"How do you lose weight?"

Five years ago, I was really unhealthy and overweight. I know I weighed somewhere over 204 (I’m 5’6”), but when I crossed that 200lb threshold, I stopped getting on the scale. 

Like lots of moms, I tentatively looked into things to try to lose weight. I tried Couch to 5k once and stuck to that for about a week. I’d go shopping and try to buy what I assumed was “diet food”. But I was super uncommitted and uneducated, so it was a recipe for failure.

I was also going through a lot of turmoil in my life at that time. I was a newly divorced single mom and running my own business and really struggling. And one day a light went off in my head…..I deserved to be treated better than I was treating myself.

Around that time, about four years ago, one of my oldest friends, who just so happens to run her own gym, told me about a program they were going to run at the gym. A 21 day weight loss challenge, guided by her and her nutritionist husband. At that point I had cut out beer and started running and was feeling a little better and had dipped under the 200 mark. So I figured what the heck and I signed up.

And it changed my life.




In the 21 days, I lost 11 or 12lbs. But more importantly…I made fitness a habit and I became educated about what I put into my body.  I religiously stuck to the program for 6 full months, which included no alcohol or sugar that entire time. And I lost over 40lbs in those 6 months.

And I’ve stuck with it. Last year, I gained back 15lbs but lost that again this year and I’m currently maintaining at very near my lowest weight. 

Seeing that I lost so much and that for the most part, it stuck, I now have a lot of friends ask me how to do it. What exercises do they need to do, how much do they have to work out….what do they have to do to lose weight and sustain it.

And they virtually never want to hear the truth.

The truth is that it’s mostly about diet, and your diet isn’t as good as you think it is.

I think the biggest lesson I learned when I first lost weight was that most foods marketed as “healthy” really aren’t.  Today, it always blows my mind when my friends tell me “I eat mostly healthy” when I look at their food and want to shout “omg no you don’t!”. And I don't mean to be judgey, because I know they THINK they are eating healthy. They just haven’t learned enough about nutrition. And food marketing is a bitch.

And that “I eat mostly healthy” comment. “Mostly”? 

The other thing I have learned in my journey is that most people grossly underestimate how much crap they put into their body. I know I sure did. And when I did my little backslide last year and I went back to calorie tracking, I saw just how much stupid eating I was doing. You don’t realize how this little bit of thing here and this little bit of thing there add up.

If you’re going to the gym, if you’re moving your body every day and you’re still gaining and unhappy……you need to radically pay attention to and change your diet.  You need to get obsessive about learning about food and how it fuels you and what certain foods do to you personally. You need to be obsessive about paying attention to every. Single. Bite. You. Take.

It sounds kind of crazy, I guess.

But I’ll tell you this….after a year of obsessively paying attention to your intake, it just becomes second nature. Reaching for apples instead of junior mints becomes habit. Taking a minute to consider if that cookie is really worth it just becomes part of your brain chemistry.  It’s not hard, it doesn’t feel like work, and I certainly don’t feel like I’m sacrificing anything.
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How do you lose weight for good? Radically change your diet. Yeah, you should move your body, but I don’t believe that there is any magic exercise for that thats any better than anything else. Just move your body.  My sister-in-law looks amazing and mostly all she does is yoga. My high school friend does triathlons. I’m relegated to just walking right now. Yeah, move your body. But as the old saying goes….you can’t outrun a bad diet.

When people (especially other moms creepin' up on 40) ask me “How do you lose weight?” I want to be really honest, but usually I’m not. You can read people. So I usually just tell them what they want to hear. But honestly…..I wish I could tell them everything I just wrote.

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P.S.
If you are looking to learn about food and how it fuels you and how it works with or against your body, the best suggestion I can offer is to look into the Whole30 program. Yes, the idea of a "Whole 30" is very daunting. But I've found the program itself to be filled with a lot of common sense information about how to eat well. And it has such a big following that there are a TON of recipe sites online and it's VERY easy to just get ideas off the web. 

Even if you don't think it would ever be possible to fully do a Whole30, the info is very valuable and has a lot of basics for learning to live in a way where you're treating your body like it deserves to be treated. 




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