Weighty Resolutions

by Katy on December 25, 2008 · 22 comments

 

weight loss

Learn a foreign language?

De-clutter your house?

Lose that nagging extra 20 pounds?

Yup. It’s new year’s resolution time. That yearly ritual to better oneself.

I’ve never made official resolutions, although I did start a plan of consistent tooth-flossing a couple years ago that I’ve actually kept up on.

Of course, the number one resolution is to lose that weight. Americans spend 40 billion dollars a year on diet programs and products, which is utterly ridiculous. Not to mention the money spent on unused gym memberships.

What if this money was spent to feed the hungry or fund our schools? 

We all logically know that to lose weight is as simple as burning more calories than we’re taking in. (It’s just like staying financially afloat — spend less than you earn.) Yet there are a thousand different diets out there, all promising quick and easy results.

Yet, even if your weight loss is successful, you’re unlikely to keep the pounds off in the long run. 

So what’s the answer? Go to Jenny Craig with open wallet and eat pre-prepared frozen meals? Calculate points with Weight Watchers? 

I consider the diet industry to be predatory and unethical. I would sooner write a check to Halliburton than The South Beach Diet folks.

Yet, my metabolism at age forty is not what it was at 20. Add on a fractured tailbone last January, and my frame is currently more padded than I am comfortable with. I have never been someone obsessed with my weight. I’ve never even been on a diet. Yet there’s been a definite upward trend that starting to put me in the stretchy pants category.

I am smart, I’m informed, I’m even in the medical profession, (I’m a nurse). I can do this without Ms Craig. I just need to burn more calories than I’m eating.

Easy. (Right?)

Then I can work on de-cluttering the house.

I’m curious to hear from readers who have lost weight on their own, or through an official program. Have you kept the weight off, and if so what worked for you?

Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

 

It didn't help that I was given Bavarian Mints -- The best candy ever!

It didn't help that I was given Bavarian Mints -- The best candy ever!

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Donna December 25, 2008 at 11:19 pm

I really like the YOAD plan by Dr. Memet Oz ala the Oprah show. The plan is sensible and very easy to follow. I lost 1o pounds over a 12 week period. The most important thing about the plan is learning to eat in a healthier way, and to MOVE my body more than one in a while. Consistency is the key for me.

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Peggy December 26, 2008 at 7:40 am

I strive to exercise every day, power walking or elliptical trainer, minimum of 30 minutes. I try to reduce sweets (my downfall), eat smaller portions of everything and avoid late night snacks. We hardly ever eat out. When my son and husband do not overrule me, I do not bring potato chips in the house. It gets harder to maintain.lose every year. Good luck!

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Kassie December 26, 2008 at 7:40 am

A great way to burn calories is de-cluttering the house! Eat a cookie run up the stairs grab and armful of un-used “stuff”, run back down the stairs, do this 20 times you will have less clutter and be able to eat 1 more cookie!

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Julie December 26, 2008 at 8:40 am

About 4 years ago, I lost 45 pounds,mostly by decreasing portion sizes, eating small meals every 3 hours, and becoming a vegetarian. (Actually mostly vegan, i.e. no eggs, dairy, or other animal products.) I still have a terrible sweet tooth and so allow for that—if I indulged, I was more careful about what I ate for the rest of the day. Sometimes, if I really wanted something sweet, I ate a piece of cake or whatever for lunch (when my son was not around to see!!) and then just ate lightly for my other meals. I have to admit I didn’t really exercise, I just ran around after my then-toddler as always. This past March, I turned 41. Suddenly, I started gaining weight even though I had not changed my eating or exercise habits at all. I have gained 12 pounds and I’m extremely frustrated. I cut out things I loved, like an occasional glass of wine or latte, and cut way back on sweets. Still, the pounds have crept on. I even had my thyroid tested (since thyroid problems run in my family) but was told I am fine. It’s got to be just an aging, slowing metabolism. I plan on exercising more once we move (soon, please, oh real estate gods) into a house that’s big enough for a treadmill. (And providing I can find a well-priced, used treadmill!) I think writing down everything you eat is also an effective weight loss tool, it certainly shocks me into seeing how quickly all the little bites here and there can add up.
Good luck Katy, I love your blog.

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Michelle December 26, 2008 at 9:10 am

Dear Katy,
I love your blog and have been reading every day for a month or more. It helps me stay on track on my own quest to simplify, and live more richly!

I’ve used weight watchers 3 times to lose babyweight and it is a wonderful community based weight loss program. It is educational, gives you tools that motivate you to eat less and move more and a venue for celebrating your successes and getting past your failures. Sure If you’re self-motivated you can do this same thing with friends for free, but for some people writing a check every week or month is a reminder that health and weight loss is valuable to them and worth their effort. Pay weight watchers now or the doctor later!

