Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Losing Weight - from 2010

I just stumbled upon this how-to composition I wrote a while back, before I started becoming Julie Griffin.  Today, as I find myself in a constant state of hunger, yet minor irritation with my current weight and body shape, reading this blast from the past written by the 2010 version of myself was a little bit inspiring.

I think I can I think I can I think I can...

Written in March 2010, coincidentally eight days before I met my husband:


I'll start at the beginning. Last summer (2009) I hurt my back. Some of you may have been in the loop about the ever-mysterious and now-humorous "incident" that sent me to the Scottsdale Osborn Emergency Room one Thursday morning last July... undoubtedly the most influential experience I'll ever have in a bathroom stall at work...

A week on the couch, lots of muscle relaxers, eight weeks of unsuccessful therapy, and one MRI later, verdict: a disc bulge to the left of my L5/sacroiliac. Validation of the nagging hip and lower back pain I'd been experiencing for the last few years. The probable cause: a combination of a few too many right ankle sprains over the years, the constant twisting motion of serving a volleyball, and of course genetics (seen my dad's lower back x-rays?)

After the incident, any coworker walking the long hallway with me would no longer struggle to keep up with me, as I was suddenly the slowest walker I knew.  I was forbidden from strenuous activity, including things like carrying a heavy purse (my purse "strenuously heavy"? seriously?). I lived in constant fear that my back could go out again at any moment, afraid to lean across my car to retrieve something from the glove box lest the twisting motion aggravate my lumbar. I remember asking a friend for help carrying a laundry basket from my room to the washer. Discouraging... but I knew I just needed to have patience and a little faith in the healing process.

Anyway, through all this back stuff, my lifestyle instantly became sedentary.  The holidays didn't help... And so I gained a little weight. "A little" being enough that my favorite jeans wouldn't zip, enough that I didn't want to pose in photographs unless certain areas were covered. I trusted the healing process, but my new extra layer was more than I was comfortable with. I just didn't feel like myself.

By January my back was getting better thanks to a new course of physical therapy (Thanks Bill and Katie and everyone at BNA!). And so it was time to face how out of shape I had gotten and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, while still treating my back delicately, of course.

I got a pretty sweet scale for Christmas (amazing the toys that are exciting to adults on Christmas morning). Holding my breath with a wince I took it out of the box, placed it on my cold bathroom floor, and then weighed myself every morning in the month of January. I changed nothing about my lifestyle yet, just wrote it down. Every day. It became real. So all through January I mentally prepared myself and got excited about the prospect of zipping up my favorite jeans. I got amped to see that number go down. 

February 1st I started my shedding plan. I knew I would be unable to go back to my old active lifestyle as I'm not allowed to run or even do yoga yet, so I would have to go about this strategically. I would, for the first time in my life, follow the simple formula:

Calories consumed > Calories burned = weight gain. Calories burned > Calories consumed = weight loss.

Moderate, healthy pace; a slight increase in activity, a slight decrease in intake. It was fool proof.

Since then, I have lost 11.5 pounds. 

Here's how: 

A top ten list of my unprofessional, unrequested, all-original tips to anyone else who might be daydreaming about shedding a few too.

1. GEAR UP and READ UP. Familiarize yourself with terms like BMI (Body Mass Index) and Recommended Daily Values (Nutrition). Educate yourself on portion sizes. Get yourself some multi-vitamin and some comfortable walking shoes. 

2. SET A REALISTIC GOAL in a realistic amount of time. Don't go all crazy "I have to loose ten pounds in a week." My goal was/is 1.5 lbs a week. This equals burning about 750 more calories than I consume every day, which has been surprisingly easy.

3. MOVE MORE. My favorite ways of doing this include: parking farther away; walking around in circles when I'm on the phone; doing mini desk push ups when I'm listening in on a conference call; having a personal dance party while I'm doing laundry. WALK. A lot. Amazing how many calories you burn just walking. Get a cheap pedometer and try for 10,000 steps a day.

