I never thought that I would feel the need to write a blog post about my weight. Well here it goes.
I have always had a complicated relationship with my weight, and while I was always thin and athletic as a child, I was quite chubby in High School (a direct result from two things: emotional overeating after my mother’s death and a year abroad in the USA), until Senior Year when I was actually pretty slim. Of course back then I thought I was still chubby. I always think I’m chubby, no, fat. Why? Because my body image is fucked up. Years of comparing myself to other, slimmer women and images of what I should look like have led me to believe that I can never look that like, but worse, never feel like that – and that I’ll never be adequately thin anyway.
Over the past 10 years, I have tried pretty much every diet and lifestyle change you can imagine. I’ve done Atkins, the 5-Factor diet, low-carb, low-fat, low-everything, vegan, juicing,… A few years ago I decided that I was done with eating so many animal products, and that’s the one thing that really stuck. I went mostly vegan for a while, then vegetarian, and gradually introduced organic meat and fish back into my diet – in much smaller quantities.
My weight goes up and down within a 10kg-range, but it hasn’t been at the lower end of that range since 2009 (I’ve also never been very overweight). Back then, I lived in Southern France for the summer, it was ridiculously hot, I had a boyfriend who was into a slim figure and I had it. I also had weird eating habits and still ate a lot of sugar.
I have been continually at the high end of a healthy weight for my height for the past three years and I am not happy with it.
During the Trans Am 2014, I lost a few kg and looked much trimmer. Here’s a comparison:
It wasn’t much weight though. The food I ate during the race was mostly fried stuff, sugar, sugar, and some more sugar. Disgusting really. To think that I ate a Clif Bar for breakfast on more than one occasion.. washed down with OJ or chocolate milk and usually followed by a bag of Sour Patch Kids. A few weeks after the race I started working as a bike messenger which helped with the weight but I was still munching on candy and cookies to survive the day.
Then came Maggie. Our first dog. I’ve wanted a dog for as long as I can remember, and here I sit with two on my couch.
When Maggie came along, I stopped cycling for a long time. You can’t leave a dog at home alone right away, and once she was ready to be home alone, a proper Bavarian winter rolled in and we spent our days walking in the snow for hours or horseback riding.
Once the snow had cleared and it was time to get back on the road bike, Moritz entered our life. He wasn’t planned for and I definitely never wanted a dog like him (a “challenge”), and he didn’t stay alone for 5 minutes. No chance to go for a bike ride.
So for all intents and purposes I stopped exercising (except for the daily long walks). But I didn’t stop eating like I was still riding my bike all day.
Fast-forward to a few months ago. I pick up a book about tidying. My husband likes to make fun of the fact that I can become completely fascinated with something I’ve read. I’ll talk about nothing else for a good while. If it’s about something I want to do it usually doesn’t stick for very long. Well, this one struck a chord. It’s called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, and it’s not exactly new, so I’m sure you’ve already heard about it.
After reading it once, I started tidying our house methodically. I must have thrown about about 40% of our possession – at least. I radically reduced the books and clothes I own, put the workshop in order, even threw a lot of memorabilia away.
It took weeks of running around the house for 8 hours a day. I drove to the recycling place eight times with a full car.
It was a revelation. I always knew we had too much stuff, but I never really knew what to do about it and how to change that permanently and methodically.
Now I actually cringe when I think about acquiring new stuff. I can go without cleaning up for a week and the house still doesn’t look bad, simply because there isn’t too much left to create a proper mess.
What does this have to do with weight loss?
Somewhere along the way I picked up two other books, about weight loss (again.. I’ve read my fair share of those). One of them talked about the mental aspect of weight loss. Picturing yourself with the figure you want to have. Acting like you’re already at your target weight. Speaking about your journey as something you’re going to do, not something you’re trying to do. Losing weight methodically and with a plan. It was quite similar to the mental aspects of the tidying approach.
That, too, really spoke to me, and I went on to implement some of the “habits” the book talks about.
Between Christmas and today I’ve lost 4,5kg. I don’t exercise that much right now and I eat great meals. I also don’t count calories.
It has never worked this well for me, so effortlessly, and with such a positive outlook – so why not share my journey with you? !
But what am I doing different this time? I have always cooked fresh food, I very rarely eat processed foods and don’t have a “chocolate problem”. Something must have changed.
