How I dropped 10+ pounds

About this time last year, I went to Las Vegas and needed to buy a new pair of jeans.   I bought a sexy little pair of dark navy jeans that showed off my curves.  Alan liked.

In July we had a boat meeting with Marlene Royle.   She discussed many aspects of competitive rowing with us, but one thing she mentioned is losing weight.   Ten extra pounds may be just be ten extra pounds, but you stick ten women in a boat with ten extra each and that’s 80 pounds of extra weight.   It makes a difference.   Amongst many other changes, I also decided to try and lose a little weight.

Six months later, here are those same jeans.

A little roomy.

I can see Russia in there.

I can see Russia in there.

Both arms!

Look what I can do! Both arms!

I’m down about 12 pounds and seem to fluctuate between 10-15, though lately with the holiday season, it’s been between 10-13 off from July.   I know there are many programs and philosophies out there regarding exercise, dieting, nutrition, and healthy living.   All I’m doing is putting out there what I did to lose my extra ten pounds and about 1.5 inches off my waist line.  Let’s be clear that I wasn’t overweight to start with.  This isn’t “Biggest Loser” or “Jenny Craig.”   My original BMI was 24.9, just inside the “healthy” range for someone my height.  And since this IS a rowing blog, I obviously am not a couch potato.  Leading a sedentary lifestyle is not an issue for me.

How did I do it?

1.  Lose It!

I started keeping track of my calories.  Everyday, every bite that passed between these lips was recorded using an app called “Lose It!”   Big or small, including a single, succulent Hershey’s kiss–I logged it.  Every bit of serious exercise, but not yard work or cleaning the house, was logged.   The first week I did it without a goal in mind and my weekly report morphed into a mountain of red peaks.  I learned quickly I was overeating my weekly calorie allotment.

When I first changed the goal from “maintain” to “lose 10 pounds,” it was challenging for me to make my daily calorie goal.  Keeping track of my calories forced me to control portions and to make better food decisions, which eventually led to…

2.  Eating my fruits and vegetables.

It’s difficult trying to eat 1500-1800 calories a day and feel satisfied.  In the beginning, I remember being frustrated and being hungry.    But I liked the challenge of trying not to see the red bar in the app.    I ended up incorporating more fruits and vegetables into my diet.   First, I moved to eating salad for my lunch.  It became my new rule: “eat salad for lunch.”   Later, as my daily calorie allotment dropped as I lost weight, I also moved to eating fruit for my afternoon snack.    Alan picks me on for “grazing,” but I get hungry in the middle of the afternoon!   Instead of crackers and cheese or hummus, I switched to a cup of blue berries, or strawberries, or a banana.

People who know me well know I’m a picky eater and eating vegetables is a real challenge for me.   However, I made it work!   Eating a salad everyday for lunch went a long way.     Even so, there are times when I have massive food cravings for sweet things.  So…

3.  When I craved it, I ate it.

There are times when I can say “no,” but there are times when the apparition of a freshly baked cookie appears before me and lingers.  I can smell the half-melted chocolate chips and feel the warm, sugary dough on my tongue.   My problem is, when I crave it and don’t get it, I obsess about it.  The craving will just keep growing into this ravenous monster that is guiltily polishing off a whole bag of Chips Ahoy!

When I craved it, I ate it.  That way I didn’t obsess about it.  And if I could, I made smarter choices.    If the craving of the night was ice cream, I’d go get frozen yogurt or a frozen fruit bar instead.  When I craved chocolate chip cookies, I’d buy one from the Amish market to avoid buying a whole package.   I’d promise myself to only have a few cubes of cheese, or only order two tacos sans chips ‘n’ salsa.  I didn’t cut out my cravings, but took care of them before they grew into an obsession. However…

4. I cut back on alcohol.

Since I tracked my calories obsessively, I began to notice a pattern.  Every time I had alcohol–whether it be a glass of wine, cider, dark ‘n’ stormy–no matter, the next day my weight would spike up at minimum two pounds, but usually more.  Now don’t take that the wrong way.  I’m not kicking back Jack every day.  I’m a social drinker, and on the weekends usually had a glass of wine or two with dinner, or something a little stronger on Fridays to celebrate surviving another week.   Regardless of how much water I would drink in addition to the beverage, it would always spike.   I ended up cutting back, especially before the Hooch where I went about six weeks without drinking even a single glass of wine.

Speaking of the Hooch…

5.  I row.  I row hard.

The uptick in our practices and the difficultly of said practices was a big factor.   Exercise was important, but we starting training for Nationals.  That meant long, tough rows, in the summer heat, several times a week.  It meant including running and more erging in the down time.   I thought I practiced hard before, but it’s nothing like what we’ve been doing.  See 2-REW.    There’s not denying–breaking into a deep sweat and turning in a radish several times a day boosted my weight loss.

Some people are natural-born athletes and talented physically.  I am neither of those.  I play a lot of mental games with myself and it’s been difficult many morning when the alarm goes off in the wee hours.   All of this wouldn’t have been possible without…

6.  An elephant of support.

First there’s my boat, the 8+.  I know if I don’t wake up and work out, or if I don’t watch my diet and eat healthily, then I’m not being the best I can be.   But not only am I letting myself down, but I’m disappointing my team.  If I don’t roll out of bed at 5 a.m. and get my sleepily tush to practice, I’m saying I don’t value my team mates, or their time and energy.   And they’re suffering the early mornings and the tough workouts, the sweaty erg sessions, all of the struggles and triumphs, we’re in together.  I do value them and their efforts and I refuse to be the one to let us down.

On the flip side, I also know if I don’t workout and perform up to par I could lose my seat in the boat.

There’s my family.  I know my parents are finally understanding how important the sport of rowing is to me.  They’re rooting for me to do my best at nationals.  (Like my Dad said, “Why are you coming across the line first but getting second?  I’m tired of you getting second.”)

Most importantly, there’s Alan.   He razzes me a bit and tells me not to become “too manly,” but he supports me.   When he realized how I was watching my diet he began cooking healthier meals.    I stepped up to my “learn-to-eat-eggs/beets” challenge.  He parks out on the street so I can go to the early practices without needing to move his car. He joined the Y with me and goes weightlifting and to TRX.    Alan cheers me on when I PR with running.    He always asks how my row went and bought me more rowing gear because he knows it’s important to me.

And when I decided to wear my nice Las Vegas jeans to work the last day before Christmas Break, and realized they didn’t fit at all any more, even with a belt, it was him laughing when I showed him I could pants myself.   And it was Alan cheekily saying, “we need to get you new pants.   How about some nice skinny jeans?”  Wink, wink.

Support is definitely makes a difference!

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About camckenna

I teach; I write; I row.
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