How I Gained (And Lost) More Than 20 Pounds

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Too much

By Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN. Originally published by US News & World Report 

As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I’ve worked with hundreds of people who struggle with their weight. But for most of my life, I couldn’t really relate.

Since college, I’ve weighed 125 pounds – save the 40 pounds I gained (and lost) with each pregnancy. I’ve also always been active – I played varsity basketball in high school, worked out at my gym regularly in college and started working out with trainers afterward. Since then, I’ve fed my competitive spirit by joining several United States Tennis Association leagues. I’ve also always had healthy, but not perfect, eating habits. (I can’t say no to milk chocolate and ice cream!).

But then, last year at my annual physical, I learned something startling: I had gained 24 pounds and my cholesterol was up. What gives?

The answer goes back to when I was 39 years old and came to realization that I was not in a healthy marriage. I ended up going through a tumultuous divorce. Cue anxiety, stress and all the unhealthy behaviors – poor sleep, lack of exercise and unhealthy eating – that often come with major negative life changes. My divorce lasted two and a half years, and much of that time I focused on the security of my future and children – not on taking care of myself.

That physical was my wake-up call. At 41 years old, I did not want to hear that heart disease was staring me in the face, so I took a step back and was determined to lose weight. The journey was tougher than I expected, but I knew that if I was going to keep off the weight, I needed to lose it slowly and healthfully.

With a lot of hard work on my eating, exercise, sleep and stress, I finally managed to lose 21 of those 24 pounds in a year. I’m hoping to shed those last few pounds in the upcoming weeks. My journey was frustrating and challenging, but ultimately successful. If you’re trying to lose weight too, here are five tips I found to be the most helpful:

1. Keep the junk out.

I love ice cream and milk chocolate-covered raisins and nuts, but I kept these foods out of my house. Instead, I stocked up on fresh fruit and vegetables, nonfat plain Greek yogurtand string cheese.

2. Up the veggies.

Even a dietitian needs a reminder to add more veggies. I knew what I should be doing, but it was a matter of following through. I added more salads, fresh sliced vegetables and cooked veggie sides to all of my meals. I reminded myself of the Choose My Plate visual to always fill half my plate with veggies, which filled me up and kept me satisfied.

3. Drink no-calorie beverages.

I am an iced tea fanatic, but I stopped adding any sweetener or mixing it with lemonade, and now drink it black instead. I also restarted the habit of carrying around a reusable water bottle with me to make sure I was fully hydrated, especially before and after my tennis matches and frequent flights for work.

4. Get back to meal prep.

I got back to good old planning and home cooking, which I had been doing for years. Planning my meals and snacks for the week helped me stay focused on having healthy foods available and helped me avoid take-out. It also didn’t hurt that I wrote my second cookbook, “The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook,” while on my weight-loss journey. I heeded my own advice and drew inspiration and motivation from my recipes and written thoughts.

5. Join a gym.

I don’t like the gym, but when it’s cold outside, I realized I wasn’t active enough. On December 30, I joined my local Equinox and took on a trainer who has been awesome. Since I can only afford a trainer once a week, he planned out a weight training regimen I can do on my own time. I also attend the mat Pilates class and, when I have time, I will try out new classes like boxing or barre. When it’s raining and I need some cardio, I’ll pop in and go on the treadmill.

The bottom line? I am a dietitian and know exactly what I should be doing. Once I made the decision to take on the hard work, it paid off and I am almost back to my ideal weight. If I can shed the weight, so can you.

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