Reader Question: Where Do I Start?

It’s been a while since I’ve answered a reader question on my blog so today seems like a good day for it.   I’ve received so many messages from people who want to know where to start, and I know that it can be overwhelming so I’m asking for your help in answering their questions.  Take a look at this message from a lovely lady in the area, and tell me what you would suggest to help her get started on her own journey.

Hi Kenlie! I’m local and saw an article about you in the newspaper. Congratulations on your weight loss journey and for taking a stand against discrimination of overweight people. I am 280 lbs and know I need to take control of my weight. How do I even start? Moneywise, it is so much more expensive to eat healthy. I dont have the money to go to a gym. Any suggestions on getting started are greatly appreciated! Good luck on your journey!

-A

********

Hi A,

Thanks for the message. It’s nice to hear from someone local!

It sounds like we weigh almost the same right now, and I have to tell you that I’m not an expert.  With that said, I’m happy to tell you how I got started.

I lived in New York, and my first step was joining a Weight Watchers group.

Weight Watchers taught me what a serving of food should actually look like which was great because I seriously didn’t realize how much I was eating.  Seriously, even if I ate only half of my old favorite dish at Chili’s, Chicken Crispers, potatoes and corn on the cob, I’d still be eating almost an entire day’s worth of calories just in one meal.   And that’s not even including appetizers, drinks or dessert!  I could easily add another 1,000 calories to that just with chips and salsa!

Yeah, I knew I was eating more than the average woman, but Weight Watchers helped me understand just how much I was eating and how to make better choices that were still satisfying.

Add 590 calories for the loaded mashed potatoes and corn on the cob for a total of about 2,250 calories for one meal.

And speaking of empty calories I cut out soda cold turkey in 2009, and it’s by far the best thing I have ever done for my body.  It was really hard, and it sucked for months.  I told myself that I could drink one later if I really wanted to, but eventually it lost its appeal.  I remember a time in my life in which I couldn’t fathom giving up sodas, and now the thought of it is just gross.

But the eating part of healthy living is still much harder for me than the exercise part, but I’m trying to tackle it.  I started counting calories about seven weeks ago, but I still weigh-in at a local WW meeting once a month or so.  The support you receive at meetings is priceless.

And I love the gym now, but I didn’t always feel that way. When I started trying to turn things around I started walking. Seriously, I didn’t walk fast or long, but I did more than I had done previously. And as time passed it took more effort to get my heart pumping which reminded me that I was getting stronger!

In addition to walking I also bought my first Richard Simmons DVD.   I own several now, but Party Off the Pounds is still my favorite. I found my copy at Walgreens, but you can get it online here as well. And to this day it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made in fitness. I didn’t have to worry about looking ridiculous (even though I’m sure I did at first.)  And it will definitely make you sweat!

And speaking of Richard, I was on Dr. Drew's show with him last week. And out of all of the pictures I've taken with him, this is the *only* one in which we're not smiling. Of course, we were discussing a very serious issue.

So in short A, I starting with walking and aerobics worked for me, and now I love to sweat!

In regards to food, try to replace something unhealthy that you’re eating with fresh veggies. I eat a 6 cup salad for lunch most days (romaine lettuce, 1 tbsp of light Caesar and 7g of mini croutons) with chicken or salmon (on the side) or some other form of protein like egg whites.

The most important thing is just starting somewhere right now instead of waiting until tomorrow or Monday or January,  then don’t stop.  Keep trying even when it feels like you’re messing up over and over.  Most people take a few steps forward and a few back.  Don’t get discouraged, and don’t quit.

Again, I’m no expert, but I’m surrounded by them.  In my experiencethe people here know what they’re doing, and they’re always willing to help so let’s ask them.

Thanks again for reaching out, and I hope you’ll do it again soon.

Night!

Kenlie

 

So friends…What advice can you give to someone who wants to change the way they live with food and exercise?  What’s the most important step in getting started?

 

 

15 thoughts on “Reader Question: Where Do I Start?

  1. Hi A,

    I am on the same path as you are – already 6 month ahead :-). First of all I have to disagree with Kenlie – my opinion is don’t do diets – first ask yourself if you want to change your lifestyle actually for the rest of your life – you will be able to return to convenient food now and than but of course not in the way you are eating today.

