I always get a little nervous when someone learns about my weight loss, and then asks me what was different this time--how I've managed to lose the weight and keep it off. This questions makes me nervous because I don't know when I'll feel it's safe to say, "I lost all this weight and I kept it off!" All of the statistics pretty much guarantee that I'll gain the weight back sooner or later.
Every day that passes adds a little to my confidence in keeping the weight off. But sometimes, on a particularly hard day, I think, "This is it--this is the start of gaining back every pound." The problem with maintenance is that it NEVER ENDS. When you're losing weight, you have a finish line that you're working toward--your goal weight! Once you reach that line (which is also the starting line of weight maintenance), you're just running a race with no finish line. It's very overwhelming when I think of it that way!
Yesterday, when I posted that it was the four-year anniversary since I started losing weight, someone asked me what made this time different; since I'd tried dozens of times to lose weight, what made this time successful? That's a very good question, and I really don't have a definitive answer. But here are a few things that were different this time:
1) I started a regular exercise program (first walking, then running), and I stayed very disciplined in following my only rule: I must walk/run at least three days a week, for three miles each time. Three miles, three times a week is not a lot to ask, and I knew I could do it. I just didn't give myself an option to skip it.
When I'd dieted/lost weight in the past, I did it without exercise. Sure, I would try a workout video or going for a walk here and there, but I never had the discipline to stick with a plan. I think that my becoming a runner has been THE KEY to my keeping the weight off.
2) I stopped trying to be perfect. In the past, I always tried to follow my program (whatever it was--counting calories, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, etc., etc.) right to the tee. If I strayed at all, I thought "Well, I screwed up, might as well start over tomorrow." And we all know that just led to a binge with a promise of getting back on track the next day.
Now, if I eat too much, or even binge, I just get right back on track.I learned that in the never-ending race of maintenance, there are going to be pit stops along the way; I'm going to screw up, and it's really not that big of a deal as long as I get right back at it.
3) I didn't make changes that I wasn't willing to do forever. I say this ALL the time, but it's true. In the past, I would come up with some ridiculous plan to drop weight as quickly as possible, and tell myself that I'd worry about maintenance when I got there.
This time was different because I started out doing exactly what I planned to do for maintenance. I didn't give up any of my favorite foods; I eventually made a commitment to walk/run three miles, three times per week; I started measuring out my portions and logging my food (something I didn't necessarily want to do forever but I was willing to). These were changes that worked for me, and I stopped caring about how fast the weight would come off. I knew that if I stayed on track, the weight WOULD come off. It wasn't a matter of "if", but "when".
None of this is new information, but when I really ask myself what was different this time, that's all I could come up with. If anyone else in maintenance wants to chime in with what was different for you the last time losing weight, feel free to comment!
For Taste Test Tuesday this week, I was really excited to find this new flavor of Clif Bar at the store. My favorite flavor is White Chocolate Macadamia, but this Sierra Trail Mix sounded really good!
Peanuts, chocolate, and raisins are a favorite combo of mine, so I had high hopes for this flavor. It didn't disappoint! I think I found a flavor that I like even more than the White Chocolate Macadamia. There weren't very many chunks in it, which surprised me, but the whole bar itself really tasted like trail mix. Definitely a thumbs up from me!