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Every dietitian out there seems to say that “dieting” is only a temporary solution, one that works best for those who only have a tiny bit of weight to loose. But, if you’re like me, it’s not enough to diet – you have to change you whole lifestyle.

It’s a theory that makes a lot of sense but is really hard in its daily application. I find it so easy to fall back into old patterns, especially now when – having just moved – I’m a bit out of sorts and in need of reassuring and comforting behaviors and experiences.

I have good sound motivations – I want to be healthier, I want to start a family, I want to find just ONE pair of pants that don’t have spandex in them (I mean, come on!!!) – but sometimes all that just isn’t enough.

Although my husband is supportive and caring, he also has been skinny (like SUPER skinny) his whole life and so falls short in the “getting it” category. He thinks he’s helping a lot of the time but really, sometimes his good intentions and comments have the opposite effect and I become defensive and snippy. It’s times like this that I want to fall back on past behavior even more – when I have the worst cravings, and when I wonder if my motivations are enough. I love him though, and I know he means well, so I’m trying very hard to keep my trap shut. (Easier said than done.)

We’re fortunate enough to have a pool at our condominium – a pool that is relatively unused. Since I am obese, I obviously have some body issues about how I look in a bathing suit even when I’m fairly unconcerned with these kinds of thoughts day-to-day. But, since I AM obese, swimming is one of the best types of exercise for me to engage in safely because it’s better on my already taxed joints AND offers way more resistance than walking or running. Considering it’s high summer in a city setting, it’s also hotter than hell and swimming prevents the kind of heat exhaustion that I get from walking. Where we used to live, the climate was more formidable and my husband and I would walk several nights a week. This just doesn’t translate in our current situation so we each needed to find a new plan.

We’ve come to a bit of an arrangement, he goes on his 4 mile run and I sleep in then when he gets home we go swimming for an hour. We’ve done this for almost a week now and it’s working fairly well so far. We went swimming yesterday as part of my new self-prescribed exercise regimen – the first time when I tried to focus specifically on swimming for weight-loss. 

Unfortunately I don’t really know how to swim very well… what I call swimming is really more of a modified dog-paddle. My head is above water (where it needs to be because of some ear problems) and my arms spread out to either side of me as I kick. It’s very exhausting and theoretically seems like a great deal more labor when compared to my husbands breast-stroke regimen. I do about as much movement in 1/2 a lap as he does in 3 full laps – something I have a feeling he has a hard time grasping when I stop after a lap and he gives me a raised eyebrow and says “already?” like I haven’t done that much at all.

I have read that it’s important when starting any exercise that you start out with small manageable goals and then work your way up so that’s what I’m trying to do. I thought I’d be able to do my modified dog-paddle laps for a good portion of an hour with breaks every 4-6 laps. Instead, I found that this was rather unreasonable and I got extremely tired a lot quicker than I thought. I was really disappointed.

In reality, I’m only able to do about 25 trips (or 12 1/2 laps) across the length of the pool and I need liberal breaks about every 4 passes. I had to take an extended break in the middle of the set of 25 with a kick-board so that my arms could rest. My husband tried to get me to do the whole left-over-right-over-left rehab pool run but this wasn’t that easy – I tried to explain that my theighs and claves are just to big to really be able to do that – on land or under water – without getting very tangled but I got the impression that he thought I was making excuses. I ended up doing a few good passes but it in no way felt as arduous as the “laps” so I feel like sticking to that will be more beneficial.

All in all I feel more comfortable in the pool than I do in any of the other types of physical activities I try to do. This and yoga seem to be what works for me and even then, swimming wins out.

In the interim day I try do some strength stuff that targets my abdomen and stomach. At the moment this includes only 5 sets of 20 crunches but – baby steps –  100 crunches hurts at the end. I don’t care what anyone else can do, this is what I can do. I’d like to do some self-directed yogo on the off days eventually but I haven’t gotten to that point yet. I want to pace myself for fear that I’ll burn out before I’ve even started.

In terms of diet, making small adjustments isn’t too horrifying. I have started to cut back soda and sweets but then, I was getting WAY our of control in these areas because of the stress of our move. We’ve also started eating out less – partially because of money but mostly for my benefit.

My husband says things like “well, we just won’t eat Mexican food again if it’s not good for you” but things just don’t work that way. I WANT to eat Mexican food occasionally – I don’t need to cut it out entirely, I need to limit the amount of times we do go out to these types of restaurants and when we do go I need to eat more in moderation! I don’t need to eat so many crunchy delicious little fried chips and I need to half my meal and take the other half home for lunch the next day but I do NOT need to NEVER eat Mexican food again.

Sigh… this is something Husband doesn’t seem to understand because it’s really easy for him to just wake up, say “I’m never drinking another soda again” and then DO IT. (IT’s been over a year since he’s had a soda.) That’s not how I work. And, for this weight loss thing to work for me, I have to do it my way.

Perhaps eventually Husband will see that my way is working (because I’m hopeful that it will) and will be less inclined to offer well-meaning albeit completely non-applicable suggestions. I just hope that this point comes sooner rather than later because the concerned and puzzled look of “should you be doing that?” is going to get old really quickly.

Baby steps… in all things it’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other…