My 2023 Weight Loss Plan

Bill and I just returned from our week-long vacation to Cabo, and it was fantastic! We enjoyed a spa day at our resort, had plenty of relaxing hours poolside, and ventured into downtown one day for lunch and shopping. I can’t even describe what a difference it made on my mental health – going into this trip, I felt exhausted, overwhelmed, and stuck in a rut of day-to-day life. Now that I’ve had a chance to get away and recharge, reconnecting with Bill and taking a break from life’s responsibilities, I feel reinvigorated and ready to jump back in. Yesterday morning I woke up and decided to go to my beloved dance class, and was delighted that I felt the old excitement creeping in as I got ready. It no longer feels like just one more thing on my to-do list; I was eager to go and enjoy myself!

When I created my goals for 2023, a lot of them centered on the fact that I’ve gained quite a bit of weight in the last few years and now find myself weighing the most I ever have. I finally realized that I couldn’t do much about that while I was so rundown mentally, which was one of the reasons that Bill and I booked our Cabo trip. I’ve learned over the years that my weight tends to fluctuate depending on where I’m at emotionally and so it’s important for me to maintain good mental health so that I can in turn focus on good physical health. Thankfully I feel like I’m there, and I’m ready to dive in and do the work.

My weight has been up and down throughout my adult life and it’s something that I think I will always pay attention to and care about. Some of that is vanity, and I am at peace with that. But some of it is also recognizing that as I get older, maintaining healthy lifestyle habits will give me a fighting chance in living a fuller life into middle and old age. I love being in the first row of my dance classes, working to get every move just right, and I still want to be doing that well after I’m retired.

Over the years I’ve tried various fad diets and none of them ever really worked for me, but what I found I can maintain long-term is calorie counting. I also know the kinds of foods that work for my body in terms of keeping me feeling energized and full, and I’m the sort of person who actually enjoys eating pretty much the same things every day (weird, I know – most people are all about variety). I’ll typically eat the same breakfasts, lunches, and snacks all week long, but will sometimes change things up at dinnertime so that Bill doesn’t get bored. There will be weeks when we’ll make a big batch of something like spaghetti or chili and eat it each night for dinner, which I like because it makes it easier to meal-plan and keeps me from being tempted to get takeout. Then there will be other weeks where I plan out different dinners, although I don’t usually designate which night we eat them.

Before I talk about how I’m planning to work on weight loss, I want to say that what works for me may not work for others, and that’s okay! Writing about my weight loss intentions and efforts helps me to stay accountable to myself, which is why I’m blogging about this subject, but these entries are in no way intended to be a guide for what anyone else should or shouldn’t do.

To get started on my 2023 weight loss plan, I set myself a target of averaging 1,500 calories per day. I track my food in the LoseIt app on my phone, and I’ve been using it off and on for over a decade so it has a lot of my regular foods and meals already pre-programmed in. I hate restricting types of foods or food groups so I focus solely on calorie counts. I used to add in extra calories on days I worked out for what I was supposedly burning, but I’ve since learned that 1) calorie burn trackers are notoriously inaccurate and will way overestimate how many calories are burned during a workout; and 2) I don’t like associating exercise with weight loss so it’s better to separate out the two and not include workouts in my calorie logs. For me, the beauty in this is the simplicity. I don’t have to buy special foods, I don’t have to overanalyze labels or obsess over what to choose if we go to a restaurant. My plan is to look at my average calories from week to week, so there will be days when I don’t eat the full 1,500 calories and there will be days I go over. As long as it averages out to around 1,500 calories per day, I’ll consider that to be sticking to the plan.

Since I’m pretty content to eat the same things each day, I have some go-to foods that I’m planning to keep stocked in the kitchen at all times:
Breakfast – My usual breakfast is two egg muffins in a whole wheat tortilla with an almond milk latte. I make the egg muffins with egg whites, spinach, mushrooms, bell pepper, and some Everything Bagel seasoning. I bake them in a muffin tin for 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Then I portion them out into containers so I can quickly reheat them in the morning.
Lunch – I’ve always enjoyed taking a walk at lunchtime, followed by having lunch at my desk when I return. Years ago I got into the habit of having a Shakeology shake (I like the chocolate whey flavor) made with almond milk and a splash of sugar-free hazelnut syrup. I’m amazed at how it can keep me full and satisfied when it’s just a shake, but it’s worked for me for years.
Snacks – My go-to morning snack is apple slices with a little bit of peanut butter. Mid-afternoon, I’ll have a Dannon Light and Fit Greek yogurt, and if I want a salty snack, a kosher pickle or two.
Dinner – I do mix up my dinners a bit but if I come up with any fun recipes I’ll blog them.

