don’t read this: how i lost the weight.
well, first of all, know that writing this is making me very uncomfortable. i’m never one to talk about my appearance, except for how great i look on any given day because i always believe i do (insert lyrics to beyonce’s “flawless” here). but, i’ve lost some weight over the past two years (121 pounds to be exact — where’s my people cover?!) and i’ve been asked how i did it. so, i guess, if anything i can offer either motivates someone or even helps, it’s worth it.
i want to preface that i am not a doctor (apparently three years of pre-med don’t count!), registered dietitian, or personal trainer. if these tips work for you, great! and, i don’t say this to be mean or uncaring, but just because they worked for me, i’m not purporting to believe that they’ll work for you.
above all, no amount of weight lost is a replacement for self-confidence. i have always loved myself and always will — perhaps to a fault! i just fit into clothes better now, don’t breathe as heavily when walking up subway stairs (though i still cry if the 6 escalator isn’t working), and hopefully won’t need to slather monistat soothing care chafing relief powder-gel between my legs this summer. (but if you need it, seriously, it’s the best!)
so, here we go. my yenta-isms. in no particular order. (i apologize in advance for any rambling i may do.)
1. stop ordering in. don’t get me wrong — i love seamless. i love their business model and their customer service, but i also think it — and other services like it — are the worst thing that can happen to someone — especially a single. you know how one of the downfalls of always paying with credit is that you can fool yourself into thinking you’re not really spending what you are? well, the same is true for food delivery. not only are you probably using a credit card to pay, so you actually are spending quite a bit, but it’s just too easy. you can’t see the food, you don’t know how much is really there, so you just order and order — sometimes more than you would normally just to meet a minimum. it also allows you to give in to your cravings too easily. i read somewhere once that a craving only lasts 12 minutes, and while i’m going on about six years for mexican food, i probably shouldn’t be ordering it every night (we’ll get to how to curb that craving later…) i didn’t always cook that much (which we will also get to), so i was probably ordering via seamless a few times a week, and have since stopped. i found that by the time the food arrived, i probably would’ve been satisfied with something healthier and smaller in my own home. the food just became unsatisfying. remember that feeling as you attempt to log in.
i haven’t given it up altogether, but I do it much less often and also make better choices when ordering. i will say, though, as a digital producer, i wold love to see a more obvious way to detect healthy items on menus not filtered as “healthy” restaurants. perhaps a partnership is in order. maybe something to work towards…
(update: i haven’t used it yet, but check out the healthy out app for healthy food delivery choices.)
2. curb your cravings by focusing on flavors vs. dishes. for example, if i really want mexican food, i’ll make eggs with salsa. or an omelet with peppers and onions. i’ll get an amy’s burrito. if i want chinese, i’ll make a riff on fried rice with farro. or make my own stir fry so i can control the sodium, etc. break apart the flavor profiles of what you desire and realize what you’re actually craving. because it’s not a three-course meal from rosa mexicano. and this is ultimately how you retrain your palate into needing sugar and salt less and less.
3. if you’re like me and relish the great INDOORS, then join a gym you actually like. since my first gym membership, i was always a member of NYSC. and while i know many people who like their experience there, my closest manhattan location just wasn’t for me. it was 8 blocks from my apartment (i know that sounds very close, but when the little devil on your shoulder is telling you not to work out, it feels like a fucking mile away.) i wasn’t excited to go the gym, so I paid my money every month and never went. after losing a bit of weight solely through diet, i got back to working out. and i joined equinox.
now, equinox is damn expensive. like, very, very expensive. in fact, i’m paying about three times as much as i was at nysc. but guess what? i’ve only missed one week of working out since i joined. (yes — i checked.) i’m a fancy person. i need my gym to look like a hotel. a kimpton hotel. i’m the kind of person who needs a damn eucalyptus towel after i work out, and thankfully equinox offers just that. which brings me to my next point…
i know too many people who always tell me how great their gym is. how many great classes it offers. this comment, though, is usually followed by “but I can never go.” so, really, how great is your gym? it’s not good enough to get you there. equinox gets me there, so i pay far too much money to work out, but guess what? it’s worth it.
oh, and if you want to pay a fortune for your gym clothes, then go right ahead. i’m sorry, the cut, but you should feel good when you work out, and if those lululemon yoga pants are going to accomplish that, then buy them! (i personally prefer old navy compression leggings and gap fit tanks.)
