-20 lbs? And without a diet…

For some reason, I hopped on the scale two evenings ago. Something I hadn’t done in at least six months, maybe more.

That’s right. At the end of the day. Fully clothed.

I seem to have shed 20 lbs since last fall. My first thought? If this keeps up, I could lose another 20 by next summer…

Because I lost it gradually—with zero dieting.

I was slowed down last summer, after tearing my meniscus while gardening. Yes, gardening! Trust me, I still take a beating from my kids over this one. They have a lot of fun with it.

The knee injury gave me a different outlook. I am one of those people who are always moving. And suddenly, I could hardly walk.

After my knee surgery, I was able to walk normally again. I had really missed being able to walk. Such a simple thing that I now appreciate more than I ever have.

I began walking my puppy in the woods again. Not to punish my body, or to whip it into compliance with my ideallook. More to get fresh air, to enjoy the fact that I could again. (And it is always good to tire out a puppy.)

Gracie Puppy after her walk...

Is there anything more magical than being outdoors?

It is ironic that I spent my 20’s and 30’s trying to beat my body into submission via exercise and diet. I was a member of Weight Watchers many (into the double digits) times over the years. I cut out all carbs, and then slowly added some back in using an Atkins like program. Then cut them out again, if the scale told me to.

For a long time, I got up at 5am, left the house at 5:30am to get to 6am High Impact Step Aerobics classes in the 90s. I returned home in time for my then husband to head off to work and with two babies waking up ready to begin the day.

I’ve had many gym memberships over the years—mainly for the winter. When I tired of the step aerobics, I began running outside. I’ve always liked to run. (Still do, but I don’t want to risk hurting my knee…) I ran a few miles each evening, weather permitting—who am I kidding, I ran when it was not permitting! Then did longer 5-mile runs sometimes. In the winter, I would hit the gym. Because I am easily bored I would start with the treadmill, then move to the elliptical…and so on until I had been a gerbil for about an hour. Followed by the weight circuit for toning. Sit-ups. Push ups.

Because I lived in a neighborhood and had young children, we went on bike rides on and off all day long. And I realized that if I put on my rollerblades, it was the Perfect pace to keep up with my maniac son as he rode—and he rode a bike without training wheels at 2 and could ride all day. He was (and still is) full of energy. Those living in the neighborhood made fun of me as I rolled by throughout the day…sometimes for the fourth, or fifth time.

Anybody who has raised a busy boy, will understand…

Either keep them moving and tired, or lose your mind when they bang around the house. And I do mean bang…hockey pucks slapped into doors, he back-flipped off of beds and frequently, accidentally sent breakables crashing to the ceramic tiles.

As for my eating habits. Tiny oatmeal packet and fat free yogurt for breakfast. For lunch? Turkey on low fat bread (no mayo) and fruit. Leftover grilled chicken over a salad. Good Seasons dressing with no oil in the mix…just extra water and vinegar. Grilled lean meat such as chicken or London broil for dinner. Steamed veggies. Baked potato with some pepper on it. Snacks? Fruit, Smart Pop Popcorn, another yogurt with a tiny handful of pretzels. Get the idea…

And when I was cutting out carbs…an egg white omelet with veggies for breakfast. Lean lunchmeat rolled in a lettuce leaf for lunch. Veggies and lean meats for dinner. Without the carbs, the body is never hungry. But eventually, it becomes impossible to keep such specialty meals going. And when the scale creeps up and one goes back to the strict two weeks, it stops working in the way it first did. I rolled this way for about two years.

As I’ve slid into 40, I am just too old to live like that anymore.

I want to enjoy my life. Eat popcorn at the movies or a football game. I want to have cake at a birthday party. I want to have a grilled hot dog and potato salad at a summer picnic and turkey and regular mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving. And I think we can all agree that the mashed potato’s made from cauliflower aren’t bad—just not the same. (At least the recipes I tried many years ago…)

So how did I shave off 20 pounds???

I relaxed my standards and stopped worrying about it. It isn’t about ‘looking’ a certain way, more about being comfortable in my own skin.

A wise woman (actually a therapist I saw a handful of times while getting divorced) once told me that my weight would settle into where it wanted to be. That the extra pounds would come off when it was ready to. Or when I was ready, I suppose.

