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Things no one told me about weight loss

Last night the noisemakers at a million New Year’s Eve parties sounded off the official start of the 2007 dieting season. Two years ago when I started losing weight, finally for real this time, I didn’t quite know what I was in for. Sure, I knew I’d have to change my eating habits and pull myself out of that butt-shaped impression on my couch, but here are some of the things nobody told me about weight loss.

It will take time

I don’t just mean this in the sense that it will take a year to lose 50 pounds, though it will assuming you lose a pound a week, a safe and attainable rate. I mean you have to take time out of your day to exercise and prepare food. When I started my plan I would come home in the evenings and run on the treadmill. Now I also do Pilates. Then I’d have to go into the kitchen, shove off papers and dirty pans to make a clean section of the counter, and cook something.

By the time I was done, at least an hour or an hour and a half of my day was gone. Now it’s just a normal part of my day, but at first I was wondering how I was going to keep up with all my TV shows. Hint: You can watch TV while you’re on exercise equipment. Ah, multi-tasking! Too bad you can’t also dice vegetables for dinner too, though maybe some mad genius will come up with a salad spinner powered by an exercise bike. If so, it was my idea first! Better go get the patent on that.

You will have to cook

Sorry, it’s inevitable. I suppose it’s hypothetically possible to eat out and eat healthy, but you’re probably going to get sick of salads or fall victim to the huge portion sizes most restaurants dish out that could feed a family of three. I know some programs like Nutrisystem or Slim Fast include food, but eventually you’re going to have to ditch those training wheels and fly solo. If you’re rich like Oprah, maybe you can hire a chef to cook all your foods. Or trade sexual favors with your spouse to take over cooking duties. The best way to control what you’re eating is to prepare it yourself, or at least select the tastiest TV dinners from the freezer section yourself. I hate, hate, hated cooking at first, but now it’s a normal part of my life and I enjoy choosing what I’m going to eat every day. I always keep the kitchen stocked and never rattle all the cupboards yelling “There’s nothing to eat!” like I used to.

You’re going to screw up

It happens. You’re doing great, completely in control, and then it starts raining Hershey bars on the way to work. One just fell in your mouth. It’s not your fault, it’s the apocalyptical weather conditions! Everyone messes up. There are still days when I eat too many cookies or skip a run I should have gone on. Don’t beat yourself up over it. That’s as stupid as letting your brother grab your hand, slap your face and ask you “Why are you hitting yourself?” Why indeed? You are not a bad person or weak, just human. Don’t let one screw up be an excuse to halt your whole program. Keep trying. When I first learned to crochet my first piece looked like a ball of yarn the cat yacked up. But I practiced and now I crochet hats that don’t look anything like vomit. Healthy living is a skill, just like crochet, that you will get better at with practice.

Anyone got any more tips for the newbies? Drop them in the comments.

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Smissy • January 1, 2007 at 11:53 am

Perfect post for today PQ – I needed to be reminded of the “You’re going to screw up” after chinese food, peanuts, beer and jello shots last night. Today is a new day and a new year. Happy New Year :)


Bisous • January 1, 2007 at 12:05 pm

Ooh, I have a few –

1) Always eat breakfast

2) Eat three small meals and at least two snacks a day

3) Have you meals composed of as much Real Food as possible – yummy fruits, veggies, lean meats, whole grains – rather than processed trans fat extruded corn meal snack foods

Happy New Year! I discovered your blog just the other day, and you are an amazing inspiration!


WeightWatchNWoman • January 1, 2007 at 12:13 pm

Beautiful post. This is needed for alot of us out in the cyber world. Very inspiring, just as your other posts are. Thank you for sharing with us.

Happy New Year :}


Christine • January 1, 2007 at 4:36 pm

Happy ’07! I just finished reading the latest People magazine with all the people who lost “Half Their Size”. Have you ever considered contacting them with your story & amazing progress?? You can be next year’s Cover Model!! You are an inspiration!!


NicoleW • January 1, 2007 at 5:01 pm

Great post! Here’s my tip: Start SLOWLY. I groan whenever someone I know who hasn’t eaten healthfully nor exercised in years announces a new fitness regime that would probably kill an Olympic athlete, at the same time that she puts herself on a 900-calorie-a-day diet. I really think that making small, gradual changes is a better way to get started.


Kitt • January 1, 2007 at 5:53 pm

There are two things I’d say.

First of all, lots of people say “don’t diet” and that’s how you’ll lose weight. What they really should be saying is that a diet implies a temporary condition. “Oh, I’m dieting” — and one day, you won’t be.

As you’ve discovered slowly, it is a full lifestyle change. You’re not dieting, you’re living a completely different life than you did a few years ago — one that includes exercise and homemade food preparation, as well as other things.

I found that once I got in shape, even though I wasn’t (and still am not) at my ideal weight, I actually chose to do activities that might involve sweating or exertion. Several of my most recent vacations have been ones where I go hiking. I love the idea of taking a vacation, seeing great scenery — and coming back without having packed on weight. So that’s one thing I’d say: No diet, but not because you shouldn’t be paying attention. Don’t diet — be prepared to change your life.

Another thing I’d say is this: Whatever your goal is, bear in mind your body may simply have other plans. I’d love to be 125. I’m never, never, never getting there. And that’s not because I’m not working hard enough. I am right now the same weight I was in high school. I’d like to be less, by about 20 more pounds. It’s a weight a lot of people would see as heavy, but after 20 years of dieting (since high school) I know I’m probably pretty close to what my body plans on being the rest of my life. The best I can hope for now is to feel happy in my clothing, get a clean bill of health from the doctor, and know I’m doing regular exercise and general eating well. I need my body to live; I don’t want to live for my body.

Hope that makes some kind of sense! You’re doing great, by the way, I’m very impressed.


Monica • January 1, 2007 at 5:53 pm

Geez, woman, are you related to Mighty Mouse?! LOL Keep up the good work, sad to say I dont have have any other tips so “keep up the good work” will have to do!


Lori • January 1, 2007 at 6:03 pm

Great post; esp. the screwing up part. The more you try, the more you learn and the better you become at it.

Last night, my friend’s son got a yo-yo. He wasn’t good at it and was bemoaning that fact. I said, give yourself a break and practice. You just don’t learn to do this overnight. And as I was saying it, I realized that it’s true for just about everything in life, isn’t it? You just don’t wake up and know how to do everything really well.

Thanks for another great post! Happy New Year!


Patty • January 1, 2007 at 6:07 pm

Good post for the newyear and the newbies as well as the rest of us. It’s going to be a great 2007! Happy new year to you, pasta queen.


Denise • January 1, 2007 at 6:53 pm

Hi PQ, have been reading your blog for awhile and you are truly an inspiration. I have to agree with Christine about the People Magazine thing. You should be on their cover and sometime soon. If not you who else deserves that kind of recognition?? Please do us all one favor, when you hit your goal weight and I have no doubt that you will, please do not stop writing in this blog. You help so many people, you have no idea.



dg • January 1, 2007 at 7:16 pm

hot damn! the perfect post for the start of the year, full of spot-on advice. i think nicole’s tip is a goodun too. rome didn’t get fat in a day, so why do people always expect to change everything all at once?


Hilly • January 1, 2007 at 8:04 pm

Great post and I totally concur on the last one. Something we all spend too much time doing is worrying about perfection and hating ourselves for a slip-up, but I think once we accept those things, we totally do better.

Happy New Year, WL Wonderwoman!


Teena in Toronto • January 1, 2007 at 8:32 pm

Excellent posting!


Janice Bridge • January 1, 2007 at 9:25 pm

Consider the weight loss as a journey – NOT a destination. Each pound (or portion of a pound) that is reduced results in YOU living in a lower weight body. You will reap benefits at each step of the way.


Monica • January 1, 2007 at 10:10 pm

Yo, January 1, 2007 05:53 PM commenter, I was Monica around here, get another name, haha.

I was at the pharmacy today and saw the People story, I was going to say the same as Christine: why don’t you contact them? Especially since you have the whole story online. I’m not sure if they pay, but think of the traffic that would bring you!

Anyway, the only tip that I can think of right now would be similar to NicoleW’s. Don’t start too harshly, and don’t overdo it at first. That means no fasts, no excessive calorie reduction, no exercising like a mofo 3 hours a day etc. etc. Such a pace is very hard to keep up and once you fail at it you’re most likely to give it up entirely.


MonicaMay • January 1, 2007 at 10:14 pm

LOL Ok Monica, I changed it, is that better? :)


Monica • January 1, 2007 at 11:02 pm

Whew, thanks. For a sec there I felt like I had split personality disorder: I don’t remember alredy commenting on this entry… hmmm… heh.


Jules • January 2, 2007 at 12:19 am

When I first went to church 5 years ago—I wanted to learn more about God and what He could do for my life. When I first came across your Blog–I was drawn into a life I never knew was possible. A life that was enhanced and changed by weight loss. I am totally empowered to start my journey—same as 5 years ago–with a spirtual journey. Now it is time for the physical journey. Thank you so much for sharing and your never ending inspiration.


K • January 2, 2007 at 8:01 am

“now I crochet hats that don’t look anything like vomit.”

And now I have breathed in some coffee…

Actually, talking as someone who splits the cooking with her husband, it’s a semi-bad idea to get your OH to do all the cooking, unless he really understands about portion sizes. Mine has enormous difficulty not serving me more than I’d take for myself. Once it’s on the plate, I have a terrible tendency to eat it.

Yeah, I know, I have to work on that part myself.


Debbi • January 2, 2007 at 8:21 am

One size does not fit all. No matter what the diet books or programs say, each body reacts differently to a prescribed regimen of food and exercise, and I wish I’d known that when my Year of Living Healthfully began in January, 2006. I had to experiment to find what works best for me, and even then it won’t work unless I do.

The other thing I’ve learned is that this process – losing weight, getting healthy, going on a diet, whatever you choose to call it – has to be my main priority. I’ve been obsessed with it for a year. The difference is that I can be obsessive on my blog, instead of with my friends, acquaintances and husband.

Although he doesn’t mind.

I can’t remember when I found your blog, but I’m ever so grateful I did.


Laura • January 2, 2007 at 9:16 am

I agree, a perfect post for the new year. I started my weight loss journey a few months ago but I’m not going to beat myself over the head for not being perfect over the holidays, just grateful I didn’t get to another all time high. Now I’m ready to buckle down and put all your good advice to work.

Thanks for your wise words, your sense of humor, your perserverence. You’ve helped more people then you know.


ann • January 2, 2007 at 12:24 pm

Just one more – I would recommend not doing anything to lose weight that you can’t see doing for the rest of your life. For work, people take days off, so put these into your diet and exercise plan – a day or two (or three) for rest every week, and a day or two when you can eat what you want. Knowing you can sleep in on Sunday and drag yourself to breakfast without a morning run, and finish the day with a hot fudge Sunday does wonders for morale the rest of the week.


Bree • January 2, 2007 at 2:08 pm

Hi, as other people have said you truly are a great inspiration to us all! I greatly enjoy your posts. You give some valuable information as well as inspiration. I’d like to say a very sincere “Thank You!”.

My tip is to never give up! I lost a lot and through bad stress gained back a lot. I’m back on track. I’m so happy to report that I just jogged on my lunch break and ate a healthy lunch (veggie soup and an orange). Sorry …that’s going away from my point. Anyway …here are a couple of quotes that inspire me.

Don’t give up what you REALLY want for what you want RIGHT NOW.


Every excess becomes a vice! (soooooo true).

Drink mostly water and lots of it. I gave up coca-cola 3 yrs ago and don’t regret it. I do have my morning coffee, though.

Again, many thanks PQ.


zara • January 2, 2007 at 7:24 pm

I’m laughing too hard to think of any other tips. Happy New Year, PQ! :)


Susie • January 2, 2007 at 7:31 pm

Wow – what a super post to ring in the New Year! I found your blog from a link I can’t recall now, and I am soooo impressed and inspired. And amused, as well – you’re a terrific writer.


christie • January 5, 2007 at 3:36 pm

LMAO… “now I crochet hats that don’t look anything like vomit.” That was awesome :)

I have been learning all these “things nobody told me” also. It’s not the easy fix that people hope to find… but it is the key to making this permanent for sure. Thanks for sharing!


tena in texas • January 8, 2007 at 10:36 am

I want to thank you, PQ, and all of the people who’ve left great tips! I am working at making lifestyle changes and need to lose 100 lbs. Sometimes it feels like the loneliest walk down a very long road. But when I click on your blog, suddenly it does not seem so lonely. Today I will stay in control!


pet pharmacy • February 3, 2007 at 3:41 am

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Rita • May 9, 2008 at 4:51 pm

Loved reading this as I have been doing well, finally got over a big obstacle and just ate an entire bag of pita chips???? I’ll let it go. I don’t have to eat another entire bag for dinner, maybe a salad. I’ve been at this for almost a year and a half. I’ve lost 43 pounds and still have that many a few more to go to reach my goal. My best tip for someone starting out is each day you are aware of what you are doing makes it easier the next day, and the the next day and one day soon you will say with conviction that you live a healthy lifestyle and that one extra cookie on a Saturday won’t change that.


Karen • May 29, 2008 at 12:49 pm

I’ve gained and lost the same 30-40 lbs all of my adult life (51 next week). I find I do the best when I eat breakfast and have snacks at the ready for weak spells – even a spoon of pnutbutter works great! I keep a jar of crunchy pnutbutter in my drawer at work.

I have discovered single serving cups of jello sugar free pudding in the dairy section – Yummy!

Oh and it’s very helpful to buy things packaged in single servings. Even if you have more than one you know exactly how many calories you’ve had.

Have realistic goals – I’ll NEVER be thin. I look and feel best around 170-175 – I’m 5′-6″. I don’t expect to be 130, which some stupid chart claims is my ideal weight.

Most of all, pay attention to what and how much you eat. I can put away a ton of food and not pay any attention to the amount I’m packing away until I’m stuffed. Too late! And I serve my supper on a salad plate, unless part of the meal is salad which requires a bit more room on a plate.


DuepLe • July 16, 2008 at 8:12 am

It is a cursed evil to any man to become so absorbed in any subject as I am in mine.–Charles Darwin (1809–1882), British scientist


susan • September 11, 2008 at 3:19 pm

I think it’s important to allow people permission to make mistakes. It’s easy to know what to do, but making changes after a lifetime of unhealthy habits is not easy.

Some people struggle with appetite and cravings to the point of feeling so hungry all the time that they eventually stop trying to lose weight. It’s important to know that you don’t have to go through these things alone and there is lots of help available but you have to take the initiative to do it.


Lisa • April 29, 2009 at 1:24 pm

I know I’m late coming here…buut.

You can control that the weight falls off, but not necessarily where it comes off. It’ll all go down, but not all at once. How nice of my boobs to shrink and give me a better view of my roly stomach and chubby thighs! That is definitely the view I anticipated when I decided to no longer eat 4 pizza pops for lunch every day. Eventually, it all goes down, but it sure falls off in weird places sometimes.

You will piss people off. People like stasis. Your regular lunch buddy will feel as though you’re rejecting them, even if you explain that you just can’t eat that food anymore. Your mom will be hurt when you don’t gobble all of the butter tarts she made at Christmas (but seriously…gobble some. It’s Christmas, and I’m pretty sure baby Jesus was ticked that the second wiseman brought Frankincense and not butter tarts)

You will get sick of people asking you how you did it. Especially when they are the same people who have sat in morning meetings with you, watching you eat your nice banana while they eat delicious donuts. The worst part is that the people who annoy you most will inevitably ask you in situations where it is not appropriate to answer “Crystal Meth. Balls that there are always bugs crawling on me, but anything to be skinny!”


Elena • November 6, 2009 at 11:01 am

I really like your point “you’re going to screw up” because it’s so important to adopt a beginner’s mindset when, well, beginning a new lifestyle. Just like with a new challenging class, there are going to bouts of overconfidence, total confusion, and many moments where you learn and piece together what your body needs and wants and it’s like a lightbulb goes off. But you have to have the patience.

I would also like to add “be prepared for change” because I have needed to mentally prepare myself for, not only the lifestyle changes, but the physical changes that occur when lifestyle changes are consistent. Sure, I might have dreamed of being thin, but once 20 lbs is gone, or 50 lbs, there can be a bit of separation anxiety from “the old me”. Also, be prepared for budget/expense changes when cooking your own meals and having to buy new clothes!

(sorry this comment is late but I just got your book and am reading through the archives!)


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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