Trial and Error

With the New Year’s Resolutions plastered all over social media comes the innumerable amount of fad diets, crazy workout plans, supplement advertisements, and pestering “miracle” products from pyramid multilevel marketing companies. I have been working on my health over the past year, so I figured I would try and help a few others out on their journeys by posting what worked and what failed miserably for me.

No, this is not medical advice, just one person sharing (7) trials and errors of this difficult road with other people.

Here we go…

1. STOP FEEDING INTO THE BULLSHIT

Those fad wraps, the “miracle pills”, the extremely restrictive dieting, lemon-whatever “cleanses” Do. Not. Work. Those companies only prey on people’s vulnerabilities. Unless you have diagnosed kidney or liver issues, your body cleans on its own just fine. Sure, I may have dropped a few pounds from water weight because I temporarily changed my intake, but that was short term, and my body and brain need all the PROPER nutrients to operate normally and for me to see long term results.
Literally, energy in < energy out. THAT is the only trick to this healthy phenomenon.
I have done just about every other bullshit trick in the book since 1991 and I still reached 430+ lbs at one point. So, quit looking for shortcuts, cuz the only things that got thinner were my wallet and my patience.

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(Also Hilarious: “Fad Diets” by @collectivenoun_ : https://youtu.be/DmOQPaAMBic )

2. KNOW WHAT YOUR GOALS ARE

Simply saying “I want to lose weight” ain’t gunna cut it, Bucko. That statement has absolutely no thought put into it at all. This isn’t something you can just do on a whim. Lifestyle changes take effort, planning, and a support system. Understand that these goals need to be changeable because as you figure out your abilities and your body improves, so will your perspective and so will your aspirations. Up until this past year, I didn’t have specific goals I wanted to accomplish through becoming healthier which made it difficult to find a direction to head in. Having a list of things that I want to be able to do again is legit motivation.
And it’s one kickass feeling when you get to cross them off.

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3. MEAL PREPPING

My biggest problem, besides merging my butt with my couch cushions, is portion control.
So, I “meal prep” all of my food: I plan out meals that match my nutrition requirements, take about 3 hours out of 2 days of my week, cook all the meals I will eat for the next few days, and then portion them into Tupperware containers (…so… many…). I am a busy person, so having foods that I can just grab out of my fridge, throw in my lunch box, and heat up later keeps me from hitting drive thru’s and cuts down on the “but I don’t wanna cook” excuse. It also tricks my mind into thinking “this is all I have to eat, so I must feel full after I am done” instead of going “oh, well I can just throw another helping on after this plate if I am still hungry.” Break that cycle of second servings and your drive thru-commute commitments and commit yourself to healthier foods in healthier portions.

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4. FOOD & EXERCISE TRACKING

Without knowing exactly what I was putting in my body, and how much I was burning, there was no possible way to get the results I wanted to see. Why? I didn’t know where I was starting or where I wanted to go and how I was doing along that road.
So, I use MyFitnessPal… religiously. It suggests daily intake of macros, congratulates you on healthy habits, & is relatively quick once you get the hang of it. MFP is not the only app out there, but I like the interface and monthly challenges, and it helps me stay on the right path. Through tracking last semester, I found that I had not been eating enough and my immune system, metabolism, and energy levels were suffering because of it. But mostly, I will surely over eat if I do not keep tabs on myself. Either way, eating enough is just as important as not overeating.
Fuel your body appropriately.

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5. DAILY MOVEMENT

No, this didn’t mean I jumped right into doing a bagillion burpees or joined some crazy “box” straight from sitting on my couch for the past how-many-ever years. But, just doing something active, every day, helped me get started. At the beginning of this journey, I only went walking around my apartment complex and STILL dropped weight because I made sure to get it done. Somehow, some way, I was getting off my rumpus and sweating a little (okay, a lot). Now that my overall strength and endurance have improved, my best friend & personal trainer (@derick_johnson850) kicks my butt with his workout plans (#FitWithDerick)!  I also really like the Couch-To-5k app that helped me increase my cardiorespiratory endurance. It is slightly challenging but it is MADE for people who live a sedentary life and want to change that life! Keep in mind though that this daily movement should be conducive to your goals (ex: I am no longer a powerlifter, so I don’t need to train like one right now)

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5. See your Doctor; LISTEN TO THEM.

