AIM: Are We There Yet?


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Last month our AIM group tackled the question about that “last straw” or “AHA moment” in regards to finally losing the weight. I did a great job of answering that question. I had a very definitive answer about the EXACT MOMENT that I decided to go on a successful final diet (NOT…)

So for this month’s question, “How did you know when to transition to maintenance from loss mode? Was it a number or a size or something else? did you struggle to not want to “lose a little more”?” I will again be providing a very definitive answer (NOT…)

I love the title we chose for this question “are we there yet?”–everybody’s either asked this question or heard it asked, right? Because it almost gives me permission to be a very impatient parent who is tired of their kid asking that question. And let me just say–I am not impatient with the questioner. I am impatient with the very process itself. I am impatient with all the misinformation out there. I am impatient with the crazies promoting their version of crazy as THE ONE EASY WAY to lose weight and keep it off forever. I am impatient with the LACK of credible weight loss maintenance information out there.

Ahem… Now that I’ve got that out of my system…let me just try to answer these questions as simply and honestly as possible.

How did you know when to transition to maintenance from loss mode? I had dieted for a year and a half. It took forever to lose the last two pounds to reach 100 pounds lost. And then it took another forever to lose another two pounds. I was eating way less than was comfortable to just lose those two pounds, so I decided I was done “dieting.” But I also want to mention something else here. There is no transitioning. Whatever you are eating when you get to your lowest weight is exactly what you will need to be eating to maintain that weight. That is the truth. Do not deceive yourself otherwise.

Was it a number or a size or something else? Heavens no! (well, you know.  100 pounds is kinda cool.) But it was nowhere near my original intent. It was nowhere near my BMI or any normal weight you could find on any chart. And please. Please do not go on a diet to reach a certain size. I am still wearing clothes every day from size small to size extra large. Please do not let the size of the clothes you wear define WHO you are.

Did you struggle to not want to “lose a little more”? Yes, yes, and double yes. Sometimes I think wanting to lose a little more just helps you to maintain the weight you are! But if you want to lose a little more, and you think you are working pretty hard at that, and all you do is maintain your weight, then a certain sense of failure sets in… And that can be very discouraging.

What I want to say is this: LIFE IS FLUID. There are no concrete rules, no absolute boundaries. Because we are full of LIFE, and LIFE changes. What is outside of our life (our environment, our current life circumstances) changes. What is inside our life (our biological makeup, our cellular structure, the function of our organs, OUR AGE) changes constantly. It is frustrating, but it is what it is. Maintenance is for life. You have to adjust it as you go.

Me at my heaviest (257 pounds)

Me at my heaviest (257 pounds)

Current me, subject to change without notice.

Current me, subject to change without notice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to visit my friends to see what they have to say about weight maintenance!

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

 

AIM: The Last Straw

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This month we are tackling one of the questions we were asked in our questionnaire:

1. What was your “last straw” moment, or your kick in the butt, or whatever it was that finally made you say “I just have to do this (get healthy)”?

Well, I have to be honest here. Even though I promoted this as one of the questions we tackle, I knew that I did not have a good singular answer.

I knew that I had a LOT of moments that SHOULD have been “the last straw.”

  • Like when I would take my nieces on a special trip to Lake Tahoe, and I would sit on a bench in the shade just watching them.
  • Or when I admitted to a special group of friends that sometimes I just felt like running out the front door, but I wasn’t physically able to do that.
  • Like when I would limp into the house from the car after my 12 hour shift, thinking, I guess I’m just going to die early (because I can’t give up chocolate chip cookies.)
  • Knowing that my blood pressure and blood sugar were starting to increase just a bit (and my dad had long-term hypertension and diabetes.)
  • Or when something popped in my knee while taking a shower, and my leg hurt so bad that it literally took me half an hour to tie my shoe laces (so I could go to the ER.)

That last one. Man, I really thought that was going to do it for me. But no. I couldn’t seem to change the way I ate and thought and moved.

