Age: 29 School: SDSU
Here's a liitle bit of fun information I found about Sarah...
Sarah's Favorite Vegetable:
My favorite vegetable... does white cheddar popcorn count? I love eggplant, zucchini, and asparagus roasted in olive oil, raw tomatoes, greens... I mix spinach, kale, chard, or bok choy into meat, pasta, and rice dishes. Even though it has a bad reputation, I really like iceberg lettuce- its cheap, keeps fresh longer, and it still has benefits- high water content, and it still has some nutrients. Plus it doesn't overpower other salad ingredients like greener greens do sometimes.
Sarah's Favorite Exercise:
Lately I've been big on doing side and front planks to improve my core strength. They're quick, powerful, and you actually get better at them pretty quickly if you're consistent. I've read that other ab exercises can work your muscles unevenly or even mess with your back, and they're boring. Planks are intense, but a couple minutes and you're done. Over 3 weeks, I worked my way up from doing 2 or 3 30-second planks to doing 6 1-minute planks. I'm kind of a clumsy person, and I feel like my balance has gotten better and when I go on my walks I feel stronger.
Sarah's new and/or favorite hobbies:
I like to craft things. I bought a big bottle of modge podge recently and have been on a modge podge rampage- lampshades, picture frames, little boxes.
Alright, on to my interview with Sarah! I asked her the same questions and as with the other Success Stories we've highlighted, the insights are nothing short of fabulous! We learn so much every time we hear from you all and this is no exception. Read on and hear Sarah's story!
HC: What made you initially want to join the SMART study?
SH: I wanted to join the SMART study because I had been having trouble losing weight. What had been a struggle before was now just not happening. I had been seeing no progress no matter what I tried.
HC: How has ThreeTwoMe helped you achieve your weight loss (or healthy lifestyle) goals?
SH: I think the most important ways ThreeTwoMe helped me was providing me with multiple tools (like a pedometer and a new scale), current information (via the library), and reminders to track my weight, exercise, and set goals. I used that to seek out other information on the internet which has helped me a lot. The majority of my weight loss occurred since September '13, and 2 years is a very long time- you go through personal issues, school stress, many things that can throw you off your plan. In September, I finally hit on a combination of strategies that worked for me.
HC: What is the one thing you are most proud of that you've experienced or accomplished during this journey?
SH: I'm most proud of figuring out that I need to approach this as a very long term project- its got to go on for years, if not the rest of my life. That included moving the way I think from weekly or monthly goals to just maintaining my behavior changes over time- overcoming stress eating habits, keeping placeholders in my week for physical activity, and figuring out what I could change about how I approach food in a way that didn't require too much mental energy. When I was calorie counting and tracking exercise every day, my maximum time I would keep with it was maybe 8 weeks, then I'd gradually stop. Now, I follow a plan that fits better with my variable schedule as a student and working from home- for exercise, this includes walking my dog for longer periods of time, going on longer more intense walks for exercise 2-3 times a week (sometimes jogging a little), and fitting in some mat exercises when I can for strength training. As far as eating goes, I still log my calories when I feel like I'm getting off track, but mostly I "cycle", where I eat less on weekdays, and eat more (but still healthy food) on weekends. I think this has helped my metabolism stay more regular, compared to times I've tried to hit the same calorie goal every day.
HC: What has been your greatest "barrier" or "challenge" to reaching your weight loss goals and how are you working to overcome it?
SH: The biggest barrier is still definitely stress eating. I try to address it by drinking water, walking the dog, taking a nap, or eating a healthy alternative snack. I have also modified my eating to include more protein and less sugar, which includes eating a lot of vegetables, but little fruit. I have found that for me personally, I love fruit and will eat it with abandon, thinking it won't affect my weight loss. But it does. That said, if I really want a milkshake, I'm gonna go get a really good one, made with real ice cream, and enjoy it. Now I crave sugar less and I often don't even finish that delicious small milkshake. I also snack on white cheddar popcorn a lot- I'm probably going to try buying a big bag and putting it in portioned zip lock baggies.
HC: What was your "ah ha" moment (if you had one) in changing your behaviors?
SH: My "a-ha" moment was figuring out that the "cycling" method was working for me (eating less on weekdays and more on weekends), and realizing how much sugar was in many foods claiming to be low fat. I actually still eat a good amount of good fats (earth balance buttery spread is amazing), but I've cut back on sugar. I've also been eating less gluten and dairy because of dietary restrictions for other people in my household, and I'm not sure if that has been helping. When I do eat dairy, I've been going for smaller portions of regular fat stuff- it tastes better, you feel more satisfied, and it has less sugar/preservatives/chemicals to make it palatable.
HC: What is your advice to others?
SH: My advice to others is that if you work at it and think analytically about what you're doing, you will find a combination of behaviors that work. Don't deprive yourself, and use your patterns of hunger and energy to your advantage to find out how to schedule your meals and physical activity. If you aren't seeing a change, switch it up for a couple weeks. Unfortunately, there is nothing more motivating than seeing you've made progress, and nothing more defeating than working hard and seeing nothing. Try to keep yourself motivated however you can- I find it helps to look around online, on Pinterest, Stumbleupon, Livestrong, or other sites, for healthy food ideas, strategies for weight loss and fitness, and other people's success stories. Be careful though- I love to cook and if I'm hungry and looking at recipes I'm probably going to make something delicious and eat all of it. Meal planning and budgeting at the grocery store have helped too. I also like the "said no one ever" meme... for example, "I'm so bummed I went on that super long walk and got in a lot me-time, relaxation, and exercise... said no one ever". Helps me get going if I'm waffling over whether or not to go for a walk.
Here is Sarah's Before and After photo...WAY TO GO!!!!
Wow! Those are some amazing insights, don't you think. One of my highlights is the milkshake comment! I have commented on this same concept many times...depriving yourself usually backfires, so if you want that milkshake, go get the best one you can find and savor it all (or like Sarah...maybe not even all of it...because when we do consume less of these foods, over time we do "crave" them less often!)
I want to thank Sarah for sitting down with me and sharing her story. She has found her recipe for success and we couldn't be happier to have helped her along the way.
As always, if you have your Success Story to share, please send us an email. We'd love to highlight your story!!!
Best wishes to Sarah and all of you, keep it up!!