Saturday, November 6, 2010

Does It Get Easier?

I've had an interesting email exchange today with my friend Melissa, who has lost 116 pounds and wants to lose another 70. She has a great attitude, but she asked me a question that I'm sure a lot of people wonder as they lose weight. I know I did. Still do sometimes. 


I thought I'd open up her question for discussion here in the comments since we each lose weight with a myriad of attitudes, emotions and experiences. I'm just one person with one answer. 


Here's what she wrote: "I am feeling a lot better about myself, and I am still learning every single day how to better take care of my body. It's kind of scary to realize that even after losing all of this weight, I am still officially obese.  But those are the facts, and they make my drive to keep moving forward even stronger. 


"Does it ever get easier? I have to say that sometimes the stress of constantly working to lose can be overwhelming at times. I know that I can never go back to eating like I did. In fact, I don't even want to. But, it is the constant pressure of trying to lose that weighs on me at times. Does that make any sense?" 


Makes total sense to me. How about you? Does it get easier? 


Thanks for considering this. Leave a comment or send me an email. I look forward to what you have to say about this. 

28 comments:

  1. Yes. It gets easier.

    It took me about 3 years to get to the "easier" part, but I am there :)

    And still trying to lose weight, but it is not *my whole life* anymore.

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  2. I thought I could comment on this since l lost 150-200 lbs almost five years ago (don't know the exact number since I didn't weigh myself in the very beginning). It does get easier, then it gets hard again, but in a different way. After the first few months of changing my eating behavior, losing some weight, and getting into an exercise habit, it got easy for a really long time. I was hooked on healthy food and exercise, and losing several pounds a week like clockwork. This was encouraging enough to keep me going. Then when I got to about 20-25 lbs from goal weight, it got hard. The weight loss slowed/stopped, even though I was still being "good". Luckily for me, this coincided with the point in my life where I took up running, and the increased intensity and distance took me to the place I am now. I still weigh about 10 pounds more than I would like, and they are stubborn pounds, despite my running marathons and eating very healthily. Granted I do eat more than someone on a "diet," and I am still searching for the solution to those "last 10 pounds," but overall I am much happier eating salmon, sweet potatoes and vegetables than I would be eating burgers and fries. It's not a sacrifice at all.

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  3. I don't know if it gets easier. Some parts do, some don't. Some days are easier and some are harder.

    I have kept off over 100 pounds for more than 2 years now. Some things are very easy for me now, like exercising and talking positive to myself.

    I still struggle at times with over eating. I just love food, and that old 250 pound person inside of me wants to be 250 pounds again - so she tells me I am hungry when I *know* I have had enough to eat. That, for me, is the biggest struggle. It's not there all the time, and maybe over time that has eased some. I will tell you, though, I would rather have that struggle at times and be 145 pounds than to not struggle and be 250.

    Good things are worth the tough times.

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  4. I have lost 30 lbs, and want to lose about 45 more. Eating well has gotten easier. Sometimes it is monotonous though. The urge to just eat "whatever" comes over me.

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  5. The longer I'm at this, the easier it gets because it is not just a change ... it is a new life. I've lost 100 lbs. over the last 3.5 years, and taking it slow has I think helped me. Never do a thing I'm not prepared to do for life.

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  6. I wouldn't say easier, just different. Life changes, and so the challenges change. I've lost 110 lbs, and have been trying to lose another 10 for a few years now (not trying very hard, I admit!). Some things get to be automatic, like planning my meals for the week. Stresses and such change, and so do my reactions. For example, I'm finding yoga to be a real help in stress control, which helps with the stress eating. But keeping off the 110 lbs has definitely gotten easier, and life is just getting better and better.

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  7. Wow! Lots of 'big losers' commenting. Congratulations to everyone.

    My experience is that it gets easier and then harder and then easier, and then just when you think you've got it licked, it gets harder again. DebraSY likens it to a part time job. I don't know if I like that analogy, but it does consume a great deal of my thought life at the least. Oh, and a lot of time exercising, and on most days, quite a bit of time on food prep. However, I like all those things now, and as everybody said, I wouldn't want the alternative back. The person who wasn't really comfortable even sitting in a comfortable chair. Have to remind myself of that sometimes.

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  8. Wow! You all have had such success in your weight loss. I am just starting. I have to say that the starting part is very difficult to say the least. I have more bad days than good over the last month. I would love to know how any of you started and also how you feed your families healthy food on a budget. I have 3 teens at home. When I buy healthy I spend twice as much as usual. I would be much appreciative to anyone with suggestions. BTW...congrats to all of you who have lost and kept it off. This is my long term goal.

