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Mindful Weight Loss (with a little help from my friends)

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Mindful Weight Loss.

Every diet out there will work. For about a week. Then our brains, our minds, our thoughts, and all the motivation, inspiration, and good intentions seem to disappear. “It’s too hard. I’m starving. It’s too much work. I stopped losing weight after a week – it’s not working. I can’t do this anymore.” I’ve heard it all. Yes, it’s incredibly hard. Not because there’s a lot of exhausting work, difficult recipes, large amounts of time or money necessarily involved. But, because it requires constant, mindful thinking and planning. Just like when you plan out a speech or how you’re going to tackle a project at home, weight loss requires the same amount of organization and planning. It seems many people don’t want to put in the time. It’s so much easier to sit on the couch, watch TV and eat a big container of ice cream. I get it. It’s true.

A year and a half ago, I started on my own journey. (click here to read about it). 10 years ago, it was easy for me. I was basically obsessed with eating clean, lifting weights, and competing in 5k and obstacle races. After almost 10 solid years my switch went OFF. Life became increasingly busy and exercise went on the back burner. Suddenly, everything that was habit and routine, was hard. I had to practically force myself to go to the gym and then later quit altogether. When I wrote and published several books, I had temporarily found a new obsession. But, it completely destroyed my healthy lifestyle. I became stressed, depressed, and lost hair. I finally stopped writing, and initially made lame attempts to get back in the game. It was easier to do nothing.

They say there’s a switch in all of us. One that goes on and off. If I knew the magic behind it, everyone would lose weight and keep it off. I think it might have to do with hitting rock bottom. Finally being sick of the way you look or the way you feel. Not loving yourself anymore. Who knows. But, the switch is real. When you find it, and switch it ON, your life will change.

Flash back to a year and a half ago. Memorial day weekend, I hit rock bottom. I was tired of the way I looked and felt. I started on my journey to get back in shape. It was a lot harder this time, though. I struggled to get my head back into it. I knew the results would come sooner if I gave it 100%, but it just wasn’t happening. But, I also knew that whatever I did do, was better than nothing. Yes, it would take longer, but it would eventually happen. So I plodded on. I HAD to. Quitting was not an option. I was getting older and it would only get harder. I would only feel worse as time went on. Was I prepared for a future of diseases? What about when menopause hit? Would the weight start piling on? I decided that no matter how long it took, I’d continue to fight.

My goal was to get back in shape before I turned 50. (Last month was my 50th birthday!) I had a year and a half to do it. With all the obstacles thrown at me this past year, would I be able to overcome them and forge on?

Yes!

  

It was a long year, with many pitfalls, but I came pretty close to where I wanted to be. I rejoined a gym and started going on my lunch hour again – which worked for me in the past. This year – not so much. I hated rushing there all the time. I hated rushing in general. In the past I’d go to the gym during huge snow storms, downpours, and freezing temps. Now, if there was a cloud in the sky I’d bail. Then, two co-workers resigned and we were short staffed for 3 months – leaving during lunch was impossible. We bought a puppy after the holidays and it was difficult to go on the weekends due to her schedule. Then, I hurt my back. Twice. It put me out of commission for several weeks each time. I had to first figure out what I was doing wrong, and then reteach myself how to workout, how to sit, how to stand. When I finally recovered I was afraid to give it 100%. Every time I tried to forge forward, something seemed to stand in my way. After the second back injury, I decided to just quit. Quit the gym and just be happy with what I had. Luckily, I had a great support system. They wouldn’t let me quit.

First was my friend Joe.

No matter how many times I wanted to quit, he refused to let me. EVERY morning he’d send me a cheery text to get me motivated, encourage me, and get me re-motivated. He’d even shoot me a funny afternoon text to let me know HE just did 200 push-ups on his lunch hour. It made me feel guilty. I don’t think I could’ve gotten this far without him. Not many friends would take the time out of their busy days to not only check on you, but to push you when you wanted to give up. He’d start every text with “Good Morning!!!! Today is going to be a great day!” Trust me. I wanted to give up. Take the easy road. I didn’t even tell him I hurt my back the first time because I didn’t want to sound like a complainer. But, he never gave up on me. I’d force myself to the gym and then have an amazing workout. I’d wake up early and work out in my home gym in the basement. I started taking my puppy (whom we found out is part Italian greyhound) for long jogs and runs. She loves running! I started to push myself harder and harder. Doing HIIT runs with the puppy. Lifting heavier and heavier weights at the gym. By the summer, I was back in beast-mode and finally seeing results.

