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This is crazy embarrassing to admit, but a couple of years ago, after having my eighth baby, I was the biggest I’d ever been! I had previously thrown out my scale and my full-length mirror because, let’s be honest, nobody really wants to face their weaknesses, right? I wanted to just bury my head in the sand (or the cookies) and ignore it.
I had a health crisis around the same time, which helped me make a few changes. I had dealt with thyroid problems since having my 3rd child, but was then diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, which is an autoimmune disease in which your body attacks and destroys its own thyroid. Crazy! My doctor told me that the gluten protein is similar to the thyroid protein, so going gluten-free typically helps eliminate Hashimoto’s symptoms.
It was difficult to cut out all wheat, especially since I cook for nine other non-gluten-free people, and make homemade whole-wheat bread every week. Since we homeschool, we also have lunch and snacks at home, and I honestly cook multiple times each day, not just dinner. So it was hard! But I got used to it, and I actually cut out all grains and lost some weight naturally.
I maintain about 20 lbs lower without grains. (I also switched to NDT, natural dessicated thyroid instead of the synthetic garbage I’d been taking– the ndt really increased my energy and health.) I also think I could have a grain sensitivity aside from my Hashimoto’s problem, because if I even eat a speck of a wheat product, I gain 5-10 lbs overnight. That doesn’t even remotely make sense in terms of calories, so it must be inflammation. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) that little sensitivity made cheating SO not worth it!
So I was already grain-free, and we own a farm and grow most of our own food organically, plus raise our own meat, eggs and milk. I am also very active between farm work and house remodeling projects. But I was still far too heavy. Without a scale or a full-length mirror, it was easy to convince myself that I was healthy and my weight didn’t matter. It’s so weird how we humans sabotage ourselves in our own minds!
I am proud of myself for not letting my weight hinder me, though. I still went skiing, ice-skating, roller-blading, and hiked and biked regularly with my kids. I really, really, really wanted them to grow up with memories of me playing with them! I even spent summers at our local water park with them, swam at the beach and spent weeks at a time in a bathing suit at Lake Powell. I am grateful for that and proud of myself for that! In fact, it was seeing myself in a bathing suit in a Lake Powell picture that made me want to make this change.
But how do you lose weight you’ve lived with for fifteen years?
I know I’m not the only person in this predicament. According to a report released earlier this month by the World Health Organization, more than 600 million adults across the globe were obese in 2014, and almost 2 billion were categorized as overweight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that more than one-third of all adults in America — 78.6 million people — are obese.
My little sister approached me about a Personalized Weight Loss Challenge not too long after I saw the photo of myself in my swimsuit, and I was ready. I love the way Healthy Wage structures their program. It was perfect for me! You can fiddle around with different wagers and the amount you want to lose, and decide how it will work best for you.
I knew I needed to lose at least 50 lbs, so I input that, and then fiddled around with the duration of the wager. In the end, I decided 6 months would work best for me. I thought I might procrastinate more if I chose a longer duration.
You also choose the amount you ‘bet’ each month. I considered it an incentive, rather than a bet, since the outcome was entirely up to me. I chose $100 as my incentive. I’m super cheap and I was NOT about to lose $600 ($100 per month times 6 months) by not losing the weight. It just motivated me to work out every morning (and sometimes every night in addition) and eat well.
After you decide how much you want to lose, the duration, and how much you will ‘bet’ each month, HealthyWage will calculate your reward. Mine was $2300, although I had contributed $600 to that, so it was really $1700. I want to take my kids on a tour of China, so I figured that would help offset my costs, and I signed up.
I worked hard to get where I am right now, although I’m still no supermodel! Ha, ha! It took a lot of exercise and discipline, but Healthy Wage also played a critical role in my efforts. I’m going to share all of my secrets with you — everything I learned while losing 50+ pounds.
