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posted: 4/14/2014 5:30 AM

Fittest Loser Challenge: Making positive changes

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  • In the weight loss tug-of-war, Joshua Steckler is winning Lisa Townsel over to the healthy side.

      In the weight loss tug-of-war, Joshua Steckler is winning Lisa Townsel over to the healthy side.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

By Lisa Jones Townsel

It is believed that Albert Einstein said that insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Well, for me that was a way of life. I did the same thing over and over (overeating and under exercising), and I expected to get bigger and better results.

Being a part of the Fittest Loser Challenge has taught me differently. It has meant making some pretty big lifestyle shifts in order to gain the results I've wanted.

Some of those changes have been slightly uncomfortable, like weighing food by the ounce and making sure to eat five meals a day. Others have been majorly difficult, like amping up my exercise regimen to seven to 10 times a week or eating fewer food options for fuel.

In between these are a host of day-to-day changes, and some have now become so routine that I only notice them in passing.

For instance, I watch fewer food-related television shows. Really, this is a big deal for me because I tend to work (write) with a muted TV as my silent friend; and the set is typically pre-tuned to foodie programming.

While I've reasoned in the past that it was to inspire gourmet meal ideas, the love affair is now over. The more I watch these shows, the hungrier I seem to get. So while I'm not giving them up completely, I'll be curbing my steady diet for now.

It's really hard, but I duck out of dinner dates and lunch invites as much as I can. To give in to them has often been to my detriment because I have no idea what restaurants use to prepare my food.

Case in point, remember me mentioning lunch bar rotisserie chicken a week or so ago? Well, it turned out that the piece I ate carried a whopping 1,100 mg of sodium! That's all the salt that some experts recommend be consumed in a day. I would've known that if I looked at the restaurant's menu nutrition guide beforehand, but I hadn't.

This next one might sound silly but I buy fitness gear to keep up with my changing body size, and I keep a packed fitness bag ready to go at any given time.

Why? Because I don't want to risk having a legitimate excuse for not working out hard because I forgot my things, or because I am too self-conscious about my sports bra, fitness pants or workout tanks not fitting properly. At this point, it's about having no excuses.

After dinner with relatives recently, one curiously asked what I would be having for dessert. At some point in my life, I would've wanted to share in a small sweet just to appease them and to appear grateful. But this time my answer was clear: "Losing weight will be my dessert this week," I said with a smile and wink.

• Tired of making cyclical mistakes, freelance writer and substitute teacher Lisa Jones Townsel continues to make the big and small changes needed to see the results she wants.

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