Yesterday I managed 70 kgs (154 pounds) on bench press. Not bad for an old chick!
I also managed 100 kgs (220 pounds) on the hammer strength decline press machine. Another personal best.
I was really pleased with both.
I’m putting on a lot of muscle at the moment, and the fat is coming off. My stomach is almost flat, and I’m no longer embarrassed to be seen in light summer clothes.
I can thank Overeaters Anonymous for so much of this. They’ve given me support through everything, a sensible approach to food, and a plan to follow that got me away from the binge eating and overly large portions. OA is a part of my life now, because it works. Add in regular exercise and sensible eating, and I’m a completely different person to who I was a couple of years ago.
Success doesn’t come from fad diets, or from eating well for a short time until you reach your goal weight, then you’re “done”. Success comes from genuine change – reaching a point where you don’t want to go back to those old habits and old ways of being.
I don’t want to ever go back. I’m happy where I am now. Sticking to the plan is easy, because I’m happiest when I do.
Portion sizes and snacking. Weight loss is not difficult, once you figure out these keys to weight loss.
Without them, weight loss can be impossible.
Since the eighties (mainly), portion sizes have expanded like crazy, in step with women joining the workforce in millions and consequently eating out more often and not having time to cook properly.
Restaurants and eateries wanted to be seen providing “good value”, so they increased sizes more and more, and people were happy, getting more food for their dollars.
We mirrored the burgeoning portion sizes at home with bigger home-cooked portions, and the result was a massive increase in obesity.
Along with bigger portions came the snacking. Junk foods, sweets, cakes, biscuits – all grew more common due to more discretionary cash available to families, and after-school snacking became common for kids, because mum didn’t get home to make dinner until later. Convenience foods added to the mix.
There were other contributors – food being more processed, eating out becoming more affordable, the increase in screen time (and the junk food that went with it). But overall, the big culprits were portion sizes, and snacking.
I’d got to the point a year or so ago where I didn’t even know what a healthy portion looks like. I’d lost touch with my hunger signals, and I’d stuff myself daily to feel “full” instead of “comfortable”.
When I finally started tracking my food intake properly (thanks to MyFitnessPal), I was horrified to learn many days I was topping out over 2500 calories, sometimes as many as 3500 a day! It was a real wake up call.
Truth is, most of us don’t know what healthy portions looks like. For example, I bought a bag of potato chips the other day (yes, it was a mistake). Then when I checked the nutrition panel on the bag, I saw that a serve is 15 chips. Nobody eats just 15 chips!
Check out the nutrition panel on my stepdaughter’s Doritos:
Portions matter. Prior to wiseing up, I’d have eaten the entire bag. These days I try not to eat chips, but when I do I remind myself I’m eating half a day’s energy needs in just a “snack”!
This is how we’re all getting fat. Obesity is now more common in the world than starvation. Even previously third world countries such as India are grappling with an obesity epidemic. It’s everywhere, and it’s getting worse.
I grew up right at the height of the bad advice. I remember my mother banning butter and eggs from the house, and switching to “healthier” margarine. I remember learning in school that it was ideal to eat between 6-11 (!!!) serves of carbohydrates daily, and 6 “mini meals” was the ideal eating pattern.
Portions matter. We all ate to excess because none of us were taught how big a “serve” actually was. Was a serve of bread a thin slice of white bread, or a piece of stuffed crust pizza? Nobody knew. I sure didn’t.
So here’s how I’m easily losing weight: I’m practicing portion control and I’m eliminating snacks. My meals have got a bit bigger, but I’m not eating all the junk in between. Plus, what I’m eating at my meals is wholesome, real food.
It’s Saturday. So I decided to make myself the Breakfast Of Champions.
In other words, an omelette.
Eggs are a great start to the day, as they’re so high in protein.
The butter makes my omelette super delicious.
However, these days I don’t “eyeball” my food and guess at the measurements. Instead, I weigh and measure everything except my green veggies.
It’s really easy to think you’re cooking in a teaspoon of butter (32 calories), only to measure and find out it’s a tablespoon (102 calories). Portions can be misleading.
I’m getting used to eating well, and have figured out where I went wrong all these years – it was portion sizes and snacking.
I’ll talk more about these in my next post, but it seems like I was just confused by years of experts giving bad advice. I believed snacking was healthy, variety in my diet was a Good Thing (it’s not), and portions didn’t make a difference as long as what I ate was healthy (portions do matter).
