Sunday, January 9, 2011

Knowing when to ask for help

I turned 30 three weeks ago. Dear God, did I ever turn 30. ... Didn't take it well. I remember a time not so long ago when the idea of growing old was so far into the future that it wasn't even worth thinking about. I don't feel that way anymore, and it's making me seriously examine where I'm at in life, sort of letting it sink in that every day is precious and I'd better start making good use of my remaining youth.

The first thing that always comes to mind for me when self-relection kicks in is losing weight. I've been a yo-yo dieter since the age of 12. That means for the past 18 years I've been mindful of every single thing I've put into my mouth. Every Hot Tomale has been met with guilt, every Christmas cookie met with self-punishment.

I've been successful many times in losing a bunch of weight. But I've always done it by cutting calories to an unhealthy degree. I've done the 500 calorie per day diet; the eat whatever you want one day, then starve yourself every other day diet; the low-carb diet; the liquids only for two weeks diet; SlimFast; calorie counting; low-fat; low-sugar; as-much-fruit-as-you-want; etc., etc. etc. I know about every berry, every miracle pill. But what I haven't known is how to lose weight in a healthy way that is also permanent -- the dreaded phrase that all candy and cookie lovers hate to hear: lifestyle change.

So as all of this is going through my mind around my birthday, I was editing the article about Monte Meyer for Mankato Magazine. He is an MSU pastor who was 600 pounds 18 months ago and has lost 240 pounds and counting through eating right and exercising. In the article he made the decision to get help. He started working with a personal trainer, which was a big financial commitment, but one that was well worth it, he said. He also noted that he used to spend a significant amount of money on take-out, anyway, so now that money is being channeled into the trainer.

This really made sense to me. I've always been the type of person who had the "Back off, I've got this" kind of attitude with every task or challenge. Very independent. But after 18 years of failure, it's time to admit I can't do this by myself.

Enter my personal trainer at the Y. I won't mention her name until she says it's OK, but I started meeting with her last week, and she is absolutely what I need. Our first true session isn't until Monday morning (1-9), but she's already holding me accountable and giving me goals and deadlines, all of which I need.

She took my measurements, and I had to get on the Iron Man scale, which is so cool and scary. By sending a signal through one foot that goes through your body and out the other foot, it tells you your weight, body fat percentage, bone density, metabolic age and the minimum number of calories you should be consuming. My numbers were scary, but none more than my metabolic age. I won't give you an exact number (in fact, you won't be getting many numbers out of me at all!) but it was higher than my chronological age, that's for sure.

I considered day 1 of my journey last Monday, Jan. 3. I set my goals, did my first weigh-in, and hit the gym.
My trainer says ...
I have to workout 5 hours per week. I have to limit calories and keep a food journal. I have to drink 10 glasses of water per day. And I will meet with my trainer an hour on Mondays and Thursdays for cardio and strength-training, with cardio on my own on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and weekends if I don't make it to 5 hours during the week). My "last-chance workout" was today for week 1. I'm going to weigh-in every Monday morning, so I made sure to put in a full hour today.

I realize more than anything that accountability is what I've been lacking until now. I feel like I have someone to answer to now if I have a bad day. And I thought I'd broaden that sense of accountability by blogging about my journey here. Even if two or three of you check in to see if I'm sticking with it, that's a great motivator for me to keep going. And who knows, maybe I'll inspire someone the way Monte did for me. If I've learned anything the past 18 years it's that people like me are looking for any kind of motivator or inspiration to start and stick with it. It might be as small as a pair of jeans we used to fit into, or a boyfriend we want to look good for, or someone else in similar shoes who shows us it's possible.

I'm not going to lie, this is HARD. I hate exercise, and I love CANDY. Bad combination. But with help, I honestly feel like I can change my habits over the next year.

So maybe I'll see you at the gym! I'll be the one with the purple Hannah Montana water bottle (inside joke) and a look on my face like I'm barely clinging to life.


  1. Kudos to you for taking the step and getting a personal trainer. It's tough for anybody to make that kind of commitment. Good luck with the workouts!