How Big’s Your “Want To?”
My Weight-Loss Journey
By Regina Cyzick Harlow
Three stressful difficult pregnancies bore us the most beautiful and precious children in the world, but it also added more than 40 pounds to my body that hung around long after the babies were out instead of in. If you want an awakening, figure out what you weigh and what you should weigh then place the difference in a bucket or wagon or container and try carrying it around. Forty plus pounds is not just something I could carry on my hip all day, but I was lugging that extra weight around all the time.
I was constantly exhausted, I had no energy, and I broke into sweats and hot flashes all the time. I knew I wasn’t at my best, but I used all the excuses out there. “We couldn’t afford a gym membership, and even if we could, with drive time and childcare included I simply couldn’t afford the time.” “Dieting doesn’t work.” “I don’t like being hungry.” (That one was clear.) “I like food too much.” (That was clear too.) But I think the biggest obstacle was the fear of failure.
What if I tried losing weight and nothing happened? What if I did not have the determination I needed? What if I tried and couldn’t? I was afraid to fail.
I also have quirky food convictions that I thought might possibly interfere. I do not believe that all calories are created equal. I am adamant about not using anything artificial, anything low or nonfat, and anything loaded with additives and preservatives. That eliminated MOST of the “diet-friendly weight-loss” foods out there. Food, in my opinion, should be as close to its original source and form as possible with the least amount of processing. But I’ll get back to the food later.
About 13-15 years ago, I heard a minister preach a message titled, “How Big’s Your Want To?” The message was simply this, do you want what you want bad enough to do what it takes to make it happen, in a good way, of course. Since that message I have often asked myself, “How bad do I really want ___?” How big is my want to?
There were times, depending on what it was I wanted, that I decided my “want to” was not big enough. Perhaps whatever I wanted was not important enough to go through all the hoops and hurdles to make it happen. But I wanted to lose this weight, not just to look better, but to feel better. I wasn’t doing it for my husband, my family, my friends, my children, but for me. The better I care for my own physical well-being, the better wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, minister I can be to others, but ultimately it came down to doing it for myself.
In April 2012, I set a goal. By January 2013, I wanted to lose 45 pounds. I knew I had to be my own motivator. That if it was to be, it was up to me. I posted encouraging words all around the house. “How Big’s Your Want To?” is written on an index card and taped above my kitchen stove along with other motivational quotes, one of which reads, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”
I signed up on sparkpeople.com. This program is similar to weight watchers online, but it is free. Every day for the first few months I recorded every morsel of food that entered my mouth. That helped me keep track of my nutrition. Although sparkpeople, like many other weight-loss plans, wanted me to eat “light,” I found out how to balance my full-calorie whole-milk yogurt against the calories they thought I should be consuming.
I make sure I eat breakfast every morning. Several examples of my breakfast menu include eggs scrambled in grapeseed oil with fresh sliced tomatoes, fresh chopped spinach and white cheddar cheese. Again, I do not use just egg whites, because to me, the whole food is important. Another favorite breakfast is about a cup of whole-milk yogurt, a cup of frozen fruit (blueberries are great) and a cup of fresh spinach and enough whole milk to blend it into a smoothie.
I also always keep nuts, seeds and dried fruit with me for a snack. One of the most frustrating and program-wrecking situations is being out somewhere and hungry, but find there are little-to-no food choices that align with your convictions. I realized on this journey that I had to make my life revolve around food. Then I realized it always had but now it was just a matter of making sure I had healthy choices around me.
For lunch I eat lots of salads, any variety of greens, veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds. For the dressing, I squeeze half a lime over the salad and a splash of any flavor of Wildtree’s grapeseed oil. I make a lot of roasted, steamed, baked vegetables for dinner and often use the leftovers on a salad the next day. Leftover roasted cauliflower on a salad is oh so tasty.
I try to eat dinner by 6 p.m. or soon after so I have several hours for that to settle before bedtime. I eat good clean meat. A portion of a chicken breast, salmon or blue hake filet, or even red meat, drizzled with a little grapeseed oil and any Wildtree seasoning, makes for a delicious entrée.
I have to give a plug here. I contribute some of my weight-loss success to Wildtree. With all-natural now certified organic infused grapeseed oils, culinary blends and sauces, I have yet to get bored with eating healthy. Every meal has a different combination of oils and seasonings and I rarely use the salt shaker.
Drinks have never been an issue for me because I prefer water and drink a lot of it. I also drink a lot of hot tea, but never add sweetener of any kind. I have a cup or two of coffee a day, but again, no cream, no sugar. Those are my personal preferences so I don’t wrestle with wanting sweet drinks. The few times a year I do indulge in a soda, you can bet it is never a diet soda.
I have eliminated much of the sugar from my life and am amazed to find I don’t really miss it. Now, sweet desserts seem so rich to me that only a bite or two satisfies me. I truly believe our taste buds adjust the food we eat. I have realized that I no longer crave so much of the junk I was eating and often feel yucky when I do indulge.
After I had lost about 30 pounds and had somewhat plateaued, my friend introduced me to a pill that had been helping her lose weight. I tried it for four days, and it really suppressed my appetite, but when the trial pack ran out, I totally relapsed. That let me know that if I used that pill to reach my goal and then stopped taking it, I would probably struggle with reoccurring weight gain. I am not judging anyone who uses whatever methods they have found helpful, I just knew, with my husband’s support and insight, that continuing to make it about healthy food choices would be my success.
I love exercise, but that has not necessarily been a factor in my weight-loss journey. I talk walks with the kids when I can, I sneak in leg lifts here and squats there, but I do not have any particular workout routine. (I hope to change that soon.)
I have found that every friend, family member and stranger has a different food philosophy and you have to sort through it and develop your own convictions. You will find vegans, vegetarians, paleo folks, nonfat and low-fat supporters will all gladly offer their insight. Let them. Then take what they say, try it, and see what works best for you. It may be a combination of these. There are people who probably look at me as a health nut and food purists who would probably choke at things they might find in my cabinets. One guideline I continue to follow is that if I make really healthy choices eighty percent of the time, I can be more relaxed the other twenty percent.
However, taking control of the food on mine and my family’s plate (yes, they have adapted too,) we are all living a healthier life. I had one friend tell me that with the way I cook, I will never be able to lose weight. Today, I am CONVINCED that BECAUSE of the way I cook, I have been able to lose weight.
Here are several other tips that have helped.
Ø Give yourself Saturday and Sunday to be less rigid about what you eat, that way you never feel deprived.
Ø Fill your plate with whatever non-starchy vegetables are a part of the meal and then eat only small portions of other foods.
Ø Keep your goals in front of you. Write them down and post them everywhere.
Ø A banana is a great afternoon snack. Instead of an energy bar or drink filled with who knows what, a banana is packed with natural nutrition and will provide energy and keep you full until dinner.
Ø Skip the bread. Bread can really rack up the calories. Make bread an occasional treat if you feel you must have it. I have found that I don’t miss it.
Ø When you get into a funk, every day is a new day to make better choices. Recognize that you made a bad choice, had a bad day or week and decide to get back on track. Stop being so hard on yourself. Make it fun.