I was wrong about pretty much everything, and couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t lose weight.
I was that person. The one who would order a “hunger buster” value meal (Big Mac, cheeseburger, large fries, chocolate sundae, large soft drink) and ask for a diet Coke with it.
I can be really dumb sometimes.
My logic was that I could easily avoid the calories in the drink, but I still wanted my junk food. It was non-negotiable.
Then I’d get on the scale at the end of the week, and wonder why I hadn’t lost weight.
Things have changed. These days, when I get a craving for junk, I go a cheeseburger or a whopper jr. That’s it. And it’s enough.
I make sure I always have a water bottle on me, so I don’t need a drink. And when I don’t need a drink it seems a bit pointless to have a meal deal (add-on fries and soft drink) when I don’t need or want half of it.
What I realised is no matter how much junk food I ate, it was never enough.
Junk food is not about portions with me. It’s about getting a fix.
I knew – when I began to be honest with myself – that no matter how much I ordered, I’d always want more. I’m perfectly capable of eating two hunger busters, probably. Maybe three. That hole inside me never seemed to get full, no matter how much junk I shoved down my neck.
I realised – and admitted – that I’m an addict. Just like an alcoholic can’t control their booze intake, I can’t control my food addiction.
However, if I only have a burger, by itself, I seem to not go so nutso on the junk food.
I can’t control having large amounts, but I seem to be able to manage small amounts.
Plus, to be honest, I really believe the addictive part of junk food isn’t the burgers. It’s the fries and drinks.
That’s the case with me, anyway.
So these days, if I go with friends to a junk food place, I just order a small burger. Nothing else. I enjoy the experience, and my eating stays in check. I get my fix – because I’m still an addict – but I’m happy.
A whopper jr contains 340 calories. A McDonald’s cheeseburger contains 313 calories. That’s about right for a lunch for a woman who is trying to lose a few.
Compare that with the calories in a McDonald’s “hunger buster”: 1587. Or a Burger King whopper meal: 1620. Either is my whole day’s calories in a single meal. No wonder I wasn’t losing weight!
I know it’s not socially acceptable to believe we can eat the occasional burger and still lose weight.
I know it’s also true that some people are so addicted that they can’t even have just a burger yet avoid going nutso.
I find that this works for me. Maybe it will work for you too 🙂
I’ve been back at the gym for over a month now, and the weights I’m lifting are still going up nicely.
I’ve been doing a slightly altered version of the StrongLifts program, where you start with virtually nothing then add 2.5 kgs each time you do that exercise.
Bench is now up to 57.5 kgs, and deads are up to 75 kgs. I do leg press instead of squats (due to an old back injury) but overheads are up on 30 kgs, which is not too shabby for a female.
I’m enjoying feeling stronger and healthier, and the gym is helping me shed weight – people at work are noticing I’ve lost a bit and am looking better.
I’m also noticing my general health is improving. I remember a few years ago, when I was a gym junkie, I was never sick. I’m hoping returning to the gym and eating better will help me to build a stronger immune system.
In all, it’s all going well. I’m happy with my improvement, and look forward to more improvement as time goes on.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m meal prepping regularly now.
I divide the week in two (Sunday through Wednesday; Thursday through Saturday) then one half of the week I do veggies, while the other half is salad.
Then I just add a protein, which I also cook in batches. Common proteins I use are chicken, steak, pork chops, eggs and fish, and I’ll typically cook 2-3 days worth at a time.
I also prepare sides for the kids (I have three teenagers at home) in batches. Common sides for them are salad, roast veggies, couscous and rice. Common proteins for them include chicken, pork chops, eggs (omelettes), fish and mince meat (often in tacos).
I try to double up as often as possible, so most of the time we all eat the same pretty much, but when they have something a bit junkier as their protein (for example, fish with batter or home made hamburgers, I’ll have steak or seafood instead with my side.
Batch cooking (meal prep) is a gift for busy mums like me. I don’t typically get home until 6:30-ish, and I’m out three nights a week with activities, so having healthy meals organised in advance for everyone makes things much more manageable.
As for my husband, he’s doing the carnivore diet, and he just makes his own meals, often in the slow cooker (set and forget).
This all works well for us as a family, and we’ve reduced the junk food/eating out habit down to maybe once a month.
I’ve found some terrific apps that I’m using to track my progress. They’re all free, and they work well.
