I haven't written all that much about my fitness efforts. What I have written is in this index on "Healthy Eating". Let me be very honest and acknowledge that I feel a twinge of guilt writing about my food and fitness issues when some people have very large crosses to bear in this regard and in my opinion have more credibility in talking about this issue. I have never had to lose more than 45 pounds and that max was the time I was post-partum with my fifth child and had been on bedrest for 2 months. I went up to 189 pounds at 9 months and when I gave birth to my 7 pounder I still had a long way to go to get back down. Even though some of it was fluid retention, it took about a year, I think.
Still I would like to point out that unhealthy living is not just about getting obese. In my case I brushed with anorexia in my high school years and with bulimia in my college years. I straightened this out as far as overt symptoms go when I got married and got pregnant, but I still wasn't the healthiest eater in the world. I have lots of "trigger foods" and my youthful episodes of self-starvation and bingeing have no doubt resulted in some longterm effects. I'm just saying this to point out that torturing yourself to be thin is not a success strategy either.
So with food and fitness as well as with house maintenance I knew that I had to find a workable, simple routine I could keep in my head, that didn't wear me out or use any more mental processes than necessary. I find that my ineffective housekeeping and food routines are some of the biggest energy drains in my life so I wanted to work on those first!
- 5 meals a day, approximately 300 calories each (a bit more at dinnertime OR an option for a bedtime snack) adding up to about 1600 calories. I like counting calories and am good at it. If I wasn't I would probably use volume -- I usually try to fit what I'm eating into a bowl.
- Right now, I keep a food journal and also enter a daily weight. I would like to eventually get where I don't need that but I'm not sure if I will be able to. At any rate, I'm keeping it up at least until next spring since holidays are a backsliding time for me.
- For staple foods think mostly grains and vegetables, protein and fat for garnish and flavor. I've been trying to figure out lots of comfortable ways to eat vegetables since fruits and vegetables give me some indigestion and my body wouldn't mind just taking in multigrain bread all day every day.
- If there is a treat around the house that I crave, I try for a couple of bites instead of a whole lot. I can manage that better now that I'm mostly eating good things. I find that after about 3 weeks my taste habits actually change and I prefer wholesome things, but I definitely can backslide quickly so I am very careful.
- I "fast" twice a week -- where I eat only bread or multigrain cereal and vegetables during the day and then eat a normal dinner. So, not a real fast but it helps me not to get into a bad-eating momentum.
I honestly hate(d) exercise. Now I'm starting to like it a little, and more than that, it seems to be building my character a bit as well as my body. But these things take time. My success secret is "Less is More". I have a very basic minimum, that sounds ridiculous to my athletic teenager, but it's up from where I was.
- daily 20 minutes on the exercise bike.
- daily 20 minutes stretching, balance and posture type exercise (I do these in the bathroom for 5-10 minutes at a time)
- at least twice a week, mild weight-lifting and circuit-training for 30 minutes (I substitute this for the 20 minutes of stretching). I started with 2 pound free weights, honest! and now am up to 5s. I know this is wimpy, but that should show you that you can start from anywhere and make improvements.
- if I can fit it in, some "fun" physical activity -- walking with my family, or early morning hikes on my own, or extra biking if I get interested in a book while I am cycling and want to keep going. The key is that is has to be fun. The first three don't have to be fun, just as long as they aren't agonizing.
Again, these details make it sound non-simple but the basic idea is simple -- to be able to keep it in my head, to be able to actually carry it out within my own life, and to be AT LEAST the minimum but to have the potential for building up and expanding when I'm ready.
That covers all the "systems" I have been practicing for the last 3 months. They have been making a big difference. I lost 15 pounds and have better tone. I regularly get to the basic household jobs and so the house is never completely thrashed.
Next I will be talking about the systems I am working on now. So these aren't time-tested, but I have thought them through and am determined to be realistic about making them work.