(and yes — this endorsement was all just a ploy for you to join equinox and get me a referral reward ;) )
4. work out the way you want to. i have OCD. sure, it’s self-diagnosed, but considering i have as much of an obsession with the number eight as hannah horvath, it’s safe to say it’s true. i control it as best i can and certainly try never to reveal it to others. my neuroses have always manifested themselves in my workouts — counting, routines, etc. — so, working out has always been as much a mental workout (and an exhausting one) as a physical one. and, i hate working out with other people. always have. the problem is, once you start going to the gym and seeing a difference, your friends are going to want to go with you. if you don’t want them to, DON’T LET THEM. it doesn’t say anywhere that you need to work out with others. i’m not saying you should live in a bubble of your own insanity, but working out doesn’t have to be a team effort, and neither does your weight loss if you don’t want it to be.
i’ve learned to let myself be more flexible in my workout and now enjoy going to classes with friends (y’know, the ones where no one’s allowed to speak.) make a night of it! spin and din! done. but you have to do what’s best for your fitness. and if having someone there being lazy because they really don’t need to get the kind of results you do, decline their invitation. or go to the gym together, tell them you’ll meet up in an hour, and do your thing. they’ll understand.
also, find things you enjoy doing. if you love the elliptical don’t listen to the person who said another machine is better. who gives a shit? i use an elliptical every time i work out, crank the level up to max and get an arm workout in the process. i am also so happy that i found that i love spinning. am i willing to pay $35 a class to go to soulcycle? no. but luckily it makes my exorbitant equinox bill seem even more worth it. spin feeds into my love for music and my desire to be outdoorsy… indoors. (“the great indoors”… john mayer said it best.)
this all being said, don’t break plans to go to the gym. your friends will understand if you need to meet a half-hour later than usual, but you’ll start to resent your own regimen if it prevents you from having fun!
5. eat every two hours. this type of regimen is called metabolic dieting. there are different thoughts on time intervals, and i honestly can’t remember how i landed on two hours, but i’ve stuck with it. i eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner and two healthy, low-calorie snacks in between.
which ultimately leads to…
6. portion control. serving sizes are a big topic right now and i’m not sure how i feel about the new proposed serving sizes on the food items. sure, showing a higher calorie count might prevent people from eating things, but ideally it would be education to help people realize they should only be eating proper serving portions. for example, the general serving size for most pasta is half a cup. so, you know what i eat? a half a cup. i know exactly what i’m consuming and i’m full.
eating every two hours and controlling the portions of those “meals,” also makes you see “meals,” as, well, having air quotes around them. generally what one considers breakfast, lunch, and dinner are usually my biggest meals, but not always. and, as the great adam sackler once said, “time is a rubberband.” your three meals a day don’t need to be big just because that’s what you know. if you’re not hungry for a big meal, have another small one!
7. jersey is your enemy. i’m not even going to go into the greater topic of the fashion industry’s relationship to weight. however, what’s so ironic to me is the same industry that supposedly shames us into being thin has also allowed us to become bigger than ever. while shopping overweight can be quite a disheartening experience (if you’ve ever cried in a dressing room, you’re not alone!), even the largest shoppers out there can find SOMETHING to wear. i’m not saying it’s always flattering, but there’s something.
