here's me yesterday, working the jeans a little better. And, hey, those size 14 jeans are actually fitting loose now!:

I noticed while proofing this blog, I use a lot of terms in the past-tense, as if to suggest that my weight loss gig is over. It's not. I still have another 20-30 lbs to go. And I'll probably slip up again like last weekend. But that's ok. It's not so difficult that I cannot get back on.


  1. Interesting thoughts! I do agree that by everyone calling it a battle it could scare some people off. Though some days its a real fight for me to eat the right things. I know when I'm exercising and pushing myself harder than I want to go my mental self is doing all sorts of trash talk against the fat. I wonder if the longer you do it, the more it becomes a way of life and less of a struggle? Kind of the "fake it till you make it" attitude?

  2. Great post! (And you look mah-velous!) I think you hit the nail on the head when you said you have to really want it. Because if you don't REALLY want it, then it IS a struggle. But if you're willing to do whatever it takes to get you where you want to be, it's just not that hard.

  3. you are so right, calories in vs calories out. you look great! keep up the great work. and you are right getting up early and saying no to that second glass of wine never gets easy.

  4. Such a great post! (Not to mention great pictures--you look fantastic! *said the woman with waist envy*)

    So much of our success is dependent on our attitudes. When I stopped focusing on "getting skinny" and started looking at it as "getting healthy", everything fell into place. (It dropped in itty bitty pieces, but it dropped!)

  5. wow i never read our first blog. steph! very moving.

  6. You look terrific and have done really well! You have every reason to be proud of yourself!

  7. GREAT POST. Ugh, i want to laminate it and hang it in my studio. You have the perfect attitude.

    Kelly Turner

  8. Great post - you are so right about the "battle" - sometimes ya just gotta quit whining and do it.

    I like your attitude!

    P.S. You look fabulous, and may I say much younger as you get thinner?!

  9. congrats!!! you look awesome!

    keep it up,

  10. Wow! You look a-maz-ing! Thanks for the words of encouragement on my blog. It's much appreciated!

  11. I *love* this post! The common-sense approach you talk about applying weight-loss really hits home for me. I tend to make mountains out of mole hills, so I enjoyed the "demystification" of weight loss here :).