March 02, 2020

The "Golden Rule" That Helped Me Lose 125 Pounds

The Golden Rule That Helped Me Lose 125 Pounds

When losing weight, everybody asks how you're doing it. It's inevitable. And everybody wants to hear the special secret to it. Eating nothing but lettuce? Eating pounds of bacon and zero carbs? Eating only red fruits, green veggies, and white meat? Consuming nothing but coffee and smoking cigarettes? Dancing around a fire in the woods at midnight every day of the week?

I could always see that the spark of interest in their eyes while they asked the question was immediately extinguished when I said that I was just eating less food. (And eventually, exercising--I started exercising after I'd lost 60 pounds.)

I used to be just like them. I read every single success story, every single weight loss book and magazine, watched weight loss shows like The Biggest Loser... constantly looking for the special secret that I could do.

I tried all the diets, and I never stuck with them long enough to see results.

On August 19, 2009, I had an epiphany. It was the first day of yet another attempt to lose weight. I made an important decision after that first day of my (eventual) 125-pound weight loss. It's kind of funny how it came about...

There are very few foods that I dislike. I am willing to try eating anything at all, several times over. One food that I've tried umpteenth times is yogurt--I hate yogurt! I've tried all the flavors, all the types, and there is just something about it that I cannot stand.

I also don't love salad. I don't "hate" it like I do yogurt--sometimes I'll go through phases where I really like it and eat it for a few weeks--but I am definitely not a salad person. You will never see me go to a restaurant and order a salad.

Well, never say never...

(I must have been in a phase! But if I DO order a salad, it'll always be a caesar)

So, you know what I did my very first day of losing weight on August 19, 2009?

I ate both of those foods! I gagged down yogurt, because hey, it's "healthy" and that's what you're "supposed to eat". For lunch or dinner, I can't remember which, I ate salad. I'm sure that I wasn't in a salad mood and I probably gagged that down as well. WHY?

That night, when I was thinking about how much I hated trying to lose weight, and how badly I wanted to quit, it occurred to me that I hated it so much because I ate foods I didn't enjoy and I didn't eat the foods that I do enjoy. It seems completely backwards. Of course losing weight was miserable!

I decided that day that I wasn't going to do it anymore. I wasn't going to eat foods I hated just to lose weight. If I lost the weight by eating yogurt and salad, I would likely have to do that forever to maintain the weight loss. And that sounded miserable to me.

Another instance from that summer was when my friend asked me if I wanted to audition for The Biggest Loser with her. Even though I was fatter than I'd ever been, I said no. I was desperate to lose weight, but I was NOT willing to exercise for eight hours a day and eat next to nothing in order to drop 5+ pounds a week.

I told her that if you lose the weight that way, the only way to maintain it is to continue to do that. Your body will get so used to it that you'll have to continue. And of course I would burn out. I knew for sure that even if I auditioned, and was chosen, and hell, even if I WON the show, I would never be able to maintain that lifestyle. And I didn't want to live in misery for months on end while losing the weight.

Between those two instances, it finally hit me that I had been doing it all wrong for all of those years. Every time I attempted to lose the weight, I made changes that I hated. I tried doing tough workout videos, I tried eating yogurt and salad, I tried cutting out carbs, I even did a 10-day "master cleanse" where I consumed nothing but water with lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. I could lose the weight in any of those ways if I stuck to them (I lost 16 pounds from the master cleanse, but a month later, I was right back to where I was before), but I certainly couldn't do those things forever.

I guess technically, I *could* do them forever... so that is why I chose to word my newfound "golden rule" the way I did:

Don't make changes you're not willing to do for the rest of your life.

This is something I've talked about and written about from the beginning of my weight loss, and it's probably been the biggest key to my weight loss and (semi) maintenance. Whenever people ask for my weight loss advice, the first thing I say is "Don't make any changes you're not willing to do for the rest of your life."

That sentence says so much and so little at the same time. I don't think I've ever written a post that really explains how and why that became my golden rule and how it helped me to stay determined to lose the weight, so that's why I chose to write about this.

