August 24, 2010

Before and After: All About Maintenance

BMI: 33 to 22 
Size:16 to a 4 
Weight: 210 to 142 
Fitness: Huffed and puffed to my brother's graduation tent to Ran 12 miles & then marched in Pride 

This week is my official year anniversary of maintenance on Weight Watchers and by far the longest that I have maintained a healthy weight in my life.

I was inspired by my virtual running buddy and kick-ass blogger Katharine and her own success story to write my own this week.  (Check out her success story and blog: Strong and Smart!)

I was never thin. I was always trying some crazy plan even in highschool: Slimfast, Deal-a-Meal, Stop the Insanity, Body for Life. Whatever I could to try to make the outside somehow fix the inside. Yeah, and going to Costa Rica, as an AFS exchange student, while the BEST year ever, certainly didn't help the scale at 16.  (We AFSers called AFS: Another Fat Student, or Arroz Frijoles y Sismos in CR.) College was up and down...walking dogs and biking everywhere helped keep the first year 15 to 15 and not 25.  But that weight kept creeping up when I entered the world of the working.

The finally straw (or so I thought) was in 2003, when at my heaviest, topping the scale at around 210, David proposed. I decided to join Weight Watchers because that was just too much body to stuff into a wedding dress. So I joined.

May 2002

Losing weight brought its own set of challenges. It seemed to take FOR.EVER. I felt like I was always thinking about food, the point value of food and “only” losing a half a pound here, or a pound there. And then gaining back the next week! How long is this going to take to shed 20, 40, 60 pounds? Especially when I was tempted EVERYWHERE I went.  I was constantly maneuvering around the leftover luncheons. Free chicken salad sandwiches from Bakers Best…oh YUM (and FREE!) And quarter vending machines…is that package of poptarts *really* worth almost ½ my daily points? But it’s only a quarter! And I never wanted to give up 2 of my points for those healthy oils…I can just have a skinny cow instead of my olive oil on my salad, right? (Bad Christy!)

But I did it. Done. Lost 65 lbs. Whoo hoo! Just in time for my wedding…Look we SHRUNK!  (Um...We lost a combined 140 lbs, about my current weight! Yikes!)

May 2004

And before I could even lose the honeymoon weight gain, I got pregnant (on my honeymoon!)… And I ate everything in sight. 10 days after Simon was born, I was back at Weight Watchers. 49 lbs over my goal weight. Sigh.

Lost most of it, just over 40lbs of it, then Isabella came along.

10 days after Isabella was born, I was back at Weight Watchers. This time 56, lbs over my goal weight.Sigh.

This picture of me graduating with my MBA in June 2007 should make me so happy.  Doesn't Simon look so handsome?
June 2007

In preparation for my brother’s wedding  - (funny... how it is always weddings that get me to goal? And in graduations I look so big?) - preparation for my brother's France extravaganza, I went back to Weight Watchers regularly and finally lost the last 20 lbs and reached my goal weight in August 2009.  Just in time for the September wedding that outdid ALL weddings. Forever. (A blog post for another day!)
Sept 2009
So today, August 24, 2010 I am not only back at goal, but actually 8 lbs under and I maintained under goal for the last year.

Of course, maintaining certainly brings its own set of challenges. And in some ways I found maintaining harder. It isn’t like….as soon as I lose the weight I can eat whatever I want. (Well, unless what you want is good healthy portion-controlled food) but that wasn’t where my head was…clearly since I gained so much back when I was pregnant! Both times! With maintaining, I still have to watch what I eat and find that it helps ever few weeks or so to write things down.

It is also easy to get into a rut on maintenance. For example, in loss mode there is always a quantitative goal in mind. I had a number on the scale or percent that I wanted to lose and I could measure that week in and week out. Eat these points, add these weekly Flex points, subtract these Activity Points and viola, the scale goes down! And not just the scale, but the pants sizes too. But in maintenance mode, the goal is to keep the scale the same and the wardrobe the same. Same = Rut.

