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What are your most important lessons?

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Old 11-05-2004, 11:04 PM   #1
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Default What are your most important lessons?

Hi, ONe of the things I love about this site is all you successful losers who have reached or are close to your weight goals. In the course of your losing, what items would you pass along as the most important lessons you learned about losing your weight for those of us who are not 'there' yet?

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Old 11-06-2004, 05:07 AM   #2
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Great topic, Jan! The most important lesson that I learned about weight loss and maintenance Ė by far Ė is that this is FOREVER. The diet is never going to be over and I can never go back to eating and living the way that I used to Ė unless I want to go back to 257 pounds.

Since I'm a professional dieter , of course I heard Ďthis has to be a lifestyle, not a dietí a million times, but I never really believed it. In my heart of hearts, I was convinced that once the weight was off, I could go back to my comfortable life of eating cookies and reading books and Iíd never gain a pound. Reaching goal was the goal and everything after that was happily ever after. Life past goal was kind of vague and soft-focus, but I was convinced that maintaining my weight would be easy and effortless. After all, Iíd say to myself, what could be easier than just staying at one weight?

The reality is that life after goal for me looks pretty much the same as the year that I was losing weight. I do the same amount of daily exercise, eat the same foods, weigh and measure, use Fitday, plan ahead, and use all the tips and tricks that I learned while I was losing weight. The only difference is that I may eat 200 or so extra calories a day, not in treats, just maybe an extra apple and bowl of oatmeal. Somewhere in the past 3 Ĺ years, it did indeed become a lifestyle without me realizing it. I canít imagine living any other way; I donít even want to live any other way.

Thatís the reality of what it takes for me to keep the weight off. Itís not what a lot of dieters want to hear; they want to believe that after a few weeks of deprivation dieting with the latest EZ, quick weight loss diet, they can go right back to pizza, candy, donuts and being a couch potato. Iíve occasionally gotten flack from dieters Ė still overweight - who are completely convinced that they will be Ďcuredí of all their eating issues once they reach goal; they imagine goal as a wonderful food utopia where they naturally and intuitively will be able to maintain their new weight without thought or effort. In my experience (and it seems like that of most of the other maintainers here), thatís just not going to happen. Unfortunately!

So Ė the most important lesson that Iíve learned is that losing weight is simply practice for maintenance. The losing phase is the warm-up for what really counts -- keeping the weight off for the rest of our lives. But the second most important lesson I've learned is that the rewards for our new lifestyles are immeasurable! My new lifestyle has NOTHING to do with deprivation - it has EVERYTHING to do with living, really living and having every day be the best day of my life.
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Old 11-06-2004, 05:33 AM   #3
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As always Meg is spot on. I still struggle and am not completely at peace with maintenance so my advice is slighly different. When something throws me off schedule and I don't plan and stick to my food plan and I end up spending the whole day eating Cheerios straight from the box, I have learned that I have to put that day behind me. The next day I have to sit down with my notepad plan my food for the day and then head straight for the gym. When I say put a bad day behind you, I only mean emotionally. I still enter every morsel into Fitday. Honesty with yourself is vital.
I suppose that my lesson is to take a practical approach to your own emotions; don't let bad days turn into bad weeks but be honest with yourself about transgressions and don't keep things in the house that make you feel bad (cheerios, peanut butter).

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Old 11-06-2004, 08:52 AM   #4
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Agree with everything said here. You need to stay eating the way you were eating, just add a bit more food to stop the weight loss. Healthy food, that is.

My tips would be to make your new Way of Eating something you enjoy - if you go on a 'diet' with foods you hate, it's not going to work when you hit maintenance.

Also, for me, eating 6 small meals a day was the key. I'm now maintaining at roughly 1800-1900 calories a day, not including my 'free day' (I'm doing a plan similar to BFL) - last week I lost .25 pound even at that calorie level. So that breaks down to roughly 300ish calories x 6 meals. (I allow myself a little leeway on the individual breakdown, but I keep any single meal to less than 500).

I also keep my ratios to around 40-40-20 (P C F) and limit carbs to 'good' carbs when possible (whole grains, oatmeal, etc). Try to get in good fats (peanut butter, olive oil, Smart Balance, whatever).

And yes, keep up the exercise and add weight training if you haven't already.

I've only been 'maintaining' for three months now, but so far so good. (Keeping fingers crossed). Only problem with the plans above is that the relatives think I am nuts (geeze, it's 3PM, time for meal 4!)..
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Old 11-06-2004, 06:39 PM   #5
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Meg said:<< Iíve occasionally gotten flack from dieters Ė still overweight - who are completely convinced that they will be Ďcuredí of all their eating issues once they reach goal; they imagine goal as a wonderful food utopia where they naturally and intuitively will be able to maintain their new weight without thought or effort. In my experience (and it seems like that of most of the other maintainers here), thatís just not going to happen. Unfortunately!

