A year ago today I reached my ďgoal weightĒ of 135 pounds, after starting at 257 pounds less than a year earlier. In the past year, my weight has fluctuated up and down in a 10 pound range (132 to 142), usually for no particular reason (I think itís my metabolism settling in at my new weight). It generally stays in the 134 to 137 range. Today I weigh Ö 135.
At first, I was thinking that it had been a wasted year because I ended up at the same weight that I started. Then I realized that I have never before maintained ANY weight for a year, let alone a ďnormalĒ weight. Itís the classic ďis the glass half empty or half fullĒ situation ó would I like to weigh less? Sure. Am I glad I don't weight more? Absolutely!
So I had to stop and think of what has changed over the past year, if not the scale (and I will be the first to admit that I am WAY too hung up on those numbers!). A year ago, my body fat % was 16%. Today it is somewhere between 12.5 and 14% (depending on the measurement). So Iíve gained muscle and lost fat. My calves are finally getting smaller (my fattest body part by far ó when my trainer does the nine-point BF on me, everything is single digits except my darn calves, but they are slowly going down). My size 4 pants are loose on me ó some are a little too loose. Iím stronger and run now. The changes are small, but there, nonetheless.
So this led me to reflect on the lessons that Iíve learned in the past year (when I was doing cardio yesterday, of course!) and I had some thoughts that Iíd like to share:
Maintenance is harder than losing:
I heard this when I was losing weight and I thought ďYouíve got to be kidding! What could be easier than maintaining your weight?Ē Believe it and prepare for it ó itís true. I have the utmost respect and admiration for anyone -- like our Karen -- who has lost AND KEPT OFF (for 12+ years!) a significant amount of weight.
Maintenance doesnít look any different than losing:
I eat the same foods in pretty much the same quantities, work out just as intensely and often, and do as much cardio. I may eat 100-200 more calories per day ó thatís it. You have to run hard just to stay in place.
Iím addicted to exercise:
Hurray! Without a doubt, exercise (cardio and weights) has been the key to me losing and keeping off 122 pounds.
I still have food cravings:
I fight the food demons every day ó they havenít magically disappeared.
I screw up:
I eat something unplanned, feel guilty, and the scale inevitably will go up. But ó I stop. I havenít ďbingedĒ for more than a 15 minute stretch at a time and have never let it turn into a day or longer.
No one can make me fat again except for me:
The great truth -- only I control the hand that puts the food in my mouth.
I recognize my problem times and try to create a strategy:
Mine are when I am over-hungry or over-tired. I have to be sure never to let myself get too hungry or else I canít ever get full. When Iím really tired, I lose all will-power. My worst days have been the ones when Iíve gotten almost no sleep the night before.
I still plan and weigh and measure:
I use Fitday.com and plan my meals the night before and write down everything that I eat. I weigh and measure portions simply because I know that I underestimate when I am hungry. I make lists of strategies of what to do when I am tempted to eat the wrong food. I still need this control over my eating just like I did when I was losing.
Excess skin is a problem that does not magically go away:
I ended up having plastic surgery to get rid of some of the huge amount of skin that was left over after my weight loss and will need more. I am more than thrilled with the results.
Self-talk is critical:
98% of weight loss and maintenance happens in your head, I think, and you have to talk yourself through all the challenges that each day presents. Every day I wake up and tell myself it's going to be a great day (and, hey, it usually is!)
People treat you differently when you have lost a lot of weight:
I have lost friends and gained friends and my DH has been alternately perplexed and alarmed and thrilled.
Clothes shopping is so much more fun:
At first I was unthinkingly buying clothes in the styles that I had previously worn until I realized that I could wear shirts tucked in and little crop tops and sleeveless etc. So then I swore that I would never again wear pants with elastic waists (except for gym pants) or sensible underwear or T-shirts to cover my butt. Scratch the surface and Iím the one in the fuchsia lace!
Having this group to turn to for support is priceless!
Iíve made it for 365 days. Iíve been through Christmas and Thanksgiving, my birthday, two surgeries, and a bad mammogram without turning to food for comfort or celebration.
So hereís to another year, one day at a time!