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taibhsearachd December 26, 2008 at 9:32 am

I am almost 50 years old and despite the fact that I eat healthy food and exercise almost every day, I have been carrying around an extra 20 pounds for the last decade or so. Since my work offers each employee $300 a year for wellness activities, I decided to sign up for 12 weeks of Weight Watchers. I probably wouldn’t have paid it out of my own pocket, but I’m glad I took advantage of my work program because since late October I have lost 15 pounds. I have learned it’s all about portion sizes (I guess I lost track of what a portion really is) and I think now I can do this on my own, but I’m happy for the kick-start that WW gave me.

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Flourish December 26, 2008 at 9:53 am

You know, I lost about 30 pounds last year, and it ultimately came down to calorie counting and drastically increasing the amount of exercise I got. I’m trying to cut down on the amount of exercise I have to do this year but still keep the weight off – I don’t have time to make it to the gym every day anymore – but calorie counting is free (you can get good calorie counts online, and even get free calorie calculators) and it really helps you notice when you’re mindlessly snacking and so on.

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Jan December 26, 2008 at 10:04 am

I’m not 40 yet (getting close!) and my tip is in addition to the aerobic activity, you absolutely MUST incorporate weight training. Add 2.5 or 5 lb weights into a workout – do some bicep & tricep curls, squats with weights & some crunches with your weights. Muscle burns more fat and it burns fat ALL DAY LONG. It costs more calories to maintain it! This is my secret. I only do weights 2x/week, and I keep the pounds off. Try it – and it’s better for our bones as women!

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christajean December 26, 2008 at 11:13 am

The Breast-feeding Diet works for me. I just have a baby every 2 years and breast-feed for a year and I always end up skinnier than before. I highly recommend it! ;-D

~christajean

p.s. those mints didn’t last but a couple of days at our house as well!

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Di Hickman December 26, 2008 at 11:49 am

My goal for the year is to get back into shape. I only put on 15 lbs over the last few years, but my SHAPE has changed dramatically. I see lots of wobbly bits on my thighs, belly and butt.
I started running this week. I’ve set myself a goal of doing my own “treadmill 5K” on the 13th February. I managed to run 1 whole mile on Tuesday on my program.
Partnering this I will be undertaking a reduced calorie healthy eating plan in the new year, once we get rid of all the holiday food…

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Ben December 26, 2008 at 11:58 am

A friend of mine has a blog describing his weight loss method (100 lbs in a year). http://www.getonthebike.com

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Viki December 26, 2008 at 12:01 pm

OK, so I haven’t actually lost any weight yet, but I am really loving SparkPeople (www.sparkpeople.com), it gives you a diet and excercise program to follow (and modify if you like), lets you track the foods you eat each day (and tells you if you are getting enough essential nutrients, etc.). There are a variety of online “SparkTeams” you can join for support. And its FREE.

I’m vegetarian right now, and my personal “resolution” for 2009 is to go as vegan as possible. I think/hope that this will help me lose a little weight, because I am addicted to cheese, and get way too much fat this way!

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Bev December 26, 2008 at 12:55 pm

I’m with Viki. SparkPeople site is GREAT for all the reasons she stated. Fabulous site – I lost 5 of my last 10 pounds and I know when I track my food again, I’ll drop those last 5. I really opens your eyes to what you are doing for your health – both good and bad – with everything you eat and how much you exercise.

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Magdalena December 26, 2008 at 1:51 pm

I have no excuse, either – I was an athlete and I’m an herbalist. Turning fifty has been the watershed for me, with a goodly twenty-five extra pounds. My husband and I are headed back to the gym. We can join the local YMCA and work out at the college just two blocks from the house. We are very muscular people, and that’s a bonus because it means that we lose fat fast when we are training. Many people consider the gym membership an extravagance – walking is free, etc. but for us walking and even running isn’t enough to stay in shape. Because we are powerlifters we need a lot of very expensive equipment, and a lot of space to keep it in. Paying the gym to keep the weights for us is actually a savings. This isn’t stuff you can pick up at Goodwill! (That’s a pun.) Staying in top shape is an investment in our health. We aren’t buying costly medications like so many of our contemporaries, and we aren’t a burden on an overstressed health care system. Being strong is important to us, not only for the health benefits but because it makes farm life (when we get back to it) safer and more fun.

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Wendy December 26, 2008 at 3:56 pm

About 10 years ago, I successfully did the Atkins diet and lost over 40 pounds (hubby actually lost 60 lbs., several years later, on Atkins) with no exercise. I kept the weight off for about 3 1/2 years and then the weight started to come back as I ate mroe and more carbs. What I liked about the diet beyond the fact that the weight does melt off like butter is that I could do it myself without any extra fees or pre-packaged foods. After the holiday goodies are gone, my husband and I plan to resume the Atkins diet. Having also turned forty this past year, I think I will put Jan’s recommendation to use and utilize some small weights in the home.