Tips and tricks for success; How to blow your challenge out of the water
Because I learned so much, I want to share my newfound knowledge with everyone. I am not a doctor, a nutritionist or a dietitian. I am not a personal trainer, a coach or a fitness expert of any kind. Please do not consider anything you read here to be advice from an expert. These tips are based on information gathered from my own experience only. Please consult your physician and seek the advice of other experts before making any major changes to your diet or exercise regimen.
1. You have to track things
Weight loss is math.
This is painfully obvious, I know. Never in my life had I counted calories or even paused for a moment to consider how many calories I might be consuming in a meal, because I didn’t want to know. I actually went out of my way NOT to know. You know how the back of the cereal box says that a serving size is 1/2 cup? Who really eats 1/2 cup? I fill the bowl, and I really don’t even want to know how many cups of cereal that is, because then I’d be able to calculate how many calories I had just eaten.
But now I had to care, because this was the simplest and most obvious way to approach weight loss.
If you regularly consume fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight.
It seems so obvious. But many people don’t really think about the reality of that statement, and I had been one of them. Barring certain ailments, like my sensitivity to grains, this is a universal truth.
I had to figure out how many calories were in everything I ate, I had to conscientiously keep track of them, and I had to at least get a rough idea of how many calories I was burning each day. I needed to be sure to keep a caloric deficit, or I would never lose this weight.
My elliptical trainer (which tracks calories burned) and the UP app were my new best friends.
The UP app is easy to use and will keep track of everything in one handy place. It will track steps, sleep, workouts, calorie intake and my weight.
Since the app on my iphone made it so easy to track everything, I was able to keep my eye on the prize all day every day. When I ate too many calories, I knew it immediately and could adjust my workout that day or the following day. If my darn weight went up, I could see that instantly as well, and it would motivate me to eat less and work out more over the next few days.
Oh, and if you cheat, you are only cheating yourself! Omitting things you eat, even small bites of things, is cheating. I used to cut off a little sliver of brownie, thinking, erringly, that it was so small as to be negligible in calories. Duh! I’d just keep slicing off little ‘negligible’ pieces until I had consumed several entire brownies. Don’t cheat yourself!
2. Small intermediary challenges break the huge goal up into smaller, easier chunks
In addition to great big, long and very lucrative challenges, HealthyWage also offer small ones. These are a brilliant way of breaking your challenge into manageable chunks, and if you decide to undertake a Healthy Wager of your own, you should definitely utilize them! Winning additional money is an added benefit.
I joined new 6% challenges every month or so to keep me working. You can join them all by themselves, or on top of the longer challenges you are participating in. They are generally short, 12-week challenges in which you have to lose 6% of your body weight. You pay a set amount (mine were each $60) to join, and all of the winners split the pot at the end. My rewards for each of those was between $99-$120, so, after the $60 joining fee, I made between $40 and $60 per challenge.
They offer both individual and group 6% challenges, and you can participate in whichever type you prefer. I actually preferred the group challenge, despite being a confirmed introvert, because it motivated me to not let my team down.
I am typically a person of extremes and I needed to see success right away and quickly in order to persevere through holidays and birthdays and parties, where food was enticing. Small challenges with imminent deadlines provided me exactly that motivation.
3. Prepare your own food and eat plenty of protein and fat
I grep up in the 80’s/90’s when fat was seen as the devil. That ridiculous premise has since been proven false. Fat is more satiating than protein or carbs. When you eat high-fat foods, your body will tell you to stop sooner, and you are less likely to overeat. Fats with medium-chain triglycerides, like butter and coconut oil, activate appetite-suppressing hormones and slow stomach emptying so you feel fuller longer. Fat also has essential nutrients.
Protein causes the largest rise in metabolism. It increases your metabolic rate by 15–30%, compared to 5–10% for carbs and 0–3% for fats. Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating. Studies have shown that as subjects increase protein consumption, they automatically decrease calorie consumption overall.
When you purchase prepared food, at a restaurant or the grocery store, you don’t know how it was prepared. It also likely contains MSG and other appetite stimulants. Hey, they just want to make money! At home you can prepare real, whole foods with superior nutrition and the right kinds of fats. Since you are going to be eating less, it is imperative that it be good quality!
