August 20, 2013

What made this time different

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!


  1. I think number 3 is my favorite thing. It's something that had never really occurred to me until I read you say it at some point in your blog, and it really resonates with me. I mean, everyone *says* it's gotta be a true lifestyle change instead of a diet, but a lot of times it's hard to picture what that really means. I think number 3 puts a spin on it that makes perfect sense to me!

    And although I'm not anywhere near maintenance yet, I can DEFINITELY tell this time is different for me. And the biggest thing that has made it different for me was my approach at the beginning of my journey. Instead of jumping in headfirst and overhauling my whole life (which had always made me hardcore miserable pretty quickly), I opted to baby step my way into things. Building one or two small habits at a time can REALLY add up to some awesome changes in your lifestyle after awhile!

  2. I'm about 6 months into maintaining a 55 lb loss and I could echo every word of that post (even that the white chocolate clif bar is my favorite!). I still go to my WW meetings every week, and am so terrified I could descend back into that deep hole I lived in before I lost weight. I, too, became a runner when I started my WLJ and I think it was the key for me too--it gave me so much confidence because I never thought that was something my body was capable of. It gives me some confidence that I can keep the weight off and keep respecting this new body.

  3. I'm not in maintenance yet. I am almost 50 pounds down, with 40 to go. This time is different. Even a few years ago when I lost 50 pounds, it wasn't like this. My attitude is different now. It's hard to explain, but I know it's different. There is no giving up this time. There is no "the scale hasn't moved this week, screw it pass the brownies!" I will however eat a brownie, and spend a sweet forever entering all of the ingredients on SparkPeople so I know exactly how many calories are in it. Ya know what? Sometimes the brownie isn't worth all of it's calories... and sometimes I savor every delicious one.
    I will make it to goal. It's just a matter of time. I'm not giving up.
    Your blog is a HUGE source of inspiration. Thanks Katie for your dedication to this blog o' yours...and thanks for keeping it real. :)

  4. Thank you, thank you for this post!! I'm 4lbs from my goal and worry constantly about gaining that 70lbs back. But I too know I feel different this time. It's taken me almost 2 yrs to loose the weight because I'm trying so hard to make this a complete lifestyle change. And I'm come to love exercise. I don't always like getting up and the first couple miles of running i hate...but I really like how I feel when i exercise.
    Anyway, thank you for the post and the comments. Thank you!

  5. This is up there with your motivation vs determination post!

    I hope I come across that new clif bar flavor... White chocolate macadamia is my favorite too!

  6. Congrats on the four years Katie.

    And I LOVE LOVE LOVE that flavor of Clif Bar!

  7. I got the Sierra Trail Mix Clif bar for a hike a couple weeks ago. Never ended up trying it, but now I'm gonna have to :)

  8. I love everything about this post! Congrats on your accomplishments!

  9. I'm coming up to my ten-year anniversary of keeping off 90 pounds. I approached losing weight very differently this time around - as Ashleigh says, by "building one or two small habits at a time". The slow and steady approach helped me to see this as a permanent change, rather than a quick fix driven by desperation.

    And like Katie, I've found that working out *a lot* helps to keep the weight off.

  10. I've been a fan of yours since your SparkPeople days, and I've been lurking on your blog for awhile without really commenting... but I wanted to congratulate you on 4 awesome years! I've been maintaining for about 3 years now, and WOW it is a struggle. It's SO difficult not to get complacent and start making excuses and allowances... but it's also sometimes exhausting to track and calculate and measure and burn. My best maintenance pick-me-up line is: Take pride in the effort. Not everyone can do this hard work, but you can!! Be proud of that instead of resenting it! :-)

    Also, I wanted to mention a product you might want to check out for a future Taste Test: MetroMint's Chocolate Mint water. I just discovered it and I am OBSESSED. It's all natural, with no artificial flavors, sweeteners, sugar, etc. It's calorie free and yet I swear it tastes like you are drinking mint chocolate chip ice cream! Pure magic. I've been drinking those at night to satisfy chocolate cravings, and it has actually worked! Anyway, I got mine at QFC (which is Kroger on the West Coast), so they might have them near you. If not, it's also sold in bulk on Amazon... or maybe the company would send you some to review for free! :-)

  11. When I look at thin fit people I notice they are maintaining a certain weight at which they are happy with. Now maybe these friends of mine have never been heavy but it still applies to them. They eat a healthy diet and move their bodies. They do this because it feels good and Im sure they enjoy the benefits to doing this. Basically what Im saying is all people have to be in some form of maintenance or you do start to put on pounds. So when I think of it like this I don't dwell on the fact I will always be watching it so I don't gain what Ive lost I think Im doing what even thin folks do, continue to be healthy.

    1. That's a good point. Back when I was fat, I used to be jealous of fit, slim people and assumed it was "easy" for them to maintain. But when I started paying more attention, I realised that they, too, need to be mindful of their diet and exercise.

  12. Really liked your explanation of what made this time different. I'm not sure what made this time different for me, but I'm sure glad something finally clicked. Every day I hope it keeps clicking and the weight stays off.