    on Nutrition
    Healthy food may be expensive, but you need less than industrial food so it doesn’t matter really (at least the prices here in Europe – where fast food is also expensive)

    approach 1 – avoid sugar in any case , no coke , no coke zero, no limonades, nothing use water – coffee, tea, milk, natural juices (orange, apple,)
    Taking the sugar away from your body stops eating attacks and cravings for whatever – your blood sugar level will be reduced and therefore the hunger attacks will be fewer

    approach 2 – replace your industrial food totally. Poultry and Fish will be your friend for the next months / years to come . Skip all carbs to a minimum no bread no noodles, potatoes – replace if at all with few rice

    approach 3 – add a protein shake 3 – 5 times a day with milk, fruits, berries and bananas into a mixer done (replace your breakfast and your dinner with this)

    sports

    approach 1 – as you (we) don’t have tons of money do cardio (nordic walking/running) 3 times a week – use a program like c25k (in nine weeks to 3miles) – do run outside not on the treadmill – if you don’t like “to bee seen” doing sports in the beginning :-( (I was like that) run in the early morning or late eve – even if you meet others,co-runners are awesome they give always thumbs up as they do see that you are actually doing something.

    approach 2 on top consider buying a barbell with 20kg and download a course like bodypump (it’s a 1h DVD course) – you will be absolutley wacked the first couple of training ;-)

    Results
    you will loose in the first two / three month a lot of weight – don’t be too enthusiastic thats mainly water …. the next month will be reduced to a much more slower path….

    Costs
    It really depends – you can do this for almost nothing I assume the healthy food costs will not be that much more as industrial food.

    If you can afford , buy good running shoes , go to a running store not to a large store (this is the only expensive thingy) assume 100-150 USD. Even if we look funny consider running tights – the make running that much easier.

    The barbell shouldn’t be more than 50 USD with 45 lbs weight (perhaps a used one) – you ll find the bodypump81 on the net.

    Do you have an Iphone ? check out runkeeper, fitocracy, get running and for fun zombies run ( altogether 12-15 USD)

    Extra: if you have money left consider buying a hart rate monitor and watch

    Obstacles
    You have to be sure to really want this and actually don’t care about your nearest environment , don’t tell your friends, ignore stupid comments from your significant other – go your path once your started and don’t return.

    Impact
    As I said in the beginning – its a life changing milestone – I was (still are) obese for 15y and just half a year in changed already so much – have a look at Kenlie and you see this

    Other resources
    fit2fat2fit.com helped me a lot; fitorcracy.com is great for motivation, without the “get running” app on my iphone I would never have started that easy on runnning (the sites are free – the app is 2.49 USD)

    Reality bites/On frustration
    Of course it’s not “hey I am changing my life” and everything comes jumping into your lap. Reality bites in very hard the first 4 weeks on running after 15y where a fight and I was not able to run a mile for a long time … well I walked … this changes over a short period.
    The most impact was to skip sugar in every situation – I was on diets before but still was starving – skipping sugar had such a big impact.
    I still have cravings and yes I do go even to McDonalds – but of course once per month ( I do have kids) or even less – I can’t stand sometimes the smell anymore.

    My results
    I have done this started in Nov ’11 – coming from 325lbs today now to 270 lbs in more or less half a year – goal would be around 218 (I am quite tallish 6.6).

    Stephan

    0
  2. I think Kenlie gives very good advice, just start with the basics. As some one who has previously lost over 100 lbs myself (and gained some back more than once!), I can tell you that you have to find something you can maintain long term.

    I would start with eating first. Slowly make changed to your diet. Baked or grilled chicken instead of fried, and if you’re not a big fruit/veggie person (like me), try adding just one serving a day. And be open to trying new food. I never in a million years thought I would even try kale, but I made kale chips and they weren’t bad!

    Then move on to exercise. I think Kenlie was right on the money when she said start with walking. When I lost all that weight I did it using Walk Away the Pounds. That way if it was nasty outside or something, I still got in a great workout in my living room, and it was something that was not intimidating. Once you’ve gotten into a good exercise routine, you can start building on it. I have since added Jillian Michaels dvd’s, The Firm, and Brazil Butt Lift. And for days when I’m dreading working out, because honestly it’s really not enjoyable for me, I do Zumba Fitness on the Wii. That is a great workout, and it’s something I like to do.

    I also think Weight Watchers meetings are a great idea. They give you that accountability. One of the best things my leader taught me was “Don’t let a lapse turn into a collapse.” I love that quote, and by going to meetings it helps me to do just that. Or you could even start your own blog like so many of us have. That’s another great way to get support. I’ve “met” some really great people since starting my blog, I love the support they give, and I like being able to leave my comments and words of encouragement for them too when they’re having a rough time. Good luck!

    0
  3. Hi A,

    I’ve got more than a little more than you to lose, but I’ve been in the $ boat before. When I was younger, my mom helped pay for programs and food for me, but as my weight problem never really resolved itself (which would probably be the issue since I needed to actually work, lol) and I got older……..I had to start doing things on my own (though my parents are very supportive and would and still do help me out). Since I had access to internet……..I just looked up online weight trackers that were free. I think Kenlie has supported the Sparkpeople website before and its a free product that helps you track nutrition, give suggestions, tracks goals and fitness…….even has free fitness videos and such. I think that would be a great place for you to start if you wanna keep the cost low.

