11 May 2011

When Losing is Winning

As I discussed with my friend Tiffany yesterday, it’s true that I only write blogs when I am supposed to be busy with other stuff. Should be writing a 10 page paper on choice theory in education? Excellent, time to craft a western-style narrative featuring my son as the sheriff and a vengeful Spinosaurus as the evil outlaw. Have a lesson to plan for coaching tomorrow? Not right now, because that Petrarchan sonnet on the pain and anguish of stepping on a small plastic dinosaur first thing in the morning on your way to change a stinky diaper on Mother’s Day IS NOT GOING TO WRITE ITSELF.

So, I just got this BIG, HUGE project at work that suddenly has the entire admin building all aflutter and there’s so much work that needs to be done that it makes my head swim, so that means it must be time to write a self-help blog on how to lose all that weight you gained being pregnant in the short time-span of 2 years and 4 ½ months.

It turns out: losing the baby-weight is actually REALLY easy, if you just follow my 6 easy steps (patent-pending).

STEP 1: GET PREGNANT. I am not giving you details on this one. Figure it out yourself.

STEP 2: GAIN WEIGHT. In my case, I’ll be honest, it was about 50 pounds. Eamon weighed about 9 pounds when he was born. So…yeah. I don’t think I really ate that much more…but instead of running around a classroom all day, being all active and stuff, as I got bigger and more uncomfortable I found I had to become one of those teachers who just sat in a chair and told the kids what to do. So, I was eating the same but burning not nearly as many calories. Turns out you gain weight that way. Huh.

STEP 3: HAVE THE BABY. Your doctor can probably provide you with several helpful pamphlets on this one.

STEP 4: LOSE ABOUT 20 POUNDS IMMEDIATELY IN BABY, FLUIDS, ETC. Think: wow, losing this weight is going to be EASY. All you need are positive thoughts, apparently.

STEP 5: STAY ABOUT THE SAME WEIGHT FOR THE NEXT 25 MONTHS. Realize: screw the positive thoughts.



So, you see? It’s THAT easy, folks.

Okay, are we all done laughing now? Obviously, it is NOT that easy, and obviously, Steps 6 & 7 took a bit more work than shown above. But I did, I think, finally crack the code on what works for ME, and it involves several important realizations:

A. When you get a desk job, you will get NO exercise if you don’t make some for yourself, and your weight will begin to SKY ROCKET if you don’t get it under control quickly.

B. I am a total idiot when it comes to knowing what foods are healthy.

C. I am a total idiot when it comes to knowing anything about portion control or when I am full.

D. According to Radio Lab, things like losing weight are all about short-term versus long-term wants. My long-term want was to lose weight, but my short-term want was to eat 20 Starburst candies. The way the human brain works, short-term wants always win over long-term wants. The only way to make a difference is to somehow transfer the long-term want into a short-term consequence that will win the battle against the short-term want.

E. I needed something that would 1) educate me on how to eat better so I could eat less and yet not be hungry, 2) help me better understand portions, carbs, fats, calories, etc., 3) provide a short-term consequence for over-eating. From what I had heard, Weight Watchers would have done all this, and I researched one in my area, but it met the same night I had class and cost a lot of money. I finally found a similar enough program at www.myfitnesspal.com. It certainly doesn’t provide all the supports of a program like Weight Watchers, but it does have a huge database of foods, helps you set realistic goals, and allows you to track your food and exercise. The best part? It has a cell-phone app so that I could track everything no matter where I was or what I was doing…and that was my short-term consequence. I might not mind eating 20 Starburst candies, but in no way did I want to input that into a food diary. (NOTE: That worked for me as a short-term consequence. It might not work for you. But seeing those little red numbers at the end of the day when I had overeaten really bummed me out and inspired to eat better throughout the rest of the day so that didn’t happen).

F. I started taking workout clothes to my parents’ house when I went to pick up E. My dad has an exercycle that tracks calories burned, heart-rate, etc., and I like it better than the gym because I can wear my headphones and play air guitar while I ride and no one thinks I’m insane. If I don’t do that, I take Eamon for a walk or light jog around the neighborhood. I’ve also tried to use the gym facilities when E is there for his swim lesson. I try to keep track of how many calories I burn and make them up in food for that day. I have also noticed that when I do NOT work out, even if I stick to my food goals, I don’t lose as much weight. Working out increases your metabolism, so it’s necessary even though, honestly, I still HATE this part. I have never been and will never be a person who enjoys exercise. Oh well. Like flossing, it is a necessary evil.

The upshot is that over the last 3 ½ months, I’ve managed to lose about 26 pounds and 2-3 dress sizes (I’m currently at that awkward stage between two sizes). I’ve been losing it really slowly (about 1.5 pounds a week), which is better for your health and I hear means I’m more likely to keep it off.

The best thing? I’m at that point where people are finally starting to NOTICE. It’s nice to walk down the hallway and hear compliments from people, especially when I have worked really hard to get to this place.

No, wait, that’s cool, but the BEST best thing? I feel better. And I feel like finally, I can keep up with the little person running around my house.

You know, the one who caused me to gain all the weight in the first place.

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