Before I went gluten-free, I managed to drop over forty pounds of my body weight. I didn’t need any diet fads, pills, gadgets, or gizmos to help me. I didn’t need the gluten-free diet. I did it the old-fashioned way by changing what and how much I ate and by exercising consistently. Here were the key things for me.
Develop habits I could continue for a lifetime, during both weight loss and weight maintenance
Find exercise I enjoyed doing
Do a variety of workouts to keep from hitting a plateau
Find a time I could exercise consistently
Enjoy treats and other “bad” foods in moderation
Eat a varied but nutritious diet, watching portions
Early on, I struggled to find workouts that I liked and could stick to doing. A lady at church started a workout group and brought a Tae-Bo DVD that first night. I loved it. I ended up buying my own copy and tried to do it at home when I could. Over the next few years, I expanded my library but was lucky to get in a few nights a week as well as Saturday morning. When I realized the only time I worked out consistently was on Saturday morning, I decided to try working out in the morning. I started slowly. I got up at the same time and just worked in short 10-minute workouts before I got ready for work. Over the months, I gradually started waking up earlier and adding longer workouts. The weight was coming off slowly but steadily. I eventually worked dietary changes into my routine. I started taking real food to work for breakfast and lunch rather than Slim Fast bars. I started paying more attention to my calorie intake and would go to restaurant websites to pick out what I could eat before actually going there and ordering. I tried hard to stay within 2,000 calories a day. Most of the time I probably consumed around 1,800 to 1,900. When I felt I’d gone over the 2,000-calorie threshold, I’d try to make up for it later by working out more and/or by eating less. Over a three-year period, I lost over forty pounds, and I’ve managed to keep it off by sticking to the habits I developed over those three years. I do workout DVDs most days of the week, and these combine cardio and strength training. The ones I do the most are Biggest Loser workouts, Tae-Bo, and Turbo Jam. I have resistance bands, hand weights (five and eight pounds), a stability ball, and wrist weights that I use in my workouts. I have a treadmill that I use at least once a week. I use the programs that came installed in the treadmill and rotate those each week. I also participate in occasional 5K races. When I was younger, I hated running and never saw myself doing it. Now, I love participating in these races and can consistently turn in times under thirty minutes.
Another thing I’ve realized over time is when I’m doing my workout DVDs, I need to look straight ahead as much as possible when doing the moves to make sure my form and posture are correct. I glance at the TV when I need to but otherwise look straight ahead. I believe staring at the TV constantly caused me to mess up my form and caused pain to develop. With any workout you do, you need to make sure you’re doing the moves correctly to prevent injury. You also need to do a variety of workouts. This keeps your body guessing and from adapting to the workouts so that your weight loss doesn’t plateau.
As for diet, I never did anything special. I tried to eat fruits and vegetables at every meal. I tried to get plenty of protein from beans, meats, nuts, and other sources. My primary whole grain at the time was wheat, and I realize now that I could have had more variety there. Too much of something is never good, but I don’t believe everyone has to give up gluten to be healthy. Gluten can be a part of a healthy, varied, and nutritious diet as long as your body handles it fine. I consume a variety of gluten-free grains and pseudograins like rice, corn, sorghum, buckwheat, quinoa, and teff. As for GMOs, I do eat foods that contain them. I haven’t noticed any issues from them, at least not yet. Yes, I occasionally indulge in foods that contain hydrogenated oils and other “bad-for-you” ingredients, but it’s only in moderation. Sometimes I just have to take what I can find that’s safe for me to eat. I don’t think the hydrogenated oils are going to cause harm like my reactive foods will, especially since I don’t eat them all the time. My diet has had to change a lot due to the foods I’ve had to eliminate, but the concepts I’ve learned over the years in order to lose weight have not changed. I continue to watch calories and make sure I eat plenty of healthy foods each day. I have to do that regardless of my food restrictions.
I believe many people can get healthy and lose weight by just going back to the basics of eating healthy food in the proper portions and exercising consistently. They don’t need to go on a special diet like the gluten-free diet to lose weight. The old-fashioned way worked very well for me. I’ve managed to lose weight and maintain my weight loss. My hope is to continue to maintain my current weight, and I believe I can do that with the habits I’ve developed. My food restrictions are irrelevant to the concepts I’ve learned to adapt to keep myself at a healthy weight.
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