365 Days of Learning

IremiaRe Posts: 801 Member
My Husband and I have a little joke between us... Every night, I go home and ask him “Rusty, what did you learn, today?” and he will tell me whatever outrageous nonsense he has found while searching the internet... but, for the last year – he could have asked me the same question – and I could have answered with something a little more serious.

I am going to focus on just the last year. Prior to this – I did lose a significant amount of weight – but, I didn’t REALLY “get it” until I started using MFP and weighing and logging my food accurately... If you want some back-story, you can check out my profile.

So – my year begins on March 30, 2016. I weighed 260 lbs – down from 275 a few short months before. I had lost 15 lbs “by accident” when my Husband was recovering from ankle surgery. It would seem that pushing a wheelchair, hauling it in and out of the car, and generally finding that you suddenly have to run back and forth a lot more to assist an invalid is actually a very good exercise program... So, I decided to see what I was eating – whether I could improve on my accidental loss – or whether I would have to spend endless hours at the gym and starve myself to lose more weight.

This might be the only picture of me at 260. I shied from the camera and hid in the back of photos.


The first thing I learned was that I would NOT have to starve myself to lose a pound a week... in fact, I could eat nearly 2000 calories a day – based on a “Lightly Active” setting.

The second thing was that I was already very close to that number without changing too much on my eating plan.

I set my initial goal weight at 200. I mean, I had weighed 275 for a decade – and 200 was a weight I hadn’t seen since college – and I knew if the number of pounds “left to go” was too huge, I would just throw in the towel. I could accept 60 pounds. That number didn’t discourage me – and so it began.

I monitored my food intake for several days – without intentionally changing anything – and found that I was meeting the calorie goals, anyway. Why? Well, because I was monitoring – and making subconscious choices – knowing I would be logging my food – and it just wasn’t that hard to eat a little less butter or choose mustard over mayo.

I had already known that I don’t do deprivation, well – so, I didn’t put too many restrictions on myself. WHAT I was eating wasn’t nearly as important as how much – at least not in the beginning. I figured out early on that trying to do what had worked for others was not going to cut it. I had to figure out what would work for ME and do that.

I learned a lot in that first month – that the food database listings vary wildly in accuracy – that it would serve no purpose to choose the lowest calorie number for the item in the database – so I learned to err on the side of reporting too many calories rather than too few – and that the pound a week promised by my “Lightly Active” calorie goal was happening – so long as I went to the gym.

Am I “lightly active?” Nope. Not at all – but, I decided I could be, to be able to eat real food. In March, my company had its annual “Get Active” campaign... I signed up as a team captain, got a Fitbit, and started walking more during the day, at work.

Because I knew that “lightly active” was inaccurate, I did not eat back my exercise calories. I liked seeing that 300-500 calories left at the end of every day. It was a clear indication that I WOULD lose my pound – if I had left that 500 calories a day on my diary for the whole week. I could know, with certainty, that the weight I lost was entirely up to me – and how much I got up and exercised.

That was a biggie – Learning that I was in control. Not my Husband, not my employer, not the day or the phase of the moon... ME. It was up to me – and by God I was doing it! Pounds were falling off – at regular intervals – approximately 1+ pounds a week. Huh, go figure.

So, I had the "magic" formula – eat good food, exercise a lot, lose weight, be happy. Was the weight loss steady? Nope. Chicks get puffy once a month – but, I realized this, accepted it, and knew it would pass – so I waited it out and was rewarded by the return to “Normal” weight minus a few pounds month after month.

I discovered the recipe generator – the most awesome tool EVER – and really got a grip on how many calories were in the dishes I cooked. Here, also, I was in control. I could balance protein and carbs if I cooked the food myself.

I learned – by repetitive weighing and measuring – what an ounce of cheese actually looks like... and a variety of other things about serving size. I had weighed and measured in the past – but, when you stop doing it – you forget... your eyes play tricks... I learned that, while I could now give a pretty accurate estimate of the weight of a slice of cheese, I would just keep measuring – so I didn’t slide off into fantasy about portion size, again.

I learned that an off day, every now and then, would not blow up the whole process... that was another biggie. So, I had a day where I ate 2500 calories... Oops. I accepted it, and I moved on. I learned that, so long as I didn’t do it often – an off day now and then just reminded my body I wasn’t in any way deprived, and it didn’t need to hold on to every ounce of fat.

