Thursday, May 28, 2009

More On Weightloss

Weight loss is a topic I've been concerned with over the past few years, particularly since my son was born. My weight has flucuated, only 10-15 pounds, but for me this is significant, since I stand only 4 feet 9 inches tall. I've tried many different things over the years, including a low-carb diet, a vegan/vegetarian diet, and most recently, more natural, "real" foods and even raw foods. My raw food diet only lasted 3 days (well, not a complete 3 days actually; I caved in at supper on the 3rd day and ate a cooked vegetable soup). While this kind of eating seems to be the answer for my sister, who has now lost 20+ pounds with very little exercise, it's just not a way of eating that I can live with all the time. Don't get me wrong, I love a variety of raw foods, mainly fruits and nuts, but when it comes to vegetables, it's a little harder for me. I like most of them at least lightly steamed, which I think leaves most of the nutrients in tact.

Anyway, the 3-day stint didn't result in any weight loss, in fact, I gained weight, which I attribute to eating at night and not being too active, which brings me to my next idea for losing weight. This idea is not something new to me; I've done it many times in the past and successfully lost weight with it. It was just the maintenance part that was always so difficult. What I'm talking about is pretty much what I talked about in my last post, eating more natural and less processed foods and following the advice of Paul McKenna. And also adding regular exercise back into my life. I've already lost 3 pounds this week (and it's only Thursday!). Here's what I'm doing:

I start the morning early, around 5 or 6 and get myself a glass of water, which I drink periodically during my morning workout. My workout consists of stepping on my Wii balance board while watching an interesting show on TV. Although with the Wii Fit game, there is the capability of stepping to a rhythm given to you through the Wii Remote, I'm not using that because it quickly gets annoying to me. I'm simply using the balance board not even turned on (I know, I just need to get a regular step, which would be higher, giving me an even tougher workout and I could actually jump on it a little). I've found I can easily move around this way for 30 minutes and not get bored or overly tired. I don't know if this is accurate, but I'm considering it roughly equivalent to taking a morning walk. I do this before my son gets up so I don't hear whining in the background about how much longer until I'm done so he can have his morning cup of warm chocolate milk. :)

This is not the end of my physical activity for the day. I've discovered the joys of keeping a clean, uncluttered kitchen, and that this is only possible if I spend time and energy keeping it that way. But I'm not complaining, especially about the energy part. I've changed my attitude about doing the things that so many people complain about, like daily chores. I figure, every movement I make during a day adds up and burns calories, including washing dishes, sweeping, mopping, wiping the counter and table etc. One thing I've started doing is to immediately hand wash, dry and put away each dish and utensil after using it. Not only does this keep my kitchen clutter-free, it also keeps me moving, and I believe is contributing to helping me lose weight.

As a stay-at-home mother, I have the time to devote to domestic activities, such as kitchen chores I mentioned above. Another activity I do in the kitchen is to make my own bread. I've been making my own bread regularly for the past 2 months, but using a bread machine, so it didn't require a whole lot of man power. But this week, I decided to try it the old fashioned way. I discovered it's really not that hard, but I do think the 7-10 minutes spent kneeding the dough definitely burns some calories. Another thing that really helps as far as activity goes is playing with my son. I actually discovered this a few years ago when he was about 2 years old. I would dance for 20 minutes with him to kid's music videos. It worked wonders. I lost weight easily. The thing was, I got bored of it after a while and so did he. As I said, this was a few years ago, but I thought of it again recently to help me get more active again. I'm doing this again, but a little differently. My son is now 5 and as any child, LOVES attention from me, and as an only child, sees me as his playmate, so he's always asking me to play with him. In the past, I have felt like, although I wanted to spend time with my son, a lot of it was boring to me, and I dreaded playing with him. But then I rethought it. What if I really dove in and let him lead the play while I followed? So I started following him around, imitating his movements as we raced and played out all sorts of scenes from his imagination. On the surface you might be thinking, so what, how is that a workout? To this I ask you, have you ever tried to follow a 5-year-old around and perform his every movement? They are fast and don't stop! Do this for 20-30 minutes and you WILL be tired when you're done!

The last part of my weight loss plan is very important, and perhaps the hardest part of it. It's not eating at night after supper. I've gotten into such a habit of eating while watching TV or reading, usually something sweet. It just relaxes me a the end of the day after my son is in bed and all is quiet. But I've known for a while now that this is one thing that prevents me from losing weight, since I'm eating so late then going to bed gives my body no time to burn off the calories before slowing down for the night. Like I said, it's been the most difficult part of my new plan. But I'm trying to follow Paul McKenna and Mireille Guiliano (author of French Women Don't Get Fat. They say to only eat when you can sit down at the table with no distractions and truly enjoy your food. Don't eat while standing up or while reading or watching TV, because this prevents us from savoring our food and leads us to eat more than we normally would. It makes so much sense to me, but I still want to veg out on the couch at night and watch TV while eating chocolate. This is my biggest challenge, but I'm up for it.

If your situation is similar to mine, stay-at-home mom with a young child or children who needs to lose weight, start today by happily participating in physical play with your kids. Go to the playground or just your own backyard. Not only will you get lots of exercise, you'll also be making precious memories with your dear little loved ones. Then start adding more fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains to your diet and start eliminating processed foods slowly. Make eating a sensual experience by sitting down at the table and savoring every bite. I didn't mention this earlier, but one good rule is to stop eating when you're 80% full. Even though you don't feel 100% full yet, in a few minutes your brain will catch up with that full feeling and you'll have eaten less than normal.

Another tip for exercise is to just fit it into your day, into your normal activities. Stop complaining about laundry, taking out the trash, washing dishes, etc. and seize them as opportunities to keep moving. It really does all add up, and you just may find some peace in having a neater house!

Most important, don't give up! You can reach your goal weight and be healthy so that you have the energy for your kids and family.