My doctor diagnosed me with a metric shit-ton of medical issues a few months before I decided to change my health. Chances are, if they tell you that you may die before you’re 40 if you don’t get your shit together, then you should probably get your shit together. I finally got it through my head and am now following up with my physician to make sure that I am not doing my obese body more harm than good. I have to wear a knee brace because of an old injury, there are certain movements I can’t do because of my back, and I have to watch my heart rate and blood pressure when I work out. Luckily, at 72 lbs down, I no longer have those medical issues. But any complacency can trigger them to rear their ugly heads again. Not to mention, what works for Gym-Bunny-Jenny is NOT always going to work for Couch-Potato-Carl. You need to research and be medically informed about what YOUR body needs.
Get a Doctor. Be Honest with them. And LISTEN to their medical advice.

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6. GET A SUPPORT SYSTEM

This shit SUCKS, bruh. It is not fun. It hurts, it’s mentally challenging, and it feels like straight struggle. So, surround yourself with people who you care about, who care about you, and who want to see you succeed for the right reasons. I have seen a psychologist many times just to rant and to get some insight into the mental hurdles that come from being obese my entire life. I also am an active member of an online fitness community filled with some of the most awesome, real, and HOT people from all over the world (s/o Imgur). The mental game is so much harder for me than the physical game, and it’s OKAY if that is true for you, too. So, get you some people who will be with you every step of the way, cuz there are a lot of steps and they’re all uphill.

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7. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF

I lied to myself for a very long time by saying that “oh I am — pounds, but I don’t have any medical problems, so I’m Gucci.” Nah bruh. At the age of 22, I had to put my chocolate money where my pie-hole is (see #5). Eventually, that false talk caught up with me and now I am paying the price for it. Look yourself in the mirror, and reallllllyyyyy take a look at yourself. Be your own critic, and tell yourself exactly what you want to change and WHY. And, when (not if) you do hit milestones, or accomplish something on your list from #2, make sure to be your own “Number 1 Fan.” If you only ever point out the negative, you’ll cloud yourself from seeing the positive things you are achieving.
I am so guilty of this, but I am working on it.
Believe me, the love, or the hate, you speak on yourself will be projected to others.
So, be honest with yourself, and love yourself throughout the struggle.

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Love, Rae

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and closeup
72 lbs down and counting… #Inspire

 

[Have any other helpful advice? Comment below and share what has worked or didn’t work for you!]

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Every Day is “Day 1”

After my first blog, many asked me “What are you doing? What’s your secret to your weight loss?” Honestly, the hardest part is not what I am physically changing, but what I am mentally changing about me during this journey. So let’s start there, because the mental aspect of weight loss is so much more difficult to explain and even that much harder to conquer than the physical aspects.

Why do we count down our days to goals as if our successes are only final destinations and not just visits along the journeys of our lives?

My lifelong struggle with my health is directly related to my misunderstanding that because I am “starting” somewhere then I must also “finish” this journey somewhere; this is just not the case. Who ever gave us this ridiculous notion that there is an “end” to healthy journeys needs to be fried & covered in Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce and served with a side of coleslaw, collards, and buttered biscuits.

Our bodies are ever-evolving, aging, and changing, bringing with these changes the needs for different nutrients, activity levels, and energy requirements. There is no end to those progressions. Yet, we always speak in finite language (ex: “Once I lose this 25lbs…” or “After I can fit into this size…”). This type of thinking sets us up for failure, but we still default to this “end-focused” mindset. Why? Because it is COMFORTING to believe that there is a finish line somewhere, that we can do all this work on our bodies and get to the point that we don’t have to work on them anymore (if only, right?!).