After my surgery, I walked in the woods a few times a week through the fall. And I ate normally, adding in healthy things that I like. I noticed my clothes felt a bit looser through the holidays. I kept walking sporadically when I could in the winter, which was not nearly that much due to our snowy winter in Northeast Ohio…

As spring approached, last years shorts were loose. Hallelujah! When does that happen?

With the nicer weather came more walks. And these are not ‘death march’ style walks. Many days, I take the dog and shuffle along the beach for however long I feel like it. An hour, an hour and a half…I don’t time it. I simply walk until I am done and ready to go home.

The sand and terrain is uneven, so it seems to have strengthened my knee. I constantly bend down to pick up beach glass or a cool rock—and come home with pocketfuls. Kinda like a lunge, or a squat right??

And I am incessantly throwing sticks or a ball for the dog to swim out and fetch. Would that be considered arms? There is a huge hill that I have to walk up and down to get to the  beach…it no longer makes me breathless.

This is ‘my time.’ Pleasant time passed in reflection, or sometimes not thinking at all. Just relaxing my body and mind. I cannot miss my ‘outside time.’ I need it. Even in the winter, I will go out and shovel the walk to get fresh air. Though I have a teenage son, I sometimes mow the lawn just to be moving outdoors.

As for my eating habits, it’s hard not to enjoy all the fresh fruit and veggies in the summer. And I have. If I want something, I have it. I just don’t have a mass amount of it. I have a slice of cake—not 3 slices. I love dessert. I try to love it a couple of times a week, not everyday. And the odd thing is that having lifted my restrictions and giving myself permission to have what I want, I often want what is healthy for me anyway!

I think what tipped the scale a few extra pounds to minus twenty was giving up Diet Coke.  What’s amusing is that I gave it up because it was too expensive to keep it in the house with the teenagers drinking it. It simply wasn’t in my budget. Plus, I hated to pass on my addiction to the teenage set. And I wasn’t about to drink something in front of them, while and telling them not to—or that it wasn’t good for them. I have never been on board with the “do as I say, not as I do” style parenting.

Day three with no caffeine left me with a screaming migraine…it wasn’t’ pretty. But it has almost been two weeks and I don’t even want it anymore.

Which is insane when I think of the times I rolled out of bed to find we were out of Diet Coke, immediately got dressed and headed to the store for my ‘fix.’ That annoyed me, as well.

Water is free and making fresh brewed tea is cheap.

What’s next for me? I’ve wanted to add Pilates back into my life for a while. I enjoyed it when I took Pilates classes years ago.

And I’ve been thinking of getting a bike for several months. Because I loved biking when I took several bike rides a day when the children were little. And I used to ride my bike to work when I had a part time job at the local Recreation Office near my house. And to the local library. Very relaxing to feel the rhythm of your feet turning the pedals. There is a reason children love to ride bikes!!

Plus, I recetnly leaned that biking is a good way to strengthen the knees. And I am all about anything that helps me avoid hurting one of my knees again.

I’ve admitted that my first thought when I saw the number on the scale was losing more.

My second thought? Screw that. I am going to enjoy how I feel today.

And that is just what I did yesterday when I packed for vacation. I am taking some of my favorite clothing to Hilton Head tomorrow. Most of it two sizes down from where I was at last year.

It always baffled me that people lived without scales. That they claimed to ‘listen’ to their bodies and how they felt in their clothes. I always felt that was a load of crap.

Now I’m not so sure.

I guess time will tell…

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About Amy Lauria

Artist. Writer. Single Parent of two college students. Beach Walker. Dog owner who walks outdoors to maintain sanity. Into shiny objects, vacations, glitter, cupcakes, sports, and my beloved sticks, stones and beach glass.
This entry was posted in The other Side of 40. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to -20 lbs? And without a diet…

  1. D. J. Hickok says:

    Excellent philosophy on balancing exercise, diet, and food enjoyment! Just think you can walk the wonderful beaches of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, enjoy the ocean and seafood. Thus you have accomplished your newest diet stategy. Awesome!!
    Once again a fine commentary!

    dj hickok

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