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Flab Fight

With a goal to lose 30 pounds in 2018, one of our own writers is out to prove that health and happiness are for everyone, not just the manically self-disciplined with Benjamins to burn.

Tiffany Duncan
Tiffany Duncan
January 29, 2018

Hey, Green Country. My name is Tiffany Duncan, and I’ve been writing for Preview 918 magazine for nearly three years now. This year, Preview 918 has decided to do something a little different and break down the fourth wall between you — our readers — and me — the guinea pig.

What do I mean? Read on.


The problem
I’ve decided that enough is enough. Since getting married to my wonderful husband, Tyler, in May 2015, we’ve both casually gained just over 30 pounds (darn you, late night Taco Bell and pizza roll movie nights). It’s actually amazing how easy and subtle all that weight gain has been; suddenly my fat jeans became my skinny jeans, and then my skinny jeans became my kick-them-angrily-under-the-bed-and-opt-for-yoga-pants-instead-jeans.

I spent much of 2017 feeling lethargic, exhausted and bloaty, which in turn made me irritable and snappy much of the time. I felt unhealthy on a gut-deep level, and knew it was time for some lifestyle changes if I was going to gain back the confidence and energy level I once had. But that of course immediately led to those inevitable thoughts many of us have when pondering the daunting task of getting in shape once and for all, like believing we must consume nothing but grass and water, or that we should suddenly possess an intimate working knowledge of terms like “spelt” and “hemp milk.”

Add in the confusion of fad-dieting trends like Whole 30, paleo and whatever the latest doomsday food documentaries are shouting, and you’ve got a recipe for nothing but hangry discouragement.

I believe many people’s struggle to lose weight and start living a healthier lifestyle can be boiled down to three ultimate barriers: critical, self-imposed judgment; false expectations; and financial worry. Let’s talk about self-imposed judgment first, because this one is, I think, the hardest to overcome of the three for almost everybody (it most definitely is for me).

Imagine your best friend comes to you and says she wants to lose weight to feel better. Are you going to respond by saying things like, “Oh, well don’t bother because you’ll never look like those skinny beautiful people at the gym,” or, “OK, but the second you eat a slice of pizza, you indefinitely suck at life and have no hope of ever shedding a pound again”?

Those tiny arms though! About three hours after this photo, we hit the Taco Bell drive-thru and never looked back.
Those tiny arms though! About three hours after this photo, we hit the Taco Bell drive-thru and never looked back

Of course you wouldn’t. So why do we think our inner dialogue toward ourselves should be any different? Self-bullying and forcing motivation through comparison to others may work for a short amount of time, but it isn’t sustainable. I have Pinterest board upon board to prove this.

In order to make lasting and effective lifestyle changes, you must be kind and patient with yourself as you slowly learn how to defeat deeply ingrained bad habits, grocery shop and cook differently, and figure out what kind of fitness/workout regimen works for you (hint: it doesn’t have to be running).

Nothing will change overnight; there are no quick fixes. But the good news is if you are patient, give yourself space to learn, and have the courage to forgive yourself and try again after messing up instead of tossing in the towel, you will see progress.

The second barrier to weight loss is false expectations. For example, what’s the one food we flock to when we are feeling pudgy around the middle? Salad. But that’s simply because, initially, people aren’t sure what else to turn to. For this reason, most people cringe when they hear the phrase “eating healthy,” because they liken it to feeling hungry and unsatisfied. But once you delve a little bit deeper into the world of unprocessed foods, you will discover it’s actually more like a Dr. Seuss-esque world of color, shape, texture, flavor, smell and taste.

There’s also a widely shared expectation out there that says the only way to lose weight is to count calories and shun the Ben & Jerry’s forever. People who follow the siren’s call of quick weight loss schemes — like fad or crash dieting — may fit into that dress by a certain calendar date, but the very next day they’ll be elbow deep in a bag of chips again. Why? Because deprivation is not the answer, and it will always lead to a major binge session or two (or three, or four or five…), and that judging inner voice is quick to follow.

Making a lifestyle change in the weight loss category is exactly like that tale about the tortoise beating the hare. Losing weight in a way that factors in a lengthy learning curve and occasional guilt-free enjoyments of your food-vice will take longer, but it is also a sustainable way to live because in the end, it’s all about balance. And anyway, what’s life without birthday cake, or champagne to celebrate a milestone, or laughing over beer and a big fat juicy burger with friends?

As far as the financial barrier goes, I think a lot of people worry that if they start any sort of fitness regimen, then their hard-earned cash will fly away faster than they can make it. The health and fitness industry certainly makes it seem like washboard abs belong only to those who can afford protein powder made of pulverized gold and angel wings, or a personal trainer who wants a 5 a.m. start time and your first child as a down payment. To this kind of pressure, most of us say uh, no thanks, I’d rather just avoid eye contact with the fitness magazine model in the checkout line.


The plan
If any of the above sounds familiar to you, here’s where I come in: I’m putting my money where my mouth is and am ready to stand in the gap for all of the fears and misconceptions surrounding weight loss (too expensive, too hard, too embarrassing, etc.) by becoming the Preview 918 health and fitness guinea pig for the remainder of 2018.

Through utilizing as many free and cheap resources that I can find in the 918 area, routinely forsaking my fitness comfort zone to discover effective workouts, and cooking more intentionally from home, I will publicly document my progress in each issue through the rest of the year. I will also be posting real-time updates through Instagram and my blog to prove once and for all that health and happiness are for everyone, not just the manically self-disciplined few with Benjamins to burn.


The goal
Right now, I weigh 167 pounds, which is just slightly overweight for my height. That might not sound like a lot to some, but let me tell you, it’s a lot to me. I used to be the proud owner of toned arms and visible abs, playing every sport imaginable. But right now I feel more like a lumpy Jell-O-filled pillow. It feels like an effort to move around freely. My complexion is dull, my energy level is low, and I’m sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. But in 2018, I will reclaim my health and my body.

My goal is to lose the 30 pounds I’ve gained by the end of this year, but in a way that also creates a healthy, sustainable, and active way of living. Now let me take this opportunity to say I ran four — yes, only four — times last year, with no other kind of workouts whatsoever (unless you count haphazardly swinging a racket around on the tennis court with my husband once or twice). I am basically a human canteen full of eggnog and rum coming out of the holidays, and my lowest point last year was when I dipped french fries into a container of rainbow chip icing (no, I’m not kidding; yes, it was actually delicious; yes, I’d recommend you try it if we weren’t trying to do the exact opposite here).

My husband and I eat, like, a lot of tacos, and are big fans of local late-night burger-and-beer deals. We are of very average income, and I’ve never stepped foot inside of Lululemon. I am also an introvert and decidedly do not enjoy getting out of my comfort zone.

All of this to say, make no mistake that I am already some sort of fitness guru; quite the opposite. So, follow along with me as I work to reach my goal of sustainably losing weight while also exploring all that Tulsa has to offer in the areas of health and fitness on the cheap (with perhaps the occasional money splurge to shake it up — I’m looking at you, hot yoga).

Tiffany Duncan
Instagram handle: rightyes_rightno_918
Blog handle: rightyesrightno918.com