Sunday, August 9, 2009

Why This Year is Different

I'm happy to announce that beginning today, my good friend Michelle Butler is going to be posting her healthy observations, tips and inspiration on Mondays. Michelle Mondays, if you will. So, without further ado, here's Michelle...

Throughout my adult life, I have resolved every New Year’s Eve that this was the year that I was going to get thin. At best I would lose between 10 to 17 pounds, but I’d always get discouraged, stop trying and regain most if not all of that weight back. My dream of reaching a healthy BMI range through diet and exercise seemed impossible.

At the end of 2008, I was once again evaluating my past year and setting goals for the upcoming year. Once again, I weighed the same or even a little bit more than I had on the past New Year’s Eve. If I really wanted to get thin, I had to figure out what I could do to change my ways.

Before: Michelle, third from left, and her family spending New Year's Eve last year at a pub in Ireland.

I spent a lot of time thinking about how my past attempts at weight loss had gone, what had I done well, where had I failed, and how could I plan my next attempt in a way that would succeed. I decided that my biggest mistake was that I never gave it enough time. I’d do Weight Watchers (WW) for a few months or work out regularly for several months, but I’d never done both for a sustained amount of time to see what I could accomplish if I really gave it my all.

For 2009, I set a goal that I would try all year to lose weight. No matter what I would not quit. I broke it down into smaller goals and resolved that I would join and stay in WW all year and attend 45-50 meetings. I would also go to the gym at least 100 times.

Resolving that I would try all year is the best thing I’ve ever done for my weight loss. Whenever I’ve gotten frustrated at how slow the weight comes off, I can’t contemplate quitting because I promised myself I would give it a whole year. Even if I had only lost 2 pounds, I would still be attending WW meetings in December 2009. All that energy that used to go into the discouragement I let myself feel and the angst over whether I should keep trying, should I just quit, could I really do this went instead into my continued efforts to lose weight. This determination even carried me through a recent, eight-week plateau.

After: Michelle, far left, with friends in July at the RWA National Conference, showing what dedication to a healthier diet and exercise can accomplish.

This is my most successful attempt at losing weight. As you can see from my before and after photos, I’ve gone down 2-3 sizes and lost 22 pounds. I’ve reached my 10% at WW and lost more than 20 pounds for the first time in my life. I also honestly feel like I can reach a healthy BMI if I just give it enough time and sustained effort. I decided to join Trish on this blog to give me yet another reason to stick with it to the end. Look for my posts on Michelle Mondays.

What has helped you succeed in achieving your health or writing goals? What has made the difference between failed attempts and later successes?

Today's (Sunday's) progress (for Trish, not Michelle):

Calorie intake: 1,321

Exercise: 40 minutes aerobics while watching the pilot of Gilmore Girls. Two friends have been after me to watch this series forever, and one finally just up and bought me the first season on DVD for my birthday. :)

Steps: 10,151


Deb Marlowe on August 10, 2009 at 1:08 PM said...

Congrats on your achievements, Michelle!

I'm also having my most successful year, and I have to credit hiring a trainer. Having someone to be accountable to motivates me!

Mary on August 10, 2009 at 1:14 PM said...

Congratulations Michelle! You look awesome!! Welcome to the blogosphere! I can"t wait to check in next Monday...
Blessings and Best Wishes!!

Michelle on August 10, 2009 at 1:41 PM said...

Thanks, Deb! Congrats on your own progress. I'm glad your relationship with a trainer is going so well. I see them at the gym and just can't imagine paying real money to have someone yell at me in public, but I may be missing something. What makes your trainer so effective? I do tend to go to classes at the gym because the instructors will push me more than I'll push myself.

Michelle on August 10, 2009 at 1:43 PM said...

Mary, thanks so much! I've blogged some for work but never personally. This is definitely taking the private New England girl out of her comfort zone. Hopefully, it'll all be good. :)

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on August 10, 2009 at 2:13 PM said...

Hey, Deb and Mary. Thanks for popping by and chatting with us today.

Michelle, you know I think you've been a really wonderful inspiration to me this year. I need to work a little harder, upping my exercise. I let the calories creep up a little over the weekend, and I noticed it when I got on the scales this morning. :( So back to working harder this week. It'll be really nice when it cools down into the 70s so it's more pleasant to get out in the middle of the day to walk or do yard work.

Michelle on August 10, 2009 at 2:15 PM said...

