Weight Loss Celebration
In August of 2002 I stood proudly tanned from the summer sun, in my then apartment, striking my best body builder pose. The picture was to celebrate me losing 50 pounds. It had been the first time in my life that I had gained weight, other than the freshman 15 that I had lost without effort before graduating from college. Remember those days when you could blink and lose weight?
Weight Loss Requires Maintenance
For six years I kept that weight off. I kept if off the same way I had gotten it off: by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. What did that mean? It meant eating six meals per day of healthy food options, with an occasional treat, in moderation, monitoring my portion sizes, and working out 6 times per week. By 2005 most of those workouts were dedicated to running while I trained for a marathon.
Weight Gain: Stress Seeks Comfort from Food
If you look back at my post on losing weight, then gaining it again or if you know me personally, you know I gained that back plus a whole lot more. By the time I graduated grad school I had gained 100 pounds! All that happened through the stress of working full-time and of wanting to have a high grade point average to be a better graduate student than I was a undergraduate student who was no longer under the gaze of her parents.
I was also grabbing a box of Popeye’s crispy dark meat chicken with biscuits and fries or a couple slices of pizza on the way home late after class, and living on maybe four hours of sleep a night. Oh, and I was about 10 years older than I was in that photo in 2002. The metabolism wasn’t anywhere what it used to be. You know all about that? Yeah, it sucks.
Weight Lost then Emotionally Gained
As mentioned in my Weight Loss Struggles? Stop the Up Down Up Again post, I lost a good chunk of that 100 pounds in 2012, but by March of 2013 I was creeping back up again. This time it was emotions that had gotten the best of me.
On top of that, I had grown to my wits end with not being promoted, again. For months I turned to food to act as my comforter. By mid-July 2014, I had finally grown sick of myself.
Weight Loss Goal Reached, Again – Now What?
Now, as I sit here writing, I am back to looking like the woman in that photo, minus the chocolaty sun soaked skin and with more defined abs that I admire daily. That is a far cry from the woman who hated who she saw in the mirror.
In 9 months I reached my goal of getting back into a size 8. In 10 months, I lost just over 72 pounds! Yes, that is an amazing accomplishment. Some even tell me that I am an inspiration.
Some ask, “Now that you have reached your goal, what are you going to do?” Forget that! I have a different question. “You have been down this road before. How will you make sure you do not relive this story, again?”
How Not to Relive Your Weight Loss Story
Simply stopping because you reached your weight loss goal is not an option. That would make all your work for naught. How do we make sure the latter is not the case, then?
I have four strategies that I recommend. The first two strategies are based on lessons that I learned from the last go round, as they are where I went wrong. Those boiled over into the last two strategies leading me back to old bad habits.
1. Adjust to life changes
Life happens. Sometimes we know in advance when there will be a life change, sometimes we don’t. It is the former we should react to proactively. For the latter, we should act as quickly as possible, as to not fall to far off track. Here I will focus on the life changes we know are coming.
In my case, I did not plan properly when grad school started. If I had it all to do over again, I would have focused my Friday, weekends, and Monday mornings on working out. If I had to miss a day out of the four, that would have been fine, as long I was sure to do something other than the nothing that I did.
Also, I know me. I can be an all or nothing type of girl – I’m working on that. Working out would have made eating healthy easier to do. I seem to not be able to do one without the other. Is that the same for you?
If your work schedule changes, speak to your boss. Let them know how important your health is to you and see if together you can come up with ways you can stay on track.
2. Know thy mental and emotional self
When you are tired, stressed, or emotionally spent, do you pay attention to those feelings as they relate to food? If not, start paying attention.
Often, when those feelings come, possibly unbeknownst to you, you turn to food for comfort. Perhaps it is chocolate, potato chips, or something salty. Know that.
Ask yourself, “Why am I considering eating this? Am I [fill in your emotion]?” Recognizing that you are seeking food for comfort can help you avoid what you are about to do.
3. Consistently do something other than nothing
Once reaching a weight loss goal, the inclination, for some, is to cut back on workouts. Before you know it, you are back to doing nothing but sitting at your desk. Continue your workout regimen.
If your work schedule changes for some reason, adjust your schedule accordingly until you strike something that allows you to remain consistent. Being consistent means aiming to workout at least three times a week at 30 minutes stretches. If all else fails, get it in where you can fit it in.
4. Continue to eat what helped you to lose weight
Think about this. What and how you were eating to help you gain weight? Did you use to eat large portions, only once a day, a bunch of processed, fried, and empty calories foods, or did you constantly eat on the go? If you do not want to go back to where you were, do not go back to what you were doing.
Hopefully, you were eating 5-6 small meals a day, two of which are snacks, with a combination of lean proteins or legumes as protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grain carbs. And perhaps, in moderation, you tapped into a small treat. Bottom line, Eating healthy is what you want to keep doing.
Our weight loss journey does not end when we reach our weight loss goals. Like learning, it is a continuous process that requires that you are tuned into your environment, and mental and emotional triggers.
- Plan ahead for life changes, adjusting your schedule accordingly.
- Know your emotional and mental triggers that cause you to seek out food for comfort.
- Continue to be consistent with your workouts, focusing on working out at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes.
- Continue to eat healthy non-processed foods, being mindful of portion sizes, and moderation.