This healthy process is EXHAUSTING mentally, emotionally, and physically (and I would bet that it is more mentally-taxing than it is physically-taxing). Part of what makes this journey so exhausting is that there is no checkered flag waving at some endpoint. When I was in power-lifting, I had actual deadlines because of competitions. That is normal for someone still active in athletics. However, for the majority of people who are not still involved in sports, that external reward system is no longer a source of motivation. Yes, we have little goals, like fitting into my favorite pair of black jeans from 2009 or being able to sit on literally anything without analyzing its structural integrity first. But, these are not finish lines, they are simply checkpoints that remind us that our efforts are not fruitless, that we are accomplishing SOMETHING besides resisting donuts and ice cream 24/7 (which I am sure is a form of cruel and unusual punishment).

A lot of people I encounter along this process ask me “How much do you want to lose?” They are usually looking for a number as an answer, but I am always thinking:

“ummm, all of it would be nice.”

That is another issue I have discovered with my journey: When you have been obese for all of your existence, you don’t know what you’re aiming for because you never really had a starting point to get back to. Matter of fact, I have no friggin’ clue what I will look like as a “fit” person, because I have never been a “fit” person (see my first blog for further clarification). It is frustrating to have to continuously reach for some ambiguous figure that no one can identify and it is intimidating to have to repeatedly conjure up answers to others’ questions that you have yet to answer for yourself.

Many people, including myself, have started healthy journeys by counting down to some special date like a wedding where we need to fit into a certain dress or the summer for a new bathing suit. Those special days come and go whether we ended up fitting that god-awful bridesmaids dress or throwing a cover-up on over our tankini or not. Then, we get into the habit of choosing the next date we’ll count down to, not realizing that this process is never-ending (well, unless we want to get a lil’ morbid…).

So, part of this journey for me is transforming not only my body but my mentality when it comes to my health and outlook on life. I no longer am counting down to dates, events, etc because I know that sometimes, I won’t always hit whatever arbitrary date-related goal I have set for myself. In order to keep my sanity, I have to realize that

EVERY DAY IS DAY ONE.

This small change in phrasing is reinforcing to me that every day is a new chance to make small, consistent improvements in my intake, my daily activities, my study schedule, my relationships, and literally every aspect of my life. What I ate yesterday and whatever workout I have planned for tomorrow mean little-to-nothing in comparison to the impact I can have on myself and others TODAY. This is also a way to remind myself that while I have made GREAT accomplishments in my past regarding my weight, I can’t live in those moments and forget to continue my growth.

I should’t ride the coattails of my previous accomplishments when I know that I have so many more accomplishments to go.

Yes, you should feel proud of yourself for hitting the little goals along your path, but don’t dwell in that pride in order to cover up your lack of progress towards your next goals. Also, if we don’t do what we are supposed to do, we shouldn’t dwell on those mistakes or they will drag us down mentally and it’ll make it that much harder on ourselves to recover.

Matter of fact, I am struggling with that RIGHT NOW. I got out of my workout routine during this first 2-week break from medical school, I haven’t meal prepped in over a week, and I certainly haven’t been tracking my foods (RIP to my 100+ day MFP streak). And, I have certainly been riding the coattails of the hard work I put in between May and now while not holding to that same level of commitment.

Yet another big shift in my mentality is being honest with myself in both positive and negative aspects. I know that I haven’t been doing what I should have been doing in regards to my health, and I know that I am causing myself future troubles by stalling my progress. However, I realize that I have every ounce of determination in me to get back on track and continue towards a healthier me, no matter how long that takes (*cringe*).

So, here is my nod to the innumerable “Day One’s” we will inevitably encounter along our journeys. It sucks to admit that we will fail at times, that we may stumble off the path of the FitGods. We may try to set arbitrary deadlines for ourselves, but as long as we realize that every day is a new opportunity to make small, consistent improvements, we’ll be just fine.

Happy Day One!…..again… and again…… and again…

Love, Rae.

 

 

Health

This set of blogs describes anything and everything regarding my health journey. We begin with an overview of my health history, but we will soon dive right into the good, the bad, and the fugly. I am open to any and all questions you may have for me along the way as I hope to encourage others, learn about my body and its intricacies, and share my trials and errors (and there will be MANY errors).

Enjoy the X-Ray into my life!

Love, Rae