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 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.
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!)
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.
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?) - Anyway...in 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!)
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:
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!
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!
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 Active.com; Men’s Health, Runner’s World offer free year online subscriptions)