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barb December 27, 2008 at 8:57 pm

I lost almost 20 lbs at the beginning of this year, over about 3 months (I guess knowing I was about to turn 40 was a motivator 🙂 I hired a personal trainer for two half-hour sessions each week, for 12 weeks (it was a package deal). He taught me how to work out at the gym, something I really never knew. And he motivated me to try harder, which helped me learn how much more I could actually do (e.g. more weight than I thought, more reps). The practice also helped me to become more comfortable with the breathless feeling that occurs during heavy exercise, something I had never experienced before!
The other thing I did was to keep a food journal, and to watch portions very carefully. (Essentially, these strategies helped me to eat less.)
I found that for me, exercise is the key thing. When I exercise, I find that I eat better — not so much on purpose, but I just seem to want/crave less sweets.
But I completely agree with you, Katy. The diet industry, promising a quick-fix, is practially criminal. On the other hand, I agree with Michele (above). I think that options such as Weight Watchers, which help you learn about portions/nutrition and provide support and practical strategies, are quite reasonable. It’s way better than spending the money on health care costs caused by being overweight!

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Charyl December 28, 2008 at 4:42 am

Weight Watchers- I hate, hate, hate the $17 bucks a month for online membership but, honestly, for my personality type (ie somewhat lazy, hate exercise) it works. Why? keeping track of food online with points (no brainer-tracker does it all for you), reminders for water, exercise, support from website, good, real food with recipes (this can be very frugal to offset monthly fee. Ive signed up and quit twice this year (thinking I could save the $17 bucks)but each time I fell off the wagon on my own. I lost 20 lbs., overall, in three months when I followed the points system, though. Good luck with your decision! By the by, I have a husband and two kids (8 and 11) and we all eat more healthy on this plan. Its about fresh, real food anyone can eat 😉

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Kate December 30, 2008 at 4:06 pm

I lost 50 pounds from January-October 2007, and have kept it off (other than about 5 pounds that crept up since early fall, which I’m not waiting for January 1 to address!).

The frustrating time I had getting around with a broken ankle was my catalyst for change. I started watching portions while I waited for the ankle to heal, then started an exercise program as soon as I was crutch- and cast-free.

I walk 15-20 miles a week (very briskly) and have trained for and competed in two walking half-marathons.

I also lift weights (I set up a frugal but effective free-weight home gym in my basement, much of it purchased cheaply off Craigslist) anywhere from 3 to 6 days a week, depending on what workout program I’m following (I mix it up frequently to keep my muscles guessing). I think strength training is SO important for women, especially as we become less young (I’m nearly to 40).

My other main activity is bellydance, which has definite fitness aspects, but for most women is probably not enough activity by itself to facilitate weight loss.

I try to eat whole, unprocessed foods (including grass-fed beef that we buy from a small-scale rancher in the local area), decline second helpings, limit sweets and restaurant meals, and watch out for my big pitfall…mindless eating (yes, nuts are healthy…but in moderation!). I eat lots of fruits and veggies, which I grow myself or buy at farmer’s markets or at Costco (honestly, that’s where we do most of our grocery shopping).

I fully attribute my minor weight creep to being a little too lax in one or more of the areas I’ve mentioned. But the tools are still right within my reach, and I’m taking this week to gently nudge myself back into my good habits.

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Susan Lee January 5, 2009 at 10:31 am

WEIGHT WATCHERS is one of the cheapest, easiest and most common sense methods of losing and keeping weight off by teaching you healthy habits, eating what everyone else eats in the family and avoiding processed foods. It teaches you how to deal with emotional eating, party situations, holiday temptations, better strategies for planning ahead, meal planning and nutrition. The $40/month to me personally, is worth the money because the health benefits of maintaining a healthy weight has no price. That comes to you from a woman who weighed 211 pounds at 5’3″ for ten years and is now at a healthy weight for six years. And when you reach your Lifetime goal weight, you pay NOTHING FOREVER as long as you remain no more than two pounds over goal. I love being a free, lifetime WEIGHT WATCHER’S member – that’s a gift that keeps on giving!

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Ducky April 12, 2009 at 6:41 pm

Hi! I’m a new reader (saw you in the New York Times) and have been poking around idly for the last couple days. I found this and felt strangely compelled to comment, since a lot of other commenters were mentioning calorie counting, which studies have shown to be psychologically dangerous, and an easy way to end up with an eating disorder.

See if your local library has the book “Mindless Eating” by Brian Wansink, or google his website. He’s a food psychology researcher with some interesting information about the social cues that lead to overeating. Stuff like plate size, and how much is served etc. Its pretty interesting. I eat a lot more at my mothers house then I do at mine because she uses larger plates.

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