So my last straw seems to be an accumulation of years of quiet acceptance and desperation combined.

And then a friend had the temerity to ask if I would go with her to Weight Watchers. And after turning her down, and struggling on my own to try to cut back on calories (and being very very hungry…) I had to admit to myself that I needed help.

I was a reluctant convert. And VERY skeptical that anything would “take.”

The only thing I had going for me was a very firm conviction that anything I did would have to be “for the rest of my life.” (which was also why I was so very reluctant to make a change in the first place.)

Ha! And I was right. I still have a very occasional chocolate chip cookie, but they are no longer a part of my daily diet. And now, as I write this, I am waiting for a butternut squash to cook so I can try it in a new salad recipe I found, and will have that salad along with some strawberries and cottage cheese for my “special” Sunday night supper. For dessert, I might make my Apple Blackberry Sour Cream Pie in a Bowl. You can see that I was right about making a change for the rest of my life. When I was so stuck on my old way of eating, I never would have dreamed of trying a salad that had butternut squash in it.  But you know what? Its a great change! I do believe that I will be eating this way for the rest of my life.

I so wish for all of you who are looking for that “last straw” or that “AHA moment” that you will find what you are looking for. Maybe it won’t be a big recognizable moment. Maybe it will just be that little admission “I need help,” or the quiet desperation that finally reaches the tipping point. Whatever it is, I know that I and my AIM friends wish the very best for you. If you have more questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

And be sure to check out the other AIMers. I can’t wait to read about their last straw!

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

AIM: What’s in My Cart

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Can you believe my good luck? Last month, when we introduced our “ask us almost anything” questionnaire, someone actually wanted to see pictures of a regular grocery shopping trip for us. And my AIM friends very kindly agreed to make this the first question we answered.

Right up there with my love of food is my love of grocery shopping. When I travel to another town, one of the things I always do is to check out the grocery stores. I love visiting Trader Joe’s (my latest love is their peppermint tea, and I just got a box of their Chai tea bags–it has all the spices that I put in my homemade chai without all the work. I tried it this morning–most excellent!) Whole Foods is another fun store to visit, although they are a bit pricey for me. And of course, I do love to go to Costco. I have to be careful there though. The sheer volume of food is sometimes too much for a single person. (Latest Costco find–Skinny Pop Popcorn–for those who might be too lazy busy to make microwave popcorn…)

This is my favorite corner of Costco:

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So, returning to my grocery shopping trip.You know how one of the first things “they” tell you is to shop the perimeter of the store? “They” are right! I do that!

This is my regular route through the little grocery store that I do most of my shopping at. I go in the door by the produce, because that is my favorite thing to buy.

IMG_0205This day I got a few potatoes. I don’t buy too many, because I just don’t eat them that often. I always try to get little ones, about 3-5 ounces each. These are Yellow Finn potatoes. I love them because they have such flavor that you don’t need butter to enjoy them.

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This next picture is for my friend, Lynn. Aren’t those some beautiful artichokes? Artichokes don’t have many calories, and are very high in fiber. The problem with artichokes is that you are required to eat them with fat–either butter or mayonnaise. I’ve gone the gamut from using low calorie spreads to nothing. Now I eat them with a carefully measured out teaspoon or 1/2 Tbsp of butter. Just enough to get a bit of a taste on each leaf.IMG_0210

Baby carrots are a weekly purchase. Sophie and Bessie get a couple each night with their dinner. They both think I am starving them to death, so the carrots act as a kind of filler. I get to eat a few of them myself while I am feeding the dogs and getting my dinner ready. IMG_0212

I often buy scallions and cilantro without really knowing what I might be using them for. Its about 66 cents for both of them, and I do like having them on hand. This day I knew there was some recipe I wanted to try that called for both, and I couldn’t remember what it was. When I got home, I remembered that I wanted to try this Creamy Cilantro and Avocado Dressing recipe, recommended by Helen. Low calorie and SOOOO yummy! IMG_0213 Oh, I made sure to get the price in this picture. Isn’t that a great price for broccoli? My broccoli love comes and goes. I like to mix it with cauliflower and baby carrots.IMG_0214

I actually didn’t buy any fruit on this trip. I already had enough at home, and I have learned that for me it is best to not have too much fruit in the house. I feel pressured to eat it all. So I always have fruit, but I don’t go overboard. I never get tired of apples. Fuji’s are my favorite, and Pink Ladies come in a close second.

