Slow and Steady

This picture is awesome


I skipped running yesterday. I have a slight cold, and usually my asthma flares up when I have a cold, and I didn’t want to deal with a flare-up so I didn’t run. I got back on the horse this morning, though, and went for a quick walk/jog after I walked Sienna to school. It occurred to me, for the billionth time, that I probably will lose some weight from running but not all of it because I never, ever stick with a plan. I’ll start something, like the Abs diet, or Nourishing Traditions, or running, or Insanity, and do it for a while and see some results but then I’ll start slacking off and pretty soon I’m up ten pounds and wearing nothing but t-shirts and yoga pants again. I brought it up to the Ogre last night and mused that maybe my problem is that I have an either/or mentality when it comes to dieting and exercise. I either eat whatever I want and lay around feeling sorry for my fat self, or I completely overhaul our entire family’s way of eating and commit to running like I’m training for a marathon. The problem is that neither of those ways of living are sustainable. They are opposite sides of a healthy balance, and instead of finding the balance I keep ping-ponging back and forth between them.

This morning, though I had another thought. I’ve always followed someone else’s plan. I’ll follow a diet in a book, or a way of eating in a book, or an exercise video, or a “run your way to a 5k” program, but they’re always plans thought of by someone else. I’ve never said, “okay, this is what I have problems with, so this is what I’m going to do about it.” I’ve never drawn up my own map, which now seems pretty stupid, because I know my own body better than anyone. I also know my cravings, my weaknesses, my strengths, motivations that work for me and motivations that don’t. So following a generic, one-size-fits-all pattern will never work as well as tailoring my own plan will.

I really want to lose all the baby weight this time around, and be healthy. Part of it is that I am just uncomfortable in my own skin. None of my clothes fit, I don’t like going out in public, and I feel awkward in my own body. But another part of is that I’m really seeing the consequences of living an unhealthy lifestyle, probably for the first time. I’m on about six daily medications, I feel depressed and lethargic all the time, I don’t have the energy or the endurance to keep up with my kids, and the deluge of health problems I’ve had in the end of my pregnancy and the last seven postpartum weeks have just drained me. The idea of another pregnancy terrifies me, because physically, I’m a broken-down wreck. I really need to get my body healthy before asking it to support another human being again.

I’ve decided to make my own plan this time, and to tackle areas where I struggle first, making my goal control and restraint over what I eat and how active I am instead of weight loss. I’m going to move really slow — excruciatingly slow, even, to make sure that these changes don’t fade into the trash heap of “failed diet schemes” but become ingrained as habits. First, I’m going to make 2 small changes in my eating habits a month. Second, I’m going to slowly increase my activity monthly. So for the rest of November, I’m going to do 2 simple things with  my diet: not have seconds, no matter how hungry I am or how good something tastes, and only eat 1 sweet thing a day. Sweets are really my Achilles’ heel, and I’ve done way too much ping-ponging between swearing off all sugar and eating every brownie as fast as I can make it. I know that a sudden, drastic change when it comes to sugar has not ever and probably will not ever work for me, so slow tapering will have to be my strategy if I really want to change. As far as seconds go, I’m honestly not that gluttonous when it comes to meals, but I think it’s just a good habit to get into if my goal is to temper how much and what I eat. Next month I’m thinking I’ll work on cutting out snacking (or at least limiting it) and decreasing my carbohydrate intake.

For exercising, I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing: 30 minutes of walking/jogging daily. I’m gradually trying to increase the length of the “jogging” portions of my daily exercise, but I’ll keep the total time the same. Next month I’ll add 15 minutes of exercise and 10 minutes of stretching onto my daily total.

I’m not going to do a regular post series or anything on this, but it occurred to me that some of you might be similarly frustrated in your weight loss goals and might be interested in joining me on the slow and steady path. If anyone shows some interest, I’ll probably do one post on it at the beginning of the month, stating new goals, and then one post at the end with results, reflections and maybe some ideas for the next month. Let me know in the combox if you have any interest. Otherwise, I’ll just muse on how it’s going occasionally. Or not, if I completely implode and fall off the wagon, a la the mayor in Chocolat.



