Five years ago this month, I launched my website, Lynn’s Weight-Loss Journey. It all began on this page: 2005 Jan-July.
I had no idea that I’d still be blogging, let alone in maintenance for more than three years, when I first posted that page. I was scared to death, sure that the Internet would blow up because I revealed for the first time how much I weighed. Until then, no one but my doctor and me knew.
But blogging and the incredible web of support it created has been my lifeline to weight loss and maintenance.
I looked through the old website today and found the following entry from February 2008. I thought since many of you are new to my blog, I’d share this post which answers a few of the questions I still get about weight loss. Keep in mind this was written more than two years ago and I’ve since gone completely vegetarian. I’m also more secure in maintenance and not as worried about a pound or two on the scale. I know how to kick those bad boys to the curb.
So my question for you today is, where do you envision yourself in five years?
Maintaining Focus, Staying Motivated
The sun is finally shining here in western Pennsylvania. I’m more aware this year than in past years just how big a role the weather plays in regards to my moods and therefore my food choices. When the sun is shining, I want to be healthy and eat right and all that good stuff. When it’s cloudy, I tend to vacillate toward “comfort food.” This doesn’t mean I always give in or make poor choices. It’s just something I’ve learned to recognize.
This ties into what I’ve been saying about weight loss and maintenance being a mental thing more than a physical thing. The more we’re in tune with our inner voice and motivation, the better prepared we are when the cloudy days come around. Keeping separate food and emotional journals help me recognize when I’m feeling a certain way and wanting to respond to that feeling in an old manner, like eating pizza with abandon or stuffing down a handful of animal crackers.
I thought I’d address a few more of your questions, particularly as they pertain to the mind-food connection.
1. I'd like your opinion on how you dealt with the problem of maintaining focus on weight loss while not having it become the central aspect of your life.
I firmly believe that once you make a commitment to losing weight and maintaining it, you adopt a lifestyle you will live with the rest of your life. So weight loss (and now maintenance) ARE the central aspects of my life, along with my family, my career, and all the other important things I live for. I love myself and so I treat my body with respect, just as I love my husband and kids and treat them with respect, too. It’s second nature, so it’s not like I think about my weight 24/7. I’ve incorporated it into my daily life. It doesn’t mean I don’t get upset with or disappointed in my body, just as I get upset with or disappointed with my family and career. The key to dealing with these emotions is in my behavior.
2. Did you start eating clean right away or was it a slow process?
I love this question because it really took me back three years to when I first started Weight Watchers. I remember I adapted several of my favorite recipes to be more “Points” friendly. I ate mostly the foods I’d eaten before, but I learned portion control. I dusted off my measuring spoons and cups and food scale to make sure I didn’t over- or under-do the portion.
As I learned more about nutrition and started losing Points (meaning I was eating less food every day), I wanted more “bang” for my calorie/point “buck” and began eating more vegetables and whole grains. Slowly I eliminated processed foods (no frozen dinners, 100-calorie packs, things like that) and incorporated some soy into my diet (soy milk, soy burgers, a little soy cheese). I stopped drinking milk because I hate milk and I was tired of forcing myself to eat something I hated. I get calcium through vegetables, yogurt and other more reliable sources than dairy milk.
So yes, it was and still is a process. I’m still adopting a completely vegetarian diet. I had ahi tuna the other night, but otherwise I stick to the “superfoods” (sans the meat). I eat a big salad once a day and load it up with greens, carrots, tomatoes, cheese and something crunchy like crackers or a few nuts (I still love crackers; I just make sure they’re whole grain now and not Cheez-Its J). I limit myself to two fruits a day and one (occasionally two) servings of complex carbs like potatoes, rice, pasta, that sort of thing.
3. How were you able to stay motivated from day one of your weight loss journey? How do you continue to motivate yourself?
I was motivated from day one because I wanted to be thin again. But “thin” to me was getting back to 165 or so. I never dreamed I’d get to the 120s.
I stayed motivated based solely on that premise: to be “thin” again. There were days when I had to do extra journaling and reminding myself of that premise, though. Sometimes I’d eat too much and proceed to emotionally beat myself up. Still do sometimes. But I always went back to my journals and photos of me at 165 or so and remembered, “Ah, THAT’S what I want again.”
I stay motivated now by enjoying how I feel at this weight. I need to confess, though, that losing weight was easier than maintaining, at least emotionally. I’m still working through the “nerves,” such as “Oh no! What if I gain a pound or two! What will I do?? Horror of horrors!” Clearly I have issues to work through. Maintenance is, after all, a journey and not “the end.”
Bottom line, you need to find one or two things that personally motivate you. Don’t lose weight for an event or for someone else or because your doctor says you have to. Find what it is inside YOU that wants to lose weight and let THAT be your motivator.