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I always have the pasteurized egg white stuff in the fridge. And I like to keep whole eggs too. I get those at the little farm stand, hoping that the chickens that produce those eggs are treated a little nicer than the grocery store chickens.IMG_0216

I didn’t buy any dairy on this trip. That is another thing that I have to be careful about. I eat yogurt and cottage cheese regularly, but I usually keep one or the other on hand. And not too much, or I will feel pressured to eat it before it “goes to waste.” Oh, and I also keep half and half for my coffee. I actually measured it one day, and I use about 1 1/2 Tbsp per cup of coffee.

I have to be careful to not buy too much meat. My little freezer gets too crowded. So this day I just bought one piece of salmon (2 servings) and 1 huge chicken breast (4 servings.)IMG_0217 IMG_0220 Okay. This is not something I buy all the time. I have rediscovered these La Tortilla Factory high fiber tortillas. Only 100 calories. I use them for those Breakfast Fruit Wraps. IMG_0224

Here’s the first time (on this trip) that I ventured into the center of the store. I like these sunflower seeds. I have to tell you, I don’t really think they are that low sodium. A commenter a long time ago did a big expose’ on how David’s does their figuring , and I believe her. Anyway, so far no one’s telling me to limit my salt, so I do eat them on road trips.IMG_0225

And just showing the whole trip here, I did stock up on Diet Coke. I still drink it. I usually have one diet coke in the evening.
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Oh, and one more little “non-diet” item. I really really like M&M’s with popcorn. So once every two weeks, I have a bowl of popcorn and 1/2 of a pack of M&M’s. IMG_0228

So there you have it. Probably a little more than you really wanted to know about how I shop. Thanks so much to those of you who joined in and asked us questions. We’ll be back in a month with more answers. Be sure to check out my AIM partners to see what’s in their shopping carts!

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

 If you have more questions, just click here, and you will be able to ask us (almost) anything!

AIM: Winter Maintenance

This sign, that our friend Lynn found, got all of us AIMer’s thinking about the hazards of winter weight loss maintenance.

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I do hear people talking about how hard it is to lose or maintain weight loss in cold weather. Comfort food and all that jazz. But just think about it. Winter is at least 25 per cent of the year (and in some places it lasts longer than that!) If you are not working on your weight loss or maintenance for 25% of the time, no matter what time of the year, you are not going to be successful. That’s just the way it is.

Before I started losing weight (nine years ago this month!) I was ALL about the comfort food. Pretty much everything I ate was comfort food, and I was good at figuring out how to make my favorite foods. No holds barred! I still remember when I realized that fat was the key to deliciousness (not sure why it wasn’t until I was an adult that I figured this out.) Everything was better with MORE! FAT! on it. It was VERY comforting. Until it wasn’t. Because, darn it, at 255 pounds it wasn’t even comfortable to sit in my favorite chair. That’s just not right.

So when I started Weight Watchers in January 2005, I thought there were foods I could never have again. And then I learned–hey, if you’re willing to learn and adjust your tastes and expectations, you can still have the essence of that comfort food and it can be a regular part of your diet! That was a good day when I discovered that. The best example I can think of is my mom’s beef stew. I just thought anything with gravy was out forever. And then I learned that you could still thicken the sauce with a minimum of fat, measure the flour or corn starch that you use to thicken it, and bump up the veggies to meat ratio, so you can still have a nice sized serving.

