My Journey in Pounds

Monday, July 28, 2014

Myths about Losing Weight

I'm sure there are a gazillion things that could go into this but I'm going to share specifically what has helped me get things rolling in my life:

#1) You need to diet.
Nope. Food is fuel. You need to eat.  You need to eat the amount of calories you need to function, subtract a few hundred calories if you need to speed up your metabolism, add a few hundred calories if you are exercising.  But in essence, you need to eat!  It doesn't matter how much physical activity you do, if you don't eat enough you will not lose weight. If you skip a meal, you will not lose weight.  You need to eat, and eat often - about every 2-3 hours, 6 meals a day. Ask any Beach Body or fitness expert. Food is fuel!

That being said, you don't need to eat a donut or half a box of pizza.  You have a certain number of calories you need to intake a day and you should fill those calories with nutrient rich, healthy foods as much as possible!  Because it will help you have the energy you need so you have the stamina/strength to work out and you can still function like a decent human being through out your day.

So do this with me:
- Download the "Fat2Fit" app on your phone.
- Follow the instructions to calculate your body fat based on the measurements it asks. Write that down.
- Follow the instructions to calculate your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). Write THAT down.
- Download "MyFitnessPal"
- Add me as a friend on "MyFitnessPal"
- Set your daily calorie goal or limit to your BMR
- Measure and log everything you eat (otherwise the app won't work! You have got to embrace this accountability!)
- Week 2: try to adjust your eating to hit your BMR
- Week 3: Exercise and add your exercise activity to MyFitnessPal
- As you exercise and it gives you more calories, eat according to the new calorie goal for the day
You'll become more familiar with portion sizes, and what your plates need to look like. So allow it to motivate you to make better food choices so you can enjoy the food you really love, eat and be satisfied, and not go hungry!

#2) You need to stop eating certain foods
Some people chose to go vegan, some people cut out carbs completely.  To be completely honest, my budget dictates my diet. We are a family of 5 and 2 pets on a 1 person income.  Rice goes a long way!  I lived in a 3rd world country where meat or vegetables were so expensive sometimes we did without, and I personally am of the conviction that I'm thankful for whatever I eat because the Lord provided and I'm not going hungry!  Do your own research on that, but as a general rule: Take out things that are not easily identifiable in nature or contain chemicals your 4 year old can't pronounce (there's a big difference between juice that contains oranges, water, and sugar and juice that contains maltodextrose and yellow#5).  Sodas, junk food, sweets do nothing for you! NADA!  Replace things slowly to a healthier option as you do groceries; example; fat free over whole milk, whole wheat over white bread, sherbert over ice cream... Even somethings are better home cooked if you must than fast food! If you absolutely need french fries, you're better off cutting a potato and tossing it in the oven than buying from McDs or getting a bag of frozen fries ready to deep-fry.  Bake your own pizza making whole wheat dough and fresh veggies.  You'll be more successful replacing your meals with stuff you can live with than trying to quit stuff you love cold turkey.

My favorite switch was with my coffee. I would buy coffee creamers and add much more than the serving size to make my coffee palatable. So I switched to better coffee (whole bean, fresh) and got myself a grinder. I also switched to Vanilla Almond Milk.  I use regular sugar (cuz I haven't bought sugar in months, but I suppose I can get brown sugar next time), but only 2 teaspoons (and I measure them!), and a quarter cup of almond milk... voila! I got my morning cup of coffee and saved myself about 200 calories.

That all being said, portion control goes a long way too - for those "cheat" days.  So even when I indulge in a pizza I have 2 slices instead of half the box and that's already a step towards a healthier life-style. Or I drink water with my meals at restaurants instead of soda. Or I ask the waiter to give me two sides of veggies instead of rice or mash potatoes.  Or I split the chocolate bar I treat myself to around "that time of the month" with the hubby who has to put up with my horrible PMS.

