Six weeks ago I wrote about my decision not to have weight loss surgery, and the response was, in a word, overwhelming. I heard from people all over the country about their struggles and why they decided to have or not to have weight loss surgery, too. Some letters made me laugh, others made me cry, but all of them made me grateful.
It's now been a month and a half of my new way of eating, and I've definitely learned a few things. I'm exceptionally grateful for my nutritionist's guidance in this process and would highly recommend getting similar support to anyone who's struggling with losing weight. It doesn't have to be a nutritionist -- just someone whose advice you trust and who will hold you accountable to your goals.
That said, here are just a few of the things I've learned so far in this journey.
You will be hungry, and that's okay. Your body has to learn what hungry feels like. When you regularly overeat you train your body that any signal sent from your stomach is hunger when really it could be thirst, gas, or just plain digestion. Plus, let's face it, hunger is not a bad thing. As Americans we're lucky to have a steady supply of food, but that doesn't mean we should be eating all the time. If you feel hungry between lunch and your afternoon snack, you're not going to die. And if you're "starving" (in the First World sense) have your snack a little early.
Find your own balance. I allow myself two "free" meals per week. At those meals I don't count proteins and carbs, I just eat a moderate portion of what I want. This includes when my mom brings pizza over on Friday night and one other meal. That said, I even log my free meals because...
Food diaries help. It can be hard to get into the habit, and sometimes it's really tempting to leave something off, but they are really helpful. There have even been times I had a craving but I didn't give in because I didn't want to have to write it down. Personally I use My Fitness Pal to track my food. It has many foods already programmed and I love the scanner feature - just scan the bar code on package and it will add that to your diary.
You will have cravings. And they suck. There are things you can do to move past them, and most of the time they work. If you try everything and are still jonesing for a piece of chocolate, have a bit. Just choose wisely, have just a bit, and add it to your food diary.
Cravings won't last forever. I don't think cravings will ever go away completely, but I can honestly say that food that once got me off track so many times in the past, like chocolate, is pretty easy to resist now. Just the other day I walked past a display of Cadbury Mini Eggs, one of my absolute favorites, and didn't even pause.
You will feel better almost immediately. After only a few days of healthy eating, I felt more energetic, I was in a better mood, and I had less digestive upset. Another big symptom that went away completely was the hunger shakes. That good feeling helped me get through cravings and hunger because I didn't want to go back to feeling lethargic and generally blah.
In fact, I'm feeling so good I even signed up for the Avon 39, a 2 day, 39.3 mile walk to end breast cancer. It's a big step -- or a lot of little steps -- but I'm up for the challenge!
I know the biggest question people have is whether or not I've lost weight. And the answer is yes. It's not at the same rate as if I'd had the surgery, but I'm losing about 3 pounds a week with my new lifestyle. There are times I felt discouraged by the slow drop in numbers, I won't lie. But I didn't gain the weight overnight, and I won't lose it overnight either.
I would love to hear how you all are doing with changes you've made in your lifestyle. Share them in the comments.