A Word of Encouragement

Since re-reaching this weight loss of 100 pounds, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the journey.  How it happened.  What worked.  And what didn’t work.  And I thought I would encourage those of you who are struggling, or seem to be ‘stuck.’

The quick background story is that I was a chubby kid (but not bad, in retrospect.)  I stopped growing (5 ft. 1/2 inch) in jr. high, but didn’t stop gaining weight.  When I was about 25, and about 208 pounds, I made a grandiose effort, and through a lot of different ‘diets’ (some plans, and some made up) I lost 84 pounds.  Looking back, I never learned how to eat differently.  I just ate LESS.  A LOT less.  And so, eventually, I guess, I got tired of being hungry, and gained it all back plus some.  And I vowed never to diet again.  And I was very happy there for a very long time.  Sure, I wished I didn’t weigh as much.  I wished every body part, every step, didn’t hurt.  But I was determined NOT to go on a diet again.  I knew that if I was going to do something about the weight, it would have to be a permanent change, for the rest of my life. And I was not willing to do that.

So when I started Weight Watchers almost 5 years ago, it was with that mind set.  Very skeptical of programs.  I actually hated it every time someone used the phrase ‘work the program’ or some such thing at W.W.  I read a ton to make sure w.w. was not giving me bad information (they were not) and I got great advice from a few key people along the way.  I watched how the ‘thin’ people ate.  I studied recipe books.  I experimented, hesitantly at first, with new food choices and new ways of cooking.

And miraculously, the weight started coming off.  Over a period of about two years, I lost 100 pounds.  And then my weight loss stalled.  And then, tiny bit by tiny bit, I started regaining a little weight.  13 pounds, to be exact.  And there I stayed, basically, for almost 2 years.  But I never stopped trying.  I continued reading good books, magazine articles, and then blogs.  I continued to incorporate new ways of eating into my life.  I tried new foods.  And I tried new exercise regimes.

And finally the weight has started coming off again.  I have made some ‘drastic’ changes in my food choices and exercise regime since hiring my personal trainer in April.  None of those changes have been painful or torturous.  The food has been great, and the exercise has been fun, for the most part.  It was just a new learning curve for me.

So the encouragement is this:  there are two ‘mantras’ that have worked for me on this journey.  The first is ‘NEVER GIVE UP.’  It is a lifelong change that you have to make.  So of course, never give up is part of LIFELONG.  But that is not quite enough.  Because you could be determined to ‘never give up’ but nothing ever changes in what you are doing.  The second is something simple that I figured out at the very beginning, and it has changed in meaning, or practice, along the way.  And that is:

WHAT I AM DOING NOW IS NOT WORKING.  I MUST DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

You do not have to join Weight Watchers to succeed.  You do not have to hire a personal trainer to succeed.  But you must do something different than you are doing now.  And never give up.

It is wise to study what has worked for the majority of long term weight loss maintainers.  Many of the books and magazines I have read quote from The National Weight Control Registry.  This is a group that collects data from people who have lost a significant amount of weight.  They study how they lost the weight, and how and/or if they keep it off.  I have taken this information very seriously, and have tried to incorporate these findings into the life changes I have made.  For example, they say that 78% of weight loss maintainers eat breakfast every day.  I went from being a person who was proud that she could go without eating until 1 PM to a person who MUST have breakfast every day.  And breakfast, in all its infinite varieties, is definitely my favorite meal of the day.  90% of these people exercise an average of 1 hour per day!  This is still a goal I am working towards.  I may or may not like hearing these facts.  But they are the best information we have available for longterm successful weight loss and maintenance.

Anyway, I just really wanted to encourage those of you who are struggling with losing weight.  Whether you are just starting, or you’ve been working a long time and are stalled, or like me, you have even begun to regain some of your weight. It is possible, it feels fantastic, and the food is still great!  (Yay, food!)

Recommended reading:

Thin for Life, by Anne Fletcher

Weight Loss that Lasts, by James M. Rippe (a w.w. publication)

French Women Don’t Get Fat, by Mireille Guiliano

Nutrition Action Healthletter This is a great little ‘magazine’ that I really can’t say enough good things about.  Great information, the newest research findings, easy and interesting writing style, new recipes and food finds, etc.  NO ADS!

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13 thoughts on “A Word of Encouragement

  1. Thanks for this post, Debby. I have been overweight for fifteen years, and I take prednisone, making it even more difficult to lose weight. I started losing in 2006, and I lost about 30 from my highest of 214 (I am five feet one inch). I then regained a few pounds, and I started exercising again last summer getting down to 169 in March of this year.

    Unfortunately I have had serious knee problems for seven months now, and I have not been able to exercise much (before I did interval training and weights, etc.) I started a series of injections in my knees, and I really hope this helps. (I have a bad case of patellofemoral syndrome, and physical therapy has helped only minimally). I also pulled a muscle in my chest pretty severely in July because I was trying to lift too heavy weights to compensate for the lack of cardio, and that has left me down for the count as well.

    I have regained about 5 pounds, and I have maintained at the slightly higher weight for this period of time. I really want to lose more and get down to 130, and I believe that I will get back to exercising again, just not at the extremely high intensities that I want.

    • You CAN do it, Ali. I had a pretty serious back injury, and I know that is one thing that set me back for a while. But I am always encouraged by the people I know who have lost large amounts of weight without any exercise d/t health problems, and even the frequently cited data that weight loss is more about what you eat than how you exercise. Over on the NWLR site, they say that the most frequently reported exercise for the long time losers was just walking.

      Do you have your own blog yet, Ali? Its a lot of fun (even if it is time-consuming) and if you need help starting, there are lots of us amateurs out here willing to help you.

  2. Great post Debs! I’m amazed at how far you have come in just the two years I’ve known you – I’m sure you are completely different than you were 20 years ago! You are such an inspiration and still one of my best blogging buddies! 😉

  3. Actually, Debby, I don’t. I just comment on other people’s blogs! (Like yours, Vickie’s, and Lynn Haraldson-Bering’s.) I am so technologically unsavvy it is insane! I do research for a nonprofit and know how to find anything on the internet. But setting a blog up would cause me major difficulties. I definitely need to get on facebook or something so that I can use my picture in the comments.

    I have read your blog for a while, and I agree with Vickie that your posts are always great–and as I said a couple days ago, I love that you capture your thoughts on faith here as well. That is so wonderful!

  4. what a nice recap. I think you did a very good job encouraging others. And I learned a few things about you that I didn’t know. I think you should add a link to this posting on your ‘about me’ link on your side bar. Or set it up as it’s own link just below ‘about me’ – like ‘My Progress Recap’ or something of the like.

  5. Great recap, and very incouraging, even for those of us at goal and still thinking, “Hmmm…..how to balance, how to stay focus.” Thank you.

    Nutrition Action Newsletter is fabulous, isn’t it? No holds barred. I like that kind of pro-health journalism. I find the recipes a bit high in fat (they do like the olive oil, don’t they? LOL), but otherwise, the articles and particularly the food porn on the back is excellent.

    Thanks again for the reminder of when something’s not working, don’t keep doing it. I forget that. A lot.

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