This morning is what I considered my “Day One” of actively working toward weight loss, so I got on the scale and then had Bill take measurements and photos for me so I can track my progress. Sometimes the scale can be a bad indicator of progress so taking measurements and photos along the way will help me not to get discouraged in those weeks when the scale isn’t budging.

And that’s my path to weight loss in a nutshell! I’m feeling really good and really hopeful that I can stick to this, redevelop healthier eating habits, and see some progress.

Reinventing V

I’ve had conflicting thoughts over the years about my feelings and it’s definitely been a love-hate relationship, but one feature on my Facebook and Instagram accounts that I’ve always loved is seeing the posts I made in prior years in the Memories feature (on Instagram it’s under Archive, but same deal). I started my Facebook account in 2007 and so some of the earlier posts make me cringe a little bit at times, but I also like seeing how much I’ve grown as a person and looking back on fun times with people I love.

Just such a memory came up last week. It was a photo of me and two of my Zumba friends. It was taken on a cold, clear January Saturday in 2013, when we decided to meet up and walk laps on the track at a local school to get some exercise. I remember that day vividly and it’s a really happy memory for me – not just of a fun time with friends, but of how I felt that day. I was on top of my game and the strong, self-assured look on my face in the photo very accurately reflects how I felt about myself. I was in the best shape of my life, I was full of self-confidence, and overall just felt really good about myself.

It’s been a long time since I last felt that way. The stress of the last few years has taken a toll on me, and I’ve struggled a lot with my mental health. I made some strides in 2022 with therapy, and overall I am feeling better, but there’s a lot more work to do. I want to fall back in love with myself, to give myself the very best care and to find my best self again.

One of the things I’ve learned in therapy is that a lot of my anxiety disorder originates from my need to be perfect at all times. Allowing myself to be imperfect – to make mistakes, to be tired, to get it wrong, to not have the perfect response to every situation – would very likely help me to feel a lot more worthy of love and a lot more confident. I struggle so much with giving myself the same grace that I give others, and constantly reprimanding myself is exhausting. I do genuinely try to do the right thing and to be a good person, and at some point that has to be enough. I can’t ever be truly happy if I’m constantly in fear that I’ll somehow fail someone or at something.

I’ve been pretty open about my therapy journey, and one of the amazing things that’s happened as a result is that others have become more comfortable sharing their own stories with me. It made me realize that some of the people I admire most in the world have also experienced mental health issues, and that having an anxiety disorder and experiencing depression don’t mean that I can’t be (or that I’m not already) an aspirational person myself.

And so, I am committing to reinventing myself in 2023. This will be my year to focus on falling in love with myself and my life again, to embrace my imperfections and give myself grace, to get back to the healthiest version of myself both physically and mentally.

Welcome 2023 and Goals for January

After spending a fun and relaxing New Year’s Eve with wonderful friends, I woke up this morning excited to start my first day in 2023. The weather was sunny and just under fifty degrees, so Bill and I bundled up and took a long walk and had lunch together. It felt great to get outside and enjoy some fresh air and to spend time together. Now we’re relaxing and watching the Kraken game on TV, while also enjoying the Christmas tree for one last night before we de-Christmas the house tomorrow.

January should be a really great month for Bill and I – we’re headed to Cabo at the end of the month for a much-needed vacation, and I’m wrapping up a huge project at work and my days should start to feel a lot less hectic. Knowing that we’re going to be on vacation, I tailored my January goals so that I don’t feel like I have to follow any sort of plan while we’re away and I can just focus on relaxing, while working up until we leave on establishing new healthy habits.

Hit my calorie goal 65% of the month. I’ve decided to start counting calories, which is the only method of weight loss that has ever worked sustainably for me. To start, I’m setting myself a goal of 1,450 calories per day. By setting a percentage goal, I’m giving myself some wiggle room both for our vacation (when I intend to indulge and not stress about tracking or calorie counting) as well as some days to go over while I’m home so that I don’t feel like I have to be perfect all month.

Work out five days per week (except during vacation week). In December, I set a goal of doing ‘Daily December’ and said that I was going to try and work out every day except for Christmas Day. Work got extremely hectic right before Christmas and I didn’t accomplish my goal of daily workouts, but I did work out on 22 days of December and having that goal motivated me to work out on many days when I otherwise would have made excuses not to do it. Now that I’ve built that momentum, I really don’t want to lose it, but I also know that realistically working out seven days per week is a bit too much and that I do need rest days.

Average 7,500 steps per day. Since this is my annual goal, I’m making it my monthly goal as well so that I can get off to a strong start.

Add $500 to my emergency fund. I get paid once a month, so when I get paid in January I plan to transfer money directly into the personal savings account that I use for my emergency fund.

Read three books. Reading more should be easy since we’ll be on vacation, and this should give me a nice head start to achieving my 2023 reading goal.