Lose Weight with Lifestyle Changes You Can Live With
Part Two

How she lost weight
Alma said it took a year of seeing her old friends on a regular basis to inspire her to lose weight. This was because the more she saw her friends, the more she realized that most of us were relatively slim while she had ballooned to 175 pounds. She felt that if we could do it, so could she.

At our March 2000 meeting, she started asking questions about how to lose weight. She had a few misconceptions that she had to shed because these beliefs were obstacles to her weight loss. She thought she could only lose weight if she joined a gym, went on a diet, ate special "health" food, and did large amounts of exercise that would tire her out.

She said she couldnít go to a gym because there was no gym close to where she lived. I assured her that while going to a gym is helpful, she didnít need one to lose weight or get fit. Since she had recently lost her household help, she asked if doing housework could help her lose weight. I told her yes and to also go up and down her stairs as often as she could in the course of her day plus to start walking at a pace and duration that she could handle even if that only meant walking very slowly for only ten minutes. I also made some suggestions on how she could trim away the excess calories from her food without "dieting".

In June when we met again, she reported that she had been doing vigorous housework (sweeping, scrubbing, polishing, washing clothes, etc) and said that she felt energized with more strength and stamina. However, she had not changed her eating habits because she still clung to the belief that the extra activity was all she needed to lose weight. Since she wasnít seeing any weight loss results, she finally realized that she had no choice but to make the necessary dietary changes. I reiterated to her that she didnít need to give up her Coke altogether but it would definitely help if she reduced the amount she was taking. She was also concerned about her smoking because she felt she couldnít give up her nicotine habit at the same time as trying to lose weight. I told her that if thatís the way she felt then she just had to fight her battles one at a time. If she had the motivation to work on her weight problem but not her cigarette smoking, then thatís what she should concentrate on first. Later on down the road, she could tackle her smoking habit. I told her that many people discover that they want to cut down or even quit smoking when they develop good eating and exercise habits.

She made the decision to consciously reduce the amounts of food that she was eating. She did this by eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner Ė one cup of rice with whatever was her choice of meat, chicken or fish, vegetables and fruits Ė and two small snacks a day. She had dinner at 6:00 and slept by 8:30 so she wouldnít be tempted to have midnight snacks.

Her three-liter a day consumption of Coke was cut down to two liters a week (a "savings" of 19 liters a week).

At our Christmas get-together, she told me that before she needed three to four servings to be satisfied, but now she is full with just one serving. Once in a while she has two servings. She eats chocolates or cake once a month only. She does not go to eat-all-you-can buffet restaurants anymore. She drinks a lot of water and while she doesnít really like vegetables, she does eat squash, cabbage, eggplant and a few other veggies. She does not sleep siesta anymore nor does she just lie down watching TV in the mornings. To fight her boredom, she now sings with her karaoke VCD. She also invites her friends to sing with her but they make sure not to have any merienda together.

Her one-pack-a-day smoking habit has been cut down to two packs a week. My prayer is that she will have the desire, motivation and courage to eventually quit altogether but like I told her before, one step at a time.

Alma didnít weigh herself because she knew from past experience that seeing her weight fluctuate or hardly change would just disappoint her. She chose to use her waist measurement as a way of assessing her progress. She started with a 38-inch waist, which steadily got smaller so that by the time I saw her at our Christmas lunch, she had a 34-inch waistline. Itís interesting to note though that she experienced a plateau between July and November where she only lost one inch. This is very normal and should not be taken as a sign of failure. In seven months, she went from an XXXL to an L in dress size.

Her goals for 2001
Her goal is to be a medium size in clothes, have a 30-inch waist by June, and a 29-inch waist by Christmas 2001. She still does not want to hire any household helpers so she can continue her "exercise program" of vigorous housework. However, she says she is now ready for a simple time-efficient program of specific muscle-toning exercises which she intends to do together with her neighbor. Of course, I am sending her a gift of exercise rubber bands and a program she can do at home.

She no longer wears her husbandís clothes and she can now wear many of her old clothes but her husband has promised her that he will buy her a whole new wardrobe when she reaches her goals. Thatís what I call a supportive husband and a great reward to look forward to!

Lessons from Almaís story

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