In the end, any lifestyle change is about changing habits. In the case of weight loss, most of those habits relate to food and exercise.
I started planning my meals. I’m in the privileged position of eating all my meals at home and having time and money to cook all of them if I want to. I make a spreadsheet and plan my meals for a few days in advance.
You could start with just planning dinners (or lunches, or breakfasts), but I decided to go all the way.
This enabled me to go shopping for food less often. I now go to the supermarkets two, maybe three times a week (fresh produce and meat wants to be purchased fresh).
When I have a plan, I have all the ingredients at home that I need for a healthy meal.
Why is that important? Because once I have a half-empty fridge, I make bad decisions. If I’m hungry and trying to come up with something to eat I don’t choose right. So I make sure I don’t have to choose.
Of course this doesn’t always work out – I don’t follow the plan to a T. Yet I usually only change three of four meals per week which is pretty good.
When I plan my meals, I strive for a balance of sorts. At least one meal a day is veggie-heavy, sometimes two.
Then, I changed two more habits.
I started drinking my coffee black. Now, this doesn’t seem important – but it is. I went from drinking 2 to 4 Latte Macchiato a day to drinking drip coffee with milk to drip coffee, black. Speaking about weekly calories, that’s a change from 1512kcal to 672kcal to 0kcal.
So, compared to using my Nespresso machine every day, I’m saving 1512kcal every week – that’s 7000kcal (~1kg of fat) every 4.5 weeks. It also means that just with this change, I’ve already got a huge chunk of my caloric deficit in the bag.
The second habit is alcohol. I like alcohol! I love beer and wine and we have (had?) a habit of drinking a beer almost every night. It goes great with dinner and hey, we’re in Germany!
Well, an average 330ml-beer has about 140kcal, so two beers every night (which is realistic) comes to almost 2000kcal extra per week.
I’d say I usually had on average only one beer per night (maybe more on the weekend), and realistically save 1000kcal by NOT having alcohol during the week.
I still drink alcohol on the weekend, but usually much less. Yes, occasionally we still share a bottle of wine (and empty it). I won’t stop having a few cold ones with friends, but the rest of the week.. nope. If I do have a hankering for a cold one, I drink alcohol-free beer (which, once you find a brand you like, tastes quite good really).
In the end, my days may look like this…
Breakfast: Coffee, a slice of Banana Bread [no added sugar, coconut flour, almond butter]
Lunch: Broccoli-Tofu-Stir fry [500g broccoli, 100g smoked tofu, onion, herbs, a sprinkle of cheese]
Dinner: Chicken pad thai [rice noodles, chicken breast, sprouts, spring onions, dressing, cilantro]
Or like this…
Breakfast: Coffee, baked sweet potato with black beans and an egg [baked in the oven]
Lunch: Beets with feta cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Snack: two clementines
Dinner: Chana Masala [chickpea curry] with coconut yoghurt and a fried egg
I have a few staples that I like to come back to (like the broccoli scramble, cooked beets, dishes with beans and chickpeas, tuna, organic chicken), but I always plan something “special”, too. This week, it’s Chicken Wings (surprisingly diet-friendly if you leave all the other stuff out and bake them in the oven) and a Grilled Cheese with avocado and sun-dried tomatoes.
During the same period that I lost the weight, I’ve gone to McDonald’s twice (not proud of it, just stating facts). I had a couple of dinners out, including pizza and three-course meals. My weight doesn’t go back up, it goes steadily down.
Not just my weight – measurements, too. Pants fit me better. I’m actually able to wear pants that were too tight before.
I’m not trying to lose 10kgs. I’m doing it.
Why all this?
Not just because I look better with less weight, but because I really don’t have the ideal figure for climbing mountain passes on a bike, and I want to perform well at this year’s events. I don’t want to be hindered by my weight anymore, even though it is a healthy weight for my height and body shape. Instead of shaving off gram by gram trying to optimise my gear, it makes sense to take 10-15kgs off me.
I fully believe that I’ll have 8kgs done by the time I fly to the US for my cycling trip there. This time, I’ll have time to eat well and won’t have to shove every piece of candy in my mouth.
What’s your journey? Did you try out a lot of diets? Have you found your way yet?