Not thinking much of it, I moseyed on over to Twitter to see what was happening over there - and then I noticed an @mention from a Dr. Sherry Pagoto stating she had mentioned me in her blog. I follow the link - and WOW... I was so honored. This is a professional - a doctor - mentioning little ol' me on her healthy living blog. I was honored.
It's posts like Dr. Pagoto's that makes me realize that I'm not just sitting here every morning talking to myself. Whether I'm sharing a success, venting a failure, or just ranting on about living my daily life... people read this stuff...not just that, but I get LOTS of questions from people that I run in to on a daily basis. That gave me my idea for today's blog. Being that I've gained several new readers the past few days - I thought I'd do a little Q&A session, answering some of my most common questions that I get asked from people I know - and people that read my blog.
1. What possessed you to start a weight loss blog?
I love to write. Writing, for me, is a release - a way to de-stress, and get things off my mind. After researching and trying countless diets - and hating all of them - there was one common factor they all had...keep a journal. Most of them recommended keeping a food journal - but that's just boring. I wanted to write about how I was feeling, how much weight I was losing, things that were working - and things that weren't. I also wanted something I could hold myself accountable to - and I figured having a public blog would help with that.
2. Do you think that having a weight loss blog has helped give you better results with your weight loss?
Most definitely. Not so much in the beginning, when there wasn't really anyone reading it - but since gaining readers it has. This blog helps me keep accountable, but also reading the stories of other people who are traveling the same journey I am has been an amazing help. My blog has helped me connect to so many people - people that inspire me and are inspired by what I have to say. That gives me purpose, drive, and motivation to keep going each and every day.
3. What has been the most challenging part of losing weight publicly?
Admitting the failures is the hardest part of weight loss blogging - I also think it's one of the most important aspects, too. I'm not perfect. There are times I slip off the track, let my cravings take over, gain a few pounds...admitting those setbacks are just as important as sharing the successes. I think it's very important for people to see - especially those just starting out - that I'm not perfect.
I have just as many struggles today as I did 15 months ago, when this leg of my journey began. The key, though, is showing that I don't let the setbacks take over - I have to show myself getting back up on the horse and picking up where I left off. Never giving up is the message I want to send.
4. What's the best part about having a blog?
The support. Without the support I receive from my readers, I would have probably given up a long time ago. As much as I love sharing my story - knowing that it's touching someone...helping them somehow...that's just awesome.
Since starting my blog, I've been featured in other blogs, mentioned on Shape Magazine's website, and receive a lot of shout-outs on Twitter. That makes me feel special. I know that my writing has a purpose - not just for me, but for other people that are looking to me for advice, support, and help.
I also love the fact that I can be myself - raw, in your face, and honest. I try my best to let my humor show through - but that doesn't always work out the way I plan....and that's OK. This is my space to say what I want, how I want to....and how freakin' awesome is that?
5. So, what do you say when people ask you what diet you're on?
LOL - I love this question...and it's the most common question I get. The simple answer? I'm not on a diet. That usually gets followed up with "yeah, but you're doing something to lose the weight - so isn't that considered YOUR diet?" That's true, I guess. I am doing something - but I don't label it as a diet.
I decided 15 months ago that I had to change the way I lived. That included eating healthier, working out, and changing my eating habits. I could no longer eat what I wanted when I wanted to. It came down to making conscious efforts before putting anything into my mouth. Will this satisfy my hunger? Am I eating because I'm hungry or because I'm bored? Is there something else I could eat that would be better for me? Answering those questions before I eat is very important.
I count calories. I try to eat less than 1700 calories a day. I eat three meals a day, with a couple of snacks between meals. I plan out my meals each week. Planning is VERY important. It helps keep me in check with what I'm eating - and when I'm eating it. I don't have to do a bunch of math trying to figure out my caloric intake - because I've done all that when I make my meal plan.
Exercise is something I also had to embrace. I hated to exercise - it's hard work. It took me a long time to find an exercise I actually enjoyed - and that's running. Running isn't for everyone - and I'm no expert on it. I just like going out to the park and jogging...it gives me a chance to clear my mind, de-stress - and burn tons of calories. It's really about finding something you enjoy - and that's still a work in progress for me. There's much more I should be doing in regards to exercise - but I'm getting there.
6. Do you use any special programs or equipment - like Weight Watchers?
The only special equipment I use is my BodyBugg. For my birthday, my dear Hubby offered to buy me something to help with my weight loss efforts. I did a lot of research. I know lots of people that have had HUGE successes with programs like Weight Watchers - but when it came down to it, I just didn't think the program was right for me. Being able to get to meetings and stuff would be too hard for me - so I opted for something I could use from home.
I LOVE my BodyBugg. It goes on my arm the minute I wake up each morning, and doesn't come off until I fall asleep. I love being able to see how many calories I burn each day - even when I'm not exercising. It helps me see where I'm messing up with how much I'm eating compared to how much I'm burning. I've had it for 3 months now - and even though I haven't lost a lot of weight... I can see why. It's accurate, and helps show me where I need to make the adjustments in order to get the results I want.... now, if I would just make those adjustments things would be much better.
7. Do you notice the changes your body has made since losing the weight?
Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. If I look at a picture of myself pre-weight loss compared to post-weight loss, then I'm amazed at how different I look. There are also days I look in the mirror and don't really see much of a difference to how I looked a year ago. The noticeable difference comes from my clothes. Putting on a pair of size 16 pants - instead of the size 24-26s I was in a year ago - helps me realize that I've lost a lot of weight.
