However, I no longer feel that way. It's no longer a struggle.
I'm sharing this post because I know there are other fuller-figured horse gals who have felt the burden as I have. The guilt. Desperation, frustration, resignation. I would like this post to offer some hope.
In 2014 I dropped 13 lbs, and 9 lbs of that happened in the last 3 months of the year. I have haven't reached all my goals, but I've made great progress and know with confidence that I'll continue.
So how did I do it? Diet, exercise, and cognitive therapy strategies.
DietIn the past I've done Weight Watchers, South Beach, Paleo, private nutritionists, etc. Last year I tracked calories using My Fitness Pal. Unlike past calorie counting attempts (which were a nightmare of books and logs), the app made it quite easy. While I was committed to tracking all food, I made sure to not get anal. For example, I don't own a food scale, I just use estimates based on approximate size. For eating out at mom and pop restaurants, I just do the best I can with foods that are already in the database. It's not a perfect science, but it helps me stay accountable to myself to eat reasonable portions and stick with healthier choices.
|MyFitnessPal food diary screenshot|
Ultimately I think limiting quantity was more effective for my weight loss than limiting food types/groups. I've been eating healthy foods for years, but I was simply eating too much too often.
ExerciseI've done various exercise programs including sports teams, gym memberships, Jillian Michaels and Denise Austin DVDs, private trainers, etc. This past year my exercise (in addition to riding) was made up of daily walks and 2-3x/week weight training. One of our dogs was diagnosed with a nervous condition that requires consistent exercise, so I take her for a ~1 mile walk every morning.
|I use MapMyFitness to track my morning walks|
I also started a weight training program called Starting Strength after my husband did it for a few months. It's only 3 exercises, high weights, but low reps, lasting generally 45 minutes or so with most of that being resting between sets. I have found that it has really helped with my ab strength and has positively impacted my riding. And that's all for exercise - no running, no high-impact cardio. I've lost weight without any exercise that involves me wheezing and heaving and sweating like a pig. I'm still amazed that low-impact cardio and weight training have been so effective in weight loss.
**Cognitive Therapy Strategies**THIS THIS THIS is what made all the difference for me. I followed the principals in The Beck Diet Solution. It is not a typical diet book: it doesn't tell you what to eat or how to exercise. It gives you dozens of strategies and skills that will allow any diet and exercise program to work for you. For me, the biggest impact was in dealing with the mind-game of dieting. The principals in the book released me from guilt about dieting mistakes. It prevented me from getting frustrated and throwing in the towel, letting one bad meal become a bad day become a bad weekend become a bad week! It changed my perspective on dieting from being connected to my self-worth to simply being a skill that takes time to learn and practice, like playing the piano or horse riding. Some of the exercises felt silly or hokey. But I did them anyway. It took time, it took effort. I did it anyway. I saw results just a few weeks in.
|Weight progress screenshot from MFP|
I'm still in the process of losing weight to reach my goal. It's continuous work and effort, but now that I've come through 2014 and can see and feel solid results, I wanted to share and maybe help another gal or two like me. I'm not a nutritionist or health coach or anything, but I'd be happy to share more details or answer questions, just drop me a line.