Thanks, Trish! Two of my friends lost more than 50 pounds in 2007/2008, and they have been great inspirations for me...It's great to pass it on. :)

And, the hard work and discipline you pour into your writing efforts always inspire me.

Carol on August 10, 2009 at 2:56 PM said...

Hey Michelle!

What a great idea to use this blog as further incentive to stick with your full-year resolution. And I can really see a big difference in the "before" and "after" photos. Congratulations!

Looking forward to next Monday's post!


Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) on August 10, 2009 at 2:59 PM said...

Hi Michelle! You look MARVELOUS, darling! :> Seriously, you've always been beautiful, but you absolutely glow in that piccie from National. Go YOU! Love it!

I've been motivated this year with all Trish is doing and several other of our Romance Bandit pals. I'm at a plateau as well, but like you, I promised I'd see it through till December. I'm down only one size, but taking it slow works for me too. I love how my clothes fit better, that's for sure! :>

Glad to know you've done so very well, and I know Trish is doing great too!

Let's go, gals! Again, Michelle, congrats and you look great!

Maggie Toussaint on August 10, 2009 at 3:22 PM said...

Michelle, I commend you on sticking to your weight-loss plan. It isn't easy. In recent years, I've struggled with weight too. In 2006, my critique partner and I instituted weekly reporting to each other -- of goals we'd set the week before. Knowing I have that Sunday accountability in both word count and weight management has helped me stay the course.

Your WRW pal, Maggie

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on August 10, 2009 at 4:14 PM said...

Hey, Carol. Thanks for stopping by. BTW, you look lovely in the picture too. :)

Jeanne, congrats on being down a size! I'm not to that point yet, but I'm hoping by the end of the year to be down a size and then down another by by 40th birthday in May.

Maggie, accountability seems to be the key to success a lot of the time. I've been doing better since starting this blog than at anytime before.

Michelle on August 10, 2009 at 4:17 PM said...

Thanks, Carol! You've seen some of the past efforts that fizzled out, so here's hoping you're seeing the time it finally worked.

Everyone, Carol is one of my critique partners, and she is the one in the pretty pink dress in the RWA photos. She was up for the GH that night! The other lady in the photo - Vanessa - Carol and I went on a fabulous writers' retreat in June.

Michelle on August 10, 2009 at 4:19 PM said...


Thanks so much for the compliments! I've been told that the slower the weight comes off the longer it stays off. I'm not sure if that's true at all, but I find it comforting at times. Best of luck with your efforts. Definitely celebrate the successes along the way.

Michelle on August 10, 2009 at 4:22 PM said...

Thanks, Maggie, and it's good to hear from a WRW pal. I'm so glad that you and your critique partner have been able to help each other achieve your writing and health goals. Many of my writing buddies have been helpful in both areas too, and I'm certainly hoping that this blog will make a difference as well.

Tawny on August 10, 2009 at 4:27 PM said...

Michelle, thats so awesome! What an inspiring post. I'm so happy for your success and love that you credit accountability to some of it. I'm so bad at that.

I'm so looking forward to hanging out on this blog and getting all the great ideas and tips and motivation to lose the miserable 30 lbs that are currently dogging me!!!

Michelle on August 10, 2009 at 4:33 PM said...

Thanks, Tawny! You can totally do it! It takes patience, perseverance and hard work - probably what it took you to become a published author.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on August 10, 2009 at 4:58 PM said...

Hey, Tawny. Like Michelle said, you can do it! I know how hard you work on your writing, so I know you have what it takes to create a great, works-for-you health plan too.

BTW, everyone, Tawny is going to start blogging with us a couple of times a month too. More details to come.

Deb Marlowe on August 10, 2009 at 5:43 PM said...

Hey Michelle! I've heard other people say the same thing about screaming trainers, but mine has never once screamed at me--nor have I heard any of the others at my gym scream at their clients.

My trainer is a tiny little thing, very supportive and nice. All of her motivation comes in a positive way. She encourages me, tells me she knows I can do things when I'm astonished that she'd even ask! It's all encouragement and high fives and I respond to that.

Michelle on August 10, 2009 at 9:53 PM said...

I'm just back from the gym after a two-hour workout, a 60-minute weight training class (body pump) and a 60-minute latin dance aerobic class (zumba), and had my post workout snack.