    Walking, I often hear is the first step. Start with what you feel comfortable with then add a little bit. I bought some cheap handweights from Walmart for about $10 to use for upper arms too.

    Now that I can financially afford it, I do WW online, which is about $17 a month. And I’m very fortunate that the place I work has gym facilities that I can use for free.

    Kenlie is right though, start off small first. I find trying to go all out at first, leaves you no where to go. For instances: My aunt (told me she just hit 300lbs and has many health problems) drinks soda ALL the time. In fact she has a 72oz Sheetz cup that she carries around with her. Sometimes its diet soda, sometimes its regular. Needless to say, I think if she tried to just cut how much soda she was intaking a little at a time, she would probably see less bloating, some weightloss, and less stomach problems. Not saying that I told her this, she is the only one who can make the changes. But that is an example of how to change one thing in your life, its simple and will show a result.

    Good LUCK!

    0
  4. Whoa – Are you as overwhelmed by all the things people have said to do and how daunting it sounds as I am, A? While all the advice that’s been listed so far may well be very good advice, I can see how it would not sound achievable to someone who sounds like they aren’t ready to jump in full force but are just looking to start a transition to a healthier life.

    Don’t get me wrong, losing weight is a lot of work. I’ve lost 65 pounds so far, and I’ve definitely had to work for it. But, when I got started with this journey, I just wanted to test the waters at first. Here’s what I started with:

    -Get on a good sleep schedule: you need to get enough sleep in order to have success with weight loss but also, I felt that I needed enough sleep to encourage healthy decisions (i.e. if I woke up well rested I was more likely to have time/energy to make myself a healthy lunch to take to work than if I was overtired and ran out the door late I just ate the fast food available close to my office).
    – Commit to drinking enough water every day: When I focus on getting in all my water each day, I don’t feel like I’m giving up soda or coffee or anything else because I just tell myself I have to get in my water BEFORE i can have those things. Then, by the time I get in all my water, I’m either not thirsty for those other things or craving more water.
    -Focus on adding fruits & veggies: So, we all know we’re supposed to get 5 servings of those babies everyday. If you’re anything like me when I started, I definitely was not doing that. So, instead start by just incorporating these items at all into your diet and then work your way up until you get to five.
    -Ease Activity into your life: Okay, we don’t all start suddenly working out 6 days a week. Start by asking a friend to go for a walk with you a couple days a week, or if you have a wii then do that a couple days a week. Hell, even do some real vigorous cleaning once a week or dance in your underwear while you get ready for work in the morning – just MOVE.

    Eventually you’ll need to get more serious and really take to heart some of the things that other commentors and Kenlie have said, but in my humble opinion, these are things that will at least put you on the right path :)

    0
  5. Food wise, I tackled it in the beginning by tracking what I ate normally and saw where the calories were coming from. I’m a volume eater so I started eating high volume low cal foods like vegetables to stay satiated. I realized I can’t skip breakfast!

    Exercise wise, I started off slow with thirty minutes of ANY form of physical activity even if it’s walking. Consistency was key. It was important to build up to where I wanted to be instead of risking injury!

    I think writing a list of WHY you want to lose weight is a great way to keep things in perspective and re-motivated yourself when you feel lost.

    Love your tips :)

    0
  6. “The most important thing is just starting somewhere right now instead of waiting until tomorrow or Monday or January, then don’t stop.”

    I think that is key. Today is the day, A…do *something*. I feel in a small way you already have gotten the ball rolling by contacting Kenlie. :)

    I read over all the tips here, and they are helpful; I hope you glean something from them, but DON’T be overwhelmed. You will need to find what works for you, and clearly all of the tips may not. You will find your own groove, & we would all like to hear about it! I don’t know what attempts you may have done in the past, etc, not too much to go on, but I will add some thoughts as well.
    BABY STEPS are ok! Start somewhere. :)
    I started with 2 lb dumbbells, A! Ha, 2 lbs! But I added reps, and started to notice changes. Exciting! That only spurred me on. Bought bigger dumbbells. A pedometer was encouraging too, I could SEE how many steps I achieved. If you don’t walk now at all, start somewhere, y’know? Walk to the neighbors’ mailbox. You don’t have to start with a 3 mile run. Don’t allow that thinking. SMALL ADDS UP. SMALL MATTERS. Start somewhere.

    I added in Jillian Michaels Power Sculpt DVD, which is a great place for a beginner to start. It has 3 levels, and you add another level when you are ready. It allows you to progress at your pace.
    Ok, so I have already mentioned a few things here that cost $. Well, if you cannot do that, there are workarounds for each one, but maybe a small expense of say the $10. dvd, or pedometer might end up being very worth it.. YOU are worth it. But-revelation here-you do not need to spend $$ to lose weight/get fit. Nope.