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  9. I liked all the long time maintenance experience in these responces. Would agree with everyone who said it cycles. Roller Coasters even. There are parts which do become second nature. I liken it to yoga where we are forever 'practicing'. But the wise maintainers know that there are times/parts which get very hard again. Sometimes it is people/stuff around us. Sometimes it is medical. Sometimes it is a lot of PAST biting us in the butt. We sort of always have to have a watchful eye. And yes, it is time consuming. It is like a part time job. But FAT was often a full time job. The people who regain, to ME, are like they got to the bottom and then stepped off the elevator - they have a got this licked, no big deal, all done feeling. And that is VERY, VERY dangerous. Like I said - we are forever 'practicing' and 'learning'. We do not know all the answers.

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  10. Dear Melissa -

    I find the STRESS of: eating healthy, thinking healthy, getting exercise into my schedule at least 5 days a week, denying myself the junk that I know triggers bad eating behavior, changing my blue jeans 2 or 3 times because I look good in all three pairs, the time it takes to food shop because I read everything, etc. A LOT LESS STRESSFULL THAN: changing my clothing 20 times before going out because nothing fits and I hate what I see in the mirror, eating a meal before going out so that I'm not eating too much in front of others, going to bed hating myself for my inability to have control... every night, eating so much sugar that I'm comatose by 3 in the afternoon, the constant negative chatter in my head, the worry that my kids are embarrassed by the way I look, not wanting to make love to my wonderful husband because I hate the way I feel, ad nauseam.

    You are just exchanging one obsessive-like behavior for another, however, the positive behavior and the benefits of it are a million times more satisfying.

    Trust Me!!

    Bobbie
    www.Bobbiesbabbles.blogspot.com

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  11. did you get to go see Our Lady of Weight Loss? I hope so. I was very jealous she was in your area.

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  12. I feel it too.

    I'm 125 lbs into a 200 lb loss and this is my thing. Everyone knows it. It is the thing that sets me apart. I have people in real life looking to me for inspiration. I know what that need is like - to know that someone else is doing it so maybe I could do it too. When I am not doing so well it feels like I am letting them down. They need me to succeed in order the give them the motivation to do it themselves.

    In the past 3 months or so I have decided to say screw the counting calories/points and stressing about everything. I prepare by buying the right foods and I just do it each and every day despite the challenges that the day might bring. This eases the pressure immensely.

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  13. So far I've lost just a smidge over 90 pounds. I'm 2 pounds away from a weight my doctor says would be a fine weight to maintain. I'm 10 pounds away from a round 100 lost. I'm 27 pounds away from the top of the BMI chart "healthy weight range".

    There are days where I'm perfectly happy here and I'd be pleased to just kick the scale in the closet and stay here forever. There are moments where I would give up anything (including wine, occasional indulgences like dip on the veggies at a party, and all couch time) to be "at goal".

    But mostly I think it's easier in some ways (the thought of some of my old behaviors makes me a bit sick to think of), and harder in other ways (I've already cut out all the "easy" things, and some of the "hard" things seem so very hard indeed). Life continues to be... a challenge worth overcoming.

    One thing that helps me, when I get into the "omg! I can't cut anything else! It's all I *have*" mindset is to put the scale aside, and find another way to measure my progress. Whether it's pants size, or time to walk/run a mile, or ability to chase my kids up and down the block while they learn to ride a 2-wheel bike...

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  14. I'm still new to maintenance and about to start some damage control because I got "too excited" aka too relaxed...so right now, I'm feeling NO!

    To be honest though, I'm thinking, wishing, and hoping it will get easier. I've had moments of clarity where I know I will but I'm still struggling.

    Loved reading everyone's comments!

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  15. Kristin, the same thing happened to me the last 25 pounds or so. I called it the Black Hole. Very hard time indeed. BTW, love your blog!

    I agree that eating healthy all the time can be stressful, and the time commitment to food prep and exercise can get wearing. Those are the facts of weight loss, but like Lori said, it's a stress I'd rather have at a lower weight than not have that stress at a higher weight.

    You guys are so smart :)

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  16. Bahama Mama, I included a link in this blog that I wrote about eating on a budget: http://lynnsweigh.blogspot.com/2008/05/eating-healthy-these-days-on-tight.html. Hope it helps.

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  17. Thank you so much, everybody, for your comments! I still have about 60 pounds to lose, and just recently, after a "good" five weeks, have started to slide, like I always do. And, it is because of that "stress" that you mention, which I thought was only my own experience!
    Like someone on my WW veg boards said recently, "never give up, never give up, never give up."

    And yes, it is stressful, at times, to keep up the good eating and planning, the food preparation (I am not even to the exercise part yet!), but like several of you have mentioned, that is a stress and a level of work preferable to avoiding people, life experiences, and situations because one feels too fat to experience life to the fullest!

    So, maybe, in the end, it is not that the level of work or stress is less, but the experiences to be gained from it are more.

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  18. Kimberly, I feel that constant pressure too. Sometimes it helps me kick my own ass, but sometimes it gets to me and paralysis sets in.