Deb, that's great that your trainer is so helpful. Do you go to an all-women's gym? I have in the past and always felt that they had a very supportive, positive vibe. The one I went to in the DC area went broke (actually the owner tried to embezzle all its money and got arrested attempting to leave the country) and I had to go to the world of a co-ed gym. It has its pros and cons. It definitely pushes me. Actually, one of its themes is know your own strength - and the classes allow me to do that. I'd never know I was capable of doing what I now do - like work out 8:00 - 10:00 p.m. on a Monday night regularly. The old me would have thought that crazy and impossible.

Tawny, I'm looking forward to reading your posts!

Diane Gaston on August 11, 2009 at 7:43 AM said...

Hi, Michelle!!!!
(and Trish!!!!)
I'm a day late but WAY TO GO, GIRL! That is fantastic that you've lost the weight. I wavered on my resolution and need to get back to it. The timing is perfect because my husband is on a weight loss program so I really can control temptation.
When I'm good I track my eating on I don't do any of their community stuff but their tracking tools are great! They have an ap for the Iphone, too.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on August 11, 2009 at 9:39 AM said...

Hey, Diane! That's good to know about SparkPeople's tracking apps (says she whose cell phone is so ancient it wouldn't know what an app was if it smacked it upside the antenna). :)

Michelle on August 11, 2009 at 9:42 AM said...

Thanks, Diane! Join us! We're really trying to make our health and fitness goals here. :)

I know you and your husband can achieve your goals. Hopefully, you can support each other too.

Annie Solomon on August 11, 2009 at 10:01 AM said...

Well, Michelle Butler! So HAPPY to "hear" your voice. Kudos to Trish for grabbing you! And I loved seeing that picture of your family. I've heard so much about your family trips and your sister. What a pleasure to see their faces. And, of course, that lovely, lovely "after" photo of you. Good on ya!

I, too, know those weight struggles and I'll pass on an epiphany I had recently after watching something on (I think) Oprah. It was a story about a morbidly obese man (600lbs) who lost hundreds of pounds, got to an a normal weight, then gained it all back and more. Which is typical of me and most. What he realized was when the weight finally came off and he reached his goal, his "job" was over. He was thin and now he could go back to eating what he wanted. I realized that I did this every time, unconsciously. I'd reach my goal, then, being my thin self, would cheat a little here then there, then everywhere, and slowly I'd gain the weight back. I realize now that reaching my goal is the most "dangerous" part of weight loss. And when I manage to find the courage to try again, I'll keep that in mind!

Anyway--enough of that. Congrats on your guts and determination. Thanks for inspiring us all.

Michelle on August 11, 2009 at 10:22 AM said...

Annie, it's great to "hear" from you! I bought a congrats card for your Rita win and (sadly) never sent it. I loved that book and recommended it to anyone! The best kick-a** heroine I've ever read. It was so well-deserved. :) I missed you at national this year - perhaps next summer or the mcrw retreat this winter if I can get my butt to Nashville?

Thanks for the compliment and kind words! And, thanks for sharing your epiphany. I've never gotten to goal and really tried to learn the art of maintenance, but I have heard it can be a whole new challenge. It actually comes up fairly often in my weekly weight watchers meetings. My leader is the "star" leader of DC and has his own following that includes several folks who have lost tons of weight, reached goal and have found they are struggling very hard to stay there. It's a topic that comes up at least monthly. That doesn't necessarily mean it will be easier for me to address when I get there, but I hope I'll be forewarned and forearmed so to speak. I think some of it is really, truly believing you are making a lifestyle change and are not on a diet with the implication that there is a defined end when you get to your goal weight.

Annie, best of luck with your own health journey! I know you can get where you want to be and stay there. You can join us this year in our efforts!

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on August 11, 2009 at 11:18 AM said...

Hey, Annie. It's so true about the yo-yoing weight. I've seen people I know go through this, and I'm sure it's discouraging. We really do have to retrain our brains to think in a different way.

Marie-Nicole Ryan on August 12, 2009 at 1:20 PM said...

Congrats on your weight loss and going to WW. I'm a firm believer in the program, too.

Michelle on August 12, 2009 at 1:43 PM said...

Thanks, Marie-Nicole! I've tried to do it on my own, but I'm always more successful when I bite the bullet financially and join WW. I'm not sure if it's the acountability or the support, but it makes a difference. I'm so glad it's working well for you.

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