My scones have undergone a complete metamorphosis! The original recipe (which was delicious and COMFORTING,) used white flour and heavy cream. I’ve tried a lot of different versions, but my current scone recipe, which uses rice flour, oatmeal, and greek yogurt is my favorite, and is also the lowest calorie version. The key I learned there was to add a LOT more fruit to make the scones seem luxurious and satisfying. I ate these scones all last winter while I was losing 25 pounds.

The sign is EXACTLY right. If you choose to take the route of “NO WINTER MAINTENANCE” you will indeed be”TRAVELING AT YOUR OWN RISK.” Don’t do it. Its just not that comfortable.

This month we’re asking you to participate in our post with an “Ask Us Almost Anything” feature. Just click here, and you’ll be directed to a survey where you can ask whatever you’d like about long term weight loss maintenance. It will be fun to see what topics you all come up with.

Be sure to check out my friends for their views on winter maintenance. I’m pretty sure they might have something different to say about the risks and rewards of traveling this rocky road of weight loss maintenance.

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

AIM: Letters to Santa

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Dear Santa,

I’m supposed to write a letter to you this Christmas. After years of buying my own Christmas presents, I’m finding it hard to write to you about what I am wishing for. Maybe if I just chat with you for a while about things we have in common, I’ll feel more comfortable sharing my material wishes.

Can I speak honestly with you, Santa? I feel like we have a LOT in common. Thank GOODNESS no one has taken it upon themselves to write a poem about me. But if they had, they might have included several similar lines–that bit about the jelly belly, and laughing a lot. And then that  reference to being chubby and plump! Don’t you find that irritating? I mean, what right do they have including that description of you in a poem about all the good you are doing all over the world??

Anyway, let’s talk about my favorite subject: food!! Specifically, COOKIES. How do you do it? Sometimes I can avoid the beastly things–I just don’t go to some functions that are all about the cookie. And sometimes I can ignore them–like not looking to that side of the church (where the cookies are served) when the service is over. But if I was faced with free cookies hundreds of times in a single night, and especially when I was working and stressed and tired, my defenses would wear thin, and the cookies would eventually win out.

So what do you do? Do you eat cookies all night long on Christmas Eve, and then moderate your intake for the rest of the year? What are your thoughts about the addictive qualities of sugar? Some folks even call it toxic! Do you think that could be true? And what about that combo of fat-sugar-salt? All the best cookies contain these three ingredients! Do you find them as irresistible as I do? What’s the answer, Santa? I really want to know.

Can I share with you some of the things I have tried? This recipe is the most delicious and healthiest cookie recipe I’ve ever made. Its not calorie free, though. Which, of course, is why it tastes so good. But at least you can feel virtuous as you indulge. And that Katie–she has a LOT of dessert recipes on her website. To be honest, some of them look better than they taste. And some of them have a lot of calories. But some of them are really tasty, and she has single serving recipes. And that works really well for me. If I know the recipe is there, it is like a safety net. It is there in case I just HAVE to have something sweet. And its a single serving, so if I do make it, there are no leftovers calling to me from the back of the freezer. The other day, after a long workout at the gym, I wanted a cupcake. I even went to the cupcake shop. But they didn’t have their cupcakes made yet. So I went on home. And I thought about cupcakes all day long. Then I remembered Katie’s single serving cake recipes. And THEN (and I don’t know if this is good or bad, Santa) I googled “single serving buttercream frosting.” And do you know, they have a recipe for that on the internets? It might not be the very best choice, but I am thinking that when I really really want a cupcake, this is a good option. By making it at home I have control over the ingredients, and especially over the portion size. Because Santa, if they give me a big cupcake, I am going to eat it. Does that make me a bad little girl?

Thanks for listening, Santa. I feel better just talking over my cookie issues with you. I think I’ll be able to take care of Christmas myself this year. And have Mrs. Santa make some of those healthy cookies for you later in the year when you are needing a little treat. After all, a whole year is a LONG time to wait for a cookie!

