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What do you do when you have lost the weight? Losing weight is difficult enough and is sometimes an uphill battle but what happens after you have lost the weight? How do you keep the weight off? What are your new goals?
I have lost over 118 pounds since August of 2014. I lost 50 pounds initially but put 30 back on when my husband suffered from a life threatening illness. Once the threat was over he and I started our Healthy Journey; which started with the Kaiser Weight Management Program. This program taught healthy eating and healthy life skills. This was not a diet program, this was a behavior change program; a lifestyle change. This program was my springboard into a healthy lifestyle based on balanced nutrition and fitness.
I am currently in the Lifestyle Phase of the program, which for me means weight maintenance. For others they are still losing weight in the phase but I am happy with where I am. Thus far I have lost 96 pounds, I am under 30 BMI, my body fat is normal and I am healthy, no diseases. In short, I am healthy and fit so why lose more weight?
The Lifestyle phase can last a lifetime if you choose. In this phase we have weekly meetings hosted by a facilitator; who also happens to be a nutritionist. We check in and talk about our failures or successes and then she gives us tips, tools, or advice; if we need it. Going to class every week helps keep me motivated, educated, and committed; the administrators of this program are very helpful and supportive. The program also sponsored a heart walk and the fitness challenge Strive Across America; I participated in both activities.
Fitness is a key component in weight management. You have to find the right balance of exercise and rest to sustain your health goals. I didn’t want to just workout to be “working out”. I wanted to embrace fitness as a routine that I enjoyed and I wanted to be fit and toned. To ensure I was on the right track, I hired a personal strength trainer. She taught me correct form and circuit routines that strengthen my core. If your core is weak your form will be weak and you can hurt yourself. She worked with my husband and I for a few months until she moved away. I had the routine down and I loved it. I loved seeing my strength and flexibility grow but I wasn’t at the fitness level I desired so I started searching for an alternative. Luckily I stumbled across Orange Theory. At first I wasn’t too sure I would like to group training but I tried it out and I was hooked. This was just what I needed to elevate my fitness level and push me. Currently I go to four classes a week. I am working my way up to five.
In addition to Orange Theory, I also participate in Fit Bit Workweek and Weekend Warrior Challenges. The competition helps me exceed my daily step goal. I am competitive so I try to stay on top and sometimes that pushes me to over 100,000 steps in a week. Talk about walking; I am sometimes on fire and I love it. When spring comes back we plan to start our Saturday hiking again.
Nutrition does not take a back seat to fitness. You cannot workout but then eat bad and still maintain your weight or health. You have to find the perfect balance of both. Measuring your progress helps you stay on track. I started to notice the scale going up and my pants getting a little snug. I checked over the history of my journey and found the culprit, Quest Protein bars and Splenda. I compared the trend of my weight fluctuations with the consumption of proteins bars. Once I removed the protein bars and stop using Splenda I lost the weight that I gained in less than two weeks time. I have decided to remove all process foods from my nutritional plan. Instead of protein bars I eat protein; either lean meat, an egg, beans, or peanut butter. This also means I cook more but that is something I would rather do to maintain a healthier me.
What I have learned is weight-loss and weight management is hard and even harder if you try to do it yourself. You need a support team in order to help you stay motivated and successful. I also discovered that it is better to ask the experts or ask for help then depend on your own research or motivation. My own research was flawed before I hired a trainer and joined the program. I am not saying you have to spend a lot money on a program or trainer but what I am saying is speak with a doctor or nutritionist. Health experts are there to help, so why not use them?
When it was getting close to transitioning to real food I was bit anxious and very excited. I was anxious because knowing about nutrition and healthy choices and selecting them are two different things. I have been down the healthy road before but this time I have the knowledge and support needed to truly eat healthy and implement portion controls. I was excited because it has been 16 weeks since I tasted real food and I was ready. It was amazing that for 4 months I was never hungry but I was looking forward that first oz of chicken.
Preparing for Transition
To prepare I bought several 1 and 2 cups contains and portion control plate fillers. I also bought a lunch bag that came with pre-portioned containers. I planned to grill most of the meat and decided to use extra virgin olive oil for a cooking base when needed. I bought a digital measuring scale, more measuring spoons, and measuring cups.
To balance the added calories my husband and I decided to add hiking to our fitness program. We hiked every saturday at either Del Valle or Muir woods. The hikes started off with 2 miles then gradually progressed to 8 until the hiking season was over.
The food would replace products week by week. When we started the program we had six products per day; so for the first week we had 4 ounces of lean protein and 1/2 cup of veggies as one product replacement. We continued this process until real food replaced all products.