4. Don’t destroy your metabolic rate
Metabolism is the term for all the chemical reactions in your body. These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning. However, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with metabolic rate, or the amount of calories you burn. The higher it is, the more calories you burn and the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off. Having a high metabolism can also give you more energy and make you feel better.
Your metabolism will naturally decrease as you lower your caloric intake. But you don’t need to just sit there and watch it tank! Muscle uses more energy than fat, so pump some iron and build some muscle. Eating more protein can also reduce the drop in metabolism often associated with losing fat, because it helps prevent you from losing muscle, a common side effect of dieting. Also, be sure to eat frequently, drink plenty of water, and not skip meals. You can eat smaller amounts, but more frequently.
One trick I used was to eat a small amount of protein, with fat, right before bed. I would usually set aside some of the ground beef or a pork chop or whatever I made for dinner, before adding sauces or spices, and then eat it with a pat of butter, right before I brushed my teeth at night.
5. Learn what motivates YOU and find yourself some great motivators
Money is my single biggest motivator. It’s HUGE! Maybe because I’m so cheap? Ha, ha! It really helped me to write $2300 in ink on my hand. It probably looked dumb and middle-school-ish, but who cares? I looked at it all day long, because your hands are what you see most often, and it helped me to remember NOT to snitch as I was cooking for my family or passing through the kitchen.
I’d think about that money in terms of how many flights to China it would purchase (it’s pretty expensive to take a family of ten anywhere!) and it would help me to focus on what I wanted most (weight loss AND money!) instead of what I wanted at the moment (dessert). The money I earned from HealthyWage was the very best motivator ever and is going to purchase several flights. Thank you, Healthy Wage!
My Grandma had a couple of funny sayings. One was, “A moment on the lips, forever on the hips,” and another was, “Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels.” The joy you’ll get from losing more weight far outweighs any pleasure you might get momentarily from eating that junk. It helps me, too, to think about how I’m going to feel in the morning. Will I be glad I ate that dish of ice cream, or mad?
6. Find your own nirvana
Every single body is different, both in its nutritional needs and in its methods. Like I said earlier, my body does NOT like grain. I do best on a paleo/keto diet, but with lots of raw dairy. It may be because jersey cows live in our back yard and we have plentiful access to the best quality of raw milk, but my body loves dairy. 1000 calories of homemade yogurt will energize me and help me to lose weight, while 1000 calories of bread, even homemade, organic, sourdough whole-wheat bread would cause me to gain 10 lbs and be lethargic for the next two days. I also react SEVERELY to sugar alcohols and other sugar substitutes.
I’m not suggesting that everyone go paleo/keto with dairy, because I’m 100% positive it would be detrimental to loads of people. What I am suggesting is that you take note of your reaction to certain foods. A tracking app will help. If you gain weight overnight, look through the previous days foods and calories. If you didn’t overeat, really look hard at what you ate. You may discover that your body uses certain foods better than others, and once you know, you will be able to eliminate the offending foods.
Ancestry and genetics, along with modern exposure to harmful toxins certainly play a huge role in how our bodies utilize nutrients. And how our bodies react negatively to otherwise perfectly nutritious foods. You might need medical help to resolve allergies or sensitivities or even thyroid disease.
As you learn your bodies needs and respond to them, you will find your own nirvana, where your body will lose weight naturally, though still not without effort, unfortunately. But you need to want this! More than you want that cookie or brownie or soda!
Once you have learned to track your caloric inputs and expenditures, break your goal up into manageable pieces, increase your metabolism and eat the right foods, all you need is a motivator to get you going and keep you going! Money was exactly the motivation I needed.
I am apparently part of the vast majority, because leading academic research shows that money enhances weight loss success, making dieters significantly more likely to lose weight. HealthyWage uses cash-based challenges designed to help end procrastination, encourage perseverance, and harness the power of your desire to avoid losing your wager. Get started today and make your HealthyWager. I wish all of you amazing success!