Maintenance 101

The “After” – 6 Year Anniversary

6 Years

When I think back to when I started my journey to lose 100 pounds, I don’t think I ever thought about the “After.” Not really. I think part of that was that I’d never really been skinny and part of it was that I doubted whether I’d ever reach the “After.” I had a goal in my mind and I naively thought that all my problems would thus be fixed when I was “skinny” and while they weren’t magically improved, there was a lot of improvement in my life. The biggest improvement, obviously, was my health. I was no longer pre-diabetic and I didn’t have high blood pressure. Mission accomplished. But when I was steadily truckin’ along, losing a pound here and a pound there, I couldn’t really see my future as a “skinny” person and now that I’ve kept the weight off for 6 years, I have a hard time picturing myself as I used to be. It’s strange how your reality and perception changes.

Over the years I’ve had ups and downs in my weight. I gained 15 pounds a few years ago and it took a really long time to lose that extra 15 pounds but I did it. Despite the occasional body image issues I still struggle with, my weight has been maintained in the same 4-6 pound range. Sometimes it’s more of a struggle to keep myself in that range. I am no longer naive about weight loss and I KNOW it takes hard work and honesty.

Honesty is the hard part. When you’re obese you’re not honest with yourself, or others, not really. When I was obese I would sneak food,  I’d eat in private, I’d make excuses as to why I wasn’t losing weight, I’d make excuses to other poeple– “No really, I don’t eat that much…I don’t know why I can’t lose weight…”  (Read these posts: Why Can’t I Lose Weight?An Excuse to Eat, and Overcoming Exercise Obstacles.) Once I faced that I was lying about everything and that I hadn’t REALLY tried to lose weight, I had renewed desire to really succeed this time.

I had to change the way I thought about food.

I had to change the way I thought about exercise.

I had to change the way I thought about MYSELF. No more excuses. 

Was it easy? Hell no! There were so so so many plateaus. There were set-backs. There were some very frustrating times where I felt like I was being punished because I couldn’t eat the same things everyone else was eating. Is it easier now that the weight is gone? Nope. It’s still hard. I still have to make an effort. I can’t just let things slide. I will probably always have to count my calories or do some sort of food tracking. I don’t think as a reformed binge-eater I can just stop doing what worked to lose the weight and keep it off and not expect to gain it back. So the hard work continues.

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Don’t take that as a negative. Sure I’d love to not be AWARE of how many calories are in foods and wouldn’t it be nice to just sit down and binge eat a carton of ice cream? Or half a pizza (or, ahem, a whole pizza) like the old days? But I can’t unlearn that knowledge and I know how my body feels when I eat junk and when I eat good, healthy foods. I dislike that feeling of overeating now and when I go too long without eating fruits and vegetables I feel ill. Most of the time my healthy choices are second nature and I don’t give them any thought. On those times when it does feel like my willpower isn’t as strong as I’d like, I try to cut myself some slack. It’s ok to take a break sometimes.

It’s my 6th year anniversary of reaching goal weight. I’m now at the “After.” It feels like a lifetime ago, but at the same time I still feel that same giddy joy when I remember that moment when I stepped on the scale and saw GOAL WEIGHT. That feeling is still there and it helps keep me motivate to keep trying when things get rough.

Check out previous year’s anniversary posts here:

My 100 Pound Anniversary

100 Pound Anniversary – 3 Years

100 Pound Anniversary – 4 Years

Another Year Gone By — 5 Years

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Things are changing in my life. Priorities are shifting, goals are changing, but the fact remains: I love my fit life and I will always make myself and my health a priority. It has to be that way. If I’m healthy, my family is healthy. In a little over a month I will be marrying the love of my life. I expect we’ll start discussing family planning in the next year or two and that will most definitely effect my weight loss/maintenance journey. My sincere hope is that I can maintain a healthy weight for the rest of my life and hopefully pass on my love of healthy living to my future children.

For now, I keep truckin’ along. Another day, another week, another year goes by and I can happily say “I’m at goal weight.” That’s enough for me. Skinny isn’t necessary. I’d rather be healthy and fit.

Thanks for reading all these years!

Maintenance 101: Fitness Should Be Fun

Maintenance 101: Fitness Should Be Fun

I think one of the reasons a lot of people struggle with keep the weight off long term is because they didn’t change their mentality. Perhaps they thought they didn’t need to continue doing what worked to lose the weight. Perhaps they went back to their old habits that put the weight on to begin with. And perhaps they stopped working out.

There are a lot of reasons why people quit working out: injury, illness, boredom, drudgery….the list can go on and on. The truth is: it’s easy to burn out. Recently I wrote about taking a few extra rest days one week because I was just burned out mentally and physically. The reset did wonders for me. But it also reminded me that working out shouldn’t be a CHORE. When it becomes a chore, it’s time to change something.

