HEY GUYS. I’m still aliiiive! I’m here today for a very special reason: to celebrate!
On this day, one year ago, I hit my goal weight of 160 lbs.
I remember how bizarre it was to hit that number. I even wrote about it in my SparkPeople blog:
WHAT DO I DO NOW?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!! (yes this deserves the extra exclamation points!!!)
(I know what to do. Just freaking out a little.)
Now up until this point, my exercise was mostly walking. I hadn’t yet discovered kettlebells, yoga or running. I hadn’t joined my walking group, I hadn’t started walking dogs at the animal shelter, and I hadn’t started this blog! A lot has happened in the past year. A LOT. Here’s what I’ve learned about weight loss maintenance in the past year:
- Getting to your goal weight does not solve all of your internal issues. In fact, it doesn’t solve any of them. At all. Your mental health is a separate matter entirely. I chose to deal with this by having a short stint in hypnotherapy (short because it was all I could afford, but it helped).
- Maintenance is harder and more frustrating than losing weight, because the best possible outcome is the number on the scale stays the same. You don’t get that high from hopping on the scale and seeing a loss, and you need to find other ways to reward yourself.
- Adding weight training makes you gain weight. In the past year I have fluctuated between 167 and 174 lbs, which, you will note, is above my goal weight. However, I’ve lost inches and am wearing clothing that is 2 sizes smaller than I was a year ago.
- It is WAY HARDER to determine success when you’re strength training, as visual improvement goes very slowly. If I compare a photo of myself from a year ago to a photo of myself today, I can definitely see improvement. But on a day to day basis? It’s truly frustrating. (I can see the shadows of a six pack hidden under the small amount of excess skin on my stomach, but only if the lighting is just right!)
- You have to look at the BIG PICTURE. Yes, I weigh more than I did last year, but that doesn’t make me a failure by any matter of means. Last year, I was a success because I hit my goal weight. This year, I’m a success because I’ve kept off 100 lbs for more than a year, I’ve added muscle and reshaped my body, I’ve tried new forms of exercise such as yoga, running and kettlebells (who doesn’t love bells???), made friends through walking group, gotten relief from anxiety by walking dogs, tried at least 250 new recipes, etc. How is that a fail???
- Your closet will feel empty, because suddenly wearing clothes that are too big make you feel ridiculous. Or that could just be me.
In summary, weight maintenance can be a frustrating thing, and it means much more than just the number on the scale. Yes, on paper, someone who doesn’t know me and can’t see me would say that I’ve gained back 10 lbs. What they don’t see, is how I was “skinny fat” before, and now I have a much more athletic build. I weigh more, but am more compact, more defined.
But I was curious, what are my chances of keeping it off? I found a couple of blog articles written by an obesity doctor Yoni Freedoff (“Family doc, Assistant Prof. at the University of Ottawa, Author of The Diet Fix, and founder of Ottawa’s non-surgical Bariatric Medical Institute – a multi-disciplinary, ethical, evidence-based nutrition and weight management centre.”) regarding whether or not weight loss maintenance is scientifically possible:
Here’s my favorite section:
My weight management philosophy has always been rather straightforward – whatever you choose to do to lose your weight, you need to keep doing to keep it off, and therefore choosing a weight loss modality you don’t enjoy is just a recipe for regain.
And my favorite section from this follow up:
What I’m getting at is that I think what makes maintaining weight loss seem “almost impossible” are the goal posts society has generally set to measure success. No doubt, if the goal set is losing every last ounce of weight that some stupid chart says you’re supposed to lose then the descriptor “almost impossible” may well be fair. On the other hand, if the goal is to cultivate the healthiest life that you can honestly enjoy, subtotal losses, often with significant concomitant health improvements, are definitely within your reach.
So the point is, when I hit goal I’d lost 115 lbs. I’ve kept off more than 100 of that, in fact, as of this morning, I’m 105 lbs down. That’s 91% of my total loss. And I’ve continued to work out, not because I need to lose more weight, but because I love it. It makes me feel good when I finish a tough workout. It lifts my spirits. It makes me feel strong and awesome. Tracking my food and eating healthy is second nature now, and not a chore.
Lastly, I’ve been cleared to run! I have to go slower, and keep my runs short, but I’m allowed! I need to keep up a regimen of icing, stretching and not overdoing it, but maybe by mid-October I’ll be able to run enough to finish a 5K. Fingers crossed!