with the propensity towards cheaper materials like spandex and jersey over the last decade or so, which has allowed for more accessible trendy options (think h&m, forever 21, etc.), people don’t need to stay fit because they’ll always be covered. while much is made of french people’s relationship to food, it would be interesting to dive deeper into the country’s fashion industry, their legacy of couture and expert tailoring, and weight, and see its effect on their population. if you start to notice that your clothing isn’t fitting, do something about it. don’t just buy another size up because it won’t stop. there will always be another size available. buy perhaps pricier, higher-quality clothing, clothing you want and care to fit into. i can’t believe i’m saying this, but marie osmond actually makes this point in a nutrisystem commercial and i actually agree with her for once: stop wearing sweatpants! when i started gaining weight my sophomore year of college, after being the thinnest i’d ever been in my adult life, i went straight to my trusty u of r navy sweatpants. and i just wish i never had (although anyone whose owned a pair of u of r sweatpants knows how damn comfy they are!)
8. don’t just talk about it. be about it. i dont talk about my weight loss (she says in a blog post entirely about her weight loss…) because there’s literally nothing i hate more than hearing people — unfortunately, usually females — drone on about what they ate that day. i don’t care. i literally could not care less. unless you went to per se. and then i want to hear all about it!
but, i recognize that there’s a part of that person that feels better being validated by how little they ate that day or confessing how much they did. the problem is that you open yourself up to your friends judging you and your eating habits. if you tell me you’re trying to lose weight, that you’re eating healthy, and then i constantly hear otherwise, i’m going to judge you. and that’s human nature. your friends might feel like they can tell you what you’re doing wrong. and then you feel bad. just stop it. unless you have a nutritionist who is literally asking you what you’re eating, just stop it.
9. don’t eat till you’re full. although juice cleanses have their pros and cons (probably more the latter), one thing they usually promote is to be ok with feeling empty. i’m not condoning starvation, but what this means to me is that you shouldn’t need to feel full all the time. i used to eat till i was full or even beyond that. now i eat till i’m content, knowing that my next nosh is two hours away.
10. YOU WILL EAT AGAIN. i’m a foodie. i love going out to eat and, yes, sharing what i’m eating. (sorry!) the problem with sharing my experiences and trying great new spots is the idea that i need to try everything on the menu. i now have to tell myself that it’s ok if i miss something, that it’s ok if i don’t get everything this time. if i don’t get it tonight, i can always come back. or maybe i won’t! if the restaurant isn’t here long enough for me to find out, then it wasn’t worth it in the first place.
i have a feeling this applies to even more people on vacation. “well, who the hell knows when i’ll be back in florence, so i should try everything i can.” and while self control in this situation is difficult because, seriously, who does know when you’ll be back, this is where maybe the best tip from bethenny frankel comes into play (yes, really.) bethenny has always promoted the idea of just tasting things. if you’re in florence and you need to try five different gelato flavors because fodder’s and tripadvisor and immaculate infatuation all told you they’re the best, then get them. but split them. or just ask for a taste of a couple and only get one full one. there are ways to experience food without being gluttonous. it took me a long time to figure this out.
11. i chew gum. a lot of people criticize others for chewing gum to curb their hunger. they’re empty calories, after all. i don’t care. i need something in my mouth, and it’s either that or a taco. (that’s what she said.)
12. stop drinking soda. i used to drink soda. like, a lot. it’s just so bad for you, i can’t stress it enough. i used to have a diet coke with pretty much everyting and i was a dr. pepper fiend. now, i only allow myself a black cherry soda at kosher-style delis and a root beer at special burger joints and luke’s lobster. that’s it. once i gave up caffeinated soda, i fell into a ginger ale spiral which has a ton of sugar. it’s just not worth it.
