Every Darn Day

A friend recently paid me a compliment.  She congratulated me on “figuring things out” regarding eating, exercise and weight maintenance.  While I am appreciative of how she perceives my existence, it has nagged at me.

Before I lost weight, I distinctly remember having friends or acquaintances who slimmed down, and thinking that they had broken through to the “other side.”  You know, the side where you just have it figured out, where you magically are able to balance what you eat with how much you exercise, where you know when to stop eating and where you’re not tempted by sweets and treats.  I remember being quite envious of their newfound enlightenment and wondered if or when my time would arrive.  (Trust me, I begged and pleaded with my own brain to figure it out.)

The fact of the matter is there is no “other side.”  There is no magical enlightenment that happens that allows me to effortlessly make sound decisions.  Even though I have maintained my weight loss for nearly 3 years, it’s still requires effort.  It requires effort every day… every single day… every single darn day.

But what’s the alternative?  The alternative is to be somewhere I’ve already been, and somewhere that I’ll hopefully never return.  Thanks to a friend who traveled this same road 13 years earlier, from nearly the beginning, I had the understanding that this is a life-long journey.  If weight loss and maintenance has an end point (i.e. a goal weight), limited success is possible, but life-long success is unlikely.

The point of this post is that I know and accept that this will require work every day of my life.  Though I do it for myself, I also do it for these munchkins, two of three pictured here.

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Yes, some days, weeks or months might be harder, some will be easier.  And in a twisted way, I enjoy it.  I enjoy learning new things, challenging myself and talking with friends about our collective journey.

Is it work?  Yes.

Is it worth it?  Absolutely!

I wouldn’t change a thing.

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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.

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning… a Very Nice Place to Start

In the months that I have been on my weight loss and weight maintenance journey, I’ve had many people approach me and share their stories and thoughts on weight loss.  More than once, I’ve heard people express an interest in learning how I started my weight loss journey.  So I thought I would explain how my personal journey began, in hopes that it might spark something in someone else.

In its most elementary form, weight loss, weight gain and weight maintenance is simple.

  • Calories in + calories out = change (or lack thereof)

While the calculation may be simple, weight loss is certainly not.  If it were, let’s face it, I wouldn’t be typing this and you wouldn’t be reading it.

The “calories in” part of the equation is my topic du jour.  (The “calories out” part will bask in its own glory another day.)

For me, an early step was to quantify my “calories in.”  Putting it matter-of-factly, you don’t know what you don’t know!  Until I closely examined what I was consuming, I really didn’t know.

There are many free and paid products that can help users become aware of and quantify what they’re eating.  A few of the more popular ones are the websites and apps from MyFitnessPal, SparkPeople and Weight Watchers.

I joined Weight Watchers, but at the time that I began following their program, I didn’t put any thought into which program to use.  My decision was an impulsive one.  I only knew that I wanted to try to shape up and I was *not* interested in dieting.  (Been there.  Done that.  Doesn’t work.)  There had been a friend who was following Weight Watchers and referred to it once it as a “lifestyle.”  That apparently made an impression on my brain.

Though I can assure you that I’m receiving no compensation from Weight Watchers, I think their program is fantastic.  It’s a comprehensive program that, if followed as intended, gently guides you into a healthier lifestyle.

If you’re considering starting a journey of your own, but don’t know where to begin, and even if you’re not interested in modifying your eating just yet, I would suggest examining and tracking what you’re putting into your body.  After all, the first step toward change is awareness.