I struggled with my weight my entire life. For over 40 years, I tried many diets and methods to lose weight. Back then, none of my attempts included switching to a low-gluten diet or joining a fitness club. At one point I was 165 pounds, an acceptable weight for my 5′ 7″ frame, but I gained it all back and then some.
On February 16, 2011, I stood on the scale and found my weight at 288 pounds. That was the day I agreed to join a local fitness center with one of my daughters.
Joining the Club
I figured if I had to pay to exercise at the center, I would be more likely to continue on with an exercise plan. I was right.
In my first few weeks at the club, I used almost every piece of exercise equipment they had. I tracked my exercise by writing down the type of weight machine, the number of repetitions and how much weight I was lifting. I did the same for the treadmill and other cardio machines, recording my maximum heart rate, degree of incline and other specific information about my time on the machine.
I discovered the truth behind the Rutgers Fitness Healthy Weight Loss Guidelines. When I skipped the strength-training and focused exclusively on cardiovascular exercise, my weight plateaued. When I did both forms of exercise, the excess weight came off.
I created special playlists on my iPod with songs that kept my workout on the elliptical, treadmill or exercycle at a steady but challenging pace.
I jotted it all down in a small wire-bound index card file so I could compare where I was when I started to what I was able to do on the day I exercised. In those first few months, I visited the fitness center five days a week on average.
Lowering My Gluten
By mid-March, I lost ten pounds but my weight had plateaued. On my personal blog, I noted “I bounce up and down between 276.2 pounds and 278.8 pounds. I am going to tweak my eating habits a little more and see if that will influence weight loss.”
I knew my unhealthy diet sabotaged my efforts to lose weight. In one of the magazines at the fitness center, I read about people who successfully lost weight by getting rid of gluten in their diets. I wasn’t going to eliminate all the gluten in my diet but I decided I was going to reduce my intake of processed foods which tend to be gluten-rich. When I look at the gluten-free diet written by Maria Adams of New York University Langone Medical Center, many of the changes I made to what I ate were on that list of recommended foods.
These are some of the dietary changes I made:
Instead of bread, I used flavored rice cakes. Sometimes breakfast was a cheddar cheese rice cake with some canned salmon on top of it. Sometimes I ate a caramel rice cake with peanut butter smeared on it. I also used corn tortillas as sandwich wraps.
I ate at least five servings of seasonal fresh fruit daily. I fell in love with ruby red grapefruit and had one a day every day without sugar during the winter months. During the fall, I ate an apple each day.
I had a green leafy salad almost every day, leaving off the croutons. The greens I used were either romaine or spinach leaves which are more nutritional and filling than iceberg lettuce.
I ate more nuts, especially almonds. I increased the amount of protein I ate and bought lean cuts of meat like beef and pork loin.
Reprogramming My Brain
I paid more attention to my reasons for eating. I wrote in my blog “eat until you feel satisfied and no more than that. If it means you wrap the second half of your sandwich up and put it back in the refrigerator for the next day or even throw the remainder away, then do that.” Reminding myself to do that was difficult.
I rethought my attitude toward food. I reminded myself that food was fuel for a working body. It was no longer a reward for good work or a comfort when I was hurting.
Remembering the rule that every healthy lifestyle change takes about two weeks to become a habit, I kept my goals small. If I failed to follow through with a goal one day, I did not give up. I put past failures behind me.
Measuring More, Weighing Less
Instead of standing on the scale every day, I set aside a day each week when I had one of my daughters help me measure using a measuring tape. I recorded those measurements and was pleased when I saw I lost inches in key places like the hips and waist.
One of the most satisfying measures of my weight loss was when I went through my closet. I bagged up all the pants and skirts that would no longer stay up around my waist and the dresses in my ‘fat’ wardrobe. I didn’t save anything that fit me when I was heavier.
Those bags went to a thrift store. My daughter lost enough weight to give up her size 18 jeans and handed them down to me. I wore knit pants with elastic waistbands for years and was thrilled when I could feel comfortable in jeans again.
By the first week of May, 11 weeks after I started my new lifestyle, I lost 26 pounds. By the first week of January 2012, I lost a total of 57 pounds.
For two years now I have maintained that weight loss. I have not finished. I still have 70 pounds to go to get to a fit weight.