13. stop being dependent on caffeine. sleep has a lot to do with your overall health and metabolism. i’ve been asked why i gave up “coffee,” as so many studies have shown that coffee can actually be quite good for you, or at least have positive effects. well, i’ve given up caffeine for about two years twice. although i’ve fallen off the wagon a bit with espresso, the only caffeine i regularly consume is tea (which i can’t support enough in weight control!) and chocolate. the problem with my personal coffee consumption is that i don’t drink coffee — i drink overpriced sugary espresso beverages. and even if i didn’t, the problem isn’t coffee itself but its effects on your sleep cycle — ones you may not even realize. with no caffeine, i go to sleep earlier and i wake up earlier, which ultimately improves my metabolism, and, hey, even helps me get to 6:30 a.m. spin classes every now and then. even if you think, “oh, it doesn’t affect me!” it does. i know it’s difficult, but just try to decrease your intake. jawbone has even recognized the effect of caffeine and released a new app to keep track of intake.
14. i use slimfast. i’m not by any means condoning slimfast as a product. it’s not really natural. however, it has helped. when i first started my lifestyle change, i followed their routine more strictly, even eating their branded snacks. now, i usually just have it for breakfast. honestly, it’s basically a gentle laxative (sorry!) does it curb your hunger as long as it claims? nope! but it will get you to the first snack of the day.
15. be attuned to your body and know how much you weigh! at my heaviest, i literally didn’t know how much i weighed, and maybe i didn’t want to know, but the sooner you become aware of how much weight you’re truly carrying, the sooner you can do something about it. i used myfitnesspal to count my calories for several months (after awhile, i didn’t need it), but i tracked my weight with it until i reached my “goal.” spoiler alert: it doesn’t do shit when you reach your goal! i tweeted the company to find out why and they said they hope to add the functionality. hmph!
…and, your body is telling you things. i’ve never been so aware of my digestive routine, how often I use the bathroom (sorry!), etc. if you still feel full hours after you’ve eaten a normal-sized meal, etc. and even working out doesn’t help, use a probiotic — i do. the two that i usually rely on are culturelle and jarrow formulas’ jarro-dophilus eps.
16. stop drinking unnatural juices and beverages. besides the fact that it’s bad for your teeth, it just has so much sugar in it. i used to drink almost a half gallon of orange juice a day, and i just gave it up. not only does it have a shit ton of sugar but it’s super acidic, and i was starting to experience reflux. if you need juice (and i do!), i think grapefruit juice every now and then is OK as it helps with digestion, but the only juice i drink now is 100% apple juice. it’s much easier on the system and has natural fiber.
17. eat chocolate! listen to more coldplay! at the end of coldplay’s 2003 live album, chris martin leaves the crowd with these two commands, “eat more chocolate and listen to more coldplay.” while i fear imploring you to do the latter may be a losing battle, hopefully i can convince you to do the former. but make it good chocolate. the last time i walked into my favorite jacques torres location, my pusha, shaniqua, told me i was shrinking. it had been about five months since i left my job in 30 rock, and i had lost quite a bit of weight since then. i reassured her that i was still eating chocolate almost daily, albeit not as good as jacques’. seriously, his chocolate is the best, and if you’re ever in 30 rock, ask for shaniqua, and tell her i sent you! but, i’ve never given up my sweet tooth. i may not be downing ben and jerry’s like i once was, but i probably have at least once piece of chocolate a day, good, high-quality chocolate. extra seratonin. (that’s a lie.) if you’re going to go for it, darkest is best.
18. don’t not lose weight because someone is telling you to lose weight. people are fucking assholes and whether you’re being told to lose weight lovingly or not-so lovingly, don’t not do it either consciously or subconsciously out of some desire to be contrary. just tell them to fuck off and do it anyway. because it takes an amazing amount of willpower, self-restraint, and patience, but you can do it. you really can.
i’m sure there’s more and maybe you’re hoping there would have been less, but there are so many factors that go into a person’s weight and health. at the end of the day, i’m a woman of science and believe genes account for much more than we give them credit for. i’m never going to be a size 2, and maybe you’re not meant to be either. maybe you’re not even meant to be a size 10, but if you feel good and are healthy, that’s all you can really ask for.
p.s. i know actual dietitians and would love to refer you if you want! let me know and i’ll pass their info along.
p.p.s. i know this post is a disaster and will update it when i can, but for now, just wanted to get it up. (that’s what she said… again.)