I was a puddle of sweat walking down the stairs at the YMCA, enroute to the locker room. It was slow going, tired after 5 miles, and so I fell behind another gal headed to the same place.
I had seen her before and, by before, I mean before I lost weight. I saw her before the gym was a habit and when I would try to make it to a strength class twice a week but usually made it twice a month.
"You used to come here a long time ago?" she asked.
"I thought you looked familiar."
I nodded and exchanged pleasantries as I wiped my face and unlocked my locker.
"You lost a ton, a ton of weight."
Yep. That's me. By the way, 120 pounds is only six-hundreths of a ton.
"How did you do it?" asked another gal, who was getting dressed in business attire and ready to head to work.
There - that was the part of the conversation that made me cringe. I get asked the question a lot, and I know it's because people want some insight. They want a clue as to how to do it, too. But, I always feel like such a disappointment because there's no gimmick or secret to share. I started exercising, I ate better more often than not and just got stubborn. I told her that albeit with a complete lack of enthusiasm but added that I did go to Weight Watchers for part of the journey. As a consolation.
The conversation made me think about the one thing people should ask: What helped. Everyone can do Weight Watchers or Paleo or South Beach but each person will find different things that helped. And this is what helped me.
1. A community. Whether it's Weight Watchers, a Diet Bet challenge or friends, a good support system substantially improves your chances of getting on track - and staying there. I found great help with my weekly meetings and, as I "graduated," in the blogging community. In addition, surrounding yourself with like-minded people helps reduce temptations, improves chances of engaging in a healthy activity and adds a bit of good-spirited peer pressure.
2. Knowledge is power. During my first attempts to lose weight, I thought you ate less, moved more - and it's true. However, I often focused solely on calories and not the nutrition of the food. I could eat a side salad and fries for lunch because it was 400 calories. And I did. OK, sometimes, I still do. However, I do so with a little more understanding and a lot less frequency.
As I immersed myself in Weight Watchers and blogging, I began to educate myself about what I needed to do and why. It made certain choices more obvious - like "splurging" on a grilled chicken salad with light dressing and skipping the fries - and it gave me permission to make different decisions.
Also, the process of learning about healthy eating, running and exercise, can make the information much more interesting and the journey less of a chore.
3. Get organized. I am a Type A person, through and through. I like planners, calendars, spreadsheets and, when it came to my weight loss, all of those things helped me immensely. I scheduled my workouts and posted a calendar on the fridge. I planned out a weekly menu and then, the night before, planned out a day's meals. I looked ahead to see when a night out or big event might require some padding, points wise, and planned for it. I carried my WW Points book and food log with me everywhere, and I set workout reminders on my phone.
After all, it's great to have information but you need to set in action and getting organized creates a system to make you accountable to the most important person in the process - YOU.