Lastly, it is a different type of support that is needed on maintenance. This is the first time that I know people that never knew me as the obese me. When I decline the donut or cake, I’m told “Oh, you can eat that!” or “You don’t need to go on a diet.” Who knew that the guilt I would feel for eating something would turn into guilt for NOT eating something! For me, at least, my food issues didn’t just magically go away as soon as I lost the weight. I still have them. I’m an emotional, bored, oh how I hate to waste food, let me just finish what’s on my plate, my kids’ plates (That’s how I got that sore throat!), food hoarding eater. But now I recognize those things in me, transform them, keep them in check by checking in with my Weight Watchers online peeps, join challenges, and move on. If I have a gain – like the 7 pounds on vacation (SEVEN POUNDS! – even with running 32 miles…sigh) – I make my adjustments and work them off.

Once I got “here” meaning, goal. I realized I needed something more. A new goal, something to work towards, to keep me out of that maintenance rut. So here is what I am doing now:

Cleaner eating.
I lost weight eating pre-packaged frankenfood. No more. I joined a CSA, starting making more of my own meals and really thinking about what goes into my body. If I get a choice, which everything I put into my body is a choice – I want to eat something that is going to make me feel energized and make me feel good. Make me feel good about me, about the environment around me and about the animals, workers and everyone that helped get that meal on my plate. Michael Pollan’s work was a fundamental shift in my thinking about food. Read his stuff!

Move more.
I lost most of my weight by just changing my diet. I loathed exercise. It was always just a means to an end. That changed when I discovered couch to 5k AFTER I lost my weight. C25K got me moving, set a plan in place with some goals and now I cannot imagine NOT running. In fact most things I do these days: strength training, eating, weekend plans, praying, signing up for races, and more races, even reading Born to Run revolve around my love of getting outside to run. (You can read about my 6 month couch to half marathon here!)

Find a supportive community.
I need check-ins. Regular check-ins. I have found a wonderful online support system through the WeightWatchers message boards and my friends on Daily Mile. We talk about everything under the sun but we all know that we have some common goals – to get healthy and stay healthy!

Track progress.
It is very easy to lose sight of how far I’ve come. In fact, I often still see myself as this overweight woman. It takes some reminding from my family and good friends to tell me I’m not. And the occasional before/after pic. One of the best before/after reminders is this blog/journal. A year ago, I was NOT cooking. I was NOT moving. I didn’t have a WeWa sign on. And I didn’t have this blog.

I hope in one year, five years, ten years (and on those crummy days when I still feel like the old me) I can look back, add be proud of even more progress.  Just no more before shots. Please, no more before shots.  I like me just fine in the after. 

If you are in weight loss mode or maintaining here are some tips that helped me...And by all means comment with your own!
  • Cook your own food
  • Read Michael Pollan
  • Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
  • Buy foods from the outer aisle (the store…I don’t sell food here. But I might barter. :P )
  • Sign up for a race and train for it
  • Sign up for a class
  • Find a workout, healthy living, or garden community
  • Don’t drink your calories
  • Write EVERYTHING down! You bite it, you write it.
  • Plan daily meals and check them off as you eat them
  • Plan weekly meals
  • Really look at portions - You will be SHOCKED at true sizes
  • Find containers that match your portions and use them to dish out meals
  • Read fitness magazines (lots of free stuff online – like; Men’s Health, Runner’s World offer free year online subscriptions)
  • Blog


Kimberly said...

Great post Christy! And congrats on your year anniversary. You and your husband should be proud. I too am currently in the same boat. If you remember me from high school you remember how SKINNY I was (too skinny I think), then I graduated and so did my size! So here I am, in the middle of a lifestyle change. Quit smoking in January after 15 years (it was time, just walked away), and 3 months in to a regular exercise routine and eating habits change. 19lbs down and at least 60 more to go. But it is hard every single day. But this process has taught me just how strong and determined I am. I still allow myself a cheat every other week or so, I just love food too much not to, but other than that I am fully dialed in. I feel like a new person, and in time I know I will look like a new person too.

Keep up the great work, and Ill check in more often to see how its going for you! Take care!

Dawn said...

Woo Hoo!! Love this post! As I draw ever closer to my goal weight (less than a pound away) I worry about succeeding with maintenance. Thanks for the encouragement and great ideas you share.

What I don't get is how you can be a size 4 at 142 lbs and at 147 lbs I still wear a size 12-14. Just not fair! LOL Must be that middle age spread I sit on!

