As I finally started finding success with my weight loss I exclaimed to my husband Randy “I can’t believe how simple this is yet I failed at it for at least 15 years!”
So Randy reminded me of the quote Thomas Edison made regarding his process for inventing the light bulb:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ― Thomas A. Edison
Randy and I both laughed at how I found probably the 10,000 ways how not to lose weight! Although the victory is still sweet for me, you don’t have to take 15 years and wait until you are 50 years old like I did.
Lifelong Eating Habits Engrained
As a young child I grew up in a poor family with four siblings and a single mom who tried her hardest to care for us under extreme adversity. This was in the 1960’s and although we lived in the land of abundance it did not always make it to our table.
This was back when bringing food stamps to the store felt shameful yet my mom held her head high and did what she could to provide for us. I remember how she treated all the food in the refrigerator as a precious commodity.
We didn’t go out to eat much and she prepared healthy meals for us and packed our school lunches. She would get mad if we tried to skip breakfast and she was always there in the morning to cook something simple like one fried egg and a piece of toast with butter.
We didn’t have a lot of snacks. On occasion we might get a treat and go to taco bell. I laugh at the memory of it because there were 5 or 6 menu items to choose from, all pictured up on the overhead wall. Looking back, I think she had it right back then.
But I also remember her making us popcorn and placing it in a big bowl in the middle of a round table. All of us kids sat around the table and scarfed it down as quickly as we could afraid that others would get more.
Overall I think this season of my life taught me to appreciate the food we had and to not mindlessly eat.
The next season of learning about food happened for me in the foster homes I lived in after that. I was fortunate to live with a Filipino family and an Italian family who both taught me how to cook their ethnic foods.
I was always ambitious and loved to be the one who cooked dinner and receive the praise for the meal. We prepared our food at home and going out to eat was a rare treat. At this point I started eating more and eating seconds was encouraged in both families, but I was young enough and luckily wasn’t too chubby (yet).
This was probably where learning about food portions started becoming distorted for me.
Learning to Love Exercise
My first high school job was as a summer camp counselor and I decided then that I loved the outdoors and being physically active.
I started my first full time job at a high tech company during my senior year of high school. The company I worked for encouraged physical activity and the work environment was like a college campus. There was a par course and running trail, gyms, locker rooms, showers, basketball and volley ball courts, and even a softball park.
I took an aerobics class in the campus gym when I was 19 years old and that is when I met a 50 year old instructor who had the body of a teenager.
The image of her always stuck in my mind and I decided I wanted to be like her when I was 50.
I didn’t stick with the aerobics class because it didn’t fit my schedule but I learned that music made exercise more fun.
I started running outside and lifting weights at the gym and bought my first Walkman. Walkman’s were expensive and it was a big clunky thing that used cassette tapes and ran on double A batteries but it was well worth the investment. It helped me look forward to exercise (If you are not feeling like working out, music will always give you that needed pump).
If you are like me then you may also hate running and even weight lifting. However, if you stick to it for some time, you will start seeing some amazing results and the positive effect exercise can have on your mood and life in general, and you WILL LOVE IT.
The Slow Weight Gain Creeping up, Sounds Familiar?
The fact that I spent my lunch hour exercising meant I had to pack my food rather than go to lunch with other employees.
For years I packed my food and ate when I could during breaks. These were habits that serve me well today. What I didn’t realize was that my portions were still too big and I ate too much.
I exercised hard and at one point realized I had run six miles a day, six days a week for 10 years, along with weight lifting and other physical activities.
This was in the 1980’s when eating fat free and high carb was the in thing and so I did this for many years. The memory makes me cringe now. All the running made me hungry and I ate too much.
I ate this way for years while running marathons and couldn’t figure out why I was not the athlete that I wanted to be.
As time went on my weight kept doing the slow creep up so I tried several popular diets which only worked temporarily and some didn’t work at all.
These were the diets I tried (if you been in involved in this industry for a while chances are you’ve tried them too):
- Low fat high carb
- Weight Watchers
- Weston Price Diet
- The Schwarzbein Principle
- Eat Fat Lose Fat
- The Ultimate PH Solution
- The Makers Diet
- A friends diet from a personal trainer/dietician
I finally just got sick of it all and made up my own diet with healthy foods I enjoy and smaller portions.
I ate my meals from small desert plates and bowls. I stopped eating in the evenings. I started calling what I did mini-meals and mini-fasts and I lost 40 lbs. Then I found Eat Stop Eat, The Venus Index Workout, and the Venus Index Community.
I recently read the Anything Goes Diet. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in losing weight or maintaining fitness. I found this book to be amazingly insightful and John Barban covers all bases. Honestly the book is so good that I can’t see how you wouldn’t succeed if you actually read the book and followed the principles. It gave me some new ideas for my own maintenance plan.
Even though we still have so much diet confusion and conflicting advice in the media it seems like the simple truth is buried there, eat less, move more.
Here are some examples where the truth does exist in sometimes humorous ways. I do not necessarily agree with everything in these articles but you can see some points of truth:
- Forbes “Ten Diets That Work”
- Wall Street Journal “Is your Personality Making you put on the Pounds?”
- Wall Street Journal “The 27 Rules of Conquering the Gym”
After attempting various diets and eating restrictions over the years I have learned to cherry pick from them and found what works for me. Some days I temporarily change things up and eat low carb or try something different.
Don’t get Discouraged by Failures
Don’t get discouraged by failures.
Every successful person has failures and part of why they are successful is that they learn from their mistakes.
It is just like Thomas Edison inventing the light bulb. You don’t have to reinvent the light bulb or the wheel.
The tools are right here right now. Using the available tools may not stop you from all your mistakes, but you can keep your chin up and learn from them. Most likely these tools will prevent some wasted effort and you won’t have to wait until you are 50 years old to achieve your dream.
If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.
Thomas A. Edison, Encyclopedia Britannica
US inventor (1847 – 1931)
Since you don’t have to learn the 10,000 ways how not to lose weight like I did, what are you waiting for?
It is never too late to follow your dreams!