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Rediscovering keys to my success

March 4, 2019 - Andy Flynn
During a weight-loss journey, there’s no better feeling than stepping on a scale and finding that you’ve lost weight — whether it’s for a day, a week or a month. It’s a high that lifts my spirits.

Then the goal becomes repeat, repeat, repeat. My question this year, however, is how, how, how?

At the beginning of 2019, I chose to track down my long-lost secrets of losing 80 pounds during the first year of my Lake Placid Diet weight-loss journey (2014). The hope is to repeat that success and build upon it.

My previous success came when I dedicated a lot of time to losing weight, and that included many hours of exercise each week. I trained and competed in two Lake Placid Half Marathons and spent a lot of time at the Fitness Revolution gym getting help from manager/trainer Jason McComber and support from our weight-loss group. It’s like having a part-time job because it takes a lot of time to put in the work necessary to gain results.

In January, my hope for returning to Fitness Revolution fizzled as I fought off sickness half of the month. I only visited the gym once. I lost 6 pounds.

In February, I worked out at the gym one to two times a week — less than my goal of three to five times a week — but that was still an improvement, so I’m on the right track. I lost 7 pounds in February for a total loss of 13 pounds so far this year. I started with a weight of 457, and now I’m at 444, my starting weight In January 2018. I’ve lost all the weight I gained last year.

I’ve begun to list those long-lost secrets to my former success. This is what I have so far.

-Stick to a do not eat list (as much as possible). For me, that includes staying away from fast food, processed food and alcoholic beverages.

-Eat less food. This sounds ridiculously basic, but it has to be on the list. How you get there is another story. Some people use smaller plates. Some people take a regular (large) portion of food and decide to only eat half, saving the leftovers for another meal. Whatever tricks you have that work, do them. Just eat less.

-Limit yourself financially. Sometimes this is a choice, and sometimes it isn’t. When money is readily available, it’s easier to get tempted by food. After all, if you can afford to buy a lot of food, you run the risk of bingeing or ordering take-out. If you have the extra money, try to keep the cash and cards at home when you are more susceptible to losing control. If you don’t have the extra money, you can’t buy the food, so it’s less of a problem. I’ve experienced both sides of this equation, and I’ve learned that — while more stressful and more of a problem when it comes to paying bills that keep the lights on at home — having less money in the bank is usually better for my belly than trying to keep the cash and cards at home when I have the extra dough.

Living with food insecurity in itself is a difficult and complex issue, never mind trying to lose weight while you are food insecure, as the cheapest food is not always the most nutritious. While I’ve experienced food insecurity a couple of times in my life, I’m doing fine right now, even though money is really tight. But I’ll never forget those days of existing on ramen noodles during my senior year of college because I only had $5 a day to spend on food.

-Have goals and work toward them. This could include weight-loss goals or fitting into a pair of pants that are two sizes smaller than you can fit into now. For me, I like to set weight-loss goals by the week and see where it could take me by the end of the year. On my phone, I plan ahead — creating a calendar with a projected weight for each weigh-in date (always a Tuesday). At the end of each week, when I have a new weight, I adjust those goals accordingly, sometimes going through the entire calendar again and make adjustments. I used to have the goal of losing 5 pounds a week. That’s something to work toward every Tuesday, but I found that it’s unrealistic to repeat every week. So this year I’ve decided to try and lose 10 pounds every four weeks, tracking my progress and making adjustments every week. That seems to be more realistic for me. Others who don’t need to lose more than 100 or 200 pounds will have smaller goals. Whatever works for you.

-Be accountable. Writing the Lake Placid Diet column once a month — it was once a week in 2014 and 2015 — keeps me accountable. I have promised to report my weight every four weeks to my readers, and I am keeping that promise. I weigh myself every Tuesday morning, and I always give an accurate report in my journal. No cheating is allowed; it wouldn’t be fair to my readers or myself and it would not give an accurate snapshot in time as to my progress. Real weight-loss journeys do not go in one direction. They go up and down like a roller coaster. Hopefully, over time, the weight eventually goes down.

-Create a support network. This could mean talking to family members, friends or a pre-existing support group such as Take Off Pounds Sensibly or Overeaters Anonymous. My support network comes from my family, former Fitness Revolution weight-loss group members and other friends who have struggled with their weight. It’s important to share stories of your struggle. It’s both therapeutic and educational, as you’ll learn things about other people’s struggles that may help you find some answers.

-Focus. Be mildly obsessive. Be persistent. Have some self-control. Show up. Stop making excuses. Make the time.

-Work at it. Weight loss does not come overnight in your dreams. It will not happen unless you put in the time and effort. Remember, it’s like a part-time job.

-Visualize. This comes easiest when you are already feeling good about yourself. It’s important that you see a future in which you’ve lost weight. Some people can see themselves after they’ve lost more than 100 pounds. Some can only imagine themselves after they’ve lost 10. See yourself in new clothes, walking without a cane, hiking in the woods, swimming in the lake, riding a bike, or competing in a 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon or triathlon. Whatever works for you. Visualization is important to keep up your spirits. It’s those dreams you have that eventually come true.

-Work toward activity goals. For me, training for a half marathon was a huge part of my success in 2014 and again in 2015. On the surface, the race may seem like the ultimate goal, but it’s not. It’s the work you put into the training — the journey, not the destination — that gives you the real results. I always have an activity goal in mind and plan my training accordingly.

-Exercise regularly. Again, this is one of those ridiculously basic concepts, but it needs to be on the list. Whatever you do, however, listen to your body. Don’t overdo it. Give your body time to recover. That may take longer for people, such as me, who are larger than most others. When you are ready, get back to the exercise.

-Take care of your body, mind and soul. It’s not enough to eat more nutritious food and exercise regularly. You need to take care of your mind. That includes getting your stress level down. You also need to take care of your soul. That may include reconnecting with a religion, finding time to unplug and reflect, meditating or spending more quality time with friends and family — including pets.

In March, I look forward to tracking down even more secrets of my previous weight-loss success. You can read all the Lake Placid Diet columns from 2014 to today on the Lake Placid News website.

 
 

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