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!)
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!