My Fitness Pal. I’m tracking everything I eat – before I eat it. That’s the clincher. Tracking afterwards doesn’t work for me. I find I forgot what I ate if I track after the fact. Before works brilliantly though!
Fit Notes. This is a great free app for tracking progress with weights. It’s nice watching the numbers go up!
AA Big Book. The big book of Alcoholics Anonymous is available for free download. It’s advice, stories and prayers work equally well for Overeaters Anonymous.
I use all three regularly, and am finding the first two indispensable.
Overeaters Anonymous is not a diet. It’s a way of recovering from the disease of compulsive overeating.
I used to think If only I can find the right diet, then I will lose weight! But for me, diets don’t work. The problem with diets is they are temporary. Temporary change will not help me for lifelong health.
I need something permanent. I don’t want to lose 70 pounds, just to regain it all a year or two later. Been there, done that. The changes I make today are lifelong, because lifelong is what I need. Nothing less is good enough for me. I want – and deserve – permanent change.
I firmly believe that the weight I lose today I will not regain. I believe the changes I make are permanent. I’m an OA “lifer”. I’m not in this for the short term.
You know, when I first joined OA I was surprised it wasn’t full of huge fatties. I expected everyone there to be much, much bigger than me.
So it was a shock to find myself one of the larger people in the room. Most were a healthy, lean weight. Most were thinner than me. Most looked like a weight I’d be very happy to be.
I also didn’t expect to get the amazing support that I get. I thought they’d be friendly but distant. Instead I found everyone really welcoming and happy to share their experience and to help a newbie like me. They all firmly believe in service, and that they themselves benefit from helping and supporting newbies. They walk the walk. I fit in now, and they help me when I need it. I’m not alone in my food problems any more. I have a group of friends who understand because they’ve been where I am now. Seeing them succeed makes me believe I can succeed too.
So no, I’m not on a diet. I have a food plan that works for me, and a path forward that can help and heal me, as I help and heal others.
Most people on the standard Western diet eat up to 10 times a day. Their diets consist mainly of carbohydrates and sugar (plus a huge dose of additives, colours, flavours, stabilizers, preservatives etc.), and there are few healthy habits and set routines.
The end result of all this disordered, poor eating is that you may be perpetually hungry, and suffer from a host of allergies and other ailments, including obesity, hayfever, dry itchy eyes and acne.
If this all sounds familiar, you’re not alone. It sure is real familiar to me!
Breaking down what’s wrong
Eating a high carbohydrate, high sugar diet will keep you being always hungry, with rollercoasting blood sugar levels being a huge part of the problem. Your blood sugar spikes after a high carb / high sugar meal, then plummets a little while later, leaving you exhausting and hungry, looking around for your next sugar “fix”.
Also, if you’re basing your diet on carbohydrates and sugar, you’re almost certainly not getting enough healthy fats. This can lead to dry skin and eyes, eczema and allergies, and digestive difficulties.
The long term result of all this is you keep eating, keep feeling hungry, and keep trashing your blood sugar, leading eventually to obesity, diabetes and a host of other problems.
Solving your own personal sugar crisis
Fixing all this is not complicated, but it is hard. Eat more foods with healthy fats, end your reliance and addiction on carbs and sugars, and reduce and habitualize healthy eating patterns.
Below we overview the 3 simple steps of the Fit, Fed and Fasted program.
STEP 1 – Start a FUN EXERCISE PROGRAM
A healthy, sensible exercise program can really help with your mindset as well as your fitness.
This doesn’t mean rushing in to sign up at the nearest gym! However it does mean finding an exercise that works for you and your lifestyle, is affordable and is fun.
Walking and swimming are great options, as is lifting weights. Do whatever you prefer – this is your life and your choice.
STEP 2 – Rebalance your diet
Meat and fish should be central to your diet, and provide the vast majority of calories. In fact, the fewer non-animal foods you eat, the healthier you will be. Your blood sugar will settle, and your hunger will become controlled without all the carbs and sugar sending your blood sugar spiralling.
STEP 3 – Reframe your eating window
Getting your eating under control involves reducing when you eat in a 24 hour period. It may – if you choose – also mean reducing how many meals you have in the course of an entire week.
You’ll also need to habitualize where and how you eat, quitting snacking behaviours that undermine your wellbeing.
These three steps are straightforward and easy to understand. They’re affordable and manageable for just about anyone.
Yes, you can do it! Over the coming posts, we’ll delve into how to take these steps, and discuss some common problems and pitfalls along the way.