Kim is a high-energy woman who became a teacher in her early forties (and LOVES it!) and I’ve worked with her for a few years now. Near the beginning of the current school year, Kim told some of us that she was on a mission to lose 40 pounds. I thought that was a pretty bold goal, but starting October 1 2016, she officially took her first steps towards it. Over the six months that have passed since that time, Kim has undergone a physical transformation.
How much weight have you lost since October 1?
What would you say lay at the root of your weight gain over the years?
A combination of inactivity and unhealthy eating habits. When I went back to school, I was bar-tending and often eating unhealthy foods late at night. I stopped going to the gym, biking and swimming.
Have your ever gone through efforts to lose weight before? If so, what was the result?
I tried a few fad diets here and there over the last few years – cutting out carbs on one, the metabolism diet, low fat…but they were not sustainable for me.
What practical steps did you take in terms of physical exercise and diet to bring about your weight loss?
This time I viewed it as a lifestyle change. I cut out sugar, processed foods, and now I rarely drink alcohol. The sugar was challenging because it seems to be in everything and I was a bit cranky without it, but after a week, the cravings and headaches were gone for the most part. I used to crave bread, pasta, sugar; now I crave fruit, salad and vegetables. It’s not to say I never crave bread – because I do – but it’s not a daily craving anymore.
I joined a gym and started doing yoga. It’s been pretty amazing to see how quickly the body will start to get in shape if you dedicate time to daily physical fitness. In the past, I had the mindset that if I couldn’t do a huge workout then what’s the point? Now, I see that it’s about being active everyday in some way. If I’ve had a really busy day and didn’t make it to the gym, I’ll still find a way to do something – walk, weights at home, sit ups. Anything. Just get the body moving daily.
Many people want to lose weight, but they “fall off the wagon.” What factors combined to make you successful in terms of your mindset (especially relative to past efforts you might have made)?
The #1 thing for me is, again, that it’s a lifestyle change. I didn’t view it as going on a diet. I viewed it as changing the way I thought about food and exercise and making that a priority in my daily life again. I find ways to organize my time so I get workouts in.
If you “fall off the wagon”, get back on it.Don’t let a slip turn into a 3 day sugar and pizza binge. Be kind to yourself. Almost every food I used to eat, I can make a healthy version of. So instead of buying pizza, make a healthy one at home. They taste SO much better! Chip truck season is now in full swing – instead of buying them, make a healthy version at home. You’ll find you start to prefer the healthier versions because they often taste just as good or ever better. I find a lot of the foods I used to eat regularly don’t appeal to me anymore. I can’t imagine eating a fast food hamburger now.
Now that you’ve reached your goal weight, are you confident that a) you can stop losing weight? b) you can maintain your weight?
Absolutely. I will maintain it by continuing to live the lifestyle I do now. I got rid of all my clothes so unless I want to open up my wallet again I better stay on the healthy living highway!
I heard you say to another staff member that the last time you weighed what you do now, you were in high school. How does is feel physically, emotionally, and mentally to be at your current weight?
Physically it’s been a tremendous change. My energy is through the roof most days. In fact, I’ve had some trouble sleeping – I wake up really early or throughout the night. The good thing is I rarely wake up tired whereas in the past I’d sleep 8-10 hours and still be tired. My endurance has increased tremendously. My favourite thing to do is bike – to me, it’s like meditation. I didn’t bike once last summer and this spring I’ve already done a few long rides.
I’ve gained clarity in other areas of my life as well. Yoga has also played a big part in that. Taking that time to move with intention and awareness, and having that time when my mind can be still – these things have spilled over into other areas of my life.
How have other people responded to your transformation? Has that been an encouraging factor?
People have been very supportive and a few have pulled me aside or written me texts or emails with really nice, encouraging messages. The best reactions are when I see people that I don’t see regularly. My mom’s friend saw me at the gym and didn’t recognize me at first and she’s known me my whole life.
Has anyone said you’ve inspired him/her to lose weight? If so, what advice do you offer to them?
Yes, I’ve had both co-workers and friends ask me how I did it. That’s been an added bonus in that I can share what worked for me with others.
The advice I would give is to drop the word “diet” from your vocabulary. Don’t look at it as a diet – look at it as healthy overall living.
The first thing I would say is take a week or two and get sugar out of your system. Then start making other changes; increase vegetables, fruit, water. I’ve now adopted a largely plant based diet. It fills you up, it’s healthy for your body and healthy for the planet. Start educating yourself as to where your food comes from. Netflix has a myriad of documentaries – Fed Up, Forks Over Knifes, Cowspiracy, Food Inc., Food Matters – that help you to make informed decisions about what you put in your body.
Get on Twitter or Facebook and follow people. The Blender Girl and Eat Plant Based are two I’d recommend. Both post fantastic, easy recipes. The Oh She Glows cookbooks are also a great starting place and she runs a great Twitter feed and Facebook site.
It can be overwhelming at first but go at your own pace. Thousands of people run marathons every year and they don’t all finish at the same time. Don’t compare yourself to others. Take time to find what works for you and what makes your body feel better. There is so much information out there that it can be overwhelming so start slowly and make incremental changes. Once you start to see your body and mind respond, it will only encourage you to keep going. Ultimately, it comes down to you and the life you want to live. You can do it!
Have you ever lost the kind of weight that Kim has lost? Do some of Kim’s ideas apply to “debt-loss” as well as weight loss? Your comments are welcome.