First, I want to say that I truly and deeply admire everyone who has lost and kept it off! There are SO many great role models here. You all just totally ROCK and, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you all for sharing your struggles and triumphs and all the stuff in-between.
Someday maybe I’ll post my whole long story in the Success Stories Goal Section (with all the tragedy and drama and stuff) but for now I figured I’d just answer the introduction questions:
Is this the first time or one of many times that you've tried to lose weight?
This is “One of many
”. I did a lot of unhealthy "diets" (translation=starvation) in my youth, but I won't go there for now. I remember joining one of the places where you buy the food from them when I was in my mid or late 20s, but I only had maybe 15-20 lbs to lose at that time. Many memories are fuzzy back in those days.
I first started moving into the seriously overweight category in my early/mid-thirties. In... 1999 or 2000? I joined WW and lost from 150-ish down to 120. Six months later I was back up to 150, then got pg with twin girls. They were born in 2001, and I lost for a while - back down to around 150 again, then started gaining (3 teenagers, two babies, full-time job, a LOT
of personal stress, an anxiety disorder that was out of control, mild depression, tough days... ). In Jan 2003 I hit a new high of 170, then I joined an online subscription diet service. I lost 50 lbs in 8 months – hit my goal of 120 in Aug 2003, then had a pretty major disaster/tragedy a few weeks later - if I thought I was stressed out before, I hadn't seen nothin yet! I started stress/comfort eating again, and by the end of 2004 I weighed 178. I have some really sad pics -- me at goal in Aug 2003 holding out my "too big" pants, then at 178 in Oct 2004 wearing the same pants & shirt which were way
too tight. Actually in the avatar those are the same pants - I still have them.
When I was finally ready to try again in early 2005, I decided to take it very slowly, baby steps – so I’d lose maybe 20 lbs, maintain for a bit, start gaining, put on maybe 10 or so, get serious, lose another 15-20 or so, etc. I got down to 145 in, I think it was late 2006? Then at the end of 2007, by the time the holidays were over, I was back up to 164, so knew I had to get serious about losing and learning to maintain.
I joined a free diet support forum and set my goal at 135 b/c it was at the top of my healthy range – I figured I’d have the best chance of maintaining a healthy weight that way. I told myself that if I could maintain for 6 months, then I’d try losing a bit more, maintain a while, etc. I reached 134.5 on May 1st, 2008, down to 128 in Nov 2008, back up to 135 after Christmas, and am on my way back down now.
Are you where you want to be?
I feel good about my progress, and about being where I am (as opposed to where I was). At the same time, I still have goals. Eventually I think 120-125 would be a good, healthy range for me, but it depends on fat/lean% and other factors like how my body responds. I’m in no rush. I’m just enjoying the journey of healthy living. My primary goal is not gaining. Don't cross the red line! And sitting w/my toes on it isn't feeling too good either.
How has life changed for you since you've lost the weight?
Which time? lol! Life changes daily, but some of the things on my ‘being healthy gratitude list’
If you're maintaining, what's that like for you?
- I have more energy to play with my 7 yr old twins, and I'll live long enough to play w/my grandkids and great grandkids....
- My knees and back ache less
- My skin doesn’t feel tightly stretched and itchy all the time, like a snake preparing to molt
- My thighs don’t rub together when I walk (they don’t get chapped from my pants, and they don’t make that awful “swish-swish” noise with every step)
- I can cross my legs “like a lady” when sitting (at higher weights, my thighs are too fat to sit with my legs crossed at the knees – it just doesn’t work)
- I don’t huff and puff walking up a flight of stairs
- I’m more confident. Most of the time I feel pretty, occasionally beautiful (and sometimes even sexy)
- If I have trouble finding “my size” while shopping, it’s the clothes that are too big instead of me being too big for the clothes
- There are a billion other things, but most of all I’m just grateful that I’m healthy enough to walk and run and play and laugh and have an amazing life!
Like losing, only less exciting
As you all know, preventing weight gain takes just as much diligence in exercise and portion control as losing does, only without the “big bang” rewards. When losing there’s the rush and excitement of change-something new, the thrill of victory when the scale drops another pound or two or three, the anticipation/excitment of having people notice and say, “wow, you’ve lost weight, how'd you do it”, you get to dig out your “skinny clothes” from the back of the closet and/or shop for cute clothes in smaller sizes… the list goes on. It's hard, but it's also exciting.
Maintaining, by its very definition, is about remaining level – being static, stationary. There are obviously rewards during maintenance, but they aren’t often of the “big bang” variety. They are slower, further between, and most of the time much more subtle. The "wedding" was thrilling, the "honeymoon" full of romance and new experiences, but those are over and now it’s just day to day life. BUt day to day life is beautiful too.
I have to learn to see beyond the immediate and come to know in my soul that good health, like most worthwhile things in life, is not about “reaching a destination
” but about growing & learning & enjoying the journey. Instead of always racing ahead full-steam screaming “are we there yet?!”, I have to slow down and see the beauty in the little things all around me. That's what the "gratitude" list does - helps me to remember where I came from, what got me here, and why it's worth the effort to stay here.
Do you exercise regularly?
I know it’s important, and that if I don’t I will gain back all I’ve lost – not just the pounds, but also the misery. But I’m not always 100% on it. I believe motivation is a decision not a feeling, but even so, sometimes there are periods when it’s really tough to motivate myself. Sometimes I find I’m doing the minimum, and fighting to get myself to do that much. Other times it’s easier, feels more natural to work out and eat healthy. When I’m doing it right, I always feel better though!
Most of the long term maintainers I’ve observed get very involved in one or two competitive sports – running, biking, weight lifting, kickboxing – something that involves other people, scheduled events, and some form of competition. It seems to be a major milestone in maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle for the long-term. I see this and think, “I need that
”, but as of yet I haven’t found something that makes me excited in that way, so for now I just keep plugging away at various cardio and strength workouts – elliptical, On-Demand exerciseTV videos, hand weights, floor exercises, stretching, etc. I try to get in at least 20-30 of cardio/toning and 10-15 min of stretching/toning 3 to 6 days a week, and while doing it, I try to really picture myself continuing to do this year after year and feel good about getting stronger and healthier. I want to be a good example for my kids, my grandkids, even my great grandkids!
Now that you're near or at your goal, what are your concerns?
The same as everyone always – how do I live in a society where being inactive and overeating are the norm (even encouraged) and live comfortably doing the opposite of that? I know how quickly I can start ignoring the “signs” and start to gain – put on a few lbs, decide not get on the scale “for a few days until I get it back down", more bad choices, ignore, gain, deny, gain, whine, gain… It's a slippery slope and I’m a pro – so I just need to remain diligent and connected to solid support.
Okay, so if this is the short version, maybe I won't post the "long version"
Anyhow, I'm grateful today to be healthy, and I know I need support to stay that way. So that's why I sought out a place where there are maintainers actively supporting each other.
I need you!!!