Many of my past attempts at losing weight have failed due to one thing – I thought there would be an end date on my “diet”. I would put the time in for a few months, eat the right things, feel hungry a lot, work out all the time, and finally lose the weight. I would think, finally, I made it! It’s over, I can just enjoy being thin! And what better way to celebrate than with some delicious food and wine! And the cycle continues…
This Time Losing Weight Would Be Different
My final time losing weight I realized I needed a change in approach. I couldn’t think of it as a diet I was going to go on for a certain number of months and then go back to how I used to eat. I had to think of it as how I’m going to eat from this day forward, for better or for worse.
I had to construct a plan that I could follow for the rest of my life, adjusting and adapting as life and needs change. I’ve always been a big fan of Weight Watchers but it’s not for everybody. You have to find the program or method that works for you individually.
I started Weight Watchers for the last time on January 21, 2017 knowing that it would help guide the way I eat for the rest of my life. Starting out I followed the plan as written, incorporating in my favorite foods, weighing and measuring everything, planning my meals, etc. Lo and behold I was successful and lost almost 70 pounds in about 10 months time. Life events happened – I got sick and was in the hospital for a week, I then had to have my gallbladder out – but I managed to stay on track more or less.
The holidays came and went and I got through them pretty much unscathed. I got to the New Year and was feeling good. That’s when I got a little too relaxed. I let myself have a little of this, a little of that, things I would only allow myself to eat on special occasions I would be eating several times per week (I’m looking at you sheet cake). I did this for several months but my weight stayed relatively stable.
As more time passed and my weight started to creep upwards a pound here, a pound there, I knew it was time to rein it in. I went back to basics and implemented all the things I did starting out as if it was my day one. It took some time to get back into the groove (and a whole lot of mindset work) but I finally got there and I’m back on track and the scale is getting back to where it should be.
Including Maintenance in my Weight Loss
My example is just one of many. We all go through the same things -losing weight, thinking we’re “fixed”, and letting loose only to find ourselves right back where we started. We don’t set out to lose weight thinking about maintaining it, we think about the immediate gratification of losing it and feeling better.
I went into this last weight loss with maintenance at the forefront of my mind. I did that because I didn’t want to do anything during the weight loss “phase” that I wouldn’t be willing to do forever. I ate the things I loved, exercised a few times a week, and enjoyed the process. Was it always easy? Of course not, but it was sustainable.
The other thing I did and still do is to remain present in my experience. What does that mean? It means I don’t go on autopilot. I stay aware of where I am every day. It’s not always a popular practice but I weigh myself fist thing every morning. This isn’t to micro-manage my weight loss, it’s to keep myself in check. I know the moment I stop weighing myself every day is the day I start letting things slip. I have to stay present in my weight loss journey whether I’m losing or maintaining in order to stay successful.
Mindfulness is a popular buzzword of late but it has merit. You can’t let anything just happen on it’s own and coast along. Eventually it’s going to veer off track because nobody is at the wheel. With weight loss I have to stay present and keep it at front of mind if only for that few seconds in the morning when I weigh myself. By doing so I establish that I’m still on track and it helps set the tone for making better choices throughout the day.
I know what you’re thinking, this is a lot of work and I’m going to have to do this forever. Why even bother starting then? Yes, it’s a little daunting to accept that weight loss and maintenance is a lifetime thing. Yes, it does take some effort. Once you start you get in a pattern where it just becomes part of your day-to-day life-like showering, brushing your teeth, or taking out the trash.
The more you do it the better you get at it and the less you have to think about it. Why not put in the effort in the short-term to establish the good habits to get and keep yourself in check. Why not learn how to get and keep that particular duck in its place in line?