(If you want to follow this journey from the beginning, start here.)
The first thing Dee started talking to me about was exercise.
I’d been wanting to exercise. I missed having it in my life and I know it’s the key to good health. But with a schedule like mine, how could I add exercise? I’ve challenged other people to take a look at my calendar and tell me where I can fit exercise into my life.
Yes, there’s a fitness center at my office. However, with a 45 minute commute and a hard stop at the end of the day to pick up my children, I need to be totally focused on work when I’m in the office. I even eat lunch at my desk! (Plus, do I shower after and reapply my makeup? Who has time for that?)
Get up early and work out before going to work? Are you kidding! I’m averaging 6-1/2 hours a night as it is; I can’t drag myself out of a warm bed any earlier in the morning.
Exercise after I get home? That’s my family time. I pick up my children close to 6pm, make dinner, read to them, tuck them into bed.
At the end of our first call Dee helped me set an activity goal. She said I could go for a walk or even briskly march in place.
March in place? I could do that! I could do it in front of the TV, and I could do it barefoot too! No prep time! Multi-tasking!
“You need to do 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week. Can you commit to that?” she asked me.
I’d been trying to work from home twice a week, so if I put sweats on in the morning, I could leave my computer for half an hour and sneak in a workout. I could even do it relatively early – when my east coast colleagues were at lunch – and nobody would miss me. And then I just had to squeeze another 1/2 hour in on the weekend.
And I did, because now I was accountable to someone else. And over the weeks, in half hour chunks, I was able to watch entire movies and catch up on episodes of The Daily Show.
Five weeks later Dee and I had our second phone call. “No sweets,” she said, “eat fruit instead.” And “doctors recommend you exercise for 30 minutes 5 times a week.”
On our third phone call Dee says “limit the fruit”. What? “Drink lots of water, eat lots of veggies and protein, and have a sweet treat only every other week.”
The thing is, the needle on the scale wasn’t moving. I had added exercise to my life and was closely monitoring everything I ate and depriving myself of treats. I was tracking every calorie and eating significantly less than I had been, and the scale was telling me the same old thing!
“Why am I even bothering? I’ve been working so hard! Why don’t I just go back to my old ways that were so much easier and more fun?” I ranted to my husband.
But then a surprising thing happened. I went on a business trip and packed some clothes I don’t usually wear. And on the trip I discovered that the clothes were too loose and baggy. Much too baggy. There was progress after all!
That wasn’t enough for Dee though. She demanded progress as measured by the scale and she accused me of bad eating habits and cheating and not being honest with myself (or her). “Too many carbs!” she said. “You don’t understand,” I told her, “I haven’t eaten white rice for years, I don’t have sandwiches for lunch any more, I’ve given up cereal for breakfast. I don’t eat too many carbs!” (“And besides,” I said to myself, “a calorie’s a calorie.” That’s basic dietary science, right?) Dee was unconvinced. “Limit your carb intake to 160 grams a day, and increase your protein to 80 grams daily,” she dictated.
I did as she said, mainly because I was tired of her chewing me out, and cut back even further. And the thing is, the needle on the scale started moving. So I guess, for me at least, a calorie wasn’t just a calorie.
But that wasn’t the best part…. (to be continued)