Is losing 50 lb. during covid lockdown a lot or little? I don’t know. All I know is I went from size Large to size Small and sometimes even Xtra Small. I went from 185 lb. to 135 lb. and my body doesn’t seem done with losing weight just yet. In my previous post, habit vs will power and weight loss, I wrote about how habits rather than will power can change outcomes and help us to reach our goals.
No More Diets – I have done whole30 diet a few times and in 2019 lost about 30 lb. but couldn’t keep it off. I did whole30 by will power and whenever the diet was over, I wanted to eat things I wasn’t able to eat while I was doing the whole30 diet. And over the summer, I went home and couldn’t stay on whole30 when every meal I was presented with rice and noodles and every other yummy Korean food under the sky. So I gained back the weight I lost by being on whole30! I no longer do “diets.” Instead of having limited time of eating restricted food, there’s no food I can’t eat and there’s no end date on my eating habits. I have adopted a healthy life style of eating and living healthy all the time. For the rest of my life.
Self-love – What I did learn from whole30 diet is how not to emotion eat, eating as a way to cope with your emotions. I’m actually writing this post as a way not to cope with my emotions by eating food. And losing weight is really about being your best self. This year coinciding with covid lockdown, I was ready to get healthy. Things were different than the year before. I was willing to put in the effort and time to go grocery shopping, and cook, and to eat healthy. Everything I know about nutrition, how to eat and maintain a healthy life style, I learned from Juliana Rico who is a nutrition coach and a personal trainer.
Habits – So back to habits, not will power. I started out by eliminating processed food, added sugar and simple carbs like white rice, pasta, bread, etc. I made sure to drink a gallon of water a day. But I wasn’t losing weight until few more habits were in place.
Not Eating at night – For about 10-15 years since I got depressed in my thirties, I gained weight and ate in the middle of the night whenever I would get up. But I was ready to stop eating at night. I actually think I started intermittent fasting and that helped to stop eating at night or to maintain it, can’t remember exactly which came first, intermittent fasting or not eating at night. For me a good intermittent fasting was 8-9 hours of fasting at night while I was sleeping, lol!
Portion control – I started making a plate and not taking seconds. The plate of food I would make was about a quarter consisting of protein, another quarter consisting of carbs like potato or sweet potato (but not white rice, pasta, or bread), and rest of the plate with vegetables like salad, broccoli, zucchini, etc. If I wanted to eat more, I would drink water and wait.
Walks – I walked every day. In the beginning, I even walked when weather was cold, windy, rainy or just whatever the weather, I went out. Rain or Shine, I showed up for myself for going on walks. I started walking in April of 2020. In September, I wanted to do a 5K which is about 3.1 miles. I wanted to do a 5K to raise awareness and funds for suicide prevention. It was important to me. So I did it. Then in October, I ran a 10K which is about 6.2 miles. Actually on October 31, 2020, I ran 6.4 miles without stopping, which is the most I ever ran in my entire life! I still walk and want to get back into jogging.
Consistency – Seeing a theme? Everything I did, I am still doing, and will be doing. Habits, not will power, is what got me here. The way anyone loses any weight, whether on diet, or any other means is to create a calorie deficit. You consume fewer calories than you are using up by breathing, exercising, or even sleeping. So you can lose weight just by controlling what you eat. But for me, I eat better when I am invested in a healthy life style, and healthy life style includes exercising. It takes me about half an hour to burn about 100-150 calories. If I wanted a donut and still be healthy and loose weight, I would have to walk about 1.5 hrs. I think in terms of exercise minutes when I see food.
Before – I felt weighed down by my body, I mean that literally. I couldn’t jog except to run to catch a train or a bus. I wasn’t consistently exercising all the time. My mood would fluctuate when I was eating carbs and sugar. I would also get hungry really drastically really fast. I was pre-diabetic. I used to have sleep apnea. My blood pressure was high. I couldn’t always concentrate and focus to do my work even when I was trying really hard. I wasn’t sleeping through the night.
Now – I am still trying to figure out how I did a 5K then a 10K! I mean, my body is much stronger than it used to be! I feel clear headed and I don’t have sugar crashes. I’m eating 3 meals and 2 snacks in between. So I also don’t have those crazy moody hunger episodes I used to have. I no longer have sleep apnea and since I stopped eating at night, I don’t wake up as much at night and more likely to get longer spurts of deep sleep. I am no longer pre-diabetic. And this part I wasn’t even expecting, but my blood pressure was no longer high and I stopped taking blood pressure medicine after I lost weight. Since I don’t have mood swings caused by sugar or excess calories, I also feel clear headed and am able to study better. I am really close to finishing my dissertation right now. I’m hoping to graduate in May 2020.
Competence – One thing I realize is that being in a PhD program helped me to feel competent and trust in my abilities. After course work, I had to take comprehensive exams. I took 4 of those exams. Each one of those exams built some sense of competence in me. And after writing and defending a prospectus (your proposal for your dissertation) then finally getting to write the dissertation, you start believing in yourself. So I believed in myself more and more. And also started valuing myself, accepting myself and loving myself more as this PhD program went on. So April of 2020, I felt ready to get healthier because I deserve to be healthy, I’m worth it, and I can take on healthy habits and replace bad habits with better habits.
Help and Support – I didn’t lose 50 lb by myself. I went to the market and cooked with my best friend who sometimes would serve as my conscience of my diet. Over the years, Juliana helped me more than I can say! When I started working with Juliana, I couldn’t walk without pain on the treadmill, and I would get tired after doing squats using only my body weight. Getting stronger physically even though I was not losing weight yet meant that when I was ready to get healthy, I was mentally and physically ready to walk consistently and commit to a healthy life style. I hate that we have the pandemic even now. But as I heard in the podcast I mention in the previous blog – Hidden Brain: Creature of Habit – new habits can be formed during chaotic times. So the lockdown presented itself to me with opportunities to only eat at home, and to want to leave home for walks.
Faith – I have to say I am able to write this blog because I gained weight and weighed at my highest 207 lb. due to depression. Before I got depressed, I had always been a healthy weight. I weighed 130 lb into my thirties. Then I gained about 70 lb. during my depression. How did I get better from my depression? That’s a whole other blog worthy story! Thanks be to God and Praise the Lord is what I can say about my recovery from depression. And since I gained all that weight, I had to lose weight to get better from pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and pain and aches in my joints, and to be able to feel better! Oh, the number on the scale and my size shrinking down to XS? That’s the fun part! I hope my story encourages and inspires you to feel you can do it too! I love buying smaller clothes, but have to admit I love old navy because my sizes kept changing and had to look for cheaper options. Start today. You can do it. Whatever way works for you to get healthier, is the way you can do it. Do it your way. But if you want some advice, coaching, support or whatever else, reach out!