I found a happy medium with my eating, too. I stuck to the healthy meals that worked for me in the past (click here for examples). I found ways to cut my portion sizes here and there. But, my main obstacle was chocolate! I tried countless times to give up desserts during my “40 Day Challenge” and various other times during the year, and finally realized my daily cookie or brownie was the only guilty pleasure I had. Instead of giving it up, I knew I just needed to exercise more to burn it off. It worked. I was able to have my treat or two, and it gave me an excuse to work out more or harder. Deal! 

Next was Melissa.

There aren’t that many amazing people like her in this world. Always a kind word. Always finding the positive in everything – even when her life was upside down. Always knowing how to make me laugh when I felt like crying. She has supported me through my Nutrition website, my Author website, and my journey to get in shape by the time I turned 50. (Not to mention all the work, home, and social-life dramas, too. She’s been there through it all. I can’t thank her enough.) She taught me a few things along the way, as well:

  1. Always dress up. Don’t worry about being the most dressed at a function – someone has to be. (I love this and love to dress up now. And, to be the most dressed up!)
  2. Don’t dress like you’re 50. Dress like you feel and what suits your body – no matter your age. (I started to buy frumpy clothes because I thought I was supposed to. I thought someone would yell: “Dress your age!” I realized I didn’t look my age and I had the body to wear pretty much whatever I wanted. It took a while to shake the old feeling, but soon I ‘got it’ and it all made sense.)
  3. Most important: sometimes, even with the best efforts, some things you can’t fix, but you can fight it every step of the way. (Because of Melissa, I embrace my wrinkles and areas of saggy skin. I’ve learned that some people don’t make it to 50. Some don’t have the privilege of ever having a wrinkle. I’m truly blessed, and although I don’t love ’em, I’m happy to have lived this long to have ’em.)

I love you both and can’t thank you enough! My 50th (surprise) birthday celebration was just that: a celebration. Of reaching my goals, of feeling good about myself again, of being healthy and embracing the next 50 years full of adventures! I’m happy and satisfied in all areas of my life. Finally. Work, home, the right friends, and my health are all in perfect harmony. And, it shows. I noticed the difference in my photos. Whenever I was at a low point in my life, no matter how much I glammed up, dressed up, and my hair and makeup came out perfect, pictures of me looked horrible. You can’t fake how you’re feeling on the inside in a photo. The camera knows! I spent the entire summer (every weekend) celebrating life with get-togethers, parties, BBQ’s, concerts, girls-nights & weekend getaways. And, my inner happiness shows. I feel like my old self again.

Yes, it was hard. Yes, there were times it downright sucked. Yes, I wanted to quit a million times. But, even small progresses added up to big changes in the end. It’s difficult to look forward. You only see the negatives. The obstacles. The failures. The long road ahead. Giving up is SO easy. But, don’t. Ever. Maybe I could have reached my goals within 6 months if I gave it 100% all the time. But, looking back now, does it matter if I reached them in 6 months, 1 year, or even 3 years? No. I plan to live another 50 years so what difference does it make if it takes a year or longer? As long as I get there.

(Thanks to my daughter for ‘forcing’ me to buy this dress!)

So, my final word is to have a plan. A good plan. One with short and long term goals. What to do if you have a setback. And, have friends or family around that you can count on for support. Plan out your meals for the day, the week. Schedule in exercise every way you can. Squeeze it all in and keep charging forward. Small changes over time equal big changes in the end. And, remember, I’m always here for you. What are your obstacles? What have you overcome this past year? What worked for you? Do you have someone to help you reach your goals?

I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to SurviveEvery Five Years & The Bridges Before Us

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