Friday, May 21, 2010

On Losing Weight Without Even Trying

I recently spent five days in Dallas for a conference. While I learned so much about the Technical Communication field and what other tech communicators are doing, I spent a good deal of my time in Dallas, socializing, eating, drinking and enjoying myself.

And yet I didn't gain a pound.

That's right. I chose whatever I wanted off the menu, ate until I was completely satisfied, enjoyed a few alcoholic beverages and only got to the fitness center two mornings of the five I was there, but I didn't gain any weight. In fact, I lost three pounds.

At first, I was totally shocked by this turn of events. After all, I hadn't been obsessing about workouts or counting every calorie (or any calories, for that matter). I wasn't eating fruit and salads all day long. I didn't refuse a glass of wine with dinner or a beer at the social gatherings.

As I thought about it more, though, I had a light-bulb moment. If I could lose weight in Dallas, surrounded by food and drink and so busy I didn't have time to get to the gym, then surely I could do it at home. But what was it about those five days that made possible? After some careful evaluation, here's what I came up with:

  1. I was walking everywhere. I wore my Gruve the entire time, and it turns out that I was burning so many calories my Green Goal increased twice by the time I got home from 10 days of traveling.
  2. I made healthy choices at most meals, but didn't deprive myself of treats. I may have had a few fries, a bagel for breakfast, or cream sauce on my cheesy enchiladas, but I balanced it out with salads, fruit, sushi and other tasty, but healthier, meals and snacks.
  3. I wasn't snacking all day and when I did eat, I was paying attention. While I carried a couple of healthy snacks with me at all times, I was too busy to think about eating them between meals. When we finally sat down to a meal, I was enjoying the dishes (and the company) so much that I ate them much more mindfully than I might at home on my couch.
  4. I was happy and less stressed. I was meeting new people, having stimulating conversations, learning new things and all-around enjoying myself. High happiness and low stress makes Ami less of an emotional eater.
In almost perfect contrast, I spent the four days following my Dallas trip in NY with my family for Grampy's burial. Enter long car trips and gas station snacks; comfort food available almost 24/7; plenty of pizza, chips and donuts; emotional turbulence; a bit of family drama; and less exercise due to a busy schedule and cold weather. Those three pounds I lost in Dallas quickly returned.

This made it even clearer to me that I can stay fit and healthy if I:
  • fit activity in wherever I can
  • eat well and allow myself occasional treats
  • eat snacks only when I really need them
  • am mindful during meals and enjoy what I'm eating
  • can manage stress with exercise and enjoyable activities
  • surround myself with people, things and activities that make me happy
Being healthy, and even losing weight, is about so much more than just counting calories and sweating it out on the treadmill. I've always heard this, maybe even knew it to some extent, but I've finally got my own proof that it's true. I feel like I've turned a corner in this journey and I don't ever want to look back.


Jamie Gillenwater said...

Glad you enjoyed the company in Dallas! It was easier to be healthy while relaxing than while going through the daily grind. I am sorry to hear about your Grampy.

I started working out again on Mother's Day by walking with my mom. Since then, I have been to the gym 8 times in two weeks, which is a great improvement after not going for over a month.

Thanks for the inspiration to get moving again!

Ami said...

Of course I enjoyed the company. You were all so awesome! Thanks for your sympathy, and I'm so glad I could be a bit of inspiration. :)

aarbaugh said...

Sorry to hear about your Grampy. I hope the family is doing well. Thanks for the info about losing weight. I start my at-home vacation today and will use this post as incentive!

Unknown said...

Ami,congrats! I'm so glad you've "turned the corner." that's wonderful and I'm proud of you. Yay!

Ami said...

aarbaugh - Thanks for the sympathy and good luck with your own workout routine!

Erin - Thank you. :) It's always going to be something I deal with, but I really do feel like I've had that "Aha!" moment.

Mel said...

What a great post! I like how you dug deeper to figure out why you lost the weight. I've really been struggling lately and been very frustrated with myself. I know what I'm doing {eating junk and not exercising} but for the life of me I can't get out of the rut. Maybe I need to relax more and just start by making my healthy choices again! Thanks for making me think.

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