Testimonial – Amanda M

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I have worked with Amanda for years, and I have been thrilled by her determination, strength, and success. You will be encouraged as you read her story. The after photo was just now taken (7/16/13 at 5 pm).

Amanda M: “My weight has been an issue for me since my late teens. I started gaining in high school and by graduation was considered overweight. Over the years the pounds just kept adding up due to inactivity and excessive overeating and drinking. I’ve had success losing weight a couple times, both times by tracking calorie intake, but I was on a “diet” and as soon as I lost weight I’d return to my old eating habits and the weight would come back.

My lifestyle was mostly sitting, eating and drinking. I rarely got physical activity and when I did every joint in my body would ache. I was to the point where I would grunt and groan just putting on my underwear in the morning. I couldn’t find any clothes that fit and the embarrassment over my appearance had curbed my social activities and affected my marriage. I knew I had to do something but always had an excuse not to start. It was so easy and comfortable to just eat, drink and be merry and I didn’t want to give up that lifestyle.

Finally, at 37 years old, 5’8” and 224lbs, I saw an announcement at work that they would be starting a Weight Watchers group. We’d be able to attend the meetings at work with people we are comfortable and familiar with. I went to my first meeting and was instantly hooked on the program. It really does work. The Weight Watchers app for my iPhone made it so easy to track my food and activity and made me realize what smart food choices were and what foods to avoid.

I started slowly by experimenting with different foods and substitutions for the things I normally would enjoy. Now I’d much rather reach for some watermelon instead of cake or extra green beans instead of mashed potatoes and gravy. I still eat the foods I love, like steak and shrimp, but I watch my portions, load up on protein, fruits and veggies and season with herbs and spices instead of butter and oil.

One thing I realized pretty early on is that I’d have to cut out alcohol. I love wine. I loved a whole bottle of wine with dinner every night. I had to learn to love a glass of wine on special occasions. A day that ends in d-a-y is not a special occasion.

Once you start to pay attention to the nutritional information you see just how bad the average American diet is for you. You have to pick and choose the right time to indulge. The program I follow allows you to do that and doesn’t restrict you from enjoying those treats you crave.

After I changed my eating habits I started to see results within a few weeks and it inspired me to get active. I dusted off the old treadmill and started walking. Just walking. At first it was 30 minutes a few times a week but over the months I’ve increased the speed and incline and now spend about an hour a day working on cardio. I also mix in some strength and core training a couple times a week. It feels so good to be active. I have energy and strength I never knew I possessed and I can finally keep up with my husband and 10 year old son.

The change in the mirror is unreal. I’m amazed by how different I look and feel and my confidence is through the roof. I can’t count the number of people that have told me they didn’t even recognize me. My own mother in law didn’t know who I was when I saw her out in public the other day. It’s still hard to believe that I don’t have to shop in plus sizes anymore. I can actually go into trendy stores and the clothes fit! But wait, it gets better. I used to have so many health problems…heartburn, stomach upset, insomnia, the list goes on. Since I’ve adjusted my lifestyle all of my health issues have been resolved. I can’t remember the last time I had to take an antacid or was up tossing and turning during all night.

When people ask me “How did you do it?” I always answer “Eat right and exercise. You know everything they tell you to do.” I never say the word diet. Diet implies something you’re “on”. To maintain a large weight loss you need to find a healthy balance of calorie intake and exercise that becomes your daily routine. Setting small goals each week helped me to introduce changes gradually. These were just little goals like drinking enough water or eating vegetables with every meal. When you add these changes together they create a healthy routine. Tracking is extremely helpful to me too. Tracking makes me aware of my food and exercise choices and holds me accountable.

I’ve truly gone through a lifestyle change during this process and I will continue to track my daily food and exercise even after I reach my goal. I’ve lost 65lbs so far and have 15 more to go. It takes perseverance. But just keep at it and you can make these changes, too. It’s all up to you.

Remember, no one can do this for you. You have a choice and are in complete control. The ability to change is within each of us. One day I simply believed I could do it and I did. So can you.

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Can

I’ve had the chance to talk with a lot of people during this science fair project. Folks are starting to notice my weight loss – I guess it’s showing up in my face (one person thinks my behind is shrinking, but I don’t see it…really, I can’t see my rear end).