I grill, measured and portioned the meat for the week on sundays. I also prepared a low fat egg casserole for breakfast. For lunch I walked down to Subway and ordered a 6″ wheat chicken sandwich or a salad or just went home and made a healthy lunch. My husband took his pre-portioned containers to work and used them at the salad bar. This helped him accurately measure his portions. I still ate six times a day; three main meals and two small snacks. For my first snack I had protein, veggies and fruit. My favorite snack is peanut butter with carrots. My second snack was a protein bar or protein shake after my workouts.
I worked with my trainer two days a week, worked out at the gym at least three times a week and hiked on saturdays. I started to really notice how my endurance increased and workouts were easier. Unfortunately I stopped losing weight and was stuck for about three weeks. I noticed I was hungry multiple times a day so I increased my calories; which restarted my weight-loss. Ken and I also participated in three 5K marathons which was a first for both of us.
During this phase I was able to test and modify combinations of foods and exercise to see which strategy fit my goals. In this phase I realized I was healthy. I was not hypertensive or pre-diabetic. My back didn’t hurt and walking up stairs was a breeze. Even though I originally had a weight goal, after I reviewed my success I accepted this healthier me and changed my focus. My current goal is toning and weight-maintenance. You will able to read about the maintenance phase in my next installment.
Below are pictures of me during the transition phase
It has been exactly one year since I began my weight-loss journey. I can remember starting the class and thinking where will I be in one year? Will I accomplish my goals, will I still be on track? Will I even be successful? Yes, I had the determination and yes I believed I needed to make this transformation to avoid and reduce my impending health issues but I had attempted weight-loss countless times and failed in every attempt. Thankfully, yes I have achieved my goals and set new ones. I have removed all health issues and risks. I have reduced my body fat% to normal ranges (for my age), my BMI is under 30, I have increased my metabolism to “very active”. I have lost over 115 pounds and I have dropped a mind-blowing 10 dress sizes.
Before the Journey
Before I started on this journey I was very obese. I could not stand-up straight because my back would hurt. When I had to walk, I always wore my backpack to counter-balance my weight and to help support my back. I use to breathe heavily while just sitting still. I would snore so loud I would wake myself up. I got migrates often and it seemed like I was always sick. I was not physically active often and nutrition was just a word I heard when I went to the doctor. My health was on a downward spiral because I was pre diabetic and hypertensive. I started to have a side pain and nausea often because of the foods I ate. My husband’s health was also deteriorating and he was knocking at death’s door. In fact, we had to postpone our original start date for the program because he had a critical medical emergency that nearly turned fatal.
Unfortunately, I let my health push me into a corner but one year ago I finally came back swinging. We both joined the Kaiser Weight-loss Management Program which I truly believe was a lifeline.
First Phase – 16 weeks Active Phase
Before we started I removed all food from my home and briefed our support team. We officially started the program Nov 26, 2014. For 16 weeks we had meal replacements which included four shakes and two proteins bars; totaling only 960 calories. This was a far cry from the 3000 calories I probably consumed on an average day. We had to eat 2 -3 hours a day and drink at least one gallon of water.
The first week was tough with the lack of food, eating every 2-3 hours, and drinking all that water. I stayed focus and successfully completed the week. My success resulted in a 10 pound weight-loss. As the saying goes, the proof was in the puddling. The classes were structured to provide information and group support. We learned about nutrition, fitness and developed our health tool-box. The weekly check-ups (Weight and blood-pressure) kept us accountable. The monthly doctor checks ensured we were on the right track.
During class, the facilitator advised us to increase our fitness level. The second week my husband and I joined a local gym and began an early morning workout routine. On the weekend we would do at least 2 hours of cardio. I got over the looks and stares when we were working out. Even when we walked or rode our bikes the stares and snickers were ridiculous. How ironic, when you are obese people talk bad about you; when you are doing something about it people are laughing at you. I was so focused on my goals that nonsense couldn’t deter me. In the second week I dropped 7 pounds. Adding fitness helped increase my weight-loss. Every week I lost at least 5 pounds or more.
To ensure we were getting the most out of our workouts we hired a personal trainer. She worked with my husband first in individual sessions then worked with me. To maximize a workout, she taught us to include both cardio and strength training. This helped us not only increase our fitness but also save time in the gym by not waste energy on a two hour cardio session. She taught us about circuit training which guards against getting stuck on a plateau.
After 16 weeks on the program I lost 70 pounds and my husband lost over 100. We were both excited and scared to start on the next phase which was transition back to real food. You will be able to read about Phase two in the next installment of my 1 year progress report.
Here are the photos included in Phase One