My September 2011 Challenge

After being on my current “weight loss journey” or “lifestyle change” since 2009, the things that were working to help me lose 35 lbs. weren’t working anymore. The dreaded plateau had a hold on me and I knew I needed to switch things up to see if I could get things moving again.

In December 2010, I rejoined Weight Watchers, being a previous member and losing 22 lbs on the program in 2006, I thought this might be the ticket to getting things moving. It worked for an 8 lb loss, but the meetings were de-motivating if anything. I couldn’t handle sitting in the meetings every week listening to women tell sad stories about how they felt guilty whenever they would eat anything they truly wanted but “shouldn’t.” Apparently, they didn’t understand that Weight Watchers is about having whatever you want, just not all the time and in smaller quantities. The leaders at my local center were not peppy and inspirational, unlike the leader I had in 2006. When I realized I was eating twice to three times the weekly recommended points and losing at approximately the same rate I had on my own previously, I figured I could save the $40 a month and put it toward new fitness gear, a YMCA membership or something else that would be more motivating and meaningful. Don’t get me wrong, Weight Watchers is a great program and works for a lot of people, including myself in the past. However, it just wasn’t working for me this time.

Since August 2009, I’ve tried the typical “plateau breakers” such as counting calories, eating more, eating less, zig-zagging calories, changing my workout routine, adding strength training, etc. I know how to lose weight because I’ve lost almost 45 lbs. on my own and have kept it off.

Fast forward to a few months ago, when I read about Intuitive Eating and Geneen Roth on one of my favorite blogs, The Great Fitness Experiment. I bought Geneen Roth’s Women, Food and God and read it. It was interesting, but I felt I needed another book to explain how to go about the process of Intuitive Eating. I understood it was about listening to your body, but I needed the step-by-step guide on how to figure it all out again. I turned to Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD, FADA. This book was exactly what I needed.

By the time I’d read four books on Intuitive Eating (I also read Naturally Thin by Bethenny Frankel and When You Eat at the Refrigerator Pull Up a Chair by Geneen Roth), I felt like I was ready to try my own experiment with Intuitive Eating. All of this led to my September Challenge.

Here were my guidelines:

  • Focus on Intuitive Eating by listening to body cues. Eat slower to give the body time to make decisions regarding hunger levels.
  • Drink more water.
  • Focus on fitness related goals rather than calorie burns and amount of time exercising.
  • No counting calories or Weight Watcher points.
  • Take daily vitamins.
  • Read more and watch less television.
  • Only step on the scale on September 1st and September 30th. Measurements can be taken at the same times.

I’ve been tracking what I eat and approximately how much in a paper food journal. The experts say that those who keep a food journal lose more weight and keep off their loss better than those who don’t. Plus, I figure it will help me analyze my results at the end of the month. I’ve found I feel better manually writing in a book than typing the information. It’s almost therapeutic. This being said, I need to spend more time journaling and blogging again.

Staying off the scale is a big piece of this. When I weighed in on September 1st, I was up a few pounds from a delicious weekend full of sodium. I decided it wasn’t a big deal. For most of my weight loss journey, I stepped on the scale at least twice per day. I thought it was keeping me in check, but once I realized I was letting the numbers on the scale determine my mood for the day, I decided it wasn’t healthy and I needed to step away. I went down to twice weekly weigh-ins and then once per week. Staying off the scale for a whole month has been a little difficult and whenever I see it lying on the bathroom floor, calling my name, I have to tell myself that even though no one else would have to know what I caved, I would be hurting myself.

Being half way through the month, I’m feeling fairly confident that I haven’t undone all of the progress I’ve made thus far. My clothing doesn’t feel any tighter than it did on September 1st, which I’m taking as a good sign. I’ve been more relaxed and content in regards to eating because I’m not worrying about what the scale will say in the morning. When looking at my food journal, it doesn’t look different than it did when I was still losing weight. Higher and lower calorie days happen, as do higher and lower activity days, but overall, it looks acceptable.

While doing this experiment, I’ve been reading Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean Diet. It’s interesting stuff and depending on the results I achieve at the end of September, I just may start transitioning processed foods out of my diet. I know that for me, completely eliminating processed foods just isn’t realistic nor is it what I want to do. But, if I can cut out half of the processed things, I feel I may start seeing better results in the form of higher energy and maybe even less body fat.

All I can do to start seeing results again is to start changing things up and seeing what works. As Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” It’s time to stop the insanity!

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