  • Melissa


    I hear ya! I am newly pregnant with our fourth and I hit where you are after our second. Just before I became pregnant with our third I started doing the same small changes bit, and I had the best pregnancy! I lost almost all of my weight within 2 weeks post partum, and the rest came off this past spring. Now I’m still heavier than I’d like (it was a baaadd summer and fall), but I’m not terrified, and am certain I can keep this pregnancy even more healthy than the last.

    I thought I’d give you a few of my tried and true (for me) notes. This spring I knew I wanted to lose weight. I was breastfeeding. Usually I cannot lose a pound while I nurse. In fact I struggle to not gain weight while nursing. My blood sugars are bouncing all over the place, I also struggle with PPD. So this past time I decided to forget calories and just eat what my good sense knew was good for my energy levels and PPD. I decided that after spending a few weeks just nourishing my body for my mental state I would then re consider my calorie content and go from there. Well… I did nothing but lose weight, while being full!

    I started each day off with the goal of 1) eating very healthy, with EXTRA healthy fats (ahem.. I consider organic butter, coconut oil, olive oil, milk fat to be healthy…) to offset my sleep depravation… I figured that if my body didn’t get sleep it needed something better.
    2) I tried to not be hungry between meals, by eating well enough at meals. So, I started my day off with a bowl of steel cut oats (better for balancing blood sugars over regular oats), one egg, or no oatmeal and two eggs, fried in butter, on whole wheat toast, with a slice or two of raw cheddar cheese and some tomato, plus some fruit. If I was really sleep deprived and was mega hungry I’d satisfy myself with a snack that was able to meet my energy requirements. Maybe some yogurt, with hemp hearts, or another hard boiled egg, something with some real substance. Lunchtime was a large salad topped with cooked beans (I used a quick cooking sprouted mix), some veggies, and a salad dressing that was homemade with healthy fats, oh yeah, and 1/4-1/2 a avocado. Usually lunch left me so stuffed… especially after my huge breakfast and morning snack, if I needed it. By 3pm I was maybe peckish… maybe? I would mix up some chickpea hummus for the week and if I thought I couldn’t make it to dinner, or would be too hungry at dinner time I’d have 1/4 cup of hummus with some veggies. Almost every night I was almost too full to eat dinner. I would eat a reasonable portion of whatever was for dinner… no special meals for me. I found that 8 nights out of 10 I would be at a comfortable ‘place’ by 7pm (we eat dinner at 5-5:30), where I was not hungry, not stuffed, just right. By 9 I could feel my stomach emptying, but I wasn’t hungry and most days like this I lost a healthy 1/4-1/2 lb!!! I originally just wanted to eat for my PPD, but instead lost weight! So, I guess in a nutshell, eat more earlier in the day. If you need extra calories, instead of fighting sugar cravings just have a good old piece of cheese, or something high in fat. don’t sweat it. The extra fat will save you from unhealthy sweet temptations. Oh yes, I also sipped tea 30 minutes before each meal with 1tbsp (that’s right… 3 tbsp a day) of coconut oil. The oil is a bit gross, but it washes down well with the tea. I found this really helped curved my hunger, keep my full longer. We also went months without getting sick while I was eating like this. I plan to use this same approach with my pregnancy to keep my weight healthy, and of course nourish this new little one. Oh yeah, coconut oil is great for breast milk production!
    Good luck. I hope this helps. I HATE dieting and PPD. Bah.