I could certainly use a reminder myself right now! ;)

From that day forward, it was my golden rule. It's tempting sometimes to try all the new fad diets that everybody seems to be doing, but I just don't want to live like that. I want to enjoy my life!

(This is a reason I never wanted to get weight loss surgery, either. Eating tiny portions of food and getting sick every time I ate something I wasn't supposed to--for the rest of my life--was just not something I was willing to do.)

My golden rule made the process of losing weight more enjoyable. I don't want to say it was "easy" (nothing about losing weight is easy), but it made the process easier, enough to make me stick to it for the long term.

I was willing to eat smaller portions. I was willing to eat healthier things during the day if I could still have something for a "treat" at night--dessert or wine or something like that. I was willing to eat out less and cook more.

I was NOT willing to give up carbs. I was not willing to give up any foods that I enjoyed. I was not willing to force myself to exercise (at the time; I later wanted to do it). I was not willing to eat differently than my family (i.e. "special" foods for me while they ate "regular" foods).

And what a shocker--it actually worked!

I didn't have to do or eat anything I didn't want to, and I didn't have to give up things that I love. I only made changes that I was willing to do for the rest of my life, if need be.

It's such a hard thing to do when there is advice everywhere online--what to eat and what not to eat, what's the "best" diet for weight loss, what's the "healthiest" way to eat, etc. I try not to let that get in my head. The only thing I've ever been able to stick with long term (10 years now) is doing what is feels best for ME.

And I like ice cream. A LOT.

The things that I'm willing or not willing to do may change here and there, but that doesn't matter. As long as I stay true to my golden rule, I can enjoy my lifestyle.

It's so hard to believe it's been over 10 years since I had that epiphany. But I know that if I hadn't, I would have failed at that attempt at losing weight just as surely as I had all the other times. I found a better way. And it worked.


  1. Great to read how you decided on your golden rule. This is an odd question to ask but are you ever going to 'run for cookies' again? I quite like the idea of a treat after exercise but should treats be non food related as I find it easier to eat less if my life does not revolve around food.

    1. I actually just registered for the Detroit Half Marathon yesterday, so I'll be doing that in October! I haven't run a half since 2014, so it's been a long time since I ran long distances (although I did train for a half a couple of years ago and got up to 11 miles). It's nostalgic to think of running a long run and following it up with a treat :)

  2. Have you ever read Gretchen Rubin's "The Four Tendencies?" In the book she talks about "moderators" and "abstainers." Abstainers find it easier to simply give something up, cold turkey. If they try to allow themselves a "little bit" every day, they eventually consume more of it. Moderators, however, do better with allowing a small portion each day, and find that satisfies them. I'm suspecting I'm an Abstainer, because I cannot, for example, be really satisfied with one portion of chips, or fries, or whatever. You may be a natural Moderator if you can fit ice cream into your diet, but some people, who are Abstainers, do better without any at all! Her books are pretty interesting, you might like them.

    1. I definitely agree with the "moderators" and "abstainers"--I think more so on individual items, rather than a person as a whole, though. There are some foods I am totally fine having in the house and able to eat in moderation; others, I have to buy just one serving at a time. For example, I can't keep ice cream in my house because I will eat it ALL. It took a while for me to get to the point where I could be satisfied with buying one portion (a cone from McDonald's or something like that), but eventually it seemed natural. Over the past couple of years, though, I've lost that and I have a really hard time with moderation!

  3. Katie your pictures are the coolest! And with Dr Oz, I didn't know you were on that show! I really enjoy reading your posts, especially the recent one about rescuing pets we gotta keep spreading the word so everybody knows how much it helps the animals that need help so bad and how they become such important members of our families. I'm absoulutely IN LOVE with my rescue dog Ivy!

    1. Thank you! Dr. Oz was a long time ago--I can't believe it's been over 8 years now! (It was in November of 2011). It was a fun experience :)

      And I agree--rescue pets are the greatest!

  4. Just curious because you haven't addressed this in any of your posts, how are you doing on the "No Ice Cream except McDonald's" challenge that you mentioned earlier this year?

    1. Ugh, I haven't stuck with it. However, I can't remember the last time I ate ice cream... so while I haven't totally abstained, I've cut back enough that I can't remember the last time! Since I started counting calories/Points or whatever I am trying to do in the moment (haha) I have been eating things that are easier to have in moderation. Ice cream is a tough one for me!