Love, debby

Please join in with your thoughts about cookies and sugar. I’d really like to hear what you think. But remember, be nice! After all, it is Christmas, and Santa’s elves, Grumpy and Jeevy, are watching and listening!

Be sure to check out my AIM friends for their letters to Santa. Its like getting a little glimpse at the inner workings of the mind of a long-time weight loss maintainer!

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you would like us to address!

AIM: The Thankful Buffet

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Thankful…thankful…what am I thankful for? …mentally drumming fingers on imaginary desk…

As usual, I have procrastinated my AIM post until the very last day. Which means I was reviewing the chosen topic while listening to the sermon in church this morning. Why yes. I CAN mentally multi-task. Why do you ask?

Ahem.

Back to the topic at hand. My AIM pals suggested we use our November post to discuss what we are thankful for. And since our acronym stands for “Adventures in Maintenance,” I decided to limit my thankful choices to those that directly pertain to my weight loss and maintenance.

The first thing I thought of surprised me. Pain. I am thankful for pain. Let me clarify. I 100% know that my pain is nothing like the pain that many people live with. Most days I don’t even think about taking ibuprofen for it. But what I mean is that the pain in my back and my knees is pretty much a constant reminder that it is imperative that I maintain my weight loss. If I was still carrying that 100 pounds around, I’m not sure I could even manage to walk. So the daily pain is a gift that reminds me gently to stay on the straight and narrow when it comes to food choices and food volume.

The next thing I thought of was that I am thankful for my willingness to be flexible in regards to trying new foods and food combinations. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I have an adventurous spirit. But I sure do eat some “funny foods” these days. To be honest, I don’t always put a picture of some of the stuff I eat on the blog because it doesn’t look that appetizing. Tonight I had a mix of pear sauce, cottage cheese and walnuts. It looked like the gruel they served the orphans in the movie “Oliver!” But it was a taste treat–something I look forward to on Sunday evenings, along with my rutabaga oven fries (another food I didn’t try until I was 58 years old!)

The third thing I am extremely thankful for? It appears that I have “beat the odds.” If the literature is right, only about 5 percent of people who lose weight will keep it off. It was almost 9 years ago when my friend invited me to a Weight Watchers meeting and I started this last journey down the scale. There have been many twists and turns along the way, but I lost 100 pounds, and as of last month, that 100 pounds is still gone.

Fourth, I am extremely thankful for the real pals I have garnered through this blog and the whole healthy living/weight loss/weight maintenance blog world. Its so fun to be able to talk with friends who REALLY get what its like to STILL struggle with life after “morbid obesity.” Its not the same as for other people. Its not even the same for each of us. But the understanding is there. You all know who you are–I treasure your friendship.

And I can’t talk about being thankful without asking myself the question: WHO am I thankful TO? I am thankful for all these things and so many other blessings in my life to my God and my Savior, the One who created and sustains me. Thank you, Lord!

Be sure to check out my AIM compadres. Its fun to see how each of us have a different view of the same topic!

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

AIM: Kickoff to the Eating Season

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I have one word for you:  PUMPKIN CUBES!! Okay, that’s two words, but you know what I mean. For those of you who have followed me for a while, you might remember my love of all things cubed. I’ve made banana cubes, and huge batches of fruit smoothies all frozen into individual cubes. I’ve pulverized, cubed, and frozen spinach to use in my smoothies. I even cubed some pesto!

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For me, from way back when I first started Weight Watchers, my go-to treat for the fall has been Pumpkin Custard. As they explained in W.W., the pie crust is where all the calories are. The pumpkin pie filling really doesn’t have that many calories.  Of course it took me a few years to get over the fact that my favorite part of pumpkin pie was THE CRUST and THE WHIPPED CREAM on top. Once I got over that, I embraced the pumpkin custard, and it has gone through various revisions over the years. Now my favorite way to make it is my single serving recipe. Its a simple recipe to mix, and then I don’t feel pressured to eat it four nights in a row. However, when you open the big can of pumpkin, there is a lot of leftover pumpkin after you use 1/3 cup for this recipe. And THAT is when I came up with the pumpkin cube.

