Work in Progress Amy: It’s going to take some time

Welcome to the next installment of the Work in Progress series!  These are interviews with courageous folks who are just starting off on their weight loss journey.  Amy is a stay-at-home mom who wants to lose about 150 pounds.  When I talk to people who want to lose a lot of weight there are certain attitudes I look for to gauge how successful I think they might be.  One of those attitudes is PATIENCE.  Weight loss takes a long time and so many people don’t realize this.  The diet industry has sold us on the idea of quick fixes, but the quick fix mentality undermines success, time and time again.  If you expect to reach your goals quickly, you will perceive a normal course of weight loss as a failure.  Amy says repeatedly throughout her interview how she realizes her goals will take some time to accomplish.  I admire her patience because it will be one of the keys to her success.  Let’s cheer her on!

Name: Amy

Age: 36 (soon to be 37 in June)

What do you do for a living? I am a stay at home mom

How much do you weigh now? I am 375 pounds and 5′ 9.5″ (it pains me to even write that down!)

How much weight do you want to lose? This is hard for me to answer. I want to lose as much weight as I can but I also want to be comfortable with myself. I want to be healthy but not overly obsessed with a number. For the time being I am focusing on 150 pounds. I know I will need to lose more than that (possibly 50+ more pounds)… but for the time being 150 pounds is the goal I am focusing on. I will focus on more weight after I reach that goal!

WHY do you want to lose this much weight? So I can have a more active lifestyle. So I don’t have to worry about if I will fit in a chair/booth anymore. So I can swing with my daughters at the park and not worry about if I will be able to fit. So I can travel with my husband and not worry about whether or not the airplane seat will be big enough. So I can take a walk and not even think “how much farther”.  Just to name a few reasons.

How would you feel if you lost half this amount but kept it off forever? Gosh… my first reaction was that I would feel happy. After giving it more thought though I feel like losing half of what my main goal is just isn’t enough. I feel like I would be settling.

WHY do you want to lose weight at all? First and foremost I want to be healthy. My mother has type 2 diabetes and I feel like I am looking in to a crystal ball when it comes to my future. I am tired of being tired. I want to set a great example for my two daughters. I want them to see me trying hard and achieving my goals. I want to live a better life and toting around all of this extra weight is depressing.

On a scale from 0 (no confidence at all) to 10 (extremely confident), how confident are you that you can lose the weight? Truly, today is a 10. I worked out this morning and I feel like I can accomplish anything when I am done. On the days I am left to my own devices I waiver. I have a daunting road ahead of me. I find that if I focus too much on the actual number of pounds I have to lose, I feel VERY overwhelmed. Where as if I focus on being healthy, accepting the fact that this is going to take time, day by day, meal by meal…I am very confident!

On a scale from 0 (not at all difficult) to 10 (extremely difficult), how difficult will it be to lose this weight? I am going to give it a 6. Working out is hard work for the time being because not only am I challenging my body.. but I also have so much weight literally weighing me down. I have such a long road ahead of me and I am hoping that in time I will be stronger and able to exercise to my full potential.

What motivates you the most? The scale.

How long do you think it will take you to lose this much weight? I don’t even know how to answer this question. In all honesty, I don’t want to set a time limit on this journey. Like any normal person I want the weight to be gone as soon as possible. I also want to keep things realistic. 150 pounds is a lot to lose!

If you have already started your journey, tell us a little about how things have been going so far. I have started working out with Heather Baker at GH2 Fitness (http://gh2fitness.com/). Going to the gym on my own left a lot to be desired. I often felt like I didn’t know what I was doing or I didn’t really push myself. Reaching out to Heather and having her help me work out to the best of my ability has been one of the best decisions I have made in 2012. I am also religiously using the My Fitness Pal app on my phone (I also log in on my computer).

