Everyone is always talking about how to lose weight; “take this pill”, ‘drink this concoction” or even the sensible methods of eating less calories and moving more. But, often, we don’t look into the reasons why we got heavy in the first place. A lot of people assume that overweight people are lazy, but that simply isn't true in most cases, and even in cases where it is true, it's not a complete answer as to "HOW" a person got to be 100 pounds overweight.
As I’ve been on a quest the last few months to become healthier, and I’ve succeeded in losing 40 pounds but I still have another 60 to go. While I have been working on losing, I have also been noticing the trends that make it difficult to do so. I thought I would summarize a few of them here:
How I put on 100 extra pounds and kept them:
1. Take care of everyone else first. The last 20 pounds that I gained were gained during pregnancy and while I cared for my new infant and his chronically ill father.
During this major lifestyle change, I have recruited support from family members. I have taken the “air mask on an airplane” approach towards being a caregiver. Just as they advise you to put your own air mask on first in case of an emergency, before assisting a child, I have learned that If I am not healthy and well balanced, then I don’t have the right sorts of energy to give to my son or anyone else.
2. Be super busy. I put on another 20 pounds between the years 1999 and 2003. During those years, I was working a full-time job, leading a church youth group and attending graduate school.
During this major lifestyle change, I have made being healthy a priority. I have come to realize that I can’t work what amounts to 3 full-time jobs anymore. My son and my health are my priorities. I don’t have time to volunteer for extra duties and I won’t again, at least not until my son is older and more capable of self-entertainment.
3. Work out with the wrong types of people. In 2006, I decided to lose weight and I began going to a gym regularly. I had been going for a month and was seeing some great results when a girlfriend, Laura Ann, decided she wanted to join the gym too. She came with me as my guest to see if this was the place for her. She did the same workout I had been doing all month and then laughed, told me it was too easy and continued to make fun of me and my workout. Unfortunately, I became discouraged and did not return to the gym again for several years.
During this major lifestyle change, I have surrounded myself with many super-fit athletes who are positive and encouraging. I joined a program called “Crossfit” which is an extreme fitness program full of athletes who want to see me succeed. There are other programs out there, and for the last few months I have been exploring different “boot camp” programs and personal trainers, but so far – for me, Crossfit has been the best fit.
4. Depression will help you gain weight. I graduated from college in 1997; I put on my first 20 pounds before August of 1999. Part of it was simply the process of recovering from a major illness, but another large part was due to the fact that I was depressed. I had anticipated that I would graduate from college and have the world at my feet. I did not expect to struggle to find a job, I did not expect to have to move back in with my mom and dad, I did not expect to spend 40 hours a week for an entire year applying for jobs and interviewing just to be turned down again and again. Depression slipped in with the disappointment and I found myself munching on food while I read or while I watched television and tried to distract myself.
During this major lifestyle change, I have scheduled appointments with a counselor. I need a safe place to get my feelings out; I went through some major life events in the last year, losing my partner and having my parents move in with my son and me. The temptation to lose myself in chocolate is a strong one. It’s safer, and saner, to talk to someone about how I feel and be reminded that what I feel is normal and powerful and I will survive this too.
5. Bad habits can be difficult to break. From 2003 to 2006, I only put on about 10 pounds. I ate fairly healthy, worked physically by remodeling a house – (doing much of the labor myself), and walked a lot. Unfortunately, I also drank diet coke like it was; well... like it was water, and treated myself to “yummy” treats, on a regular basis.
During this major lifestyle change, I have implemented different methods to “break the habit” with varying success. I gave up caffeine 3 years ago, so the soda pop isn’t as much of an issue anymore. However, sugar is addictive as well and my sugar addiction became very strong when the caffeine one was broken. I tried the “whole 30” as a method of breaking the sugar addiction. The idea is that if you have no sugar, not even in complex carbohydrates, for 30 days, then your body will adjust its cravings for it. I did great for the 30 days, but the cravings never went away. Giving up pasta and bread is difficult, and I have decided to try new ways to battle this addiction. Instead of going cold turkey this time, I am trying to “look at it from the other side” and ensure I eat all of my protein and vegetables each day. If I am getting the foods I NEED, then I am hoping I won’t crave the “yummy” foods as much.
6. Eating in the car can be mindless caloric intake. During the years 2006 to 2011 I put on 30 pounds, and I guess most of it is a result of my career. I drive a lot more than the average person, in fact, I drive several hours out of every day and for many years I drove even more than I do now. Long stretches in a vehicle can cause a couple of problems - one is the habit of eating behind the wheel, another is the availability of healthy lunches to bring to work if you can’t reheat and the third is driving past so many triggers on a regular basis.
Some people are in the habit of eating as they watch television. I rarely watch television; however I have an equally unhealthy habit of eating behind the wheel. You know that feeling of going on a road trip and grabbing some chips to munch on as you cross the desert to get to your destination? Well, in my job for many years… every day was a road trip. I often drove 100 miles a day, just to perform my job. That’s a lot of bags of chips “to munch on, while on the road”.
A legitimate problem of working out of your vehicle is that you really can’t bring a hot lunch to eat and in the Arizona summer, you almost can’t bring a cold one to eat either because ice melts, even in coolers. It’s not impossible, but it is definitely more challenging to eat healthy when you are on the road 8 hours out of every day.
During this major lifestyle change, I have implemented a new rule of “NO FOOD IN THE VEHICLE”. I live in a smaller community and am able to come home for lunch, snacks can be eaten while sitting on the tailgate, or in cold weather I will compromise and eat in a parked vehicle. But, no food in the vehicle is, for me, the only way to avoid the triggers that have plagued me for years.
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