Oct 232012
 

Sometimes I wonder if my blog would be more popular if I had been writing from the beginning of my weight loss journey, instead of starting at the end. Sometimes I wonder if my readers have a hard time relating to what I write about because I think many are just starting out on their own journey. It’s strange, I don’t know that I consider this a “weight loss” blog because I’m not trying to lose weight, and haven’t been for a few years. Instead, this site is about how I’ve kept the weight off, what has worked for me over the years, and also to illustrate that maintenance can be fun. I try to lead by example: continue healthy exercise, count my calories, eat whatever I want in moderation and live my life in a healthy way. My hope is that what I write inspires people to do what they are wanting to do: lose the weight.

So what happens after you lose the weight? Chances are, if you’ve lost a significant amount of weight, your life is very different NOW than it was THEN. Maybe you were a couch potato like me. Now you’re an adrenaline junkie who loves sports. Maybe you were used to eating crap food from a box in massive quantities like me. Now you’re into healthy, whole foods within an acceptable calorie range. Either way, you’re life and mine are very different after losing weight.

I think there are three stages. This is just my own experience and I’d love to hear from others who have reached goal weight.

The Honeymoon Stage

This is the best part about reaching goal weight. We get to feel JOY and satisfaction about reaching a big goal. We worked hard to lose that weight and finally seeing that number on the scale is an amazing feeling. There might be happy tears, cheers, and feelings of accomplishment.

The other part of this stage that is awesome is all the attention. During this period of time, I got so much attention from people: friends, family, coworkers I’d rarely interacted with came up to me and told me how great I look. It was such a nice ego boost. Especially after years of negative self-image and body hatred for being obese. My self-esteem was finally where it should have been all along. I wish it hadn’t taken 100 pounds lost to find that self esteem I should have had, but it definitely helped.

One of my favorite parts of reaching goal weight was the clothes. Sounds silly and shallow, right? Well, for a long time I wore really horrible clothes. I was too big to buy anything cute and 10 years ago, the plus sized options were few and far between. I tried to buy attractive plus sized clothing but in the end it was big jeans and big t-shirts I thought hid my weight problem. Losing 100 pounds opened up a whole new world for me. I was able to buy cute skirts and blouses that accentuated my curves and muscles.  I found that I loved shopping when I used to despise it. It was FUN. I was playing dress-up!

The Frustration Stage

This is the stage where reality sets in. It’s been awhile since reaching goal weight, people are used to the new YOU and as a result, you get less attention. I admit, I missed the attention I got from people because it was such a big ego boost. It always made me feel good when someone complimented my new body. This is where I learned to love my body without outside influence and compliments.

I was also at the weight I was going to be. I no longer got to experience that “oh my god I lost 3 pounds! YAY!” feelings because the scale never changed. (Which is good, don’t get me wrong.)

One of the ways I rewarded myself for losing weight was buying new clothes. I bought a new wardrobe almost monthly as I lost weight. I wasted a lot of money buying new sizes as I lost the weight, but it was still a good feeling being able to go down a size each time you shopped. Once I was at goal weight, I didn’t have to shop often and I kind of missed that reward system I’d set up for myself. It was something to look forward to each month.

The downside to losing a lot of weight: stretch marks and loose skin. Exercise helps that but it doesn’t prevent it or cure it entirely, unfortunately.

Finally, at the end of this stage I accepted that I was at goal weight and didn’t need to lose anymore (even those “last 5 pounds”) and I was faced with the question: What Now?

The Acceptance Stage

This is the stage I’ve been in for years now. It’s the “this is me, I’m starting to forget I was ever that old me” stage. Now, whenever I meet new people they know me as just Lisa. Not “the girl that lost 110 pounds.” Many people in my life now never knew me when I was 250 pounds. I still have a big group of friends that knew the “old me” but when new friends find out I used to be 100 pounds heavier, they are shocked. That’s still weird to me.

The best parts of this stage are the challenges I can do. I train and do things like the Portland Century, the Salem Metric Century, Hood to Coast and even simply going for long hikes. I get to do fun activities that I couldn’t do 100 pounds heavier.

A plus to this stage is that I rarely have to try on clothes. I know my size and I can grab it off the rack and wear it. That’s a really good feeling. And just like in the Honeymoon Stage, I still get to wear cute clothes!

This is the stage I hope to be in for the rest of my life. I’m sure there will be ups and downs but I’m going to do my best to maintain what I’ve lost. As a result, I have to eat less calories than I’d like to (don’t we all??) and I’m working on improving my relationship with food (something I’ll always work on, I suppose).

The real work starts now. Maintenance is sometimes harder than losing the weight. With maintenance, there is no finish line–no goal to work towards. The hard work is in staying on the plan that worked in the first place.

What happened to you after losing the weight?

Do you think there are stages of “after” weight loss? Where are you in that journey? Please share your experiences!