I’m noticing a common response in these conversations:

* “I can’t lose weight.”
* “I can’t exercise.”
* “I can’t watch what I eat.”
* “I can’t do portion control. I like food too much.”

i can’t.

And that’s the result I got for a long time.

I can’t does not lose weight.
I can’t does not exercise.
I can’t will not make healthy food choices or exercise portion control.

I can’t…can’t.

But like millions of others, I want to focus on what I CAN do. This journey has not been as hard as I thought.

I CAN lose weight. I’m doing it.
I CAN exercise again. I’m doing it.
I CAN make healthy food choices and enjoy it!
I CAN do portion control. I found tools that help with this.

This is no “Jedi mind trick”. No, it is a mindset that I need to keep. I don’t plan to turn back. I like what I see and how I feel. I have choices every day – to be positive or to be negative, to eat like there’s no tomorrow or eat so I can be around tomorrow.

This works…when I work it.

Living Actively

I am reading a book with someone I am mentoring at work. The book, The Competent Leader (Peter Stark & Jane Flaherty), is an excellent resource. I highly recommend it!

In chapter 2 (“Building Your Confidence & Your Self-Esteem”), the authors do an outstanding job of spelling out why this is so important for leaders. But as I read it today, a section jumped out at me under a section they entitled “Set Goals”.

“Setting and achieving predetermined goals are the most important roads to travel if you are going to increase your self-esteem. Setting goals is intimately associated with living actively….What actions will bring me closer to my goals?…Don’t let being afraid of failure hold you back.”

I love that phrase “living actively”. This is what I’m trying to do in this project. No haphazardly approaching this with no sense of direction and hoping for the best. No. I’m planning, setting goals, and actively working towards those goals. And it’s working!

It’s my responsibility to set my goals and fulfill them. I don’t find the changes I’m making seem like chains holding me down. No! The changes are setting me free! “Avoiding self-responsibility victimizes us in our own lives.” Who wants that? Not me!

 

Learn more from Peter at his blog: http://www.peterstark.com/blog/

 

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Portion & Quality Control

I’ve spoken to many people since beginning this project. People who have lost a lot of weight. I was especially interested in talking with men who lost weight. We’re not always willing to talk about our process. Many times, we’re satisfied with others just noticing the results.

I met an architect from Pennsylvania yesterday who has lost 100 pounds. He used to weigh 400!

I know a DJ from Arkansas who has lost nearly 50 pounds.

My wife ran into a woman she knew…but didn’t know when she recently saw her. She has lost that much weight that her appearance changed. I saw before and after photos. I swore that these were different women!

What did all three of these folks have in common? They exercised portion control when they ate and quality control in what they ate. Yes, they all did some form of exercise, but controlling what they ate and how much they ate was key to their weight loss.

They used some sort of tool to assist them in understanding the calories and nutrients they were consuming. They changed their habits, ate more healthy choices, and planned their meals.

Is this a hassle? Is it hard? Is it impossible? NO!

It’s a decision.

They have decided – I have decided – to change. They decided to eat better. They decided to eat less. They decided to exercise. They decided to turn their back on the way they had been and move towards the person they knew they could be.

I’m sure they had some encouragement along the way – a friend, a doctor, a stranger coming up and complimenting them. But ultimately, they had to make the decision to change.

If you’re thinking of making this change, do this simple step next time you eat. Regardless of the meal and the food in front of you, consciously think about how much you would normally eat. They put less on your plate. Try cutting it down to 1/3 or 1/2. Drink a lot of water. One meal. Just try it.

If it’s pizza and you normally could consume 6 pieces, eat only 3-4. If it’s a burger joint and you typically order a big double burger, order a single (order the small fry). You get the idea. Guess what? You’ll walk away not feeling bloated or uncomfortable.

Now, instead of just showing up at a meal, plan it. Make healthier food choices. More vegetables and more fruit. Try to avoid sugar (it’s in everything). Read up on the kind of breads/grains you should be eating. Invest in the time to make a better you.

My Fitness Pal is a an easy app to use. It works if you work it.

I’ll write more about this later. I will be sharing more stories as I collect them (I’m working on that architect). Thanks for visiting Fat Dad, Fit Dad!