  13. Congrats on 4 years! Thank you for this post, it was exactly what I needed to hear :)

  14. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the white chocolate mac nut clif bars!! I eat 1/2 of one before I do big workouts, and it really helps me push through.

    Also, your explanations are great. I've thought a lot of those things myself, and that has helped me a lot too! The regular exercise program is the key for me.

  15. Katie, I love this post! I have been working at losing weight for a while and keep giving in to those fad diets as a quick fix. What you said in your post makes sooooo much sense! I need to change my outlook on things... like if I have a bad meal, don't throw in the towel, but do better at the next meal and don't let the bad meal turn into a bad day! Thank you for your words as they are very inspirational! Why are you not a Weight Watvher's leader? I joined WW (again) and I always find that leaders who have lost 20 lbs don't understand what it is like to have to lose 50+, let alone 100+. Love your blog!

    BTW, I am interested in buying a food scale and was wondering if you ever did that post on the Taylor one you bought back last fall?

  16. Awesome post! SO much I can related tooo. I lost about 108 lbs back in 2008/2009, but have managed to slowly gain half of it back. I should have been in the maintenance phase, but I kept trying to be perfect, setting myself up to fail. I also let others' opinions of me really get to me. Weight loss is a mental game more than anything and that was my first hiccup. I somehow lost sight of what I really wanted. I haven't given up though and I'm trying to get back to where I was one step at a time. Can't keep living in the past though either. One day at a time is how I have to look at it and I hope everything I'm doing sticks. Everyone needs to find what works for them. It's not going to be the same routine as everybody else. Keep rocking!

  17. This is a great post. I think the key to weight loss success is learning moderation and knowing that you WILL have slip ups and just know that it is not the end of the world.

  18. This was an awesome post! I have been maintaining for 16 months, lol...just got a token for that!
    I went "ballstothewall" for the first couple weeks, and wasn't going to ever eat chips or anything bad again, but then I realized I wanted it to be the last time I ever lost weight and I re-evaluated how I wanted to do it. I knew I would never give up chocolate or icecream or whatever things I enjoyed. I needed to be realistic and yet still be accountable. I set small goals and small rewards (usually clothing or cheap costume jewellery). But I think when I talk to people about my secret...I always called it I believe it's all about being consistent/persistent/and forgiving. If I screwed up and the square of chocolate became a binge...well once I came out of the haze, then back on track and maybe try something new and not get discouraged. I really think it's just about plugging away at it.
    I am finding maintenace hard some days, I see a lot of people set goals of races and such, and that seems to be their answer to needing something to work towards. I don't run (bad knees) but I still work at my fitness and try and improve. Strive to be your best you. :)

  19. I appreciate getting to read your sharing of what you think has worked for you. The thing that keeps coming to my mind on this journey of mine to lose weight and get healthier is that I must make an effort at it EVERY DAY. Also, your posts reaffirm to me that I have to work at it consistently, and if I do, the weight will come off.

  20. I know exactly what you're talking about when you do the "This is it--this is the start of gaining back every pound." I worry about that

    So far I haven't hit my final goal weight since everytime I have it it I change it and I am up a couple pounds from my lowest so I'm still in that "trying to get there" mode but pretty comfortable with how I am. But that makes it scary too!

  21. I hate the question - 'how do you know this time is it?' All these years later, I still don't know if it is it. It just is for now, you know? My weight bobbles up and down and I just deal with it and hope that it doesn't go back up 100 pounds LOL!

  22. One thing that clicked for me is not only when I fall off do I get right back on track, I also do not try to compensate for a binge with starving myself (to try and make the right points or calories that day or week). I still eat the same amount of calories for the next meal as I would have had I not binged. Also, when I feel like I've binged, I get myself back into my healthy calorie range right away, but do allow myself to be on the higher end of the healthy range - so if I'm eating 1400 - 1600 calories per day, I go for the 1600 to come down off the binge mood. Hope that makes sense!

  23. This is exactly what I needed to read today.

    Thank you!

  24. You have done such an amazing job. It's so hard to imagine just 4 years ago you were at point one. You are so inspiring! I absolutely love this post and am working hard to incorporate the three miles three times a week. Currently I am down 30ish lbs and am still shooting for 20 more. Accountability is big for me! Knowing where I am (weigh ins) and making myself stick to my goals. AMAZING AND AWESOME!!!

  25. Great post! First off, congrats on the four years. The most important takeaway is that whatever you do to lose weight must be a permanent lifestyle change. When I lost my 50 pounds it was through adding exercise and watching what I ate a little bit better. I don't 'diet' now, I just eat smarter. That, plus being a runner, has allowed me to maintain for two years and counting.


I used to publish ALL comments (even the mean ones) but I recently chose not to publish those. I always welcome constructive comments/criticism, but there is no need for unnecessary rudeness/hate. But please--I love reading what you have to say! (This comment form is super finicky, so I apologize if you're unable to comment)

Featured Posts

Blog Archive