    Does it get easier? After a 170lbs weight-loss with 70 more to go, I have mixed feelings. Somethings have gotten easier & some things, harder.
    Easier:
    - Food prep and effort involved with that, is like 2nd nature now.
    - listening to my body and noting its cues, or needs. I think that connection with my body was silenced by all that fat I had been carrying around.
    Harder:
    - body image; the more i'm connected to my body, the more I care, the more critical I have become.
    - physically loosing the weight: Dropping the 1st 50 lbs was extremely easy at first. I had been eating so horridly for so long, just the change from processed to whole foods made my weight plummet. I know have to keep re-evaluating my intake/weightloss/muscle building needs.

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  19. This has been a wonderful discussion to read. This question has weighed heavily on my mind since I began my latest weight loss journey.

    I've currently lost 134 pounds with 41 to go. But I lost 100 pounds before and in the back of my mind (well not so back) I'm terrified that this will be like before. I get a little down at times because I have to constantly remind myself that this is it...this is the life that I will have to lead if this is the life that I want to lead.

    When I think about it though, when I remind myself, that's the easy part. That's the part that makes sense and helps eases the fear. I just wish I didn't have to keep reminding myself. I'm starting to get to the point where I'm able to accept that maybe it will never come naturally and that I will forever be reminding myself.

    Even accepting that reality makes it easier because it creates expectation. Every day I will have to choose this life and I'm slowly becoming ok with it...of course until I have to remind myself again:-)

    Great blog, thanks.

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  20. It gets easier - easier to automatically make the right choices, easier to get out there and walk instead of hitting the couch, easier to note exactly what was eaten instead of what it looked like. But my mindset isn't always easier to take. Sometimes my brain just isn't into it. But I stick with it, even when tongue and mind and stomach are saying "go find a cookie". But that's the great part about it being a lifelong change - one cookie today is fine as long as it's not 10 cookies every day.

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  21. Amanda, "go find a cookie" plays in my head in the background every day.

    phelpsvj, we could talk all day about body image. The more I look, the more critical I am, too. But what I've learned is to read the bumps and bulges. What I mean is, if a certain part is getting a little puffier, I know I need to cut back a little. It's like the scale, only it's a body intuition kind of thing. I've been weighing only every few weeks lately to see if I can just maintain by using my body as my guide. So far it's working, but it doesn't mean I always like what I see when I look in the mirror. That's the emotional part of all this.

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  22. For me, it's easier in the sense that eating right is much more automatic now. Is it easy? Not always, but I'd take this kind of hard over my previously 256 pound hard any day.

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  23. I've been comfortably ensconced in the "black hole" of 25-pounds-to-go for, oh, nearly 2 years now. On the flip side, that's been nearly 2 years of maintaining 70 pounds lost, so I've gotten lots of practice at maintenance. :-)

    As others have mentioned, it has gotten a bit more automatic. As for easier, it's sort of like how maintaining an exercise habit gets easier. I still have to think about how I'm going to work it into my day, still have to pack the gym bag. Some days I'm eager to do it, sometimes I really have to fight my urge to not do it. Sometimes what I do regularly gets boring, and I have to think of ways to make it interesting again.

    I think I have a bit of an advantage from the long-term accountability standpoint, because having type 2 diabetes means regular testing and check-ups with the doctor. I don't know that I would have kept it off--even knowing how much better I feel without the extra body fat--without the additional mission of "must control nasty complications of disease."

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  24. It took me several years to lose 105 pounds. I got to a point where I just had to live my life and let the weight come off in it's own time. I spent a great deal of time obsessing over every thing I ate, what I weighed and how much I exercised that particular day; it was enough to where I almost lost myself as well as what other things were going on in the world around me. Does it get easier? For me it did - once I decided to start living my 'one moment at a time' instead of continuing to only see the finish line ahead.

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  25. I have lost 32 and have about 35 to go. Whats easier for me, is that I am not ignoring myself. Of course most of us know at this point ( I am 56) what constitutes a healthy diet. What is hard to learn, is that we are important, and planning food with our diet needs first is not selfish. I remember taking a course for emergency wilderness first aid. The first thing the instructor said- was to take care of yourself. No use in having 2 accidents. Taking care of me through healthy eating and getting my daily dogs walks in, helps me take care of my family.

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  26. It does get easier, definitely. At the same time, you have to always remain diligent and not become complacent or else you could be right back where you started (spoken from experience unfortunately). :)

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  27. The initial part is always the toughest.. however once you get started it gets easier until you reach the plateau. I think it's pretty hard to lose weight when one reaches the plateau stage.

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  28. Hope I'm not too late to the game here.

    Maintenance is harder than loss. Especially when life throws you loops, like failing joints, emergency surgeries and other potential saboteurs to maintenance. Moreover, the rewards of lost pounds aren't there to buttress your resolve -- zero change can be pretty dull.

    The reason I compare maintenance to a job is because a job is not optional. Style, as in "lifestyle," is. I am successful at forcing joy into the job much of the time, but other times it's a bore. Nevertheless, it's never, never optional. I know that. And, as many have pointed out, parts of it become second nature.

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