Thursday, May 22, 2008

How I Lost 20 lbs In 5 Months

I've officially done it: I lost 20 lbs in 5 months.

Those of you who know me closely know that I don't like being overweight. I never date anyone significantly over weight, nor do I, myself, ever let myself get out of whack with my fitness routine. That was, until last year. What happened is I'd had toe surgery to repair an ingrown toenail. Now, a toe may not seem like a big deal, but that toe problem kept me off the beach (no walks), away from the dance floor (yep, no dancing), and pretty much stopped most of my other power aerobic activity. Unfortunately, I sat around and ate more with all that extra time. The result: I went from 18 lbs overweight to 38 lbs overweight! And even though I'm 6'3" tall, people were starting to comment: not good!

This year, I decided to take action and get myself back into shape.

How did I get in better shape? I'll share my tips here:

1. Do what you love. I started going for walks on the beach, playing golf, playing tennis, and going dancing again. These activities that I love gave me an easier start back into getting into shape. It didn't feel HARD to do any of these things. On the contrary, it was EASY. Always start with something pretty easy before getting into the harder aspects of any program.

2. I started working out. By implementing a workout program, I started to gain muscle again. At first, this didn't help me lose any weight. I stayed the same weight on the scale. BUT I gained muscle. And muscle burns off calories faster than fat, any day. To burn more fat you must gain more muscle! So, I started working out. Not only that, but I feel more toned now and enjoy the feeling of being more muscular.

3. I quit drinking. Okay, not completely, but I cut back on the booze. You retain 4x more fat when you drink alcohol than when you don't. So, if you want to reduce fat, it only makes sense to eliminate or significantly reduce your drinking of alcoholic beverages, including mixed drinks, beer, and wine. The side result is I think more clearly and spend less money! How did I do it? I drink 8 oz. water any time I feel the urge to drink. It works!

4. Dance more! I started seriously upping the amount of dancing I was doing starting on April 1. I did this for two reasons: (a) I wanted to be a better dancer, (b) I had gone through a breakup and wanted to meet other single women. I didn't realize at the time that I'd get in better shape from dancing, but man-oh-man some of those dance lessons kicked my butt! Especially the Afro-Cuban dance lesson with the professional choreographer. See my article on Salsa dancing to learn more on this one...

5. Eat healthier. Instead of drinking a soda, I now drink water or apple juice. Yes, the apple juice has calories. But, the saying "an apple a day" makes sense to me, so I'm not on a low-carb diet, just a healthier diet. I'll eat my fruit, vegetables, and less meat and processed foods like chips or french fries. Since I made this diet change, I found myself initially VERY hungry - to the point of feeling like I could eat the paint off the wall. However, after about two weeks of this hunger my stomach adjusted and now I'm fine with my new diet.

6. Aerobic techniques. The next step of my workout program has been to implement aerobic techniques to combine distance, repetitive, and short-distance activities into my workout. At the beach, I now combine walking with jogging, backwards jogging, and sprinting during two phases of my walk. Doing this aerobic work is raising my heart-rate and also helping rid the fat.

7. Play Competitive Tennis. My final step of my workout program is to find other tennis players and start playing tennis two or three times a week. I'm doing this because (a) I'll make new friends, (b) tennis players are in good shape and (c) I might have a little fun competing.

See, there's an old saying "If you want to be successful, copy other people who are successful." I noticed that people with the best physique are those who either: (a) workout, (b) play sports (like tennis, surfing, volleyball, and racquetball), and (c) dance. If you're seeking a way to get into your ideal shape, what program will you use?

Yes, I still have 18 more lbs to go, but now I'm in the discipline of living in a way that WILL drop the weight and WILL get me in better shape. I started small, and worked up to it. Disclaimer: As with any workout program, always consult a doctor before beginning your own program. But once you start, commit to it and stick with it! Sure, I didn't achieve my initial goal of 20 pounds in 30 days, but I did realize this goal withing 5 months! I hit my goal when I followed through on my commitment and stuck with it.

We don't have to starve ourselves to drop the weight and gain the muscle. We don't have to kill ourselves in the gym 10 times a week, either. We just need to be more disciplined to take the time and make the effort to be our best self.

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