Ejnw06 asked in a comment what I've been doing to lose weight. Let me preface all that will follow with the fact that, as I stated in the title to the post, I'm no authority on things fitness or weight loss. I should also preface this with the fact that I really love food, and I generally have tended to hate exercise.
As many of you know, I quit smoking in November, the day before thanksgiving. I had been a smoker for 10 years. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I gained 10 lbs. My clothes weren't fitting right. This was no good. One of the reasons that this was no good is that I'm not a tiny girl. I have the body of my Hungarian/Polish ancestors, which means that I've always been, as my mother horrifyingly put it throughout my adolescence, a "big girl." Now, I've never been what I'd call fat, but if I gain weight, I'm ever in danger of having to shop at plus-sized stores, which for me is the thing that drives me to any attempt at weight loss. Now, it's also important to note here that I've been carrying around about 20 lbs. extra weight since I began dissertating/began dating my ex-boyfriend. Thus, with the added weight of quitting smoking, I was NOT happy. I should also note that I tend to need to gain/lose a significant amount of weight in order for it to change my size significantly. I've ranged from a size 10 to a size 16 since I was 12 years old, and for the great majority of the time I've been a size 12-14. When I started this whole "new year, new me" program, I was threatening to bust out of size 16. The last time that I was in this predicament, I took up smoking and stopped eating. I also walked a ton because I didn't have a car. This was a) not wise and b) not something I wanted to try to do again.
Ok, so what I've done is nothing mysterious. I've been exercising 3-4 times a week (without fail) and I've been watching what I eat. I haven't in any way been fanatical, but more exercise (and before I was doing pretty much nothing) plus fewer calories is going to equal weight loss. Even if you cheat sometimes on the diet stuff, which I do. But let me be more specific.
Dr. Crazy's Exercise Plan:
First and foremost, I joined a gym. For me, this was entirely necessary, as I really can talk myself out of exercising and into a snack without much effort at all. By joining a gym, I increased my motivation to work out in three ways: 1) I'm wasting money if I don't go; 2) the people at my gym are really friendly and congratulatory about the fact that you are showing up regularly, and that makes me feel good; 3) As long as I go on my way home from work, I'm totally motivated to go, whereas if I am at home, the likelihood of my forcing myself to exercise is small indeed. On top of those three main things, the gym is a good thing for me because the machines time exactly how long one is working out, and I'm the kind of person who can cheat myself if I don't have a clock right in front of me (for example, if I go walking around my neighborhood I will lie to myself that I've gone farther or longer than I really have gone or I won't walk as fast as I might).
So, when I go to the gym, I work out solidly for 40 to 50 minutes. I always start out with the exercise bike, because the bike doesn't feel as much like working out to start because I'm sitting down. Also, I like to warm up with the bike. I usually ride the bike for about 10-15 minutes. From there, it depends on what I feel like doing. Now that I'm finally in shape to do it, I'm a huge fan of the elliptical, and I've been doing it for 30 mins after the bike. Then I'll walk on the treadmill to cool down for maybe 10 minutes. On days when I'm tired, I might do the elliptical for only 10-15 minutes and follow it up with walking on the treadmill for 20 minutes. On days when all of the elliptical machines are being used by others, I'll just do the treadmill for 30/45 minutes, with a combination of walking/running. NEVER have I worked out for more than an hour. NEVER have I worked out more than 4 days in a week. I'm going to start incorporating weight training in the coming weeks, but just for the toning up stuff - not because I have learned how to enjoy exercise. Exercising sucks, even if it does relieve stress (which I like).
Ok, so I began the new year with a modified version of the south beach diet. Modified because I didn't restrict myself quite as much as they tell you to (I didn't cut out carrots for example), but basically a diet of veggies and lean meats and some lowfat dairy. No bread. No potatoes. No fruit. It was rough, but it did get me off of the carb/sugar habit that had dominated my diet since quitting smoking. That lasted for two weeks. Because I didn't follow it precisely, I lost only 5 lbs. in that first two weeks (they say that during phase one you can expect to lose 9-14 lbs.). After that first two weeks, I could then start adding back in some "good" carbs, like whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, fruit, etc. As soon as I entered phase two, I was fine in terms of feeling like I'm not even on a diet. Yes, I've had to pay more attention to what I'm shoving in my mouth, but I like what I'm eating, and I don't feel deprived. Also, I really enjoy cooking, and this means I have to cook, so it actually forces me to do something that I like to do, which I need sometimes.
I cheat one day a week and I eat whatever I want. What I've found is that I don't tend to eat as much of the bad stuff because I'm so used to eating well, even on the day when I'm "allowed" to cheat.
Crucial to my success with all of the diet stuff has been the following:
1) I pack myself a healthy lunch every single day.
2) I try to eat breakfast every morning, but if I don't I bring an apple or something to eat so that I don't gorge myself later in the day.
3) I don't keep crap food in the house. If it's in the house, I will eat it.
4) 100-calorie packages of microwave popcorn.
8) diet cherry coke.
9) not really drinking alcohol.
10) I don't want to eat garbage after I work out.
I suppose having done all of this for a month and a half I'd say the benefits are these: My skin looks great, I get amazing sleep at night, I have a ton more energy, and I'm much less stressed out (not only because of exercising but also because cooking relaxes me). Again, I'm no doctor (well, unless you count being a doctor of philosophy) and I've got no real secrets to impart. But this is what I've been doing, and it's working, so there you have it.