You have lost weight! What is your secret?!

‘What is your secret to losing weight and reversing type 2 diabetes?’

One of the top 5 question I get asked. Right up there with ‘Do you wear underwear with your bike shorts?’ (No, BTW… More in another post.)

I hate to be the killjoy… But there is no secret to losing weight.

None. 

No one seems to want to hear the honest answer.  They think they do until I tell them. Then they typically shake their head, cross their arms and tell me why it can not work for them…

Eat less. Move more. 

This honest, simple answer is NOT the sexy, cool, fun, easy answer people are hoping to hear. But it IS the answer.

I looked for the ‘secret’ for years.  I tried everything I could to avoid the answer I knew was looming there all along…

EAT LESS CRAP and GET YOUR BUTT MOVING.

What do I think about this pill, commercial programs complete with packaged food, or elimination of entire food groups? They are all gimmicks or lies or at best, half-truths. Sorry. Marketers and businesses are savvy and they know people desperately want promises of lasting success with very little work needed. Magic sells a whole hell of a lot better than hard work.

I also get asked for my thoughts on gastric bypass surgery. My doctor pushed me to consider it. My BMI was 61. I was the ideal candidate physically. In the process of learning more about it, I began to understand surgery was not going to solve my problem. Surgery could not really fix WHY I got fat. If I was going to lose weight and KEEP IT OFF, I  had to start with changing my brain and life-long habits. Surgery was not for me.

My complete overhaul started in July 2011. I started eating less and making smarter food choices. Ditched fast food. Measured portions. Counted calories. Wrote down everything I ate. Sweets were banned. (It remains a trigger for me; this continues to be a self-imposed restriction.) Leaner cuts of meat. Quit eating in my car. Being intentional and mindful about my eating experiences. Then, when the weight started to come off, I started walking. Walking. Walking.  Basic stuff.

All of this becomes vastly more complicated when you include T2 diabetes in the mix.

While working to lose weight, get off of insulin and cement new habits I still had lows or highs that HAD to be adjusted. We were being VERY careful with the ‘exit plan’ for getting off of insulin, but I had been warned ‘wild’ blood sugars were going to happen. The adjustments I needed to make sometimes threw my entire eating and activity plan for the day out the window.  It was intensely frustrating and confusing at times. Going back to my old ways was a seriously appealing idea on more than a few occasions. Not gonna lie.

I remember trying to run one time when I was low.  I didn’t want to eat the carbs/calories I needed to adjust my blood sugar. In my mind, I hadn’t ‘saved’ enough calories for even a handful of jelly beans that day. I refused to skip the run; I was starting to really love running. And I really, really didn’t want to have to explain all of this to Spencer, my brand-new running coach.

I showed up cranky and disoriented and argumentative. My running partners, Josh and Joe, quickly figured out I was low. The way I remember the incident is that they threatened to shove jelly beans somewhere jelly beans didn’t belong if I did not immediately and voluntarily eat some sugar. The jelly beans put me over my calorie allotment for the day.  I was pissed at my predicament and slightly pissed at them for making me correct it. I was worried about calories and weight loss which is the last thing I, the diabetic, should have been worried about with out-of-whack blood glucose.  They were right.  I was wrong.  I am extremely lucky they were looking out for me.

It turned out to be a really, really good lesson in diabetes management and friendship.

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Joe Van V., Tour de Cure 2014 for Diabetes. Joe was my training partner for  an endurance Tri/Duathlon and Century. (100 mile bike ride!) He’s a FREAKING Ironman!
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Josh Gum, the man who put the idea of an Ultra in my head close to 3 years ago. Ironman and badass ultra runner. Josh and his wife Wendie have each lost a lot of weight, kept it off and embraced an entirely new, healthy lifestyle and mind set in the process.

Managing all of these pieces is hard to do. No doubt about it. Eat less. Move more. Manage blood sugar. There are NO secrets or shortcuts. While that kind of sucks — it’s also a form of freedom if you choose to view it that way…

There no absolutes about what life and a path to success looks like on a daily basis with diabetes in the mix. That’s OK! Stay focused on getting it as right as you can, as often as you can with what works best FOR YOU.

I was upset at having to correct a bad low in the middle of the night with soda and candy early on my journey to get off of insulin. I saw this as a total defeat in my effort to revamp my eating. Even though all I was doing was adjusting a low… (Low blood sugar brain can be really mean and snarky!) Once my blood sugar was normal and my brain was working again my dad told me:

“Get this as right as you, as often as you can. You’ll make progress. Re-focus on the very next step you need to take to reach your bigger goal. You are doing all the right things. Your body just has to figure out how to work with you now that you are getting healthy.”

There is no secret. I’m really sorry to burst your bubble.

This business of losing weight and cementing the habits needed to keep it off is some of the hardest work you will ever do.

And as it turns out, some of the best, most rewarding work you will ever do.

8 thoughts on “You have lost weight! What is your secret?!

  1. I am loving your blog. Thank you so much for starting it! I have lost 75 pounds using one of the packaged food weight loss plans you mentioned. Believe me, it’s still hard work – mostly mental. I agree with you, though, that eating less and moving more is the key to losing weight and keeping it off. I started running at the beginning of the summer, and am excited by where it has taken me so far. I look forward to learning more about your journey. You inspire me!

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    1. Teresa! YEAH! I love good success stories. Thank you for sharing! I love that you are also enjoying running. 🙂 Packaged food plans can work. No doubt. AS LONG as the person who chooses that route knows that at the core they HAVE to have learned new/changed their behavior once the program ends. Once the food-programming goes away, they have to be able to make decisions and choices consistently on their own. And RIGHT THERE, that’s the point where those programs fail most of the people I know. That’s where I failed each and every time. I could follow their plan, eat their food, BUT I personally hadn’t learned enough new behaviors on my own. I understand now that for me, personally, I was letting them do the work and hold my hand. I wish you MUCH continued success and joy and happiness with your weight loss and running journey. Please keep me posted. 🙂

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  2. Betsy – I appreciate your response, and I see the wisdom in what you have said. This weekend I went off program, and it’s not been pretty. It’s a reminder of how I used to eat, and it’s made me ask, “Have I learned nothing?!” You’ve given me good things to consider. I don’t ever want to go back to the horrible place I was when I was obese. Thank you for the straight talk.

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    1. I only have MY own personal experiences and those may not translate well for everyone. BUT for me, LIFE at its robust, crazy, adventuresome best is lived OFF program. The moments we’re healthy enough (physically and mentally) to grab and enjoy are exactly what I have been working toward. I feel like I finally reached a point in my life were I can live each day happily and eagerly and balanced — without fear of food, or fear of not being on a program or constantly thinking about my next food ‘move’. I can trust myself to make the food choices that are going to help my body feel good for the next adventure. MAN does that feel good! 3+ years into this most focused portion of the re-learning journey, and this is a new feeling for me. One that I am totally, utterly enjoying. 🙂 NOT to say I am not focused and consistent and intentional about my food choices each and every day, but I worked hard so I could be free for those off-program moments.

      I love that we are openly discussing this. Thank you for being honest. The ‘not going back to being obese’… TOTALLY get that panicky, determined feeling. Still fight with it often to be honest. I love my life. I do NOT want to go back. Ever. I think that edge of fear keeps us sharp and fighting. (It’s a good thing?!) PLEASE know you can email me anytime. I may not have an answer – but I can darn sure be a set of ears. 🙂

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