What Have You Lost Recently?

This is the question posed by the Post a Day 2011 folks at WordPress. I was really looking forward to posting every day in 2011, way back in January, and I was doing fairly well until the last couple of months. I suppose I should have known better. Still, I have been writing every day, just not necessarily on this here blog of mine. Then, today’s topic arrived in my email, and I knew what I wanted to write about.

Recently – since last October – I have lost 20 pounds. On purpose. I have 10-15 more to go, in order to be smack dab in the middle of a healthy weight range for my height and age.

Why October? Simply put, I was ready. I had already won the struggle with my insecurity regarding my body’s appearance. Well, mostly won. Instead of being insecure most of the time, I had occasional insecure moments. That journey deserves a post of its own, I think. If I ever get around to it! Anyway – I was content in the skin I was wearing, stretchmarks and all.

Still, in the back of my mind, I knew that the type of extra weight I was carrying wasn’t the healthy kind. I also knew that I was technically overweight. I was struggling with some consequences of that, namely being easily fatigued, and a big lack of energy. At 29, I felt ridiculous. Still in my 20’s, and I can’t even run a block? Silly. So, I decided it was time to see what I could do about it.

I consulted Sara and Sabrina, both dear friends who have already walked their own weight loss journeys, and whom I knew would be very supportive. They also were great sources of factual information for me, and helped me figure out truly reasonable expectations of myself.

I told no one else, other than Levi, at first. I’m not always the best at finishing things, and I didn’t want to humiliate myself.

I used FatSecret to figure out how many calories I needed to consume in order to lose weight at my age and activity level. I’m ashamed to say that I was nearly sedentary, other than basic housework and childcare! (I highly recommend this site! Its information is accurate, and there is a LOT of support for many different ways of losing weight.)

Interestingly enough, it turns out that I wasn’t eating enough calories! I was mal-nutritioned, in the sense that my body was hanging onto its fat stores because I wasn’t supplying enough food energy for it to function with lesser stores.

Weird, isn’t it?

Anyway, I kept a food diary, and in addition to watching my caloric intake, I also made sure to keep my protein, fats, and carbohydrates within good proportions of each other. I also watched the variety in my food choices – lots of colors make for lots of taste, and even more nutritional benefit. This process gave me a good idea of what my meals and snacks should look like.

My energy picked up within just a few weeks. I slept better. I was in a better mood more often. I slimmed down.

Then, in May, I began the Couch to 5K Program with Sabrina and my sister, Jennifer. Sabrina and I are now on Week 5, moving into Week 6, and feeling fantastic! My energy is even better, and my fatigue is fading.

It’s been a long process, but I wanted to go slowly, so the pounds will stay off, long term. My first six pounds came off through the holidays, if you can believe that! I have had a couple of “plateau” months in there, too, where I didn’t pay as much attention to my nutrition, so didn’t lose anything. However, when I was simply paying attention, and obeying my body, the weight came off at a healthy, pound-a-week pace.

For the last 10-15lbs I need to take off, I’m taking a new approach. The fat I have left to lose is primarily belly fat, which is linked to all kinds of yucky health problems, later in life. After a lot of reading, researching, and talking to people who know more than I do, I will probably be cutting out refined sugars and flours (simple carbs) from my daily diet. I’ll probably finish off what I have in the house, then limit my sugar intake to the little bit I enjoy in my morning coffee.

In addition, I’ll be beginning a basic weight training program, to build muscle and increase my metabolism, as well as preventing injuries while I’m running. Not to mention the fact that exercise of this kind not only builds muscle, but strong bones and will give me the strength I lack.

I can see the finish line ahead of me. I’m encouraged that I’ve been able to do this. That I’m nearly finished with something I’ve had to do for myself. Yes, I have had incredible support, but I had to choose to start. I had to choose to keep going. I had to make choices daily that either helped or hurt my efforts.

I think this physical effort has also spilled into my spiritual life, and walk with Jesus. The more I eat well and exercise, the better I sleep, and the easier it is to get up early and enjoy time with Him. Or, if I miss out on that, to find a good chunk of time at some point in each day to meet Him.

I’ve learned, very tangibly, through this experience, that what affects the mind and body, also affects the spirit – and vice versa. You cannot neglect one, and expect the others to grow. Yes, the spirit has a higher priority, but if you deprive your body of what God has designed and purposed for it, it’s very difficult to make the spiritual good stuff happen. At least, that’s how it has played out in my life.

Everyone always told me that if I lined up all the spiritual stuff just so, that the rest would fall into place, and to a certain extent, that is true. For me, it kept the major things lined up, but the mundane things, the everyday choices and problems that need good spiritual strength, were all impossible to keep up with. I am far more ready to meet each day, one at a time, when spirit, mind, and body are all neatly in line.

That will look differently for others, and I am only sharing what it looks like for me. In no way do I think that my losing weight and working out make me a better Christian – only time with God will do that. I’m just saying that those physical things helped me spiritually as well, even if all it did was help me to stay awake while I’m praying or reading His Word! It’s really that simple.

Anyway, I’ve rambled enough.

Here’s a picture for you. I never took an official “before” shot, and this was the only full-body I could find before I lost any weight. My weight was the same in August as it was in October, so this is an accurate display of the difference.

Thanks for sticking with me this long!

Grace & Peace,