My let’s-get-more-awesome journey
It feels so great to write this post, this gorgeous gorgeous winter day in Minneapolis!
After a crazy busy week at work, one of the few things that kept me going, was the prospect of writing another post here 🙂 So many of you wrote these amazingly encouraging comments after I published my last post about blogging again. It’s heart-warming to know that I still have a loyal and eager reader base!
Many comments and questions were around my weight loss journey. Most of my extra weight was gained during the second half of 2012, and over 2013. Without sounding too preachy, I’m going to try my best to share a few big and many small changes I had to make over the course of a year, to lose about 20 lbs from March 2014 onward. Maybe they will apply to you, maybe they won’t, but my hope is that reading about my experience will help you relate, or maybe even help you give ME some tips!
Note that I am not a nutritionist, physical trainer, or any expert on this subject at all, and I am still making changes to my lifestyle on an ongoing basis. Also, I want to share that my diet has always composed of primarily home-cooked, vegetarian meals – That said, the quantity and the composition + combination of what I consumed, coupled with low to no exercise, is what mainly led to my weight gain.
And yeah – the title of the post? I didn’t want to call this ‘My weight loss journey’, because it seems unauthentic to me. To be very honest, this last year has been more about accepting myself and believing in myself. The weight loss was only incidental 🙂
1. Reality check
For the longest time I was in denial about my weight gain. My sister and I had many conversations about it, and while she was always encouraging, supporting and caring, I didn’t always take the conversations positively. I think this is part of changing anything in our lives – we need to look ourselves in the eye and own our shit. The biggest reason I was in denial was because I didn’t believe in myself. In the pic above, I was my heaviest at around 153 lbs. I’m 5′ 3″ so I was certainly in the over-weight zone. Learning this fact was a jolt I truly needed. I resolved to change my life, by beginning to see myself differently.
What I can say is, taking one day at a time helps. Easier said than done. Yet, it is easy to get overwhelmed with what you need to do, and in the rigmarole of work, hectic schedules and everyday stresses, we can often be more hard than we need to be on ourselves.
2. Lowering sodium and cutting out the wrong snacks
In addition to portion control, the big kick-start to my inevitable diet change was lowering my sodium intake. When I looked closely, I realized how much extra sodium I was consuming – processed snacks (even if they were veggie chips, organic, whole grains etc.), simple soups that I got from the office cafeteria (seemingly healthy!), and even adding more than what my taste buds needed in my cooking.
By removing any and every snack with high sodium levels, replacing it with snacks with 0 sodium (prunes, Turkish apricots, almonds, kind bars!), and also adding less salt in food I prepared myself, I saw a big change in my weight loss. The water I seemed to be retaining quickly reduced, and my taste buds became more sensitive to salt, helping me consume even less over the course of time.
3. Running and strengthening
This was also a significant change. I knew from my early 20s that my body responds very well to exercises that involve working with my own body weight, resistance exercises, and weight lifting. In addition to starting to run again, I had a weight training routine. Classes at the YMCA helped tremendously, and so did pacing myself to minimize injuries. In the beginning, my lower back and core were weak and I couldn’t run more than 1 minute at a time continuously; I am very very hard on myself and add unnecessary stress in many aspects of my life. This was one area where I had to try to be much more easy and gentle with myself. Contrary to what may seem logical, being kinder, and more self-accepting, led me to a stronger workout routine even after perceived ‘failures’ like not having high stamina when I ran.
Overall, I have learned that strengthening my core, and doing exercises that teach me to balance my body, have led to the fastest and most dramatic results in terms of toning and strengthening.
Juicing! YES! I cannot even begin to tell you how tremendously important this one habit change has been for me. Like many great things in my life, my sister Sameera suggested this to me. I replaced some of my evening sacks with a glass of juice. That’s it. No drastic ‘cleanses’ that seem to be the fad, no crazy juices involving multiple different vegetables and fruits. Adding even one glass a week helped cleanse and detoxify my system, and helped me gain much more energy. There are a lot of resources online on this topic, but this article explains juicing pretty well.
In the coming weeks, I will share a couple of my favorite juice recipes and my process of juicing with you!
5. Things I am still working on
My lifestyle change is ongoing and I still want to make many more changes that I can sustain over time:
– Adding more protein to my diet
– Minimizing the intake of processed sugar
– Adding a broader variety of vegetables to my food
– Adding detoxifying teas on a daily basis
– Truly pushing my running mileage – I’ve been stuck at a max of 3 miles per workout for a while now 🙂
So this was my journey, folks! I hope this has been insightful for you. Overall, my weight loss has resulted in many changes – lesser facial acne, less bloating, much lower water retention, significantly lower menstrual discomfort, higher energy levels (I need just 1 cup of coffee a day), and a much stronger self image! If reading this made you think of your own health journey, leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!!