No one needs to tell you how to save money, the equation is simple, spend less than you earn. The same common sense formula applies to weight loss, burn more calories than you consume. It is that simple. You have to eat in moderation and you have to exercise.
However, in today’s, quick and convenient world, many of us choose to find the fastest, easiest and in many cases costliest ways to achieve weight loss. Procedures such as; starvation diets, diet pills, meal replacement shakes, bariatric surgery, gastric bypass surgery, cool sculpting, diet food subscriptions, and the list goes on and on and so do the prices.
Unfortunately, many of the above named procedures are not always a success story. For instance, when I worked in the white collar world, I knew of 2 rather large women who had both undergone the costly, surgical route. While at first, they each seemed to be melting away in front of our eyes, as they had each approached their one year anniversary date of their procedures, their old lifestyle ways were back and so was the weight. They were once again, back to a sedentary lifestyle, in addition to poor eating habits. Not only did each of these ladies gain the weight back they had lost, they had both gained extra to boot.
I too, like so many, struggle with my weight, I always have and I probably always will. I never had the resources for any of the above methods of losing weight and I probably never will.
About a year ago, I had to undergo total knee replacement surgery. No big shocker, at the time, I was overweight and according to my doctor, not by a little, but by about 50 pounds. He had explained to me that generally most patients get this operation done when they are in their 60’s and 70’s because this kind of procedure should really be done only once in one’s lifetime. Due to me being only in my mid forties, this new knee was going to have to last me the rest of my life and for obvious reasons, the less weight it had to carry, the longer it was going to last me. So, like it or not I had to lose weight.
I had put the surgery on hold for 3 months, because I wanted to lose at least 20 pounds before going under the knife and what they say is true; it DOES get harder to lose weight as you get older. I have never had an issue with the diet portion of my weight loss battles (except the will power segment at times). I love to cook, and I have always been able to find or create lower calorie and lower fat food options without sacrificing flavor. Even with this knowledge, I am still aware, that whatever it is I eat, has to be in moderation and it has to be well balanced (you know what I am talking about; imagine the food pyramid image).
My downfall would always come by way of exercise. I hate to exercise. I can’t say that enough, so I will say it again, I hate to exercise! I would rather scrub toilet bowls with a toothbrush than exercise. However, being an intelligent woman, I know I have to. To me, it is a necessary evil in maintaining my health.
When my orthopedist told me I needed to lose weight, I took it seriously and maybe, finally, this was the wakeup call I needed to lose weight and maintain my weight loss for the long haul. In the past, all of my weight loss attempts had been for pure vanity reasons but now my longevity health was at risk.
Anyone with knee problems will tell you, when you place stress on that joint, no matter how much or how little… it hurts. You might be fine while engaging in the exercise, but afterwards is a pain filled nightmare. I was limited in the kinds of exercises I could do; this made the whole process even harder.
Swimming is the best option for people with joint problems, however, not everyone has access to a pool and joining a health club gets very pricey. Instead, I invested in an elliptical machine. The motion on my knee was fluent without the shocking impact on the joint that I would have gotten from walking or using a treadmill. So once it was assembled, there it sat in my bedroom, waiting to be used. I can’t tell you how many times I really just looked at that thing and wanted it to just become a clothes hanger, but I knew I had to start using it.
So one morning I decided it was time to start on this journey. I started off with no resistance setting at all. I just needed to start moving. I got on for 10 minutes. The time went by rather quickly, considering it was so short, yes my knee was a sore afterwards, but it wasn’t horrible. After lunch, I decided to do another 10 minutes, same feeling, same results, and then another set before dinner. At the end of the day, I had done it; I had exercised for 30 minutes. You can probably imagine that the next day, I was in pain! I did not use the elliptical that day, but the following day I did, I felt better and repeated the same 3; 10 minute interval way of exercising and kept up this method for months.
In the beginning, I was using my elliptical 3 times a week, 30 minutes a day in my 10 minute “exercise blasts”. After about 3 weeks of doing this, I noticed my body was starting to get used to the routine, and it didn’t hurt as much. I decided to try to challenge myself. I started doing my routine 4 times a week. My eating habits were also improving and after about 6 weeks of eating well and some regular exercise, I got on the scale to see that I had lost 7 pounds. I know, a lot of you are saying “that’s it!” But I tell you this, it was a true 7 pounds, it wasn’t water weight so I knew it wasn’t coming back after only a few days.
My surgery was scheduled almost 4 months to the day I originally gone to see my orthopedist, and by that time, I had managed to lose 25 pounds. I was still only half way to my ultimate goal. The recovery was long and I won’t lie, physical therapy was hard and painful. I think it was “tough love” on their behalf, because I was so young to have had this procedure, my therapy sessions were rigorous. During that time, physical therapy had replaced my use of the elliptical. I was going to the therapists’, 3 times a week, for 3 months, plus I was doing some of the exercises they taught me at home. Oh and did I mention that my orthopedist wanted me to be walking at least 30 minutes a day? (Yeah…he was tough). So there I was, each night, my husband by my side and me clinging to my walker, taking a 30 minute walk in my neighborhood and re-learning how to walk. You can imagine that in the beginning, I was moving at a snail’s pace, it would take me 30 minutes to go 4 houses up and 4 houses back, it did not seem as though I was gaining much ground. Funny thing though, after a few weeks, I noticed I could go 8 houses up and back in 30 minutes. I finally lost the walker and in another few weeks and I could make it all the way up the street and back in 30 minutes, and so on and so on, I just needed to stay at it and after some time, I was able to go farther and longer.
I am proud to say that 8 months after my surgery, I had reached my weight loss goal. I had lost a total of 50 pounds with sheer diet, exercise and time; no magic formula, no weight loss surgery, no starving or depriving myself, no harsh workouts that push me into the ground, just a plain old common sense approach.
I am glad to say, that I don’t mind exercising so much anymore. I just needed to find the right exercise for me, one that I enjoy and doesn’t feel like a chore to me. I have since replaced my elliptical with a stationary bike (recommended by my orthopedist to ensure flexibility and mobility in my knee). In addition to using this piece of home equipment, (still in 10 minute intervals…..hey, I’m not a fanatic!) I take regular daily walks with and without my dog, most of the time while listening to music, but sometimes, just to take in the sights, sounds and glory of nature and use it as the “me time” part of my day.
Most people that struggle with weight loss want instant results. That is unrealistic. Think about it, you didn’t instantaneously gain the weight; it took time to put it on, so why would one think taking the weight off would be different? I now know and understand the severity of maintaining my current weight and I am fully aware that my lifestyle must contain movement and moderation each and every day all in efforts for a long and healthy life.