Does this sound familiar? You go on a strict diet and you lose weight, but once you reach your goal, you find yourself returning to those pre-diet-habits eventually gaining back all your weight (and then some). Sound familiar? I’m the first to admit that it sounds VERY familiar to me, probably because I dieted for more than half my life. But, I can’t really claim that I ever really reached my weight loss goal while dieting. I gained back all the weight I lost while I was dieting, and then some!
The only time I ever reached my goal weight was when I changed my lifestyle in 2001, but I didn’t gain my weight back, I’ve been maintaining my weight loss for almost nine years (recently I celebrated the 10th anniversary of the day I decided to change my life for good. 16 months after that day, I reached my goal). We’ve all read the statistics that show more than 95% of the individuals who lose weight will eventually gain it all back. We hear about it through the media, especially as it pertains to celebrities: Oprah Winfrey, Kirstie Alley and Janet Jackson have all struggled with this issue. Sometimes I believe I am lucky that I haven’t had to struggle during the last nine and a half years, but it doesn’t really have anything to do with luck. The reality is that it’s all about my determination and the way I went about losing my weight.
How do I Manage to Maintain my Weight Loss?
This is information I enjoy sharing with others in hopes they can follow in my footsteps and keep their weight off. In fact, I recently gave a presentation on that very subject at a large company in Benton Harbor, Michigan for a wellness program they’re doing for 2011: “Resolution Revolution.” During the presentation, I shared my own experience with the company’s employees who are not only setting goals to lose weight, but also wish to keep it off. This is what I shared with them:
- As you focus on living a healthier lifestyle (making healthier food choices & exercising daily) you need to be cautious, making certain that you are NOT going to an extreme in either area, because that will lead you to dread your healthy lifestyle. If you dread it, you will be much more likely to revert back to the old unhealthy habits and gain back any weight you lost.
- Make healthy changes that you can live with for the rest of your life: no skipping meals, taking smaller portions, refusing second helpings, drinking only zero-calorie beverages, limiting my visits to fast food restaurants and NOT purchasing items at the grocery store that are full of fat, calories, and sugar. These are things I still do today because they aren’t extreme, they are doable.
- When it comes to exercise, I faced the fact that in order to lose weight, I had to do it, so I did what I enjoyed: WALKING. It wasn’t really anything extreme to me so I didn’t dread doing it daily. I still walk 1.5 miles every day and I feel that it is the main reason why I have maintained my weight loss.
- Get rid of your fat clothes! As my clothes became too large, while I was losing weight, I didn’t keep them… I got rid of them. If I wouldn’t have done this, it would have been the same as saying, I’ll probably need these again someday. Don’t do that – say goodbye to the fat clothes.
- Pay attention to your body. If I ever notice my jeans becoming a little snug, especially around the holiday season, I don’t live in sweatpants and try to ignore it… I simply walk a little faster and a little longer until they fit good again.
- Forgive yourself. I don’t let allow myself to feel guilty or become upset with myself by going overboard on a meal, I just eat a little less during the next one. Guilt often causes us to go to food for comfort and I’ve learned that food doesn’t create comfort, but being healthy does!
Let me take the time to remind you one more time: I am a typical, Michigan mom who lost weight by simply focusing on making healthier food choices and walking daily. It didn’t cost me a dime — remember that nobody can buy a thin, healthy body, or the celebrities I listed above would have done so already. It takes BELIEVING IN YOURSELF. I did, and you can too!
How are you making sure your weight loss is more than a diet, but a real healthy lifestyle change? How do you plan to keep your weight off for life?
Photo Credit: Maria Bueno