#3) You only really lose weight by doing horrible, grueling exercise
Here's a secret. No one who hates Insanity or P90X has actually lost weight doing Insanity or P90X.  Because the people who hate it quit.  It's the people who love it that actually lose weight and get in amazing shape doing the program.  So if it's not something you love, don't bother doing it. Life is short. YOLO!

You do need to exercise though. You need to do SOMETHING.  Just find something you enjoy doing for at least 30 consecutive minutes and start from there.  It may be you enjoy walking for 30 minutes. Or dancing (I can do Zumba for an hour!). Or Yoga. Or playing tag with your kids.  Just find something you enjoy doing - something that you can do for 30 minutes straight and not even feel like you worked out. Start there!

Then you challenge yourself by increasing intensity: Try to walk faster or further. Do higher cardio dancing. Stretch further in yoga. Or actually catch your kids and raise them over your head like you're doing shoulder presses. Push yourself because you'll surprise yourself! You'll kill that "I'm gonna die exercising" barrier in your mind and you'll start realizing that you can do more.

And you'll do more - maybe you'll start running, or doing Pilates, or add some weight lifting aside from the Zumba, or get on the monkey bars and make it from one end to the next right along your kids.  Because then you'll enjoy exercise! 

You may never be the kind of person who enjoys Insanity or P90X, but you'll still get active, get stronger, and lose weight. Or you may actually become that kind of person that loves working out to the point of sweat, tears, and blood because you realize that you're strong enough. Who knows? I'm a runner now in the summer but when it's icy and snowing outside, I may train with some of these exercise programs during the winter - not because it'll be easy, but because I will get stronger!

4# You can lose weight secretly
Nah... We all need a support group, we all need accountability.  If you don't want to discuss everything you put in your mouth with someone else I understand, but the Bible says that "Iron sharpens iron, and so friends help each other" or something like that (paraphrase mine).  You will get more results plugging in with people who will support you, who will celebrate all the little "off-the-scale" victories, and who will encourage you with new foods, exercises, and REASONS to keep trying.

For most of my adult life I had tried, at various points in time, to lose weight. But I failed consistently. And the truth is, I didn't want anyone to know I was trying because I didn't want anyone to know I would fail.  Big difference now is that I have friends who are coaches, I have support groups I'm a part of, I have forums I look into, and I post all my activities on Facebook.  So someone may look at it and say, "Dang, she ran a mile in 17 minutes?! That's so slow!" but someone else would say, "You're still running laps around everyone else sitting on the couch! Go girl! See if next time you can do the mile 30 seconds faster!" Accountability helps.

Iphone has an app called "weilos", which is like a Facebook specifically for people trying to lose weight. My husband loves it. He posts his pictures as he makes progress and gets cheered. No one judges him, there's no flaming or spamming. There are people who weigh 300 lbs and lose 10 pounds as well as people who weigh 150 lbs and lose 5 lbs and it's all a place to cheer each other on!

In the words of Nike, the secret to weight loss is "Just do it!" How fast you lose weight is not as important as how permanent the changes are anyways, right?

Myths about Homeschooling

This is entirely my experience, and yours may be different, but here it goes:

#1) The kids won't socialize enough:
At first I believed this would be a problem.  But the reality is, the kids didn't necessarily need more socialization.  What they needed were more supervised interactions, which quite frankly doesn't happen in public school.  All the kids are out to recess or the lunch room, and the teachers are keeping a peripheral view of 30 or more children to make sure they don't get kidnapped or hurt. There's no realistic way for a teacher to hear every interaction, so all this "socialization" may not be beneficial at all - I mean, what if my son is calling his friends "buttface" and or some other nasty name?  What if my daughter is being a bully to another child in the playground? Unless someone snitches (which results in the teacher taking some measure of crowd control), my kids can socialize with other kids any way they feel like.  I don't need my kids to socialize more, I need my kids to socialize RIGHT: To say please and thank you, to speak kindly to their peers, to exercise respect at all times.  The only way they'll learn to practice this on a regular basis is through supervised socialization, where I may actually reach and tap the youngest one on the back of the head as he picks up a rock to throw at another kid so I can correct him.  Where I can address inappropriate social behavior as it happens and not as the teacher discovers and sends a letter home about it.