4. KEEP TRACK. Whether it's through an online program (I got a Bodybugg -- love it) or it means that you keep a journal, write down everything you do and everything you eat. Don't dread it or fear it, instead consider it documentation of how awesome you are at taking care of your body. Maybe title it "my awesome healthy body journal" and draw a big smiley face on the first page.

5. DON'T "DIET". Ugh I very strongly dislike that word "diet"! MAKE CHOICES. If you choose to eat something you would consider "bad", write it down anyway. I'm not going to trick my body into thinking it didn't just consume that triple scoop from Gelato Spot just because I didn't document it. I have found ways to work in the "bad" foods that I love. Choose to eliminate some high calorie foods that you know you can live without, in order to make room for your favorite high calorie items. For me, I can live without cheese, mayo, butter, salad dressing, booze, fried stuff, bread, chips, stuff in the snack bowl on so-and-so's desk at work -- these things aren't "bad" they are just expendable to me. Making these choices has enabled me enough calories in my budget to include my regular trips to fro-yo, amazing 2pm chocolate chip cookies at the cafeteria at work, and of course lots and lots of junior mints... without throwing a wrench in the whole shedding process.

6. GROCERY SHOP. It helps with the whole "make choices" thing. (This one may be second nature to some people but I'm always on-the-go so grocery shopping has always been more of a chore than a past time of mine. Now it's kind of fun.)

7. (Follow up to #4)(In times when you're not eating groceries) FYI so far it turns out that nutrition facts were available online for about 90% of the restaurants that I have eaten at since I started my shedding efforts. For me this has included Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, Chipotle, Chili's, Noodle Company, Subway, Mojo Yogurt, Golden Spoon, and others. You just have to search. 

8. At restaurants, don't be afraid to be high maintenance. Your meal is YOUR CHOICE. Ask for no cheese, dressing on the side, extra veggies. Ask for a cup of strawberries at dessert time even if it's not on the menu, I'll bet they'll make it for you. Order off the kid's menu even if you aren't twelve, I've never had anyone turn me away. (I highly recommend the kid's menu at Chipotle and Subway especially. I'm hooked. You get smaller portion, and it comes with milk and a toy!!)

9. FRESH FRUITS/VEGGIES ARE YOUR FRIENDS. Eat them. I pop blueberries and strawberries into my mouth like candy. SOUP IS YOUR FRIEND. (read the label of course). There are lots of soups that are super yummy and have lots of veggies and protein... and a big ol' bowl of soup for lunch instead of a sandwich might be a 300-500 calorie difference depending how you like your sandwiches. And soup is easy to make. Spoon, check. Bowl, check, Microwave, check. Brainless really.

10. DON'T OBSESS. Live your life. If you loose extra weight one week, yay for you. If you don't loose any weight the next week, just keep on keepin' on. Employ these virtues: Prudence. Temperance. Obedience. Patience. Faith. 

Of all the times throughout my life where I have "lost weight", this is the first time I have done it the right way. I know some of my friends are in that place of wanting to lose a few but just haven't done it yet. If that's you, and you're still reading this lengthy note, give me a call and I'd be happy to share with you some other resources I've stumbled across along the way. I've got a few more to go but I'm feeling like myself again already!!


Thanks past self.  Now can you tell me how to pull this off while breastfeeding?


  1. After seeing a rather unflattering picture of myself a few weeks ago, I decided to try Weight Watchers simply because you can calculate breastfeeding in as a factor. I've been eating however I wanted and how much I wanted since L was born and it's not working for me! Learning how to eat more fruits and veggies and eat less overall is tough but I'm already doing better! We could totally walk at the mall together or something until it cools off!

  2. Be careful of things like canned soup - always do low or no sodium. Not only is that amount of sodium bad for you but weight-wise you'll be retaining water weight and that will be discouraging.


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