So here it is the end of July, and the end of my weight loss challenge. This week, I've been hovering between 130 and 131, and I have seen the scale tipped at 129.8, so I'm pleased with what I've accomplished in this regard since last summer, when I saw the scales tip 156 and was appalled.
What conclusions have I reached?
First and foremost, losing weight takes self-motivation. All the articles and all the advice in the world didn't compel me to do what had to be done. I knew I was gaining and had excuses at the ready, especially "Doesn't every woman gain weight after 40?"
Then I saw a picture of me looking, to put not too fine a point upon it, fat. Even then, I don't know that would have been enough without my son's engagement. Knowing that in about another year's time I'd be posing for pictures again gave me the ultimate motivation. Without that, I don't know that I would have kept up with the exercising. There were many days I was frustrated because I seemed stuck at a given weight.
But consistency was key. I now believe that if you want to lose weight, and not just maintain it, you have to exercise every single day. I've done aerobics and other forms of exercise at rec centers and pools up to five times a week, but even then, I only managed to lose a little bit, or maintain my then-current weight. It took exercising every day to lose 20+ pounds.
Since I exercised by walking or using a used, old treadmill we got for $40 at a rummage sale, it didn't cost me a lot of money to lose weight, just time. And that's the enemy of consistency, isn't it? If you can't get the time, you can't be consistent. There were many, many days it would have been easy for me to say, "I don't have the time to exercise," but I did. However, I'm also aware that I'm very fortunate that I can schedule my days myself, so I could incorporate exercising into my lunch break.
I didn't use special eating plans or any particular diet. In fact, dieting was pretty much a non-starter for me and I never completely kicked my Coca Cola habit (had one just before writing this, in fact, albeit one of the teeny tiny 100 cal. cans). I like chocolate and alas, I reward myself with food. But I did aim for salads for lunch and cutting back the refined carbs and potatoes.
I also think it helped that I started my goal at the end of summer because believe you me, I'm finding it very tough exercising in the heat. My treadmill time is down from a full hour to 55 minutes. That's not much of a difference, but it is a difference.
I had to learn that there would be plateaus when it seemed I would never reach my goal, and that there would be backsliding - I just love me an O'Henry when the writing gets tough. But I also learned that you just have to keep slogging and you'll move off the plateau. And the occasional treat along the way isn't going to derail you - provided you remain consistent with the other part of the plan.
Bottom line? I think the notion that it takes some superior form of self-discipline to lose weight is wrong. What I did have was a powerful, self-generated motivation and the opportunity to do what needed to be done on a consistent basis.
And you know what? I could say exactly the same things about becoming a published author. It takes a powerful self-motivation, a will to write and get it to editors and/or agents, as well as consistency and sticking with it even when it seems like you're not getting anywhere. It also takes forgiving yourself when you get frustrated and stop writing for awhile - as long as you go back to it.
So what will I be doing with regards to exercise and diet now? Well, next week, I'll be exercising until Thursday, and then for the next week, starting with the day before the wedding, I'm going to eat and drink anything I want. I'll be exercising as the spirit moves me. I will be writing.
And then I plan to exercise at least three - four times a week, and try not to eat too much of the sweet stuff. You see, there's this party coming up in September....