I’d known for years that I needed to lose weight. I postponed the inevitable by having four babies in six years. (Can’t lose weight when you’re pregnant, right?) I did my research, I came up with a simple plan, and then I thought, “Nuts, now I have to do it!” I was petrified of two things: 1. Not being able to lose weight. 2. Losing weight and then gaining it all back. But the only alternative was to stay overweight and that future scared me more.
One year later and thirty pounds lighter, I’m ready to share my plan and encourage anyone out there who’s on a similar journey. I’m still on the journey, by the way; I have about twenty pounds to go to reach my goal.
The plan is simple. Every week for three weeks, we focus on one aspect of weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. On the fourth week we put it all together. Then we repeat the pattern every four weeks, building on the changes we’ve made and making them permanent elements of our new lifestyle.
Start with Sex
Two key elements of a healthy lifestyle are united in sex: sleep and exercise. Sex is exercise and it induces sleep. No matter which diet route you choose, if you don’t get enough sleep and you don’t get your butt off the sofa, research shows that your body is going to fight you every step of the way.
Maybe you don’t have the will power to turn off the TV and get yourself into bed at a decent hour. But you have at your disposal one of the most powerful forces in nature: your husband’s desire for intimacy. Here’s how you tap into that power. Pick a night (or several nights) of the week and say this: “Husband, I want you to seduce me at nine o’clock tonight. I will say yes. I need to be asleep by ten.” Your husband will remember. He might be incredulous (after all, it sounds too good to be true) but he will remember. Nine o’clock comes around and badda-bing, badda-boom – a good night’s sleep!
Research shows that people who get a full night’s sleep lose more body fat on a diet than those who don’t. Science has also confirmed that when we’re tired, we eat more. (Google “weight loss and sleep” and you’ll see what I mean.) If you want the hormonal explanation, check out Dr. Oz’s website; he explains the connection between REM sleep, hormones, and weight loss.
Better yet, do your own research. Ready? Get eight hours of sleep two nights in a row. Does a salad sound appetizing? Do you have the energy to make one? Good. Okay, now get six hours of sleep two nights in a row. What are the chances you’ll exercise today? Are fat and sugar your new best friends? Bingo.
Psalm 127:2 says that God “grants sleep to those he loves”. Sleep is a blessing! A gift! Not a necessary evil.
On to exercise!
Exercise burns calories and builds muscle, which burns more calories. It keeps your heart and lungs healthy, releases endorphins, yadda yadda yadda. It also makes you feel better wearing a bathing suit even if you’re not up to Kate Upton standards yet! Ask anyone who has lost weight what they did to be successful and 9 out of 10 will say, “Exercise more and eat less!” (More on eating next week – one thing at a time!)
How do you exercise more? With concerted effort.
My favorite exercise is swimming laps. It combines cardio and muscle toning in one workout and you’re wet, which means you don’t have to figure out how to look cool using dumbbells and you don’t feel sweaty. The real breakthrough came when I started swimming with a friend. We show up because we want to talk, but we make ourselves do laps first. I’m motivated to go because I want to hang out with my friend, so I go more often. I used to walk on a treadmill while reading a book because I love reading. (In fact, I avoided the pool for a long time because you can’t read in the water.) It was a pain to get the kids out the door and to the YMCA, but I got to read uninterrupted for an hour – totally worth it! The point is, if you make it fun, you’ll do it more often.
If, for you, the word “workout” is akin to “pap smear”, then start small. Go for a walk after dinner. When you’re on the phone with a girl friend, pace the room and do squats like a nut. You know that pile of things at the bottom of the stairs that needs to go up? Take them up; all of them, one at a time, up and down, up and down. Challenge your kids to a race. You may be ready to quit after one lap around the yard, but they’ll ask for more and enjoy beating you as you move slower and slower and finally bribe them back into the house with a treat. The type of exercise doesn’t matter at this point in the journey: if you’re moving your body, it counts.
Isaiah 40:29 says that God “gives power to the tired and worn out, and strength to the weak”. Ask God to help you do what you know you need to do.
So, get eight hours of sleep at least two nights this week and move ten minutes extra each day. Have faith – the things you do TODAY are affecting your weight and your body, even if you can’t see it yet.