Monica Traded Beer for Blogging and Lost 40 PoundsPosted on Jun 10th 2010 2:00PM by Martha Edwards
Name: Monica Shaw
Start Weight: 140
Current Weight: 100
My weight loss approach: Eat real food, live simply and keep moving. It sounds simple enough, but getting there was definitely a learning process: Learning how to eat, live, think and play in a way that keeps me fit and healthy.
I had always been chubby, even as a kid. And the chub only got worse as I progressed through high school and in college. I guess I had a typical American diet, perhaps with a few more vegetables than most (I became a vegetarian when I was 12). But the vegetarianism wasn't great for my health, either -- there were lots of grilled cheese sandwiches, frozen pizzas, mac and cheese dishes, Mountain Dews and seemingly endless meals of spaghetti with marinara sauce. Then in college, I discovered beer, one of my fondest beverages, but also one of the reasons I put on 20 pounds throughout college and graduate school.
I always knew I wanted to be stronger and fitter, but how? I tried the gym, but my workouts were aimless. I'd lift weights and run on the treadmill, but with no well-defined goal, purpose or plan, then wonder why I wasn't losing any weight. Then one day, about six years ago, after a long afternoon of margaritas and corn chips at Trudy's in Austin, Texas, I decided to count my calories. This was the real wake up call for me: I had consumed more calories that day in alcoholic beverages than I did in food. I was stunned. I mean, there I was, a graduate student in mathematics, aspiring to be a scientist, and it was only then that I realized the very scientific fact that my body is a machine that burns calories, and if I eat (or drink) more than I burn, then I'm going to gain weight.
Gaining the weight was a slow process of acquiring lots of unhealthy habits and eating bad foods. So losing the weight was going to be an equally slow process of undoing those bad habits and learning to live a healthy life. Being a math major, I decided to take a scientific approach.
Food was only half of the equation -- and I love to eat. But if not spaghetti and grilled cheese, then what? To find out, I read nutrition books, food labels, Web sites and recipe books. The more I learned about my body and what to put into it, the more I wanted to treat it right. Over time, my diet evolved into a mostly whole food diet (fruits, veggies, nuts and grains) and learning to cook became a very important part of the process. Especially, learning how to cook well. A healthy diet is easy to follow if the food is delicious.
The rest came down to exercise. Ideally, I'd be active enough just by living that I wouldn't need to "exercise." But let's face it -- I'm a writer, so I sit in front of the computer most of the day. Typing and lifting mugs of tea do not count as exercise. So I started running with a partner, which was hugely motivating. We encouraged each other to set goals, run consistently and have fun in the process. Since then I've always tried to have "fun" with exercise and do exercises that are enriching for other reasons than their calorie burn, especially cycling, swimming and walking in the country. I also try to move around as much as possible throughout the day by taking mini breaks to check on the garden, go for walks and take time and care when preparing meals (yes, even cooking is more active than sitting like a lump at my desk). I'm not out to be a hardcore athlete or a body builder, I'm just out to feel good, and moving around as much as I can keeps my energy up and my metabolism raging.
Why I wanted to blog about it: I've always learned best by writing things down. So at first, I started blogging as a way to remember what I learn and keep track of my progress. Of course, along the way I discovered that there are a bunch of people out there trying to do similar things. So now I blog for them, and me. I hope my stories, photos and recipes show other people that it's possible to be fit and healthy while still eating delicious food and living the good life.
The best part of blogging is: The wonderful comments I receive from my readers. They motivate me to keep cooking, taking pictures and writing about it along the way. They also bring so many wonderful ideas of their own -- anyone who inspires me to try new things is aces in my book.
Best comment I've received: I love it when people comment on my food photos. When someone says "nom nom nom" or "yum yum double yum" after seeing one of my pictures, I feel like I've succeeded.
What's next for my blog: SmarterFitter has recently gone country. My partner and I moved to a small converted barn in the English countryside in an effort to simplify our lives and focus on our businesses. This experience is teaching me that simple living is incredibly conducive to good health and happiness. So in addition to SmarterFitter's usual dose of food, recipes and health ramblings, I'm injecting a bit of gardening, country walking and general tips about living simply. Less really is more!
Keep up with Monica and check out her fabulous food ideas by visiting SmarterFitter for yourself.
Check out another blogger who has successfully lost -- and kept off -- 40 pounds.