Today marks 1 year since I began my journey toward improved health through weight loss and better eating (which often go hand-in-hand). I have lost 28 pounds and several inches in various places. I won’t bore you with the details.Suffice it to say that the change and the encouragement have been significant. How do I do it? I eat less and I exercise more. Fewer carbs, fewer calories, more workouts. That’s it.
It started with a challenge from a friend to a bunch of moms who work together at our kids’ parent-involved school. She and her husband had been in a similar “biggest loser” group and she had lost about 25 pounds. She was so encouraged by what she had accomplished that she wanted to give us a chance to succeed as well. It didn’t hurt that there was a financial incentive.
So on January 17th, 2015, I and 16 of my friends committed to 12 weeks of exercise challenges, weight-loss goals and healthy eating.It hasn’t been easy, but even now I’m continuing on because it is worth it. All those “Lose weight without giving up the foods you love” gimmicks are just that: gimmicks. What it takes is hard work and dedication. Here are 4 things I learned along the way.
#1. I’m still the same person I was a year ago. I’m just a better, healthier version. I wasn’t unhappy with my life before. I have the same mind, I have the same heart, I have the same gifts and talents. But I do have different clothes, and I feel a lot better about myself. This has needed to happen for a long time.
#2. My husband didn’t love me any less before I lost weight. Now he just loves less of me. He never told me I needed to lose weight. He never pushed me to exercise. He never looked askance when I ordered dessert at a restaurant. And, in fact, he loves to bake and is at this very moment making banana muffins! But when I made the decision to take on this task, I know he was happy. I never felt belittled or unloved. But now he calls me his trophy wife. We’ve been married 25 years.
#3. I can’t do it alone. After our initial 12-week challenge was over, my friends and I decided to keep going in another Facebook group that we called T.H.R.I.V.E. That stands for Total Health, Real Inspiration, Vitality and Encouragement. We keep each other accountable, which is absolutely key. If I don’t feel like working out, I know my friends are watching, so I get out there. And we make sure that we emphasize that the scale isn’t everything. Health is the ultimate goal, not wearing size-6 clothes. We all believe that we are created in God’s image and are valuable and beautiful just as we are. But that doesn’t mean we’re healthy.
#4. If I can do it, anyone can. Truly. I was 53 years old when I started this process. I had tried numerous times before to lose weight and had very little success. The key this time is accountability with a group as committed as I am to eating better and getting healthy. I don’t have nagging health issues, I just really wanted to lose weight. I didn’t like the way I looked. But there are some who are battling sickness. We share recipes and encourage one another to make good choices in foods. We cheer each other on. It’s so much easier to reach a goal when you have cheerleaders.
I’m not done yet. I still have about 10 pounds I would like to lose. That would put me about in the center of a healthy BMI. I also have a friend who is a personal trainer who is going to help me firm up what I have. The temptation to eat more than I need and to gravitate toward processed and sweet foods is strong. But my accountability group helps me make good choices. Except during the holidays. That was too much!
The challenges are many, but the benefits are worth it. If this is something you’ve been struggling with, let me encourage you: you can do it! Find at least one person to start the journey with and do it together. You will not be sorry.