March 24, 2013

A guest post on maintenance

I have a special guest post for you today! One of the first blogs that I started reading regularly was written by Ellen. Ellen has lost over 100 pounds, which is inspiring enough--but she's also kept that weight off for nearly eight years! (Ellen is also the reason I'm pretty broke right now--she's the one who introduced me to David's Tea!). Since I'm fairly new to being in full maintenance-mode, I asked Ellen if she could share some of her secrets. Eight years is a very long time to have kept off such a substantial amount of weight, and I would love to be able to reach that milestone one day.

When I read her post, I was pleased to see that I appear to be on the right track--I found myself agreeing with everything she's written (well, except for the yogurt--blech!). Her "before" diet was very similar to mine as well. Enjoy!

Hi, everyone ~
When I was asked to guest post at Runs For Cookies about the topic of maintenance I eagerly agreed, not only because I adore Katie and would do just about anything for her, but also because I feel that the topic of maintenance sometimes gets lost within the plethora of information out there among the more popular topics of weight loss.   There’s a never-ending bounty of diet groups, forums, meetings, books and blogs to support anyone who wants to lose weight.  Unfortunately, information and support becomes scarce once one actually achieves her goal.

After working long and hard to reach my goal of a 100+ pound weight loss it was as though I’d been handed my Way To Go! You Did It! plaque and sent on my way with nothing more than a quick pat on the back. Suddenly the tools I’d used for years didn’t apply to me, which was kind of scary.  It’s a bit like devoting years of your life to becoming say, a nurse, but then once you graduate you’re expected to know how to perform brain surgery.

235 pounds--"I was unhappy with my life, and it showed
all over my face"
When I was at my heaviest, it wasn’t unusual for me to have a stack of heavily buttered chocolate chip pancakes and maple syrup for breakfast with coffee and lots of flavored cream and sugar.  For lunch I often ate pizza and drank a couple cans of Dr. Pepper while waiting for a cake or cookies to come out of the oven.  Dinnertime was my biggest meal of the day and my favorite dish was homemade fettuccine alfredo with garlic bread and more sugary soda.  And dessert?  Well, I never needed an excuse to have something sweet.

It wouldn’t be unusual for me to consume 3,000-5,000 calories a day.  I have always been an emotional eater and have been known to binge eat when severely depressed or anxious.  I gained the majority of my weight while attempting to deal with major life issues in my early twenties.The first step of learning how to keep the weight off, for me, was understanding why I relied so heavily on food and what triggered my reasons for overeating.

I made small changes at first.  I bought a pedometer and decided to focus solely on moving more.  I didn’t change my eating habits much in the beginning.  Eventually though, as I felt stronger and more confident about my progress I wanted to eat better, so I slowly began eliminating unhealthy foods from my diet.

130 pounds--This was taken right after
reaching goal weight.
These days you can usually find me eating oatmeal and Fage yogurt for breakfast.  Other foods that are always in my kitchen are: sliced turkey, Joseph’s lavash bread, raw spinach, fruit, spaghetti squash and Morningstar burgers.

Now that I’ve been maintaining for almost 8 years, I’ve come to rely on a few things that help me keep my weight under control:

1. Routine is my friend.
I know it sounds boring but in all honesty, it’s a lot easier to maintain a loss when there are no surprises. I really don’t like eating food I’m unfamiliar with. I’ve become pretty good at knowing the serving size of a piece of chicken by sight and I can rattle off how many calories are in a teaspoon of sugar, a tablespoon of cream or a cup of flour like it’s some kind of bar trick.  When I’m faced with eating an unfamiliar food however, I can sometimes tend to underestimate the calories. If I do that too often, it’s a sure sign that I’ll start gaining weight.

2. Life doesn’t have to be about ‘all-or-nothing’.
When I was little, my favorite movie was Willie Wonka and the Choclate Factory.  Oh, how I envied those Oompa-Loompas.  They actually got to LIVE in the chocolate factory and I bet they had no idea how good they had it - edible wallpaper?  Lakes of chocolate?  Uh, can you say Heaven??  Even now, if I could get away with it I’d happily eat cheesecake for breakfast, Donuts for lunch and a tub of homemade ice cream and cookies for dinner.

