Friday, May 6, 2011

Lessons learned from our Biggest Loser competition

Our biggest loser competition ended today, and I took first place! The prize was $350! I truly believe that winning was only by the grace of God. About halfway through the competition, I really thought I was out of the race. I didn’t think I could win. Michalea had taken first place, Erika in second, and I was in third. I kept struggling with temptation. I wasn’t eating horribly bad, but every week or so, I’d find myself getting something that I really shouldn’t.

If you don’t know, the reason I started this whole process (and asked my family to get involved to support me) is because my doctor told me if I would lose about 20 pounds, my arthritis would not affect me as badly as I’d be taking weight off my hips and back. The problem, though, is that despite the fact that I have gained about 30 pounds since Hal and I got married (only 3 short years ago!!), I am not a very disciplined eater. In high school, believe it or not, I was a size 4. In college, a steady size 4 or 6. I’ve always eaten whatever I wanted. Anyone who knows me also knows I’ve always been a huge “junk” eater. In the past, it never mattered. I played sports in high school and was very active (working out, swimming, intramural, etc.) in college. But, when I got married, it all caught up to me!

Win or lose, I knew these last three weeks would be instrumental in changing my heart and really changing my lifestyle. I asked God to teach me self-control, which was, essentially, admitting that I desperately needed to be taught how to control myself and resist temptation to continue bad habits. I know it’s easy now (because I won) to say it wouldn’t have mattered if I won or lost because I truly learned something—but it’s the truth.

I learned that I can sit with a bowl of chips and queso in front of me—and not eat a single chip. I can sit choose something healthy (or healthier) on the menu instead of getting something with 1000 calories! I can withstand temptation to eat ice cream, chocolate, or whatever “it” is, even when I really want it. I can learn to eat ONE serving and truly be FULL. And if I got to bed a little hungry or satisfied—but not stuffed, that’s just fine.

I’ve come to realize how much of my life revolved around food. I think, in part, this is because of the way I was raised or because of our cultural values. We celebrate with food. And in our family, we celebrate food. We love to make big meals for our get togethers—with a main dish and many, many sides, plus dessert, breads, etc. I don’t want to change what we do, because it’s so much a part of our tradition and because it’s important that we get together. But I don’t have to eat every meal like that!

The other thing I’ve learned is that exercising really doesn’t have to be dreadful. I don’t have to lift weights or kill myself running or come home miserable and so sore, I can’t sit on the toilet! Hal and I started walking about 4 to 4 ½ miles around our neighborhood four or five nights a week. For us, it was a great way to spend quality time, especially in this season when our quality time was much-needed. But walking, I believe, is a form of exercise that’s largely undervalued! I can walk, briskly, for about an hour (which is how long it would take us), and not be miserable the next day. This week, because it was our final week, I got up earlier to jog in the mornings too. Turns out, having walked 4 ½ miles for the last two months, running a mile and a half was a breeze. :)

So, obviously, now that the competition is over, I’m excited about enjoying myself for the next week, which means Rosas, Taco Villa, pizza, etc. But, I’m encouraged to know that this is going to be a real change for me. I’m so thankful to know that I don’t have to eat everything that’s offered. I don’t have to eat a whole bowl of chips and salsa before my meal comes. And I don’t have to eat everything I want to eat.

I still have about 10-15 more pounds I want to lose, so stay tuned for our Biggest Loser 2: May 16 – August 10. :)