    Drink a lot of water.
    Think about what you are eating.
    Think about getting yourself to move more. [embrace that you couldn't park near the store, it's helping you get your steps in!] No elevators, take the stairs!

    On eating healthy costing too much; again, you are worth expense, but don’t allow cost to be an excuse. Eating healthy does not have to cost more than how you currently eat. If you can’t afford organic eggs, don’t buy them. Buy your reg eggs + egg whites. Maybe you just tweak the definition of healthy, & buy fresh veggies instead of organic veggies. I think eating junk is also $$. (of course we have no idea how you eat, not implying that.)
    I know of a woman in blog world that lost weight eating not necessarily overly healthy items initially, but just watched how MUCH of each thing she ate, mostly counting calories I think. I think if you can watch your calories to start, eating the foods you do now (assuming they aren’t healthy) maybe eventually you can begin to add veggies and non processed healthy foods. I suspect when you see the results of calorie counting/eating normal portion sizes, you would be so encouraged and wish to incorporate healthy things. I don’t expect you to cut out unhealthy things overnight. You probably shouldn’t even try, it might make things too hard. This needs to be a lifestyle, something you can LIVE with forever.

    It would be great to hear from you, or if you would happen to start a blog about your progress let us know!
    ps-I think even reading blogs about weight loss, fitness, etc, is encouraging. Maybe you can find one that helps motivate & encourage you.
    All the best,
    Chrissy

    0
  7. I’m with Grace – start by tracking what you are currently eating. It is a revelation and there is so much to learn and there should be no shame in any of it. It’s just a chance to learn more about yourself. I use Livestrong.com’s MyPlate. It has every kind of food in there and it tracks nutrients as well as calories and it’s free. There is also a LOT of support on there from others who are going through the same thing. I’m in the 100+ pounds to lose group and they are wonderfully supportive.

    I started with the tracking and changing food choices because I was so big it was hard to do even basic exercise. I can now walk about ten minutes and can do aerobics at home for about 15 minutes before my ankles and knees start to give out. But I think it is 80% food and 20% exercise at the beginning. It does make you feel much better though when you get up and move. I started at 410 and am down to 378 so I have a long way to go but am enjoying the journey.

    Oh, I also just started going to OA meetings for additional in-person support. It’s not for everybody but this particular group is very welcoming and supportive of me so I will keep including that in my plan. I also see a therapist ever couple of weeks and that has proven to be a very important part of my staying on-program and no binging. Good luck.

    0
  8. The three biggest dietary changes I made that have had the most impact is I stopped drinking soda, learning portion control, and I don’t eat out more than once a week, and if at all possible, I research the menu before we go so I can make better choices. We have a tight budget and while we still eat a lot of processed food, I also make it a point to try new recipes and eat my fruits and veggies. I also never keep any kind of snack/junk food in the house.

    Walking is great exercise. Get out there every evening and walk your neighborhood. Its free, and it will burn off the weight a little at a time, but you have to pair it with good eating habits. Also, familiarize yourself with body weight exercises- you don’t need any equipment and you can get a killer strength workout this way. For the days you just don’t want to do anything, do an hour of yoga. You’ll feel refreshed, and your muscles will thank you. Big people CAN do yoga! Don’t think its only for little skinny people. Big mistake!

    In re: to Stephen’s comment up top, I agree- dieting is bad. Changing your eating habits for life is what you need to do. Eating a healthy diet is not the same as dieting. Diets are a short term solution to a long term problem. Make the changes you can see yourself sticking with for the rest of your life.

    I hope between Kenlie and everyone else you’ve found some helpful advice here!

    0
  9. while weigh tloss is a challenge, it is a challenge worth taking on. the health benefits of any significant weight loss are huge.
    the change begins with you and your determination to be healthier. a start can be as simple as cutting portions at each meal, cutting out useless sources of calories,ie sodas, chips, sugar in beverages and learning to drink lots of water.
    excercise can be started with one of the many good videos that are available, as kenlie did or walking, if you are able.
    most importantly, realize it begins with YOU and YOU will benefit more than you can imagine.
    i wish you the best and hope to hear of your success in the weeks and months to come.

    0
  10. Losing weight does not need to cost any money at all. myfitnesspal is free and will help you understand your calorie expenditure.
    Eating healthy is great, but eating less is what most people need to do most.
    Walking is free and you can increase intensity easily.

    It is all one day at a time, for everyone, every day. Just start.

    0
  11. Hi everyone! I’m A…and really appreciate all the amazing advice! I feel so overwhelmed…and I know starting somewhere is the key! It helps so much to have others to turn to for advice, motivation, inspiration, and just to vent.

    0
  12. Try the local library …. Mine has 170 Exercise Dvd’s. Hope yours does too. It is the try before you buy program.

    0

Leave a Reply