  5. As you know I've been following you almost from the beginning of your Blog. My own 178-lb. weight loss journey started just after yours (Dec. 14, 2009). You still never fail to inspire and motivate me, even when you're struggling. Maybe that's because you're always so honest. We both know that losing weight is hard, maintaining the loss is harder, but being fat is so so so much harder.

    Reading today's blog, I feel better about my current disgust with salad. Don't get me wrong, I haven't always hated salad. But after over 10 years of eating lots and lots of salad, I can hardly look at them anymore. Caesar salad might be the exception for me as well, and somebody else fixing the salad really helps. If I make it myself.....Well it just is not appetizing at all.

    I knew that if I followed one of those trendy diets, I too would be craving the very food I had cut completely from my diet (carbs!), so I never even tried one of those short-term. Because if I crave something so badly, I know I will eventually cave to that desire.

    I've had several what I like to call "minor" regains over the years since I originally hit my goal weight on April 15, 2011. In August of 2018, I was shocked to see the scale say 239.8, which was almost a 90-lb. gain from my goal of 150 lbs., my hugest regain since the original loss. I lost some weight that Fall before falling off track again during Christmas season 2018, so on Jan. 31, 2019, I joined WW. I had done WW on-line a few times to lose some of the more minor regains, and was successful, but this time I needed more, the on-line version wasn't working anymore. My high school friend, who is a WW Lifetimer (and who originally joined WW with me back in 1973) and I went to lunch towards the end of January 2019, and she told me, "I just discovered I can't do it alone." Her words struck home with me, and even with on-line support from you, Spark People and even WW on-line, I was struggling. But attending the meetings did the trick for me. I hit Lifetime on 9/20/19 and Lifetime on 11/1/19. In so many previous stints with WW, I had never hit my goal, let alone Lifetime. I'm not going to say it's been a piece of cake to maintain since hitting Lifetime last Nov. and I still struggle every single day. I have come to the conclusion that I will never find it easy to keep the weight off. But at 69,. I'm willing to do what it takes to stay close to that goal weight. I know my health depends upon it. It really helps to be attending WW meetings with my friend, because if I was doing it alone, it would be to easy to skip a weekly WW weigh-in if I know I'm over my 2-lb. leeway. But I'm now doubly accountable, not only to WW, but to my friend, who continues to be more successful than me. Don't get me wrong, she struggles too, and completely identifies with the slight regains here and there, having experienced them herself. That's what makes her so inspiring, like you, she is honest about those struggles.

    Thanks for listening and for always being there Katie. You don't know how much I've relied on your for inspiration through the years.

    1. I was SO proud of you when I saw that you hit your goal and then Lifetime--I know you were struggling for a little while, and I'm thrilled that you were able to get back in control. Hopefully, since you did it, I can too. It's funny how the tables were turned--when I wanted to get together with you while in KC, and you were embarrassed to have gained weight (while I had lost weight). Now I'm the one who is embarrassed and you're at goal! hahaha (I still want to meet you someday!)

  6. I just finished the audio version of "Depression Hates a Moving Target" and immediately thought of you! It's a wildly inspiring book, easy read/listen, and I really think you'd like it. Thanks for always sharing and being YOU.

    1. I LOVED that book! I listened to the audio version as well. Bart Yasso shared it on Instagram, and I left a comment. Then I noticed the author of the book was following me--I was fan-girling, and she wrote me a comment that *she* was fan-girling when she saw that I followed her. It was pretty funny ;) But I agree, super inspiring book!

  7. Its funny, I'm normally not a salad person either but I read your post and I immediately started craving a salad :) Cravings are weird like that! I packed some salad fixings for lunch today and I'm looking forward to it! Lol. I've always loved following your journey! You should feel so proud of yourself!

  8. Thank you for sharing this Katie! I know you've posted about this before but it's such a good reminder how important it is that changes be sustainable. Even though I 'know' this and it's worked for me before, it's so easy to be tempted by all the 'food noise' and every other diet rule other people swear by.


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)

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