How much weight, if any, have you lost so far? 10 pounds so far (I started working out with Heather on February 21st)

If you have tried to lose weight before and you either didn’t lose much or you gained it back, what went wrong? In years past I have tried Weight Watchers and have never loved the program. I really struggled and ultimately stopped going. 4 years ago I joined a private gym in my town and worked with a personal trainer. I was having great success but ultimately had to stop because I became pregnant with my second child and had severe sciatica (and then continued to gain weight). After my daughter was born I started going to the Y in Worcester but wasn’t seeing any results whatsoever.. so yet again, I stopped going. I basically need someone working out beside me or cheering me on. My eating habits had a tremendous amount to do with my not being able to lose. Going to the gym and then coming home and over eating didn’t do me any favors.

What is the hardest part about losing weight for you? Having self control. It is very hard for me to stop at one or two cookies…. one helping at a meal… ice cream on the weekends because that is what everyone else is doing… eating what is left on my children’s plates. It makes me feel embarrassed to even admit such things. So many people can shut themselves off or say “enough for now.” I have a hard time with that.

Tell us about your diet. What is the toughest part about dieting? Curbing my sweet tooth and not eating as many bread products. I have not become obsessive about not eating those two items but I truly keep them in check. I feel a little nervous about going out to eat… so many options and so few nutritional values available.

Tell us about your exercise. At the moment I work out two mornings a week with Heather from GH2 fitness. It is a 30 minute Metabolic Conditioning work out. It is hard work! I have to admit that I feel like I can do anything when I am done! As soon as I join the gym (after a few more weeks of personal training to get me familiar with the vast array of exercises) I will go 3 to 4 mornings a week.

Tell me about your relationship with exercise? Love it, hate it, on again/off again? I used to LOATHE it. It was a painful horrendous chore. I honestly really enjoy it now. There are times where I think I am never going to move again (trying to lift my arms after a hard work out is comical!) but I look forward to it each week.

If you hate exercise, which exercise do you hate the LEAST?  Walking on the treadmill….I feel like I could fall asleep doing so!

Who has been helpful to you on your weight loss journey? My family and friends. Heather, the trainer I work out with. She is awesome. I walk in to her gym and there is never any question of whether or not I can accomplish my goal. I feel like she believes in me and will be there to support me. I feel lucky.

What part of the whole process do you need the most help with most? Not feeling overwhelmed about how much I have to lose. It is a daunting number. I also feel very nervous when we go out to eat.

What questions would you like to ask to people who have lost the weight and kept it off? How does it feel to walk in to a clothing store and buy off of the rack 🙂 I haven’t been able to do that for 7 years! Seriously though… do you ever feel bad habits creeping back in? How do you stay on track? Talk to me about your skin… when you lost the weight, did your skin bounce back?

I asked Dani Holmes-Kirk @irisheyes1982 Real Life Biggest Loser.  I actually just did a blog post about that very question – old habits. (http://www.weightoffmyshoulders.com/2012/03/out-of-control/) I’m having that issue now that I have more of my trigger foods around as well as more time on my hands. So I am working on developing NEW strategies to help me in those situations. I am currently trying out: 1) eating to the clock – setting a schedule of eating times when I am at home and more susceptible to “grazing” or “boredom eating”; 2) keeping gum on hand for those times I’m not sure whether I am hungry or not and 3) do I want this enough to track it and show my friends (does that make sense)?  So when it comes to staying on track in those situations, I don’t always – I am human. But, I am learning and trying out new ways to tackle those tricky situations. I am also keeping my accomplishments in the forefront of my mind to show how far I have come … and to remind myself that I Am Stronger Than I Think I Am.  Skin is a toughy. For me, I have a lot of excess skin in my stomach area. But, others do not. I think it depends on the person. I am working towards doing more weight/core training to work on tightening up the skin I have. But, for now, I am just dealing with it and saying at least it doesn’t have all the fat behind it that it used to. 🙂

I also asked Mike Bauman @mbfgmike Real Life Biggest Loser.  Yes, I always feel the bad habits creeping back in, they are mostly food-related.  I think a weekly weigh in is necessary to notice when things are getting out of control.  The scale doesn’t lie, it will tell me about my bad habits before I realize they crept back in.  I go to MyFitness Pal and religiously login for about a week until I’m more under control.   I am a candy junkie, and so occasionally I begin to notice that I go from eating a little here and there to more and more, to eating it everyday or even more than once a day.  When that happens I know I need to reign it in for a while. I started #candyfree on Twitter to make a public commitment to giving up candy for 1-2 weeks at a time to “reset” my candy clock back to zero.  Others have joined me and some even do #dessertfree as well so that a candy habit doesn’t turn into a dessert habit.  The purpose is not to give these foods up forever but as way to stop an out of control habit.