Aunt Sue said...

Congratulations Christy! This is awesome.

Christy Z said...

Kim, I totally remember you from high school - mostly your spunk! But, yes you were a thin one. I do remember that first day of 9th grade in Earth Science and we had the EXACT same outfit on - stone washed Levis and the same Body Glove t-shirt. Only you were like a size 0 and I was at least a 10. Why I remember all those details who knows!

Good for you for quitting smoking and for getting to the gym (I see all your fb posts!) It DOES come off. I swear. I averaged 1.3 lbs a week the first go around. The second and third were a different story! Keep it up and if you ever need support, or a WOW email. I'm there!

Dawn, I have no clue! I'm pretty solid. Even at 160 and 200+, people couldn't really guess my weight. I wish I had nice thin legs, but that will probably never happen.

Melissa Hines said...

Congratulations, Christy! Thank you for sharing about your journey.

Emmy Roo said...

You're so inspiring. I'm really hoping that once I can finally wean off my antidepressants and get away from this desk job, I will be able to lose weight. I love living an active life, and I hate that during my long, boring day at work, all I want to do is munch away the blues. I'm fortunate in that I look about 20 lbs thinner than I am (but my BMI is over 38), but I want to have kids in the next few years, and I don't want to be the really fat woman who no one can tell if she's pregnant or if she just ate a big lunch. :(

I love C25K. I've started working out regularly, and I'm hoping to get to that magical 5k mark, but I need more than 2 free hours in a day to accomplish that. By the time Jeffry is home from work and we've eaten or cleaned or done the laundry or whatever it is that has to be done, it's usually past 9:30pm. I hate that "my" day begins at 9:30pm! What a horrible thing that out of 24 hours in a day, I am only happy for one. Thank goodness I'm getting out of here and reaching for my dream. One aspect of that dream is having time to do C25K so that I can run the San Diego breast cancer 5k in mid-November. Maybe not without walking, but I'd like to be able to do it in less than 45 minutes. (Right now I can do 5k in an hour - pathetic.)

Anyway, you don't want to read about my issues. But I thought I'd let you know how much you inspire me. I follow your blog on Google reader, and I'm always astounded by how much you embody the type of woman I would like to be.

Anonymous said...

Christy, congratulations! This post - and you - are completely inspiring to me. I've had a similar experience to your weight loss/maintenance with diabetes control...I spent so many years cycling back and forth between great control and awful control, but now find myself with a few years of great control under my belt, and definitely feeling like I never want to see a "before" number ever again. And, even now, it's also hard for me to think of myself as someone who is in decent metabolic control, having spent so many years being exactly the opposite.

As for maintaining any weight loss I manage to achieve...well, it's always good to have goals for the future. :-)

Thank you for sharing your story.

Christy Z said...

Thanks Emily! There is no NO shame in walking. Ever. Katharine - that kickass woman in the success story - she walked the Hawaii Marathon. Awesome.

I just saw this great T-shirt over at "Run some Walk some Finish them all". Very cute.

G - I love I get to sport the tee you made me in my "after pic." Never thought I could pull off a clingy one like that! You've come so far too! I know you get the quantitative goals, and not just with the scale. And yeah, sometimes when we've been one way for SO long, it is hard to see it in ourselves. That's what friends are for!

Bob Estes said...

Interesting post, Christy. I've only seen you in "after" mode, which seems very natural to you. I was always on the skinny side, but am now about 50 lbs heavier than in high school. Not quite reconciled to it, but...

Delane said...

Wow what a change. You look amazing. And I love that dress you wore in France!!!!

Anonymous said...

This is great stuff Christy. I had no idea you were that heavy at one time. However, I know the struggle as I've been heavy all my life. But not for long. I've been at it for about a year now and lost almost 40 lbs and going to the gym 3-4 times a week. Keep it up girl!!!

Christy Z said...

Hey Charlie! Nice lose! You'll have to put up some before/afters on fb.

Yup, this is what happens when a girl works with $.25 vending machines. Remember that? And Sundays. Alone. Bad combo.

I heard the new office has a gym. Is that where you go? Let me know when you want to do a 5k, 10k, or more! I'll run one with you.