I read a book, recommended by some MFP friends, called “Strong Women Stay Younger.” The science of strength training was hard to deny – especially for a 50+ chick like me – and I began incorporating a more structured lifting program into my daily exercise.

Yes, Daily Exercise. I learned that if exercise wasn’t some big event – that if it were just something you did every day, like brushing your teeth or flushing the toilet – that you would just do it every day... like brushing your teeth, or flushing the toilet. It didn’t have to be romantic or exciting – it just had to be something I could tolerate for 30 minutes a day. So, I set the alarm for one hour earlier – and started going to the gym every morning. I read a trashy novel on my tablet as I chugged away on the elliptical. It was like magic. Biff and Clarice found true love, while I worked up a sweat. The gym visit became part of my daily routine – the exercise became a habit. Some days I worked out for 25 minutes, some days I did 45 – or 60 – it just depended on how much time I had – but EVERY day, I got up, I put on my gym clothes and I went to the gym. It was just what I did after the alarm went off every morning.

I learned that my general intolerance for breakfast was not a criminal offence... that in fact, it was called Intermittent Fasting – and I started paying attention to the “eating window” and intentionally following a 16/8 eating schedule. And stopped feeling like I was committing a crime by skipping a meal that had always revolted me. I was doing what worked for ME... and again, the experience was empowering.

I learned that my initial goal was not ambitious, enough. I had already lost something like 35 pounds when I decided to change my goal weight to something a little more meaningful – my current initial goal weight is 183 pounds – half of my highest weight. (I say initial goal – because at 183, the BMI chart still shows me at “Obese.” I don’t drop into merely “Overweight” until I hit 174. “Healthy” is 147 for me – according to the BMI chart, anyway. What happens after I hit 183 is anybody’s guess – but, I do know that it will be whatever works for me.)

I learned that wearing loose clothing was not attractive... better fitting clothes were just better. The second I traded in my baggies for better fitting clothes, I started to get a lot of positive feedback from the people around me.

I learned that old fat (fat that has been in place for 20 or 30 years) melts away like a glacier... slowly at first – almost unnoticeable – but then the fat starts to slide around and flow like mud... Not pretty – but definitely disappearing...

I learned that good girdles were more important than new shoes and good emotional support was more important than chocolate.

I found an amazing group of gals who cheer me on when I am succeeding, and who gently kick my butt when I am sliding off the rails. Having them there, to talk me down when I wanted to be at my goal weight RIGHT NOW! Instead of continuing the long-haul drive toward better health, has kept me sane. Just knowing I would have to confess if I did anything stupid saved me a time or two from inhaling a 1 lb. bag of Doritos.

I learned that my eyes had been playing tricks on me for years – I actually DID have a fat face... because now the pictures showed it was melting away.

Every day there was another revelation – another small miracle – another step toward a better, healthier future...

Collar bones, feeling strong, gaining confidence... little things that would just suddenly strike out of the blue and remind me that I was on the right path.

I learned to take a compliment... to not hide in photographs... to like what I saw in the mirror – even though it wasn’t perfect.

I learned a couple of substitutions that I could live with – Ranch Dip made with cottage cheese instead of sour cream – which made it possible for me to have my favorite veggies and dip on a regular basis and “Honey Mustard” made with spicy brown mustard, cinnamon and equal – which tarts up almost any form of protein when you just can’t stand the same old chicken breast, again.

I had a little snag at the beginning of January... my knee started to ache and scream – the old bones were unhappy after I did a weekend of extreme activity – and while the orthopedic surgeon said I didn’t need knee replacements (YET!), my physical therapist told me to knock off the weight bearing exercise... no more elliptical for ME... *sniff*

And that is when I learned that I have gotten so much stronger than I had been in the past. I did not sink onto my couch never to rise again – having been given the perfect excuse to stop exercising....

I changed my MFP calorie goal – because, now I truly was sedentary. I bit the bullet and ate less calories – because there is just NO WAY that I am ever going backward, again.

I got on-line and ordered a body-covering swimsuit with long bike shorts and a swim t-shirt – since there was no way in “heck” that I was going to expose my droopy thighs and saggy arms to the public.... and I became a member of the local parks and rec – so I could swim laps on the weekends. During the week, I have physical therapy twice a week – and I ride the stationary bike and lift during the other three days. I never want to lose the habit of getting up, throwing on the exercise gear, and heading out to burn some calories or strengthen my body.

