Today is the end…Don’t panic – I’m not giving up on my marathon training! But today is an ending of sorts and the beginning of hopefully a new lifestyle. In January, I signed up for the Labrada Nutrition “Lean Body Challenge” – which is a 12 week contest to see how you could reshape your body.
Years ago, I had read Lee Labrada’s book of the same title – it struck me as different than the dozens of other diet books I had read. Although, Lee is a huge bodybuilder and former Mr. Universe, he wrote the book for the average person and kept it pretty basic around eating and exercising. Twice a year, his company sponsors the Challenge - – take your before and after pictures, eat healthy, exercise and write a few essays. I signed up a few years ago for the Challenge but only made it a month before fizzling out.
However, this year as I saw the scale hit a maximum point, I knew that I needed something to keep me honest. I also had higher than normal cholesterol – and after getting the lecture about better choices, the only other suggestion was to lose weight. I was always going to start eating healthy tomorrow – but tomorrow turned into the next day without me making any changes lasting more than 2 days and the scale was climbing. Signing up for the challenge was my accountability partner for the next three months. I must admit the initial pictures (you have to do them shirtless) were honestly embarrassing to me – it doesn’t hit home until you see yourself in a picture. The pictures were motivation in themselves.
I knew that it was probably a long shot to win any prizes (you should check out some of the past winners) but I wanted to go for it. I was also determined to do the challenge in a realistic manner – no gyms – just using the cardio equipment we had at home (covered in dust) and some exercise bands. I couldn’t spend hours and hours at a gym and sacrifice time with my family. I also was going to eat healthy but realistic – making healthier choices about foods but not going hard core with food options that I could not maintain over time. The biggest sacrifice – giving up pizza for 12 weeks
Today is the end of the 12 weeks and time for the after pictures and some reflection. I had hoped for physical change (that did occur) but I think the biggest benefits have been “mental”. I proved to myself that I could something consistently for 3 months – and it was tough and challenging at times (especially when Julie and the boys do pizza night on Friday and I’m eating chicken). I also knew that an excellent way to exercise and burn calories was to run – but as I mentioned, I had the mental roadblock of being a running “failure” from my youth. So I started out with more determination and alternate methods like the run/walk program and quickly was doing 5K distances. Three months ago when I started the Challenge – I hated to think about running and now I’m training for a marathon!
It also taught me patience – I’m a person who wants immediate results in whatever I do (Julie can vouch for how quickly I get frustrated). Losing weight is not an easy process and it takes persistence. Tracking your calorie intake every day is a pain but it’s one of the best ways to lose weight by accounting for every morsel of food. I’m a bit odd – I don’t have a sweet tooth or like the classic unhealthy foods – fried and greasy – but I can eat too much of the “healthy” foods and take into too many calories.
Ultimately, the numbers on the scale or the tape measure are not that important in the grand scheme – hopefully, I have made long term changes that will improve my health and allow me to enjoy my family. I would still like to lose a few pounds and see if that six pack is there (abs that is!)
My biggest recommendation to others is find accountability – whether it is another person or in my case a website tracking my calories. Find a challenge to set a short term or long term goal – an event, a race, etc that will keep you motivated and on some type of schedule. And as I have written before, be realistic about the target – too often we get discouraged because we set impossible goals…
P.S. I’m eating a Donato’s Pizza tomorrow night! Care to join me?