As I mentioned last month, I’ve been working very hard this year to improve my health and get myself back into shape. I can’t blame everything on writing—there was also stress, stress eating, poor choices, injuries and other variables—but the huge amount of time I’ve spent seated behind my keyboard over the course of the last 18 or 19 years has been a major contributor to my weight gain. However, I’m pleased to announce that I am currently at my lowest weight in at least a dozen years. And even though I’m only about a third of the way to my ultimate goal, I’ve been losing weight steadily since January and am finally feeling confident about reaching my goal weight for possibly the first time ever.
So, how did I do it? I’m glad you asked. :)
The first thing I did was find an exercise routine I could live with—something strenuous enough to make a difference, without being so exhausting that I couldn’t keep it up. For me, that was yoga, four or five days a week. I started out with the gentlest classes I could find: restorative, yin, deep stretch, gentle strength: basically anything that would give me a decent workout, but leave me feeling relaxed and energized afterwards.
When I was starting out, and complaining about not wanting to go, my daughter told me something that had a profound effect on me—in fact, it became the mantra I used to get myself out the door. She said, “I never want to go to yoga, but after class I never regret having gone.” And that’s been true for me as well. I usually walk out of class feeling absolutely wonderful.
All except for that one class that was just too strenuous and left my already aching joints sore for days afterwards. Since then, I’ve been extra vigilant about not pushing myself beyond my limits.
On the other hand, I also figured out fairly early on that I’m the kind of person who needs classes. It’s an axiom in yoga that “the poses you avoid are the ones you need most.” I’ll push myself in class. I’ll modify when I have to, but I'll always at least attempt those poses I hate.
But if I were trying it at home, with no one coaching me along? Oh, hell, no. I’m sure I’d be beset by an entire herd of fascinating plot bunnies that I'd just have to follow.
After I lost the first twenty pounds, I felt so much better that I began adding other exercises into the mix—mostly walking and swimming at this point. I know I’ll eventually have to add weight training as well, but I figure that can wait until my joints are stronger and I’m no longer lugging around all this extra weight.
The next thing I did was to start keeping track of everything I ate. My Fitness Pal has been pretty indispensable in that regard—even though I’ve had cause to question some of their calorie counts from time to time. I aim to keep my daily intake to just under 1200 calories.
I know that probably seems really low, but I’ve managed to keep (mostly) to it for four months now without feeling hungry or deprived. I credit that to really paying attention to portion control, as well as to the changes I’ve made in the types of food I typically eat.
I’ve been keeping a mostly vegan, whole foods diet. By “mostly” I mean I occasionally eat meat—or fish, or eggs, or yogurt or cheese—but it’s the exception now, not the rule. And by “whole foods” I mean I make it a point to stay away from processed foods...okay, most processed foods for most of the time. I make regular exceptions for things like homemade oatbran muffins, bulletproof coffee, powdered collagen, dark chocolate, and ACV. But, hey, at least the muffins are vegan!
It’s really amazing how much food you can fit into 1K calories when you keep it lean and green.
Next week I’m headed for RT, which will be something of a test. It will be interesting to see if I end up hitting the gym on a regular basis—or at all. In eight years, that’s something I’ve NEVER yet managed to do during the convention. It will be interesting to see what I can find to eat—I’ve checked the menus, and I’m not optimistic.
And it will be very interesting to see whether the bar will derail my progress completely...or only a little. Because, say what you want, IMO there’s just no such thing as a writers’ convention without wine. Wish me luck!