#2) It's expensive:
There are charter schools and co-ops that will help you with all the supplies you need.  Co-ops are free to participate in.  There are plenty of free resources, including the school district's base guidelines for each grade level so you know exactly what your child should know by the end of the year.  You can teach fractions and time tables out of basic supplies already in your home and your kids would probably enjoy that more anyway than going from a math book to a reading book to a science book.  There's also websites like and where for as little of about $25 a YEAR you can get unlimited worksheets, projects, crafts, and online games for the kiddos to play on if you are willing to do the research into what your kid needs to know next.

I'm also saving tons of money on laundry and supplies because I could care less if Anakin reads a book in sweats and with no socks and shoes on!

#3) It's time consuming:
It's an investment if you are doing it solo and you are spending time researching and planning for the week. Which I did from December until now and I taught my 6 year old how to read, tell time on an analog clock, and count currency. I taught time tables to the 2nd grader, as well as higher level science and social study concepts.  I taught my 4 year old to recognize all the letters of the alphabet and their sound, all the numbers, to count to about 100, add and subtract, and write his full name.  I am now partnering with Frontier Charter School and getting a "curriculum in a box" for each school aged kid and working through those for the school year, to save me personally some time.

But it's a lot more time saving than it looks because it's not like the kids have to get home at 3pm to do homework till dinner.  So they are done with their schooling by about 2pm and then we're all free for the rest of the day.  We also sleep in and have unhurried breakfasts, so we're enjoying more time in the morning.  And the kids do all their chores too, which saves me time on housework.  There's no traffic or transport time.  In all this the kids learn more efficiently because they are in a prime, relaxed state to take in all the information.  So it takes less time sitting down with them for them to learn the concept and be able to move on and apply it.  No burn out. No frequent testing to see if they were paying attention.

So yeah, I think it would be difficult to homeschool your children and work full-time.  But I find I have more time and energy during the day homeschooling then I did when the kids went to school - including time to bake treats and and work out!

#4) You really need to "know what you're doing"
This was probably my biggest obstacle, because I was constantly second-guessing myself.  But you'd be surprised how much children learn naturally through being curious and interacting with you - and it doesn't even require a text book.  I also discovered that, even though I'm a first time parent, I can trust my instincts and I do in fact know what I'm doing!  I know what my children can handle, what's easy for them, and what would challenge them.  I know when they learn something better through a song and dance, a picture, a diagram, memorizing a catch phrase, or writing it down!  I know my kids individually better than any school teacher or administrator and I can guarantee you that they will not have the time to work with my child's individual strengths and weaknesses to maximize their learning experience - it's a "learn it or be left behind" world in public schools, despite everyone's best efforts.  I know when to slow down with a concept and when to breeze past it.  And if it takes them more than two weeks to learn one concept, but then they breeze past others, who cares?  The point is they get it!

The beautiful thing about parenting is that you will too!  We have this God-given instinct, we just have to choose to embrace it instead of comparing ourselves and our children to others.  No one is better suited to take care of your child better than you!  And with this in mind, I no longer let anyone intimidate me out of homeschooling.  When God shows me my kids would do better in a school setting and He wants me to send them there, I will. And my kids are so smart they'll do great anywhere!  Even here, at home, with me.

I know a lot of moms would like to homeschool their children but can't because they have to work full-time. I also know a lot of moms who prefer public school or private school and feel it's best for their children.  This isn't a blog post to judge, or to say, "I'm right and you're wrong!"  I'm sharing my experience and why homeschooling is working out better specifically for US.  All of us parents are just doing the best we can for our children with the resources we have.  And every child is as different as one fingerprint is for another.  Give yourself a pat on the back! You're doing a great job, Mom!

And for a first-time Mom, so am I!