A picture is worth a thousand words and for Carolyn Oliver, it’s also worth about 196,000 calories – and counting.
Since we must burn 3500 calories to shed one pound of weight, it’s safe to say that this suburban Toronto mother of two is a shadow of her former self.
While her weight loss journey isn’t quite complete, for the first time in decades, Carolyn knows that she will never again tip the scales at 211 pounds. For the first time, she is certain that she will not regain five pounds, never mind all of the 55 pounds she has lost to-date.
So what makes this time different than all the fad diets and popular diet programs that failed her as reported in last Tuesday’s post?
For starters, rather than trying to conform to a standardized fad diet or diet program that is more marketing than substance, Carolyn Oliver devised her own ‘lifestyle’ plan to suit her specific needs and capabilities.
By implementing a new personalized dietary and activity lifestyle via several easy-to-do health adjustments, she has created a sustainable long-term plan to eat right and be active enough to avoid a relapse.
Carolyn is enjoying the process, which is half the battle, but more importantly, she has outlasted failure by taking her weight loss well beyond what the fad diets and diet programs did for her. And this time, for the first time, she hasn’t put an ounce of that weight back on.
In a nutshell, Carolyn has reached the point where she cannot fail. She can only quit on herself. And does this sound like a woman who is about to quit on her health?
“When I used to look in the mirror, I would see a fat, frumpy, unattractive woman who tried very hard to not be noticed by others, to not draw attention to myself even though I knew that a slim, stylish, attractive and even sexy lady was hiding inside,” recalls Carolyn.
“I now see that lady when I look in the mirror. I have so much energy and I smile a lot now. I have a bounce in my step, not to mention physically a lot less aches and pains. I have come out of that shell. I have ‘life’ in my life and it doesn’t hurt when the compliments start to roll in either,” she adds.
“My blood pressure is under control with half the medication I used to take and while this may seem frivolous, I can buy stylish clothes that fit me. It’s all part of being physically and emotionally healthy,” she notes with a huge smile.
The key is that Carolyn is emotionally at a high point in her life. Her new physical appearance makes her finally feel good about herself and her new high self-esteem motivates her to keep doing the things that changed her physical appearance for the better. The two are a powerful combination.
Honestly, can you see this lady completely falling off the bandwagon? Not a chance.
NO MAGIC PILL
Carolyn’s wonderful transformation has no secrets or shortcuts. Everything she did was methodical and deliberate and slow-paced, yet surprisingly easy-to-do. Let’s have a look at how she got her health back.
With a grown son that is vegan and a grown daughter who is gluten intolerant, this family has learned a lot about food and its effect on the body. For instance, by staying away from night shade plants like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and egg plant, her arthritis in the knees has greatly diminished. This one improvement alone is a powerful incentive to not go back to bad dietary habits.
Quite simply, Carolyn is making far wiser food choices than she used to based on both research and common sense. Her reducing weight can only happen by consuming fewer calories on a daily basis than what is necessary to sustain her present weight.
In her own words, here are five easy-to-do dietary adjustments Carolyn has successfully made:
- I always take my lunch to work with me now, usually a salad and a protein of lentils, chicken or fish, but rarely beef.
- I eat smaller meals more often, making sure I have healthy snacks between my main meals to keep my metabolism active.
- I eat a lot more fruits and vegetables than I ever did, limiting myself to potatoes and corn once or twice a week.
- I don’t eat processed foods anymore. I eat ‘real’ food. It’s true what they say: Shop the perimeter of the store.
- I allow myself to enjoy a ‘time out’ occasionally without mentally kicking myself. This allows me to pick up where I left off, otherwise this is usually where we admit defeat and give up on our diet.
The biggest adjustment Carolyn has made is that she has dramatically increased her activity level, but she went about it very gradually. Without at least moderate exercise, with that much weight loss, she may have retained flabby skin whereas she reports both muscle increase and toning.
Here are some easy-to-do exercise tips Carolyn adopted into her new healthy lifestyle:
- She started with a slow walk around the block, which at first tired her out. She kept at it until she could do the walk without shortness of breath. As a lover of the outdoors, Carolyn now walks three to six kilometers up to five times a week. Remember that she worked her way up to that distance very slowly. What once would have exhausted and brought her pain now energizes her.
- She began with small weights to build muscle strength and toning and gradually increased the weights. While she may not win a Miss Body Building contest, she is more muscular than ever. This has helped to rid her of joint pain, enables her to do her walking and increases her energy levels.
- Moderate exercise is the other way to reduce calories and every calorie counts. Exercising of any kind boosts our metabolism and burns calories for up to 30 minutes even after the activity stops. This never happened when Carolyn was 211 pounds.
- She began taking low-impact cardio/strength classes at a gym and when she found it impossible to keep up with the rest of the class, she refused to quit and now she is equal to everyone else. “It’s like a ball rolling downhill,” she offers. “The more you do, the better you feel, so the more you want to do.” Most people quit before they experience that awesome feeling.
- Don’t weigh yourself often. Instead, use a reduction in dress size or a belt size to monitor your progress. “I think the biggest mistake people make is weighing themselves,” warns Carolyn. “Numbers don’t always reflect the change in your body and can really put people off continuing their program.” Very rarely are people satisfied with their weight loss when they weigh in, so don’t set yourself up to fail.
Now Carolyn loves to exercise and misses it on the rare occasion that she skips a day.
Finally, the key to any weight loss or health improvement is patience and slow progress. Getting your health back is a marathon, not a sprint. When we adopt one common sense, easy-to-do health tip at a time, we can avoid the yo-yo effect of popular fad diets and diet plans.
Carolyn Oliver may not yet be at the finish line in her health journey but the start line is way behind her and I believe she will never see it again.