Welcome to a new feature post: Happy Weight Loss Success Stories. Notice that these stories have a twist to them. Instead of following a prescribed diet plan, and suffering along to achieving quick results, Kate and others like her, found joy in the weight loss journey. Becoming more mindful of daily choices, eating habits and becoming happier created an experience where weight loss happened naturally, enjoyably, and permanently. I’m so fascinated by this type of weight loss, when I heard Kate’s story, I had to ask her a few questions about her experience. I hope you get inspired as much as I did.
Have you ever tried to lose weight before? What’s been your experience with previous attempts at losing weight?
Oh gosh, yes. Well I guess I think of my weight loss journey as one big adventure with lots of ups and downs. Growing up I never really thought of myself as overweight and it wasn’t until I was in my 20s with all kinds of health problems that I actually decided to change my ways.Once I made the decision to lose the weight I did all kinds of diets – Atkins, South Beach, the Zone, and in the end the only thing I was able to make a lifestyle was counting calories combined with regular exercise.
Why do you think you gained the weight initially? What were some of the factors you feel contributed to it?
When I was growing up I was really active. We had to walk a long way to the school bus stop everyday, and we played outside a lot. However when I went away to college my lifestyle and eating habits completely changed. For the first time in my life I was able to eat whatever I wanted (and I was a picky eater). This meant I ate a lot of meals consisting of things like hot dogs, french fries, and sugar cereals (like Lucky Charms). My college was a residential campus so you ate in the dining halls all 4 years. And the increase in unhealthy food, coupled with a decrease in exercise (I only got exercise when I walked to classes) the weight started piling on.
Admittedly, I didn’t notice much at first. It wasn’t until after I graduated and was in the working world that my weight started really becoming an issue causing things like sleep apnea and making me feel sick all the time.
How do you think your emotions played a part in your weight story?
I have always been a comfort eater. However, my main weight gain was just due to lots of bad choices that compounded on one another. Choosing unhealthy foods for my meals, and not getting regular exercise (being lazy). That being said, I am still an emotional eater (and find comfort in food) but because I generally eat lots of fruits and vegetables and get regular exercise I can afford to splurge here and there.
When did you notice you were losing weight? What else was changing in your life?
You can read a bit more about my story on my blog, but essentially I really wanted a date. I was single and wanted a husband (it sounds bad, but it was true!). I realized that in order for guys to be attracted to me and want to date me I had to make changes. I had to make adjustments to my attitude. I had to deal with my health issues (I was so worried about what someone would think about sleeping next to someone who needed a machine to breathe at night).
I started exercising. I started changing my diet. I tried lots of fad diets. I learned how to cook. And over a period of 7 or so years I lost the weight. It wasn’t an overnight success story. Sometimes my weight would go up, sometimes down, but I stuck with it. I just kept doing a little more everyday until I found a way to make it part of my life and my lifestyle.
Did you follow a diet plan, or were there any other intentional behaviors or habits that you felt helped you with losing weight?
I did try to follow a diet. The problem was that I couldn’t stick with them for longer than 6-9 months. I loved fruit and so low carb was so hard. I also loved cake, and well that is hard to find on any diet. Since I loved to eat I had to learn how to make more food work for me instead of against me. When you count calories and watch what you eat it is easy to keep things in moderation.
Even know I am a whiz at estimating the amount of calories in cooked foods. Having cooked for myself, I weighed and measured everything for years, I got really good at knowing how much I’m eating. If I indulged one day, or ate too much of something, I would try to cut back the next few days and maybe throw in an extra 10-30 minutes at the gym. I worked out so I could eat. Later I learned to love working out.
Now I have a fitbit and I try to get at least 10k steps everyday, even if that means taking conference calls on my phone and walking hundreds of laps around my kitchen island. I try to stay active and make smart food choices every single day.
Were there any “bad habits” you needed to break? How did you change your behavior?
Oh sure! When I first started working I would sit and eat peanut butter M&Ms in the multi-pound bag and sip Mountain Dew. Totally unhealthy. I switched to water or iced tea and try to snack on things like vegetables (or no snacking at all). It was a hard thing to learn to do, but once you get started it is easier than you think.
I once gave up candy for 60 days. And I love candy. They say it takes 28 days to break a bad habit, so I was hoping I could get rid of candy forever. It didn’t work. I still love candy, but it was a worthwhile experiment because I showed myself I could do it if I wanted to do so. and the first two weeks were brutal, but after that it was easy- originally I had only planned to do 28 days and went all the way to 60!
Are you satisfied with your current weight? How long have you maintained your weight loss?
To be honest, not at the moment. However, that is because I am pregnant and due in May! I have had a hard time mentally with the weight gain, but I am planning on getting back to my lifestyle of counting calories and busting it at the gym as soon as I give birth to my new little person. Prior to that though I had been about 115-125 pounds for about 4.5 years (I am only 5’3″), and I am super proud and excited to get back to that weight!
Looking back on your experience, what did you learn about yourself?
What didn’t I learn? Seriously, it has been a long journey. I matured both emotionally and transformed myself physically. I developed a greater sense of confidence and even followed my dream to start my own company. I am now so healthy. I don’t get sick more than once or so per year, and before I would catch every cold that came around the office – it was like I was sick every season. I still have asthma but I can breathe normally. I have done an ironman race, triathlons and century rides on my bike.
And best of all I no longer say I can’t do something. I believe I can do anything I just have to have the self-discipline and deep desire to make it happen.
Bio: Kate Matsudaira is the owner of Popforms, a company dedicated to help emerging leaders succeed in developing their businesses. She can be found at her blog: katemats.com and her company website: Popforms.