Just because I can’t do that doesn’t mean that I can’t trick my sweet tooth into believing I’m indulging.  My secret weapon is dessert teas.  Whenever I feel the urge to overindulge, I steep a cup of Red Velvet Cake or Toasted Marshmallow tea from David’s Tea, which - and I am not kidding when I say this - has the most decadent teas on earth (I am not a sponsor nor have I ever been paid to endorse David’s Tea but if asked, I totally would – it’s that good).  If I feel like I’m on the verge of overeating, eight times out of ten, having a mug or two of my favorite tea with a bit of sweetener and unsweetened almond milk will sustain my sweet tooth.

I guess my point is this: it doesn’t have to be ‘all-or-nothing’.  If there’s a food that I can’t see to fit into my diet plan, I’ll experiment until I find something that won’t leave me feeling deprived – and if I can’t find a solid replacement? Then I’ll eat that piece of chocolate cake and not feel guilty about it, but I will try to make a point to eat it responsibly and mindfully.

3. I surround myself with people who support me.
Connecting with others who are walking a similar path has been invaluable.  We all do better when we know we’re not struggling alone. I feel terribly lucky in my life right now because for years I chipped away at my weight all alone, not realizing this community existed.  Here in maintenance is where I’ve found genuinely supportive people who truly want to help each other succeed and are open about struggles as well as successes. It’s the one connection that reminds us we’re all human and that we’re in this together regardless of where we are on our journey.

One final thought: you may have heard maintainers say that it’s harder to keep the weight off than it is to lose it.  I completely agree with that statement.   I used to be terrified that I was always one cookie away from gaining all 100+ pounds back.  These days however it’s all about teaching myself to SIT.  Stay In Today.  The past doesn’t matter; it’s the present that counts. Today is all I have, and I do what I can - here in the moment - to continue improving my life.  That’s all any of us can do, really.

Thanks a lot for reading, and a special thanks to Katie for being such an inspiration to us all.

Nearly eight years after reaching goal!

I hope you enjoyed Ellen's post as much as I did! You can find Ellen on her Facebook page; on Pinterest; and her Etsy shop (she's a talented artist!).


  1. I guess I need to go ahead and order some of this tea!

    1. Me too! Looking at the website, though, not sure where to start...

  2. If I can find a warm, comforting drink that will save me some calories (I'm a HUGE fan of flavored creamer for my coffee, and that adds up!) then I have to check this out!

  3. I love this post! Thanks! As of my weigh-in today, I have lost 27 pounds. (This is after losing over 60 pounds 2 years ago, and then gaining almost 30 pounds back.) I still have 15-20 pounds to lose, but this time I want to keep it off! I know that maintenance won't be easy, and I agree that there isn't enough information on it out there. Thanks again!

  4. Thanks for the advice on maintaining weight loss. I have lost 30 and have 40 more to lose until I have to work on maintenance...someday. I am not a fan of tea, but I admit, those flavors you mentioned interest me.

  5. A much-needed blog about maintenance! Lots of us who are maintaining have also noticed the gap in maintenance support and have created a space for that. If you are maintaining and looking for support, we've got a great team on SparkPeople called At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance. We run maintenance challenges, celebrate maintenance anniversaries, have a huge resource bank of blogs, articles and other links connected to maintaining your weight and, make a big effort to spread the word about the unique challenges maintenance presents have interesting discussions about topics connected to maintenance. Come check us out if you're interested:

  6. Davids tea has my vote too! So glad yall shared this secret:) Great post!

  7. Love the guest blog post! And because of it, I just ordered $57 in David's Tea! Too bad you girls don't get a commission!

  8. Great post! You are both awesome!

  9. So glad to read about maintenance! I agree that is the hard part of a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes I think that is why I don 't get to goal because I 'm not sure how to stay there. And yet another failure. Congrats to you Ellen! I will be checking out David 's tea.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing and for the advise I'm along way from maintenance but I am really glad I read this..

    I will also be looking into the tea :)

  11. Thanks for a wonderful post! I haven't thus far been very successful at's such a struggle, and I'm always appreciative of new ideas on how to make it work. And congrats to you Ellen on doing such an amazing job with it!!

    Yes, you have convinced me to try this mysterious David's Tea. Just placed my order (including the red velvet cake one) today!!

  12. Thanks Katie for having Ellen guest post on your blog! It is so helpful reading about others experiences about maintaining a goal weight. Ellen is so inspiring and relate-able!

  13. I love the idea of the 'dessert tea'

    - question: is there anyone out there who does not eat all that much (never more than 2500 calories) and has never binged but still needs to lose 75+ lbs? That's me! I think I still suffer from chronic fatigue (diagnosed 20 years ago with a side order of mild lupus)


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