I had NO perceptible change in my weight-loss progress. (VICTORY!) The scale just kept on creeping downward. A little more sporadically – but definitely still moving downward.

After a few initial acclimation days, I learned that I actually could survive on 1400 calories, if I pushed the IF window a little smaller... I started waiting until later in the day to start eating – which made me less hungry at my second meal in the evening.

I learned that I actually could deal with adversity, accept change without stuffing my face... and that success – and perhaps even a “Normal” BMI could be in my future.

But, for now, I just keep swimming (both literally and figuratively) toward my initial goal of 183 – KNOWING that I will make it there, someday – no matter how long it takes.

Most of all, I have learned that nothing can stop me, so long as I don’t give up.


MFP Starting Weight: 260
Height: 5’ 4”
Current Weight: 205
Initial Goal Weight: 183

Waist – 38” down from 46” in March 2016
Hips – 48” down from 56” in March 2016


  • furiousmunchkin
    furiousmunchkin Posts: 40 Member
    You look amazing! I loved this post. Thank you for the inspiration. It does feel empowering to tune out some of the voices and trust the way that works for you and you alone!
  • fatcitizen
    fatcitizen Posts: 103 Member
    WOWZER....great job.... you are truly an inspiration
  • ShrinkingViolet1982
    ShrinkingViolet1982 Posts: 919 Member
    SO amazing. You should be so proud of yourself.
  • sandicat6
    sandicat6 Posts: 61 Member
    great post. keep on learning
  • shakenbake57
    shakenbake57 Posts: 303 Member
    Thanks so much for sharing your story!!! You've got this!
  • Ademann1
    Ademann1 Posts: 47 Member
    One of my favorite success stories in a long time. You are not only a fitness hero but no slouch as a writer!
  • cklguy11
    cklguy11 Posts: 6 Member
    Fantastic post, and so well written.
  • JenHuedy
    JenHuedy Posts: 611 Member
    AMAZING post! I learned most of those same lessons, myself! Once I decided to do what worked for me I was amazed at how far I could go.
  • getoffin1year
    getoffin1year Posts: 87 Member
    You are so awesome. Inspirational. Thank you for your time spent writing this, it was a joy to read. What is the recipe generator? Is that an app?
  • amtyrell
    amtyrell Posts: 1,449 Member
    There are some posts you just want to click Insightful Inspiring Like and Awesome all at once but mfp allows only one choice. Wonderful and motivational. Congratulations and keep plugging
  • IremiaRe
    IremiaRe Posts: 801 Member
    You are so awesome. Inspirational. Thank you for your time spent writing this, it was a joy to read. What is the recipe generator? Is that an app?

    The recipe Generator is a function here on MFP. I use it to determine the calories in the food I cook.

    you type in the ingredients - push a button - and Voila!

    Click the food tab - then click Recipes.

    I love that thing.
  • IremiaRe
    IremiaRe Posts: 801 Member
    Thank you all for your kind words. I am so happy that you find it inspirational.

    If even one person can get that idea of "doing what works for me" to "click" then I have done what I set out to do.

    I wish everyone the best success!
  • branbuds
    branbuds Posts: 624 Member
    Congratulations on your success! I enjoyed reading your story; it is very well written. It has taken me into my 50s to learn some of these lessons as well. Keep learning! :smile:
  • kristikitter
    kristikitter Posts: 602 Member
    This is SO, SO BRILLIANT!!

    Aside from your success (which you deserve all the congrats for), the idea of exercise being a habit is something that I have always struggled with... and the way you wrote about it just makes it so clear, and easy, and doable.

  • EmbeeKay
    EmbeeKay Posts: 249 Member
    I loved this post! You're a fabulous writer! You look great, too! Congratulations on a year of hard work and dedication!
  • jamesha100
    jamesha100 Posts: 214 Member
    Great post - very inspirational and full of great ideas and tips. Thank you for sharing :)
  • IremiaRe
    IremiaRe Posts: 801 Member
    Thank you for taking the time to read it, James. :smiley: I promise the next post won't be quite so long.
  • glennagael
    glennagael Posts: 84 Member
    @annegulick1020 The original post is worth the read!
  • cyranda63
    cyranda63 Posts: 614 Member
    Just friggin' inspiring! Thanks for this!
  • GeorgiaM2015
    GeorgiaM2015 Posts: 142 Member
    You look amazing! So inspiring, go you! :)
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