Losing 20 pounds in a year isn't a huge feat in the grand scheme of things, but it has made me feel good, sleep better and will soon send me shopping for pants in a size I can't rememember ever buying before. The year I've spent losing this weight has also been a journey about food, eating and exercise. Here's what has worked for me:
A little bit of obsession.
It's like that old management trope: if you don't measure it, you can't mange it. I have a program on my mobile device that lets me keep track of everything I eat, all the exercise I do and what I weigh. The program helps keep me honest, and also continually makes a compelling case for restraint, since I can see a big day of overeating and overdrinking show up on the scale a day or so later. It also helps prevent me from lying to myself, "forgetting" what I ate or 'underestimating' my calories. Let's face it: we will lie to ourselves to justify our treats.
I also spent a lot of time thinking about food and exercise, reading magazines dedicated to running and books about where food really comes from. Plus, cookbooks. Lots and lots of cookbooks.
Eating less and moving more.
That's all. Feel free to jiggle, giggle, yoga yourself, go herbal, do Jenny or whatever you like. But at the end of the day, the final answer is that you have to put in less energy than you put out, or you'll wear that energy in the form of extra weight. Generally at the back, toward the bottom.
Setting a goal.
I decided to fit back into my wedding dress by Christmas of last year. I pulled the dress out of storage and tried it on repeatedly. It was tough but my sweetie managed to get the zipper up on Christmas morning. I can now put the dress on without any assistance, and I do, most Saturday mornings. Just to prove I can.
Doing the math honestly.
Unless you've found a way to add hours to your day, you cannot eat whatever you want and then exercise it away. Example: a big bag of potato chips easily scarfed down during the first half of an episode of The Closer is about 1000 calories. To burn 1000 calories takes two solid hours of running. Fast. Which is easier: two hours of fast running or not eating the chips in the first place? I'm putting down the chips because after three months of running every second day, I still have to hurry up just to get to 'slow'. My record on the trail so far is a mere 28 minutes of loping without stopping, so two hours is nigh unto impossible.
There's no such thing as spot weight loss.
When you lose weight, you lose a little bit from everywhere. If you have a big butt, you'll have a smaller butt if you lose some weight, but you'll also have a smaller tummy, oh and smaller boobs, too, which your sweetie might not like.
And so now, I enter final stage of my Hunting Weight Challenge, which now includes a 5K race and the goal of five more pounds gone. Here's hoping this time next year, I'm not offering tips for putting the weight back on.