3 changes that kicked my weight loss into high gear

You know that Robert Frost poem?The one that’s an obviously perfect setup for a bloody paranormal massacre or a good serial killer chase scene — that’s really just a lengthy rumination on taking a walk?

I … didn’t actually have a point with that. I’ve just always felt that way about “The Road Not Taken,” and I wanted to tell somebody.

Wait — no — I did have a point. There are an awful lot of directions to take when you’re trying to lose weight. From others, and from our own heads. Some of those directions or strategies are better than others; most of them are right for someone. But honestly, I don’t have the time or energy (or, you know, money) for a lot of them. (Eat five — FIVE?! — eggs every morning within thirty minutes of waking up? Seriously?) So they’re not right for me.

I’ve been working to lose weight — without going too insane or upsetting the balance of my delicate family routine too much, which rather tempers the drama of my numbers — since January. Sometime around mid-June, I made a few changes to my strategy, and my progress increased dramatically. Between January and mid-June, I’d lost a measly 7.6 pounds. Sadface. From mid-June to mid-October, I lost seventeen. Correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causality, and it’s, objectively, still an embarrassingly small number, but at least it’s a bigger small number. And, you know, doesn’t slow and steady win the race?

Don’t answer that.

Also … the changes I made are kind of weird. But hey, they’re working for me, for now, so I won’t knock it. I’ll just share how it’s going, and hope it helps someone.

Change #1: Black Coffee.

No, I’m not kidding. I’ve been drinking coffee-flavored sugar milk most of my life. It’s delicious. We both know it. I was eventually able to move to just milk (or cream …) and I did, indeed, grow to love it, too. (Caffeine’s a drug, did you know?) Lattes are the best. Whole milk lattes. Mmmm … But black?! No way.

Yes, way. I realized that I was drinking so much milkfat in my daily coffees I might as well be eating a whole ‘nother meal, and wondered if I cut that out, if it would make any difference. So I started by taking an undoctored sip of my morning brew, shuddering violently, and then putting in the half-n-half as usual. Then two sips. Then four. After a couple of weeks, I was drinking it black. I’ve started treating lattes as the indulgence they are — and getting them sparingly enough to truly enjoy them. (And yes, I still enjoy the heck out of them. But I don’t like sweet coffee drinks at all anymore. Go figure.)

Change #2: Less Cardio, More Yoga

Not me. Not even close. But honestly, once I knew this picture existed, there was no possible way I would not share it with you. You’re welcome.

Yep, you read that right, too. I’ve discovered that doing a four- or five-hundred calorie workout every day (or so) makes me hungry. Really hungry. Eat-every-scrap-in-the-house hungry. Yoga, on the other hand, doesn’t. So I’m doing yoga most mornings instead of riding my exercise bike, usually just picking a youtube video at random based on how long I have until it’s time to get ready. I think I’m averaging four or five mornings a week, usually a thirty-minute practice or so? Something like that. And I’ve never been, or felt, stronger in my life. I can tell a huge difference in the muscle tone — and stability — of my arms and even more in my legs. It’s most evident, to me, when I’m carrying my six year old (the Acrobat) because he’s pretending to be too sleepy for school, or when I’m getting up off the ground for the latest game of Angry Minnie with my daughter, the Empress. (In Angry Minnie — the Empress’s idea — I make her Minnie Mouse have a pretend tantrum so that she can be the mommy and help her calm down. It’s the most confusing game ever.)

I’m not saying I don’t do anything cardiovascular — just that I’m not really doing it for its own sake (or to up my daily calorie allotment) anymore. I’m sometimes going for a walk in the park or around the neighborhood at lunchtime, because October, amiright? I also want to get my bike out more often, but something’s up with the wheels, and I need to get it fixed, and … okay, that’s probably going to have to be a different Next Big Thing, most likely. Anyway, less cardio, more yoga.

I’ll be adding the higher-intensity cardio back in — I’m actually missing running, in fact, which is highly astonishing — either when I get close to my goal weight or when my loss starts slowing down; I’ll let you know how it goes.

And finally, Change #3: Soylent, Cake Batter of the Gods.

I told you about the MyFitnessPal recipe importer; I had this whole elaborate evil plan, doing all sorts of cooking for myself most meals, and basing my menu on recipes I’d saved. Well …

Best-laid plans, etc. And I forgot to recruit any minions. Turns out they’re pretty necessary.

I’ve done a lot of the strategizing work, but I’m finding that for myself, the time preparing and cleaning up from meals I make just for me is just enough of a hassle to make me not actually make them, no matter how delicious the recipes sound. Because it’s so much easier (and faster, and less messy) to make mac and cheese or grab a Schlotzsky’s Original. Which, done often enough, becomes rather hard on the wallet, among other things.

So, enter Soylent. Now, on the whole, I regard meal replacement shakes with roughly the same level of appreciation as, say, cockroaches. The Lone Surviving Cockroach was cute in Wall-E, but in real life the ubiquitous buggers can die in a fire. I was also deeply repulsed by the “cupcake — in a cup!” from that movie.

I evidently hadn’t tried Soylent yet.

Soylent is a(n allegedly) nutritionally-complete meal replacement shake. It’s not designed for weight loss specifically, just for sustenance. Keeping us alive. I’ve been drinking it for breakfast/lunch a few meals a week for the past few months and haven’t died yet. Which just shows you.

Food-as-fuel is not my cup of tea (or cupcake). Food is an experience, a pleasure, a thrilling, wonderful, beautiful part of our all-too-brief stint in corporeality. It’s one of the few things that we can share wholeheartedly, no matter how little else we have in common. Even if we agree on nothing else, I bet we can find something we both love to eat if we try.

So why on earth am I drinking a beige slush for lunch?

Because it’s good. (Especially with a bit of cinnamon, or cocoa powder, or PB2, but on its own, too. It really tastes like cake batter. Without the [unheeded] fear of salmonella.) Because it’s filling, fast, and easy. And most of all, because the more of my dollars and calories I save when I eat on my own, the more I can indulge on my shared meals. So the easier it is to actually enjoy the nine hundred and eighty-seventh time we go to Whataburger because it’s one of the — literally — five restaurants at which the Acrobat will eat. (Their Monterey Melt is pretty amazing, I’ve got to say. I get the junior size. Jalapeños make everything better.)

On the days when I do Soylent, I’m drinking a glass of it — a 9 oz. glass is about half a serving, roughly 250 calories — for breakfast around 10:30, then another for lunch at about 12:30 or 1:00. Then I have a small snack, 100-200 calories or so, around 2 (and another cup of coffee, naturally), and then I’m definitely ready for dinner come 5:30 or so. And since I’ve only had about 6-700 calories for the day thus far, I can indulge a bit more at dinner, when I’m hungriest. And if I don’t go too crazy with dinner, I’ll have a snack or a nightcap after the kids go to bed.

It’s working for me, for now.

I’ll let you know when I get tired of it, or try something new. (If I remember.)

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