What questions would you like to ask me? How do you feel about low fat versus regular products. Is it better to search out low fat products (even though they can contain artificial ingredients) or to stay with regular (and eat sparingly)? How do you feel about a Paleo type diet? Pros? Cons?

Your best diet is the one you can stick to forever.  So if you feel like you can go Paleo, you enjoy it more than other ways of eating, and it’s easy to stick to, then definitely go for it.  If it makes you feel restricted and is hard to stick to then you are setting yourself up for failure.  In terms of low-fat products, I agree checking the ingredients is best.  Often fat is replaced by sugar which is not better.  The logic behind a low-fat diet is that by reducing fat you are reducing calories because fat has more calories gram-for-gram than carbohydrates and protein.  If two products are matched in calories, then the only reason to choose low-fat is if the fat in the product is saturated or trans fat, neither of which are good for your heart health.

If we want to follow your journey, how do we find you? Sadly I do not have a website or blog.  I guess I will have to leave people in suspense until the next check in 🙂

Good luck Amy!  Join all of us including the Works in Progress and Real Life Biggest Losers on Twitter so we can cheer you on!

p.s.  Since Amy completed this interview a few weeks ago she has already lost 20 pounds!

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8 Comments

  1. Amy says:

    I just wanted to add that people can follow me on Myfitnesspal if they would like. My screen name is aec23. Thanks so much for sharing my story 🙂

  2. julie says:

    Wow, good luck, Amy! I’m glad to hear she’s down with patience, as it is slow. I had to lose 60, and it feels like it took forever, hell, it took over a month to even lose my first pound. Retraining eating habits is a multifactorial task, but essential. Anyway, as your biggest losers say, i agree on the portion creep, and especially with the candy, like Mike. I hate that it’s everywhere around the office, makes it hard to resist, but just one a day seem okay. A coworker hasn’t had “sweets” since the beginning of the year. It’s not even a weight thing for him, just a resolution.

  3. Amy, thank you for sharing your story!! You can do this!!

  4. Amy – You have an incredible attitude and a great outlook! Thanks for sharing your story. You can do this!

  5. Hello, Amy, nice to meet you…
    Two things that you said really struck a chord with me, and they were actually almost the same thing, which means (to me) that they strike a chord with you, too:
    “Truly, today is a 10. I worked out this morning and I feel like I can accomplish anything when I am done.”
    and,
    “I have to admit that I feel like I can do anything when I am done!”
    My two cents would be to keep the scale in the picture, but to try to shift toward using THAT FEELING as your motivator. I agree with Mike that the scale doesn’t lie and is a good tool to use to help make sure you are still on track. It is easy, too, to get obsessed and discouraged during plateaus when that number doesn’t change as much as you would like it to, which is why i suggest shifting to how you feel after a workout as a motivator. THAT feeling won’t (probably) go away.
    That’s my two cents.
    I use myfitnesspal, too. I’ll look you up!

    Thanks, Sherry, for another GREAT interview!!!!
    -gene-

  6. Amy, wishing you the best of success on your fitness journey. A fellow blog reader shared this on the Badass Fitness Facebook page, and we are all cheering you on. Doing this to be a better example for your daughters is such a great motivator!!! Rock on 🙂

  7. Shannon says:

    Great attitude Amy! Even on your most frustrating days–thats one step closer! There are tons of positive support systems out there–if one doesn’t work, try another! Every tiny success builds and builds! Good luck!!

  8. I love these interviews. Best of luck to you Amy! I hope to be able to hear some great updates from you on your progress in your future!

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