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The only way we’re going to stick to exercising on a regular basis is if it’s enjoyable. Sure, in the beginning on your weight loss journey it’s going to be a struggle. I went from being a couch potato to a gym rat but that didn’t happen overnight. It took time. I got used to it. My body adapted. I got better at swimming and I was losing weight, which obviously made fitness so much easier. I wasn’t lugging around 100 extra pounds, my joints didn’t hurt, my back didn’t hurt, I wasn’t out of breathe. So give it some time!

I chose swimming as the activity to help me lose 100 pounds because it was something I always loved. I knew I didn’t like tennis, or (at the time) running, so I picked an activity I liked. That’s so important!

The trick to sticking to your workouts is to make them fun. When it becomes routine and boring, you’re gonna want to quit. So don’t set yourself up for failure, set yourself up for a long term success. (And check out this post: Too Busy to Exercise.)

Keep Fitness Fun

There have been a bunch of things I’ve discovered along the path to health that have helped me stick with it. I found that I really loved hiking and biking and snowshoeing. I never thought I’d be the type of person that was way into sports and fitness because I spent most of my life hating it. Being picked last for a team sucked. Being embarrassed because I was uncoordinated wasn’t fun.

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Hiking is a great workout and it’s a lot more fun than staring at a wall on a treadmill in the gym. Plus, hiking is something you can do anywhere. Snowshoeing is basically hiking, just in snow. 🙂

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If you’re on vacation somewhere warm, trying canoeing, kayaking, snorkeling or scuba diving. When we went to Hawaii, one of my favorite memories is swimming in the ocean. I’d never done it before and it was magical. I loved it. It made working out a joy, not a chore.

Signing up for a race of some kind is a great way to stay motivated, the change things up, and to experience something exciting–especially if you sign up to race with a group. If you’re not a runner, what about walking? Or biking? Biking the Portland Century with Michael was such a fun experience and a happy memory. Also, having a specific goal in mind helped me stay on track with training.

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Make your workout a social event. My suggestions: join a hiking club like Mazamas,  check your local running store for a free running group to join, check websites like MeetIn and Meetup for other fitness related groups. At the very least, find a friend. Maybe a neighbor who will go on walks with you after dinner a few times a week. Having a partner do an activity with you makes it more enjoyable and more likely you’ll stick to it.

Change It Often

This is somewhere I fall short. I tend to get stuck in routines and habits and don’t deviate and this leads to burnout and boredom. Getting stuck in a fitness rut is the quickest way to STOP seeing results. I know this. And yet I still commit this sin! I’m “married to my workout.”

The way to change things up is to simply CHANGE. Try a new machine at the gym. If you lift weights on machines, try the free weights. If you run on the treadmill, try climbing the stairmaster. Do HIIT workouts.

I think one of the reasons cross-fit is so popular and so successful for weight loss is because the workouts are different each time. The body never gets used to it and therefore it’s easier to get ripped quickly. Seeing fast results is intoxicating and motivating.

Another way to change things up is to take a class. I’ve mentioned many times I’m not a fan of classes, for a lot of reasons, but they do offer something positive: motivation and change. If you go to spin class every week, the routines are usually different each time but to change things up even more, try switching to another instructor once in awhile. A minor change like that can refresh your outlook and routine.

I recently started going to Body Pump at my gym. Even though the classes are always really full and I’m not a fan of classes, I really like Body Pump. It’s different than anything I’ve done. I felt the benefits of the class after only a few sessions. I also found that I was looking forward to it!

Challenge Yourself

Maybe you’re burned out on your routine because it’s too easy. Too easy = boring. I need a challenge. The Body Pump classes have been a challenge for me and I am enjoying that. It was a nice change from lifting weights on my own at my own pace.

Take a class you’ve always wanted to try but thought it might be too hard. Just listen to your body and don’t injure yourself. (And check out this old post: Mistakes You’re Making in Fitness Classes.)

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Fun Fun Fun!

One thing I’m willing to admit: I am terrified of the idea of getting a dog. I’m a cat person. Cats are easy. Dogs seem hard, especially since I’ve never had one. They are a much bigger responsibility. But the volunteering I’ve been doing walking dogs at the Pixie Project has opened my eyes. It was SO MUCH FUN walking the dogs! I had a blast. It opened my eyes to things around me instead of being so focused on what was going on in my brain. I want a dog that I can take hiking and running with me. That sounds like such a fun way to spend time with a pet and get exercise in.

So that’s what I think about this whole topic of fitness and fun.

What do you think?

Maintenance 101: How to Eat  *  Maintenance 101: Challenges  *  Five Truths of Maintenance  *  Maintenance 101:  Self- Love  * Maintenance 101: Beware of Food Creep *