So Ė the most important lesson that Iíve learned is that losing weight is simply practice for maintenance. >>

Hi all, thanks for the responses. When I wrote my initial question it was regarding tips for wl, not necessarily maintaining, but as Meg said, its really the same thing except for a couple hundred calories here and there. Its being persistent and realistic. <<Losing weight is simply practice for maintenance>> says it all. They are the same thing basically.

The first quote above is part of the old fable "I will be happy when....." in this case, lose weight. All too often people look to some future event that will be their salvation without having to put in the time. I will be happy (and my life will magically change) when I.... lose weight, find the right guy, become a millionaire, finish school, get a job, yadda yadda yadda. But guess what, there is no magic bullit for life's problems. And weight loss alone does not solve eating/weight problems. It is but one essential step in the on-going process.

In another post someplace here, I mentioned how I had taken years to learn to become as close to an 'intuitive eater' as a 'former' compulsive over-eater could become, and lost about 50 pounds in the process. It was hard work, many ups and downs, and has been well worth it in many ways. I still use most of the concepts, and my eating is changed forever to the good.

.......But guess what, even as an 'intuitive eater', one still has to be constantly vigilent. There are the same MacDonalds on every corner for intuitive eaters too. Everyone has to be aware of the quality and quantity of their food daily. I have conversed extensively over the years on boards and mailing lists with other 'intuitive eaters' in training, and almost every single one of them would agree with this: Intuitive eating is not a free ride. Intuitive eating is just another way to learn to not exceed natural hunger cues in order to not eat too much. Intuitive eaters use their bodies natural signals regarding eating cues, non-intuitive eaters use the clock and measuring spoons with the same results. They both generally eat the same kinds of foods, and generally the same amounts in order to remain thin. Period! The bodies of those who are 'Intuitive eaters', even natural ones, still adhere to the basic inflexible rule of calories in, calories out. And most truly natural eaters (We all know some) do watch what they eat on some level much of the time.

(The only wild card in this formula is the concept of compulsivity regarding food. That is another whole subject -- like discussing wine-tasting vs alcoholism.)

I wish there was a free ride, but there is none. If you could learn it, I would have by now. Even if there is one, those of us who have been eating-compromised can never learn it. Its just too late in the biological process. If taken literally, the old expression 'having your cake and eating it too' is a lie. I know. I've tested it extensively, and the hypothesis is false.

Jan
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Old 11-06-2004, 08:39 PM   #6
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Most important lesson? Being active is the key. I'm healthier, I feel better, look better and can eat more. Being active is the key.
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Old 11-07-2004, 08:41 AM   #7
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One lesson I learned is that a healthy lifestyle is made up of a thousand small decisions every day. Should I exercise now or later? What exercise should I do? How long? Can I quit now? Should I eat this cookie? How long has it been since I've had broccoli? Is responding to this jerk at work by eating an entire pie really a good idea? Can I go take 5 minutes for myself and just breathe? Every single bite is a decision. Every single step is a decision. Some are easy, some are very hard.

The second lesson is that you don't have to get all these little moments right. For weight loss I figure I got about 90% right. For maintenance it's more like 80%. It's OK to get some of them 'wrong'. But it is important to be really honest with yourself about it and try to learn from it. If 80% creeps down to 75% for me, I'll start to gain weight and then I have to really work it.

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Old 11-07-2004, 01:00 PM   #8
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I think what's clear is this - there is no one way that works for *everyone*. We all need to find our own paths to maintenance, KWIM? Of course, simply broken down for everyone, it comes to 'eating right and exercising' but we all have to find out what works for us and makes life a joy (most of the time anyway ). Food is not only sustenence but it can also be a pleasure - most of the time I do 'eat to live' but then there's times when I 'eat to enjoy' - going to a really good restaurant or what have you. Same with exercise - if you don't enjoy the exercise you're doing, explore and find something you DO like - even if you do enjoy what you're doing, don't be afraid to experiment with new and different activities (this summer it was Pilates and Yoga for me!).
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Old 11-07-2004, 08:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wndranne
One lesson I learned is that a healthy lifestyle is made up of a thousand small decisions every day. Should I exercise now or later? What exercise should I do? How long? Can I quit now? Should I eat this cookie? How long has it been since I've had broccoli? Is responding to this jerk at work by eating an entire pie really a good idea? Can I go take 5 minutes for myself and just breathe? Every single bite is a decision. Every single step is a decision. Some are easy, some are very hard.

The second lesson is that you don't have to get all these little moments right. For weight loss I figure I got about 90% right. For maintenance it's more like 80%. It's OK to get some of them 'wrong'. But it is important to be really honest with yourself about it and try to learn from it. If 80% creeps down to 75% for me, I'll start to gain weight and then I have to really work it.
You are right on the money! I couldn't agree more with this.
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Old 11-07-2004, 10:15 PM   #10
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A 200 calorie difference between maintaining and dieting would differ for each individual. There are many factors that come into play, for example what diet one was on while losing weight. Was it 1200 or 1800 calories? And how many calories does our body use while maintaining? Does one have a high metabolism or not? How much exercise does one do, etc. It might be 200 calories difference for some, and more for others. Or even, heaven forbid, the same dieting as maintaining (I know a woman like this).

