No, seriously – it’s a good thing!
I started my journey toward losing over 100 lbs. on the HMR system. It turned out to be a very bad idea for me as the artificial and/or extreme low calorie nature of that diet caused my liver to start failing, however it did take off the first 35 lbs. that needed to go.
When I left HMR (on my wise Doctor’s orders) I went to Weight Watchers. There I had a great leader and fantastic, supportive classmates – and I took off another 40 lbs. WW is a decent program, their system of tailoring your personal diet to include those things you love while encouraging you to try new ones is smart, and it’s something that people can do for life – which is very important for weight loss sustainability.
I don’t agree with them 100%. For example, they push milk which I think is unnecessary for adult animals (it’s baby food). Also they try to get you to figure out how to stay within your points on days like Christmas and your birthday – I personally believe there are days when you should just forget the whole restriction deal and enjoy yourself. There can be an almost fearful attitude toward food at WW that I think isn’t 100% mentally healthy.
However, I was happy on WW and it’s easy enough to ignore what you don’t agree with and take to heart all the useful, encouraging things that they offer.
Through no fault of WW I began to suffer diet fatigue about seven or eight months ago. I had simply run out of energy to keep doing the same things I’d done before. I remained on the program, slogging along, but my weight began slowly but surely creeping upward instead of downward. I knew I had to try something new, and as much as I would have liked to add a new plan to my existing old one, my diet budget being what it is (I have a spending allowance I dedicate to my weight loss efforts) in order to try something new I had to give up WW.
That was hard. I love my leader and my classmates. And I was a coward – I knew I was leaving but didn’t tell them. For one thing, I knew they’d try to talk me out of it, but my mind was made up so I knew that was a waste of time. I wasn’t quitting my efforts to get where I want to be, but I was leaving their company and in the end I slipped away very quietly. I guess a lot of people do that.
So I joined a gym.
I’ve said in the past that gyms aren’t the right choice for me because if I have to go home, change clothes, and go back out again – I probably won’t go. Well, I’ve also said in the past that WW isn’t for me, so obviously I change my mind a lot.
Deliberately working out isn’t precisely a natural activity. Human instinct encourages us to conserve energy whenever possible just as our metabolisms strive to conserve calories, it’s all about survival. Over the years when I trudge along on a treadmill or elliptical machine, it’s all I can do not to stare at the clock, waiting for the time when I can cease this boring activity.
So there’s a trick to it. I’d heard of this trick before, I’d just never managed to successfully implement it until now.
Find something physical to do that you think is ridiculously fun.
That’s where Zumba fits in. Silly, I know. Most of the time I’m pretty sure I look like a baby hippo hopping and flailing around that studio. But it really is a big dance party with great music and energy and moves I’m able to follow and lots and lots of sweat. It lasts a whole hour (unlike my generally half hour treadmill sessions) and I don’t even notice the time flying by because I’m enjoying myself.
Apparently I will go home, get changed, and go back out – if where I’m going is to a big, fun dance party.
Group exercise is so different from going it alone at home. The energy of a great instructor and the rest of the class lifts and carries me along, helping me to work harder than I would have on my own.
It’s awesome, I’m going three times a week, and my membership also includes access to a lot of weight lifting machines. Since lifting weights is a varied activity, it doesn’t bore me to tears like hamster wheel activities do.
In addition to that, I still take walks and hikes with Ted.
This is all well and good, but there’s a great saying that goes, “you can’t outrun your fork.” What this refers to is that physical activity alone isn’t going to effect weight loss. It's easy to consume back the calories burned in even a strenuous workout and it’s a lot harder to burn a significant amount of them than people think. So I’m also using the Daily Plate (my favorite old standby) to track my calories and the quality of my nutrition.
I’ve found that when it comes to weight loss, loyalty to one specific method doesn’t really work for me. In order to continue and fight off boredom and diet fatigue, I’ve got to shake things up a bit. Zumba is my new shakedown.