I tend to "feel" my changes rather than see them. When I go out for a jog, and I'm able to run for 15 minutes without stopping - I realize the changes. Back when I weighed 297lbs, I couldn't walk for 15 minutes...let alone run. My strength and stamina have increased so much. I can go to the gym and participate in a fitness class without worrying - I know I can do it. It took a long time, but when I get down and am able to do REAL push-ups... I know that I've come a very long way.
Also, something as simple as putting on a pair of heels. A year ago, I could NOT walk in a pair of heels. Not only did my ankles and knees scream out in pain - my balance just wouldn't work with the heels. Now, I can sport a pair of 5" heels with ease. My knees no longer hate me, and I feel good in a pair of heels....did I mention that I've also lost weight in my feet? Yeppers - a year ago, I squeezed my feet into size 11 shoes...today, I comfortably wear a size 10!!
8. How do you get over set-backs and weight gains?
This is a tough question. It's never fun to have a set-back or a gain. Sometimes the gain can be totally out of my control -and that's frustrating. What I mean by that is I have a good week of working out and eating right, but I still see a gain on the scale on weigh in day. That's so annoying - but it happens a lot. I try to tell myself that it's just my body building muscle... but it takes a little while (seeing the loss on the scale) before my mind will wrap around it.
Then there are days - even weeks - where I lose my momentum... I don't work out, my eating habits are not good. I'm just getting over one of those periods right now, actually. What gets me back on track is feeling my body starting to slip into old habits and routines. I'm tired all of the time, my body feels bloated and full when I eat, I have no energy....the scale starts increasing. It's when these things happen that I realize I can't go back to where I was 88lbs ago. I can't give up on all of the hard work I've put in...being so close to losing 100lbs. It's then that I perk up and head out to the track for a run. That post-setback run usually gets me back on track and everything else falls back in to place.
9. How often do you weigh yourself? Do you think it's better to avoid the scale when losing weight?
I'm one of those people that can't stay away from the scale. As much as I've tried - I can't help but weigh myself every day. This is a really tough question to answer - because I think it comes down to the person.
If you're the kind of person that obsesses over what the scale says - then it's probably best to weigh once a week. I know people that will weigh several times a day - and freak out because they see a 2lb weight gain in a day. That's normal - and is going to happen. My weight fluctuates all day...and I know and accept it.
I weigh myself every morning - right after I've gone to the bathroom. I use the weight as my daily guide. The only day that really counts for me is Wednesday - my "official" weigh in day. I like weighing in on Wednesday - because it's the middle of the week. I've given myself a couple of days to get over the weekend, and I have a few days before the weekend starts again.
My scale can actually be quite the motivator. If I get on it one morning and see a gain - I get an urge to work-out. I don't stress over it - but it helps. I'm not going to say that there aren't times I want to throw my scales out of the window...there definitely are. It's just about balance. The scale doesn't define you. Some people prefer using a tape measure to measure their progress...that's a great way to see results. I like the scale - it works for me. Again, it's definitely a personal choice.
10. Lastly, what would you say to someone who's just getting started on their own weight loss journey?
Take one day at a time. Accept the fact that losing weight is a life-changing journey...it takes time. The weight isn't going to fall off overnight - it isn't going to magically disappear. It takes hard work and commitment. There are going to be days when you feel like it's just not worth it, being overweight is easier, there were less restrictions before you started trying. The triumph comes when you're able to get through those times.
If you look in the mirror one week in - don't expect to see dramatic changes. Here I am 15 months in - 88lbs less than when I started - and I still struggle with noticing the changes. The changes are there, they come....but don't lose heart if you don't notice them.
Find a plan that works for you. Don't try and cut calories to an unhealthy level. A "normal" sized person shouldn't eat less than 1200 calories a day. If you're drastically cutting calories - you'll lose weight quickly...but in an unhealthy way - that usually leads to a quick plateau, and you're body storing energy which ultimately leads to weight gain. Look into a program such as MyFitnessPal.com and figure out how many calories you should be eating each day. Plan your meals out each day, so you're not left hunting for food.
Accept that exercise has to go hand-in-hand with healthy eating. Cutting calories and eating healthier will help you lose weight - but exercising will help burn fat, tone muscle (and access skin), and give you energy. You don't have to join a gym or become a "gym rat".... 15-30 minutes of exercise a day is a great way to start out. I started out by walking 15 minutes a day...then when that became easy, I started jogging for 30 seconds at a time...then progressed to running a couple of minutes..and so on and so on. You have to up the intensity when you're exercise routine becomes "easy". If you prefer to work out at home - there are so many options available. There are some great DVDs, fitness programs, and pod casts....look and ye shall find.
Finally, reach out to the weight loss community. We're here - by the thousands. There are so many people that are sharing their weight loss journeys via blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. They offer tips, advice, support...and friendship. They have been where you are, they know how hard it is to start, they have answers to your questions. Maybe they'll inspire you to start sharing your story...and that's always good.
Lastly, if you're going to start your own weight loss blog - be honest. I learned from this mistake when I first started my blog. I was too ashamed to admit how much I really weighed...and it caught up to me. There's nothing wrong with being honest. It's actually very refreshing. OK, so you're embarrassed of how much you weight RIGHT NOW - but just think how awesome it will feel when you've lost 20, 50, 80, or even 100lbs!!!
OK - so that's it for the Top 10 Questions I get asked. If you have another question...please post it. I really enjoyed doing this.
Till next time. :)
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