So what have I learned over the past 12 months?
- I’ve learned that it gets easier. YAY!! By focusing on changing the way I eat, and not on losing a specific amount of weight by a specific deadline, the bad habits essentially went away, and were replaced by much healthier ones. And once I was in that groove, managing my food and eating just became easier. I don't think about food all the time, I don't have that constant chatter in my head about what I should and shouldn't eat. Eliminating sugar, all sweeteners, and starchy carbs eventually resulted in all of my cravings going away. It's easier because I now peacefully coexist with food. Imagine that!!
- I’ve regained trust in myself, and feel confident that I can do what it takes to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Recently, after a pretty intense month of traveling, I returned home feeling bloated, unhealthy, and downright fat. It’s not that I’d jumped head-first into a vat of ice cream or macaroni and cheese; I hadn’t. But there had been too many flights, too many cashews and almonds, too many omelets with cheese at breakfast. I needed to detox in the worst way. So for the next two weeks, I ate a much more strict diet of lean chicken or turkey (no red meat), no beans, cheese or nuts, ample non-starchy vegetables, and water-releasing fruits with nonfat, plain Greek yogurt in the mornings. I enjoyed delicious green smoothies, grilled marinated chicken breasts, and made hearty egg white omelets with veggies and salsa, but no cheese. And I worked out daily, incorporating a total body conditioning class and strength training. Within about 5 days, I felt like my healthy self again. The bloat was gone, my energy was back, and I was ready to take on the world again. I kicked into gear…for me, and it was soooo worth it. Now, I know I’ve got this.
- I’ve learned that I get a lot of pleasure from pushing myself physically. I’ve walked two half-marathons in the past 12 months, and will complete a third one in October. I love hiking, and find myself taking on more challenging routes, and a more challenging pace, and love that I can handle it! In January, I went trekking in Rwanda to see the mountain gorillas, something I’d done in 2012 when I was about 40 pounds heavier. Then, on the first day, I thought I was surely going to die…just drop dead from a heart attack right there on the side of that volcano! This time, the trek was even harder. The family of gorillas we were looking for kept moving…up to the top of a mountain, as we attempted to follow them. It was steep, there was no trail (just a guide with a machete cutting through the thick rainforest to clear a way for us), and just as we got within 100 feet of the gorillas, the skies opened up, it poured down raining, and the gorillas started down the other side of the mountain. I was in heaven! The more I pushed my body, the more it responded to the challenge. I was fit enough, strong enough, and crazy enough to keep going! AND IT WAS GREAT!!! (Yes, that's where this photo was taken!)
- I’m still me, just a smaller version. I lost 112 pounds, but I did not lose my impatience with certain kinds of people, my awkwardness in some social situations, and my reluctance to trust people I don’t know well. I still get bored easily, I can still be hyper-critical, and I still get lonely sometimes. Weight loss doesn’t change who you are. It’s not like a magic pill that washes all of your flaws away…and that’s okay with me. For all of my shortcomings, I really like the person I am.