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I don’t know what made me try this recipe raw, but I really love it. Its like one of those dessert soups I see on my cooking shows. And once I made the pumpkin cubes, I could make a frosty drink out of it! This morning I added 1/2 scoop of my vanilla whey protein powder, and that was a super delicious pumpkin protein smoothie for only 170 calories and about 17 grams of protein.

Now that I’ve got my handy dandy pumpkin cubes, I will probably be making even more pumpkin treats this fall. When I put “pumpkin” into the search box on my recipe site, I found more recipes than i even remembered having. (read this next sentence in Forrest Gump) There’s pumpkin pecan scones, pumpkin bread pudding, pumpkin protein snack bars, pumpkin in 3M Chia muffins, and pumpkin added to my fabulous quinoa breakfast recipe.

There are plenty of other hurdles to cross throughout this long holiday season, but having a simple and satisfying treat that I can enjoy any time is a really good thing.

Be sure to visit my AIM compadres to see what they have to say about The Eating Season. I’m sure we each have a very different take on how we enjoy the food and the holidays while still maintaining our weight loss!

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

The Thinternet: Tool or Tormenter

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Ruh roh. I am getting ready to leave town for a few days, running around packing, watering plants, organizing, you know, all that last minute stuff, and it popped into my head–I should write a blog. And then I remembered, with an awful thud, that our AIM post was due out on Monday. So I apologize in advance for the brevity of this post.

I’ve written several times about how much I am influenced by both the written word, and by pictures. Heck, I’m so influenced by pictures that I can’t even touch a PICTURE of a worm or a caterpillar. I turn the page by gingerly flipping the corner. So you can imagine how much a foodie like me can be influenced by pictures on the internet. Food pictures have been a problem for me in the past. My favorite pet peeve from a few years ago was when I went to healthy living sites, and the super special M&M ads would be prominently featured in their sidebar. Come on, people, that’s not playing fair!

The written word is a whole ‘nother thing. I have read a LOT in the last eight years I’ve been on this journey. The internet allows me to read more widely (not deeply) about subjects I probably wouldn’t have ever heard about. This has sometimes caused me problems. Especially when people proclaim so confidently that THIS IS THE WAY. IT IS SO EASY. THE WEIGHT IS FALLING OFF OF ME. So I’ll get all confused. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m not eating enough fat/calories/protein. Maybe I’m eating too much dairy/grains/fruit. Maybe somehow, someday I will HAVE TO LEARN TO LIKE EATING EGGS. Maybe I am doomed to fail because I cannot live with the EASY RULES that these people are so confident about.

And then I take a breath. I take a step back. I look at the truth of my life. I look at the experience of my life. I use my best critical thinking and remember that not everything everybody says is true. (duh. why do I even have to say that out loud.) I remember Debra SY, who spent way more time than me studying all the scientific papers about obesity, causes and cures. And how she said often, it should be called OBESITIES, because there was more than one cause, and so of course, there would have to be more than one cure. (hope I’m quoting you right here, Debra.)

And then I take the best of all of these ideas I’ve read on the Thinternets, and try some of them. I realize that some of these ideas will work for me, and have been very helpful on my journey. The latest new old thing that I have tried is upping my protein intake to stave off hunger, and adding more vegetables to my daily intake.

And then I try to blow away the rest, and not obsess over their wrongness and shouting.

Overall, the “thinternet” has been a great bonus in this journey. I have met some people who “get me” and who have been a great support in the hard times. The accountability of it has given me that little nudge I needed when I was ready to just give in. And the recipes. Oh my. The recipes! Well, I could go on and on and on about that. I think I’ll save that for another post.

Final verdict: The thinternet has been a great tool in my weight loss, and especially my weight maintenance journey.

To read about how maintenance looks different in different lives, be sure to check out my AIM friends:

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet