I had my last child at 40 and have struggled ever since to take off the baby weight. My baby is now 5!
Two years ago on New Years Eve, I resolved to exercise more in 2011. And I did. I went to Pilates 3 times a week, rode my horse several times a week, and met with a personal trainer twice a week. And you know what? I didn't lose a single pound. Not one! Everyone said that I should lose weight based on the amount of exercise I was doing and the healthy diet that I followed. But my scale didn't care what everybody was saying.
Now, I didn't let the fact that I didn't lose weight discourage me too much. My strength and stamina improved and for that I was thankful and motivated to continue.
I started 2012 following the same patterns of exercising and healthy eating, but early in the summer I took a fall from my horse that left me unable to continue with my exercise regime. Without the exercise, I was afraid I would gain weight, but my weight didn't change much at all. For some reason, both my body and the scale liked that ugly number and were committed to it.
Every time I went to my endocrinologist or my family doctor I would mention my inability to lose weight. My endocrinologist repeatedly said that a slower metabolism is common when a person has Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. Yeah, I know, but that didn't really help change the situation. My family doctor confirmed that I had the metabolism of a slug and tried to make me feel better by telling me that I was very fit for a fat person. Oh, yes, and they both had to go and point out that I was getting older and as you get older your metabolism slows even more…
Unexpected Weight Loss Break Through
In October I went to a conference and was warned by past participants that I would probably gain weight because there was so much good food. I began to fear that the warning was accurate while at the conference. Not only was the food delicious, but I was surrounded by caring people who knew that I had Celiac's Disease and could not eat gluten, so they went out of there way to ensure that my plate was full of safe, tasty food. When I returned home I was afraid to step on the scale, but when I did I was surprised to find that I had lost 2 pounds.
After 2 years of trying to lose weight without success, I really analyzed what was different about the time at the conference that enabled me to lose weight. While I was at the conference, I did not exercise, I ate more than usual, and slept less than usual. That really didn't seem like a recipe for weight loss to me.
As I thought about my time at the conference more closely, I realized that there was a combination of factors that led me to get short bursts of intense exercise: a faulty elevator and my tendency to run late. Since I was running late to classes or events and the elevator was spotty, I would run up or down the stairs several times a day, usually carrying my laptop and purse.
Resolving to Do Short Bursts of Intense Exercise
I was doubtful that short bursts of intense exercise 5 – 6 times a day could really be responsible for my weight loss, but I was willing to give it a try.
I set a goal of exercising intensely for 1 minute 6 times a day. I wanted to move as many muscles as possible, so I chose to stand and do knee lifts while bringing the opposite elbow down to touch the knee that was raised. I did as many as I could in a minute. An hour or two later and I would repeat the exercise. I did this 4 -6 times a day. And I lost weight. Not super fast, but I steadily lost 1 -2 pounds a week.
When I started doing short burst of intense exercise, I was dragging by the end of the minute. After two months, I am basically running in place while doing the knee lifts. I chose to do the standing knee lifts because it accommodated my shoulder injury which is still recovering, but I have started incorporating other moves with the goal of moving as many of my muscles as I can in my short burst of exercise.
When I see an opportunity for a burst of intense exercise I take it. When I park at the super market, I don't just park far away from the entrance, after parking, I race my 5 year old to the door. Realize that if you do this without a 5 year old you will look like a crazed lunatic. If you don't have, or can't borrow, a 5 year old you may want to look for a more socially acceptable burst of exercise like running up the stairs rather than taking the elevator.
I am not done; I still have more weight to lose, so I am going to continue doing short bursts of high intensity exercise because it is working for me. I have started stretching the minute out to two minutes and plan to work up to three minutes, but that is the extent of my goal: Three minutes of intense exercise six times a day, for a total of 18 minutes. It doesn't sound like a very lofty goal when many others are resolving to run in marathons, but it is totally doable. And I like easily achievable resolutions!
I am not a doctor and I am not sure exactly why this is working for me, but I wanted to share my experience on the off chance that it may help someone who has been struggling to lose weight. Before you start any new exercise or diet regime, you should visit with a doctor. You may have other underlying factors that should be addressed by a trained medical professional. I have very good doctors and I am grateful for their wisdom, treatment, and sense of humor when putting up with me.
A note to all the exercise enthusiasts out there: I will still ride and hike and do other physical activities, but I will do them simply for the joy of it.