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May 072012
 

I was very pleased to be asked to write a review for the book, “150 Pounds Gone Forever: How I Lost Half My Size and You Can To” by Diane Carbonell. You may recognize the name, she’s a blogger! You can follow her journey at Fit to the Finish. I was excited to review the book for two reasons: 1) I like Diane a lot and her story is amazing and 2) I am so glad a “big loser” like me is publishing her story.

Her book is part memoir, with details and short stories of how she gained the weight and tipped the scales at over 300 pounds, and also a self-help guide for readers. She shares very personal stories and I could relate to her. I did the same things she did, experienced the same fat discrimination she experienced.

“The plan I offer isn’t full of silver bullets and false hope. It’s a practical and realistic plan grounded in common sense. [pg 2]”

She grew up in a strict military family. Her family ate healthy foods and she was an active kid. Yet she was starting to display the typical habits of a binge eater. She was hiding food (I did too) and her family made snide comments about how big her butt was getting. I don’t think a single person could read her story and not relate to Diane and her struggles. I appreciated her frankness in the book.

“…wishing {I was skinny} while eating Breyer’s mint chocolate chip ice cream sprinkled with crushed-up Oreos didn’t do a thing to make my dreams come true. [pg 9]”

So true. How many of us have said “I wish I could lose the weight!” while eating an entire pizza? I know I said it! I said it for years, in fact. “I’ll always be fat.” Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Get Diane’s book and try her guide. You might be pleasantly surprised to see positive results.

Like me, she regrets not taking body measurements when she first started. I am really glad she mentioned it in the book for readers to do; she even provides a place to record your own measurements in the book.

She shares some “tips to get you started” like:

Share Selectively – don’t tell everyone you are trying to lose weight, choose a select few who will be supportive.

Clean Our Your Pantry – get rid of the junk! Start over!

Pledge to Exercise – Just making a pledge to move is all you need to get started.

Her first exercise was walking. She describes finding the time early in the morning. She “borrowed” 30 minutes from sleep and went for a walk. I think her ideas and weight loss plan are practical and doable.

“I chose to exercise every day for accountability. It was too easy to say, ‘Well I’m going to exercise three times this week.’ [pg 79]”

She discusses the importance of portion control and gives readers a guide on how to read food labels. This was one of the hardest parts for me when I first started. Learning what a portion size is startling and disappointing when you’re coming from a place of bingeing.

“I hadn’t always been lazy. But the more weight I carried, the less active I became. I hadn’t yet become housebound, but I was probably on my way. And while I was busy sitting my life away, I always had food to keep me company. [pg 67]”

Diane also talks about hunger–a big issue for me when I was trying to lose weight. I don’t think I had ever experienced “real” hunger. I was eating all the time.

” ‘I can’t remember the last time I felt true hunger.’…These days as an average-size person, I experience hunger at the appropriate times. [pg 122]”

So, so true! And so hard to master.

I was chatting with Diane recently and I wanted to share some of her insight. Here you go:

LISA: Have you had any struggles in your maintenance where you’ve gained any weight back? What did you do?

DIANE: Honestly, I have not struggled too much with weight maintenance. The main struggles I had were losing weight after the four pregnancies I had after I reached a healthy weight. Then I had to remind myself that it was not okay to carry around an extra 20 or 30 pounds and get myself in gear to lose down to a healthy weight.

LISA: What do you tell someone who says they hate exercising?

DIANE: I generally ask them how they know they hate it. I thought I hated it until I actually did it for several months in a row. Then I realized that I didn’t hate exercise, but rather loved how it made me feel. Did I always love going on a walk? No. But I never regretted it.

LISA: Have you had any issues with your children gaining weight? How do you encourage health, fitness and positive body images in them–especially your daughters?

DIANE: Fortunately my kids are all at a healthy weight. With my girls I always talk about how their character makes me proud of them rather than basing my approval on looks or school accomplishments. We also promote a healthy lifestyle at home by severely limiting television viewing, encouraging outdoor family activities, and setting a good example when it comes to food.

LISA: What was your proudest moment in your entire weight loss journey?

DIANE: Probably when I was picked to be “Miss Sea World” and help the trainer during the Shamu show. I had lost about 100 pounds and just knew that they never would have picked me if I weighed 300 pounds.

I think this book is the perfect guide for someone wanting to start losing weight, but not sure where to start. Her tips are easy to follow and the book is an enjoyable read.

You can purchase the book at Sunrise River Press, or calling 1-800-895-4585, and of course Amazon has it as well. But for one lucky reader, I will be giving away a copy of Diane’s book! I am so pleased to be able to support Diane. She did a great job with the book.

Giveaway

1. Leave a comment here telling me what’s holding you back from losing weight.

2. Post on Twitter: “I want to win a copy of “150 Pounds Gone Forever” on how to lose weight at http://www.110pounds.com. @lisaeirene” and leave a comment here saying you tweeted.

3. Leave a comment here telling me whether or not you read Fit to the Finish Blog.

I will pick one winner on Thursday, May 10th.

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