Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Before and After

My weight loss clients come to me for advice on how to lose weight. But more than looking for nutritional tips, they're looking for support. They've been up and down the weight loss roller coaster, and they want someone who will be there with them the whole way...ideally just going down this time. But before I can help them, they have to trust me. And a lot of the time, they look at me, and I can see the skepticism running through their minds. Some of them think I'm too young. Some of them figure I won't understand their backgrounds. And a lot of them ask me pointblank, "What do you know about this? You're tiny! You can eat whatever you want!"

When I hear this, a little bell goes off in my head. That tells me more than anything else how hard it will be for that client to lose weight and keep it off. Because she isn't thinking of the changes she's making as permanent. She has it in her head that when she gets to her goal weight, she can go back to her old eating habits and the weight will magically stay off. If only it were that easy, right?

Well, I know a lot about the struggle to eat right, lose weight, and maintain my weight loss. I can't eat whatever I want (at least not all the time), and at five feet tall, I have to work extra hard because every pound shows up tenfold on my short frame. For some of my clients, losing twenty pounds barely makes a difference because they have a larger frame. For me, twenty pounds means a world of difference.

In college around 145 lbs.

In college, I worked at a pizza place and ate most of my meals there. Pizza, onion rings, chicken wings, sugar cookies...these were a staple of my diet for four years. Like a lot of my clients, I wanted to lose weight but I wasn't willing to make permanent changes. Or to be more correct, I didn't really know how to make those changes.

When I started losing weight, it was almost unintentional. I moved to NYC, started walking everywhere, and started enjoying life more than eating it. But I had no idea how to keep the weight off and I was terrified it would come back. I see that fear in my clients often. It's that very fear that often makes them want to give up. Today I could tell that one of my clients was having a difficult time. She gained weight for the third week in a row, and I asked her what she thought would happen when she got to her goal weight. "I think I'll always have to struggle and won't ever be able to eat what I want," she admitted. That fear of a constant struggle with herself weighed against the knowledge that she felt better than ever after losing fifty pounds, and wanted to lose the final fifteen. More than that, she wanted to keep the weight off.

The weight started to come
off after I moved to NYC

I try to always be honest with my clients, and so I told her that there are days when I feel like it's a struggle. There are days when I want to sit at home and eat ice cream and cookies all day and not worry about my weight. Mostly those days coincide with my PMS (again, I try to be honest). But those days are also few and far between because when I give in to them, my momentary pleasure is followed by feeling uncomfortable, heavy, and annoyed with myself. Not really worth the cookies that are usually not as good as I anticipated them to be anyway.

I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve after helping clients lose weight for two years. But my two most important tips have nothing to do with strategies for eating out or exercising. They have to do with my mindset:

  • One, I cut myself some slack. There is nothing worse than believing you have to be perfect, because the second you eat an extra cookie, you figure you'll never make it and you'll give up. Being healthy isn't about eating perfectly all the time. My friend took me out for a birthday dinner tonight, and I ate extra bread (gluten-free of course) and shared a dessert with her. I could have kicked myself for it, but what would be the point? I had a healthy breakfast and lunch, and I'll start my day off right with a green smoothie tomorrow. As one of my clients told me, it's not what you do every once in a while that matters, it's what you do on a regular basis that counts.
  • And two, I focus on what I can eat rather than what I can't. If I spent all day conjuring up images of cookies and cakes and pizza, and then told myself I couldn't eat that, you would probably find me stuffing my face at Dominoes. Instead I like to imagine all the fun new healthy recipes I can come up with. What can I do with the ripe avocados I bought yesterday? Can I find a new way to eat chickpeas? What's the best way to roast vegetables? There's a lot more to healthy eating than steamed vegetables and fish, and with the right mindset, it can be fun rather than a chore.

Today, at 125 lbs.

Tonight, I ate dinner at Sambuca. They have a great gluten-free menu, and a new pastry chef who brought us some delicious samples of gluten-free bread to try. I brought some leftover shrimp pasta home, added some cherry tomatoes and avocado, and turned it into a perfect lunch for tomorrow. It wasn't a chore to make and it certainly won't be a chore to eat.


brandi said...

great before and afters! and I love your tips.

Micaela said...

It's so cool to see your progress over the years--not to mention very brave of you to share. You look great, and I enjoyed this entry :)

LucindaSarina said...

Thanks Brandi! Mic, it's so strange to look at those old pictures and think of what a different place I'm in now! So glad I moved to NYC!

Cooking With Dia said...

Hi, thanks for your comment about my gluten free upside down apple cake. I know you will like it, and it isn't unhealthy at all. I read about your weight loss above. I'm only 5'2", so I have had the same problem. When I was 22 I went over 140 lbs and I looked even more because of my height. I unintentionally lost the weight because of multiple brain surgeries and being stuck in the hospital, but yeah 20 lbs off makes a huge difference when you are short.

Melissa @ For the Love of Health said...

What a terrific post! I whole-heartedly agree with everything you said. Weightloss is 90% mental. For someone to truly lose weight, the mind-set of "I can eat whatever I want after I drop these pounds" has to be banished forever.

You are an inspiration! Congrats!

LucindaSarina said...

Thanks Melissa! So are you!

And Dia, I'm definitely going to try that cake when I get back from my vacation! I love healthy desserts!

Yiannis said...

wowwww big difference

after suffering with IBS i had to make some changes in my diet as Gluten is a big no no for me.

i have similar pictures and experiences as well :)

Yiannis -

Tasty Eats At Home said...

Excellent before and afters. I too understand how 20 lbs on someone else doesn't look like much, but on me, it'd be a nightmare! I'm 5'2" and have a small frame, and if I lose as little as 5 lbs, people notice. (I notice just a few!) It makes it that much more difficult sometimes, doesn't it? Congrats on changing your point of view - and you look great!


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