As MrsJim said, each of us is different, there is no one right way, no specific number for all, etc. The same would be true for maintaining and calories needed. I would suspect there is no way to predict other then getting there and giving the new body a test drive, and seeing what the scale says over time. If one continues to loose, add more cals. If one gains, subtract some cals. Someone once said we all are our own individual laboratories, so lets experiment. There is no book on the subject, we each must write our own based on what works for us.

I also like wndranne's lots of small decisions concept a whole lot. I love it when a big task gets broken down into component parts. It makes it easier somehow. Food/eating/exercise/emotional choices. Not a single bad one will make or break a weight loss effort, but a whole bunch of wrong choices can. It also puts perfectionism into better perspective. There is no way possible all one's decisions will be correct, but as long as one is 90% (to lose), thats good enough. Of course not all decisions are created equal.

Jan, learning more every day

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Old 11-08-2004, 03:33 AM   #11
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Yes everyone is different but I think it has been established on several threads that successful maintenance involves "chronic restrained eating" and 1-1.5 hours of exercise daily. Having lost a large amount of weight my calorie range remains between 1200 to an absolute maximum of 1600. Over that and I am gaining weight. I run 50 kms per week and lift weights. I am 5'6". 136 lbs. From what I have read on this site from Meg, Mel, Mrs Jim etc this is normal and I don't think trying to give the impression that it will be different for others
Quote Jansen There are many factors that come into play, for example what diet one was on while losing weight. Was it 1200 or 1800 calories? And how many calories does our body use while maintaining? Does one have a high metabolism or not? How much exercise does one do, etc. It might be 200 calories difference for some, and more for others.
is fair. The odd relapse or treat is possible but it has to be followed by hard back at it. If any of us had these magical high metabolisms we would not have gained weight in the first place.
I really don't mean to sound negative; the rewards of weight loss are enormous and I for one enjoy working out and running but food will always be another matter and I do not foresee a future of "normal" food consumption.
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Old 11-08-2004, 09:18 AM   #12
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I *think* (however I might be wrong, as this is a study sample of one) that my calorie cycling during my 'diet' phase is what is helping me to stay maintaining on a higher amount of calories. I'm shooting for a 2100 calorie maintenance, and I think I may make it, as I lost a little on 1900 last week. I'm upping the calories by about 100 every two weeks and keeping exercise the same. During my diet phase, I stayed around 1400-1500 calories (NEVER lower) with an all out cheat day during the weekend to keep the metabolism hyped (or at least that was the theory). As discussed in another thread, this may NOT work for someone who has problems with cravings, binging, etc.

Even so, calorie cycling up a few hundred calories now and then while dieting might help some people.

I'm 5'4, 126 or so, around 18% body fat at last check.
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Old 11-08-2004, 09:45 AM   #13
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featherz, I'm in a really similar place to you. I've been averaging about 2000-2100 calories for the past couple of weeks, with some days lower and some higher, and I weighed about the same this am (maybe 1/2lb lower) as I did 2 weeks ago. But remember, we only lost around 40lbs, not 100+, which changes things I suspect.

I wonder also if age and length of time weighing more also alters what your maintenance calories are. (I'm 31 and never weighed more than about 135 until 7 years ago when I started grad school, then had 4 pregnancies quite close together).
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Old 11-08-2004, 12:44 PM   #14
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I think age and length of of time that we were heavy, as well as diet history has a lot to do with how much you can eat and maintain now. I lost about 45-50 pounds of fat, but I'd been just slowly gaining for 20 years (sometimes not so slowly), and crash dieting on and off. I was 46, almost 47, when I finally took it all off FOR THE LAST TIME, and promptly went into menopause. That makes a huge difference, no matter how much you exercise. Eating 2000 calories a day would have me gaining about 2 pounds a week, no matter how clean the food.

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Old 11-08-2004, 04:18 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mel
I think age and length of of time that we were heavy, as well as diet history has a lot to do with how much you can eat and maintain now. I lost about 45-50 pounds of fat, but I'd been just slowly gaining for 20 years (sometimes not so slowly), and crash dieting on and off. I was 46, almost 47, when I finally took it all off FOR THE LAST TIME, and promptly went into menopause. That makes a huge difference, no matter how much you exercise. Eating 2000 calories a day would have me gaining about 2 pounds a week, no matter how clean the food.

Mel
Me too. Sigh. Getting old sucks.

Pookie, I'm not SuperWoman!! Good heavens, I mess up All The Freaking Time! (but I pick myself up and keep on going ) Yes, I definitely plan special treats and nice dinners at restaurants. I don't take cheat days off, but PLAN in special meals. Restaurants work out really well for me because it's portion-controlled (only ONE dessert instead of three ) AND there's no leftovers sitting around the house calling my name. I enjoy my meal, leave the restaurant and then I'm done and back on plan. Sometimes there's gotta to be more to life than oatmeal and egg whites!
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