  • made for another world

    Caleh- girl, you are speaking to my heart in this post. I’ve struggled with weight- not horrible, 20 pounds or so for forever (30 years- I’m 41). I love that you are choosing 2 things to change each month. What a healthy attitude that will help you instill new habits. A few things that work for me:
    1- The Light Weigh by Susanne Fowler- It’s a Catholic weight loss program. I wonder if there is one near you because of Ave Maria. I’ve never joined a group because there isn’t one near by and I don’t want to start one. I have all the materials though. Beautiful program. Her thing is wait until you are hungry- when your stomach is growling. Then, eat a mugful of food. It sounds like that’s not a lot of food but, believe me, it’s enough. When I follow this, the weight falls off and I’m never hungry for long. It can be a little tricky to time with meal times with kids, but with practice and flexibility it can be done/modified. Her program is so much more than weight loss- it’s lots of Catholic teaching which much of you probably already know (I didn’t when I started).
    2- Cutting out the sugar, fat, salt foods- see this book-
    I read about this triangle and I got so mad. I realized food is an addiction for me and I can’t eat these foods. Maybe one day I can reintroduce them. For now though, I act like an addict when I have even a bite. My husband had the same problem and went a year without eating these types of food and now can eat them a few times a week with
    3- Confessing gluttony- not popular and not fun but after years and years, it has decreased my occasion of sin. In this culture it’s hard to even discern if you are being gluttonous because normal eating is so out of whack. I figure if I’m overweight and I’m not losing weight because I’m eating too much (I know in my heart if that’s the case) then I’m being gluttonous and I confess it.

    Anyway- I will look forward to your posts (I always do anyway!)- this is a much needed series!

    • TracyKM

      Please don’t cut out fat! Fat is so important to our health, especially for mood/mental functioning. Fat is filling, doesn’t raise blood sugar levels (which releases insulin which tells the body to hold onto fat), and is an important nutrient. Read “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes. The war on fat was based on faulty and misreported research, and decisions made by politicians who chose to ignore the recommendations of scientists!

  • TracyKM

    Have you read “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes (I hate the title!). It’s an awesome book. Some people swear by just going cold-turkey, all or nothing, Atkins induction, etc, but I did a gradually shift to low-carb, high fat. I lost my GERD, “genetic” hypertension, “genetic” hyperlipidemia, most arthritis pain, headaches, mood issues. Got off several meds include hypertension meds that I had been on for 15 years. I highly recommend low carb/high fat. It’s not about how many calories we eat, but about what type of calories we eat. I don’t force the rest of my family to be low carb, but I do try to push it :) The results have been so quick and fabulous that it’s easy to stick with. I don’t deprive myself of anything (even seconds), but I make sure that it’s low carb….I eat pancakes, brownies, ice cream, chocolate, etc. Just modified :) No exercise needed, either. Studies have shown that while exercise is great for cardio health, it’s not that beneficial for weight loss. Yeah, having more muscles does mean you burn more fuel (I don’t use the word calorie—a calorie is the measure of energy released when a food is burned in a test tube, and that’s NOT how our bodies work!), but to make a real difference, you have to have a LOT of muscles. I’d recommend HIIT instead of 30 min. jogging though as it does give a great workout that suits our busy lives better than being able to jog for 30 minutes straight.

    • calahalexander

      No worries, Tracy! I am all about high fat/low carb. I know that most of my issues with mood and energy right now are because I’ve been eating way too many carbs and sweets in the last year. I’m trying to slowly go back to high fat/low carb. In my opinion, butter, eggs, coconut oil, animal fat, etc. are the healthiest things I can eat! It’s just working to cut out the carbs and sugar, which is hard b/c we’re on such a strict budget that I’ve been using bread, pasta, rice and stuff as fillers. Meat is really expensive. But I’m trying to figure out how to re-vamp our budget so that we’re spending more on meat and hopefully less on medications as a result of our shifting diet. I haven’t read that book but I would love to. Nourishing Traditions really shifted the way I think about food. As far as jogging, I like it because it always jump-starts my weight loss at the beginning, and I find that running more than any other activity boosts my mood. I think it’s a combination of the endorphin release and getting outside the house for some peace and quiet first thing in the morning. After about two or three months of jogging I’ll either switch to a high intensity interval workout or add one, or alternate, so I don’t plateau. And honestly, at the beginning for me at least running is pretty high intensity and interval, because I can hardly run for more than a half-mile at a time.

  • Beth Turner

    I’d love to hear about your progress! Self-restraint is something I’ve been working hard on too, during my third (most recent pregnancy) and now post-partum.