Reader Question: What is weight maintenance like?

I’d like to hear about how maintenance is going for you. Do you still track the food that you eat? What do you continue monitor closely and have you eased up on any aspects?

Since 2012, I’ve lost about 75 pounds, most of it between January and October of that year.  There were a few key components that helped me achieve this.  I discovered healthy food swaps, slowly ramped up exercise duration and intensity and began following the Weight Watchers “lifestyle” (not “diet”).  Once I reached my goal weight, I transitioned from intentionally trying to lose weight to learning to maintain my weight.

The shift in gears was… interesting.  By the time I transitioned to maintaining my weight, I pretty much had the food and eating end down pat.  The hard part was the mental aspect: knowing when and how much to loosen the reigns.  I was afraid that if I loosened too much that I might not stay in control, but if I didn’t loosen enough that I would burn out.

In the end, the philosophy that struck the right balance was the philosophy that helped me succeed with the loss: just a dot, not a lot.  The “dots” may be more frequent or even slightly larger now.  The concept is still the same: portion control, not deprivation.  (I will add, however, that there are a few foods that I simply won’t have in the house, because portion control isn’t possible.  Thankfully, they’re not foods that I really like, just foods that are difficult to stop eating.)

For example, a sampling from this cheese tray was something that I recently chose to enjoy.  I would have declined before switching to maintenance.  (It was as delicious as it looks.)

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I still plan my food days in advance (usually the night before), track almost all of my food and attend a weekly Weight Watchers meeting.  In all honesty, I don’t currently foresee a time that this would change.  The weekly meetings are enjoyable.  It give me a little boost and I’m hopefully able to pay back to others some of the support and encouragement that I received along my way.  This blog is another way that I hope to repay the kindness that I received during my journey.

As for what I monitor closely, I do still monitor very closely my potion sizes.  My kitchen scale is used many times a day.  I do not monitor fruits and veggies.  Being hungry is not an option, so I turn to whole fruits and veggies whenever I need them, without worrying about overconsumption.  Without a doubt, they’re a far better option than anything else that I would otherwise choose.

Note: If you have a question, feel free to send me a message through the blog or through Facebook.

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Reader Question: I want to run, but need to lose more weight first. What exercise do you recommend?

I recently received a message from a reader.  She said that she wants to start running, but needs to lose weight first, and wanted to know what exercise I would suggest in the meantime.

My journey to running began long before I ever went for a jog.  Prior to running or losing weight, I began doing yoga and walking.  Both forms of exercise have their advantages and can help prepare your body for running.

Yoga primarily uses stretches and isometric poses to increase flexibility and strength.  There is a yoga style for everybody and yoga is a very individualized exercise.  All moves (know as poses in the yoga world) can be adapted for your body and fitness level.  As you progress in your practice, you are able to take the stretches deeper or hold them longer, if your body allows it.  For me, yoga laid the foundation and increased my strength, so that when it was time to start running, I had an adequate base from which to build.

In today’s information age, yoga is quite accessible.  There are clips available with On-Demand cable, countless YouTube videos, as well as DVDs available online or to checkout at your library.  For more personalized instruction, many fitness facilities offer yoga classes, including gyms, YMCAs and (of course) dedicated yoga studios.  Yogis are a very welcoming lot, so I would encourage you to not be intimidated walking into a yoga class or studio for the first time.

In addition to yoga, low-impact exercise is important for improving cardiovascular performance and burning calories, in anticipation of running.  Walking, biking (outdoor, stationary and spinning class) and elliptical machines are all excellent low-impact ways to start preparing.

So if you are wanting to give running a try, but aren’t ready to begin just yet, I would strongly encourage you to give yoga a look and find a low-impact cardio exercise that you enjoy.  Namaste!