December 09, 2020

The Hardest Part About Losing Weight (a writing prompt)

This is a post I've had in my drafts folder, and I'm not sure why I never published it. It still holds true today (I wrote it in April 2020). This is a writing prompt...

What was the hardest part about losing the weight? (This is in regards to losing 125 pounds in 2009-2010, although it really applies to every weight loss attempt!). This is a really tough question to answer. It's been about 10 years now! It's all kind of a blur.

A (not so) quick recap of my weight loss:
  • My highest (non-pregnant) weight was 253 pounds, which was in 2009.
  • I had no idea just how big I looked until I saw photos from the 500 Festival Mini Marathon.
  • I vowed I would not be the "fat one" of the group the following year.
  • In summer 2009, I tried to teach Noah to ride a two-wheel bicycle. Physically, I couldn't do it. I felt like a terrible mom. I knew I needed to quit screwing around and just lose the weight.
  • I knew the Weight Watchers Points system well (from previous attempts), so I decided to do that.
  • My sister asked me to do it with her and hold each other accountable.
  • I would have quit the first day if my sister wasn't going to be checking in with me. That kept me on track for a couple of weeks.
  • I lost a lot the first week (I think 8 pounds) which was motivating to keep going.
  • Seeing my weight continue to go down each week pushed me to keep at it.
  • I fell into a routine that worked for me.
  • I didn't exercise until after I'd lost about 60 pounds. Then I started walking to train for the half-marathon. After the half-marathon, I started running three days a week.
  • The weight continued to come off--I stuck to the program 100%, and lost weight every week for a year.
  • When I ran the Ragnar Relay Great River in August 2010, I slid off track and had my first gain. I had trouble staying on track after that. I maintained my weight, going up and down by a few pounds until November 2010.
  • I fainted and broke my jaw in November, and my jaw was wired shut for six weeks. I could only have liquids, so I drank a ton of smoothies. My weight dropped to 128 for a short period.
  • When I was able to eat again, I ate too much after feeling deprived for so long while my jaw healed. 
  • From then on, it's been a battle. Lots of ups and downs, which I wrote about here.

Soooo... the hardest part about losing the weight.

I think it changed throughout the 16 months or so that I lost the weight. At first, the hardest part was just starting AND CONTINUING the program (counting Weight Watchers Points). It's so easy to say "Eh, I'll just start over tomorrow." (Something I still do all the time. Including recently.)

At 253 pounds, losing a few pounds didn't make any difference in how I looked or in my clothing or anything. It's really hard to continue to try when you don't see any or feel changes right away. When you're putting in so much effort and making sacrifices to drop the weight.

There were two things that helped me get through this:

1) I didn't make any changes I wasn't willing to do forever. I didn't give up sweets, or eat crazy amounts of vegetables. I wasn't used to eating like that, and I knew (from trying and failing so many times) that I needed to make changes that wouldn't feel like torture. It was simple (not to be confused with easy!): Eat less food. The Points system helped me do that. Likewise, I didn't start exercising until I felt I wanted to.

2) When I got on the scale each week, I wanted to know that I'd done everything I could. I didn't want to say, "Oh, wish I hadn't eaten that!" or "Oh, I wish I'd done this instead!" I wanted to know that no matter what the scale said, I had followed my plan. I felt good about that.

Once I was on a roll, having several months under my belt, it was the streak that kept me going. I knew that if I threw Points to the wind for "just one day" it would break the streak and it would be VERY hard to get back to it.

Overall, I think the hardest part about losing weight was (and still is) just doing my own thing, no matter what anyone else told me. As I was losing the weight, people asked me eagerly what I was doing. They seemed super disappointed when I said I was eating less food. It's like they wanted me to say that I cut out carbs and ate lettuce for lunch and a pound of bacon for dinner and did a secret dance in the woods at midnight every day.

I did my own thing--I counted Points, but I used those Points however I wanted. At first, I was eating all the junk I ate before, just less of it. As I got used to that, I started trying other foods, and gradually my tastebuds started to change. I've never been a super "clean eater" but I'm okay with that. I eat better than I did in 2009 and the decades before that.

Everybody has opinions about what the "best way to lose weight" or the "best way to eat" is, and it's hard to tune all that out and do what is best FOR ME. Whatever that may be could change over time, and it's difficult not to let other people's opinions get in my head about what I "should" be doing.

The truth is, nothing about losing weight was easy. Having to make so many decisions every day to stay on track was mundane and frustrating at times. There were times I wanted to just eat until I was super full--I couldn't even remember the last time I'd felt that way (even though that's an uncomfortable way to feel). I didn't want to break the streak I had going, so I kept that in mind, always.

In the end, I'm SO glad that I stuck with it. All of those hard days were worth it when I started to see changes in my body and my abilities (here is a list of 100 Ways My Life Changed When I Lost 100 Pounds).

Each time I noticed something new, it pushed me to keep going. I loved seeing and feeling the changes! The compliments from others didn't hurt, either ;)

I'm glad that I did this writing prompt today. The timing is perfect. It brought back the good feelings I had while losing weight, and it makes me want to strive for that again. Knowing that it was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life, and I actually followed though, helps me to see that I can do it again. It will take a few weeks to start a streak, but once I start seeing results, it should push me to keep going.

This post is long enough, so I won't get into how I'm doing now (as of December 2020). I'll save that for a post sometime this month. But here is a quick visual... it's no secret I've gained back a lot of weight over the last couple of years and I'm having a very hard time taking it off! But I'm definitely not back to where I started, even though it feels like it sometimes. 

The first photo is my "before" picture, at my heaviest; the second was almost my thinnest--on my 34th birthday; and the third was from a few days ago.


  1. This is a great post! Losing weight is tough, no doubt about that. For me, it's always a mental game. You're right that once you get on a streak its much easier to keep going! And I think you look amazing! You are so successful and have so much to be proud of!!

  2. It is not uncommon for those who've lost weight to regain. About five years or so ago, I lost 50 pounds--and trained for a 5K! Then I had to have surgery and between that and other various stressors, I regained almost 30 of it. But I'm happy to report I am back down with just 8 pounds till my goal weight. It just took getting back to the good habits that helped me lose weight in the first place: daily activity (weight training is key for me), calorie counting, and quality nutrition and sleep. You can do it!

  3. Fabulous post (as usual.) Thanks always for your honesty. I wish some expert or pro would write about how normal it is for people to lose a bunch of weight then gain some back. The momentum to lose weight pushes us to a lower weight than we can maintain. Okay. I'm no expert or pro so maybe I should say "me." When I lost weight on a really strict diet about six years ago then couldn't tolerate that anymore, I gained back some weight. The weight didn't come back all at once, but when that day came back and my clothes didn't fit, I beat myself up so badly for wanting to be the thinnest size again that it sabotaged my efforts to lose even a little weight. It actually took a couple of years for me to relax into the kind of food plan you're talking about. I just eat less food. Some days I decide to eat "healthy" but I know it's not forever. This freedom has stopped my binging which was a huge factor in my original weight gain. So thanks for being honest about who and where you are. It give me so much freedom to figure out what works for me!

  4. I always appreciate how honest you are about the foods you eat. That has been a big motivating factor as I look at what I eat as I try to lose some weight. Thank you!!


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