Size 6 jeans!Today I did something very exciting… I bought new jeans AGAIN. Size 6. This is a mythical size I always thought they put on the shelf for mythical people who didn’t exist, a size that only exists in Dave Barry comedy routines. For those of you who do not know me IRL, I’ve been on this diet and lifestyle change kick for over a year now. I started out at a size 16 (and vainly searching the shelves in denial for the one size 14 that might fit…). So this is HUGE for me. It was amusing to have trouble finding my size again, for the opposite reason. And to think I used to hate shopping…

I decided I needed to lose weight *NOW* after a friend took me shopping at Lane Bryant and I was lovingly lectured about bras that will help strap in my rolls of fat. I was shocked and horrified. I was a bit in denial of my rolls of fat, and if I was going to admit they were there, strapping them in wasn’t my health and beauty plan of choice. Happily, my husband was in about the same place, and we went on a very successful diet/lifestyle change. I’m down over 50 pounds, he’s down about 40. Here’s how we did it:

Step one for me was over years and years before my change. I had to accept my body as it was, think its okay no matter how it is, and basically not be upset at its shape. Diets always failed before this because I’d get extremely moody, binge, and quit.

Step 2 was that moment where I realized “This is not who I want to be and it is worth any reasonable amount of effort to change this.” I admitted to myself I didn’t feel healthy and I didn’t like the way I looked. I got winded to easy, I didn’t fit into my clothes, I needed to change for me. I knew it would be work and decided it was worth work.

Step 3 is the real lifestyle change part, after all the motivation factors fell in line. Over a week, we changed nothing, just counted our calories. I was eating nearly 4000 calories a day. I really thought I was eating healthy, and I was more or less… just I was eating 2 healthy diets each day instead of just one! Peter was drinking over 1000 calories of Pepsi a day. We figured out what our danger spots were – what reliably sent us over the line (sugar drinks became a big no-no, portions needed some resizing). This was really important, because what we needed to do was probably different than what some diets would say. This helped us personalize our plan

Step 4 was the big change. We started exercising more or less daily (shoot for daily, succeed 5X weekly minimum) and cut all the way back to 1500 calories a day – 3 meals, 500 per. This was our jump-start phase. Oh and I didn’t really get on the scale that first week. I know from past experience it is NOT going to drop and it’ll just upset me. I think we tried to stick to this diet for about a month. about 2 weeks in I started dropping weight, a pound every 2 or 3 days, 3 pounds a week at a steady clip.

Step 5 was a transition to maintenance. We stopped counting calories so rigidly, and accepted that we’d often be nearer to a maintenance level of 2000/day. I think in this stage the exercise came in binges – some months were good, some months were nothing. The key in this stage was keeping track – we’d still pay attention to our eating, we still weighed ourselves several times a week. The goal was to not slip backwards, and when we had the energy and desire, try to actively lose more.

Its been a lot of learning for me. I learn I can’t just sit still – I do gain weight back if I don’t keep up the exercise, and I go back to feeling out of shape and easily winded. I’m back to trying to exercise daily, and continue to just not try to overdo on the food, pay attention to when I’m actually full. Peter can get away with not exercising and maintain his weight. I am extremely jealous! but the nice part is… if I do keep up the exercise, I seem to gradually lose weight. I seem to either move up or down. 🙂 So I’m choosing to move down. As you see in the picture above its having nice results. I have a waist that goes in! For reference, here’s a before picture:

This is me at my PhD Graduation, summer of 2005. As you can see, I wasn’t so horrible to start with, but I have come a long way. And I have a ways to go still… I’m very curious to find out what my body actually feels like when I’m finished with the training ahead of me!

Wish me luck!