I’ve done countless diets. I’ve lost weight a million times. I’ve lost hundreds and hundreds of pounds I’m sure over the course of the last 2 decades that I’ve spent trying to achieve my healthy weight. The one thing I have yet to master? Maintaining a healthy weight after weight loss.
In all my years of dieting, maintaining is what I haven’t seemed to be able to do. YET.
This time feels different though. This time when I began my journey to my healthiest “me”, I knew this was about more than food choices and exercising. This was about truly embracing a lifestyle change.
It took me over 2 years to lose 100+ pounds. It came off slow. I had months that the scale didn’t budge. I had months the scale went back up.
Looking back, the gains prepared me for maintenance.
While I was losing weight I heard a lot of people say that maintenance was hard. I would roll my eyes and honestly, get a little irritated. Did they not think having to lose 100 pounds was hard? Did they not think wearing a size 22 was hard? Did they not think not fitting into a “normal” seat was hard?
But now, at maintenance myself… I get it. It IS hard. Harder than I was prepared for. That doesn’t mean I’m mad about being here… because I’m not. And I’m not unappreciative, I’m SO grateful… but this is unchartered territory for me. This is brand new land and I’m a little lost.
I reached my Weight Watchers goal in December 2017. 25 months after I walked through the doors for the “last” time. I told myself I wasn’t allowed to quit, no matter how hard it was going to get. I had just had a baby and back surgery and had every excuse at my disposal, but I wasn’t allowed to use them. And I didn’t.
I enjoyed my journey. Really, I enjoyed it. I embraced becoming the healthiest version of myself. I embraced my freedom from food and binge eating disorder. I still struggled, but this time I wasn’t a victim the way I felt every other time I’d “had” to lose weight. This time, getting my body back was a privilege.
Losing weight and becoming healthy was a gift I was not only giving myself, I was giving my family as well.
The day I reached goal was so emotionally loaded. I’d finally accomplished this “thing” that I’d never done before. It was weird. I didn’t know what to think or to feel. I was proud. But, I was also scared.
Maintaining a healthy weight after losing 100 pounds is a mind game.
This isn’t about the food.
This is about the belief that I can maintain my healthy lifestyle indefinitely. It’s believing in the work I’ve done on the inside these last 2.5 years and having full confidence that I can continue down this path of food freedom and loving my body exactly as it is.
So, what am I learning about maintenance after weight loss?
- It’s hard. Yep. I said it. It IS hard. The others who came before me were right. When you are losing weight you have a goal you are focused on. Once you get there, your mind has to shift. It has to find a new goal. What I’m learning in this season of my journey is my new goal is health based, not weight based. That means I’m actually a little above my “goal weight” at Weight Watchers. I’m learning to accept that. I’m focusing on nutrition, and self love, and trying to find work/life balance. That’s the season I’m in right now. I want to find that “true” healthy weight that my body naturally wants to settle at, and where I can eat all the foods I love and enjoy and exercise the way I like to. This IS possible. It’s just going to take time to find my sweet spot.
- There is FREEDOM in maintenance. Even though it’s hard, I’m also finding freedom in maintenance. We just went on Spring Break and I didn’t track, I ate intuitively and was active. I came home and essentially maintained my weight as I had a very small gain. I was SO happy. It wasn’t about the weight as much as it was about listening to my body and being away from my routine and still making healthy choices based on what makes me feel good. THAT is what maintenance is about, so much more than the number I see on the scale. It was proof that the work I’ve put in during weight loss wasn’t just about losing the weight, it was about training my body and my mind towards a naturally healthy lifestyle.
- Consistency is crucial. When I was losing I often said I wasn’t going to do anything while losing weight that I wasn’t willing to do while maintaining. I’ve kept that promise. I still attend my Weight Watchers meetings and workout. I have been eating more intuitively since Freestyle came out and that hasn’t changed since reaching goal. I left the meeting I reached goal and didn’t binge on foods, I worked out, drank my water, tracked my food… it was a NORMAL day. I don’t reward my behaviors with food. That doesn’t mean I don’t indulge, I do. But, I try not to reward myself with food because that can lead me down a path of telling myself I’m “worth” eating a lot more food than my body actually needs or wants and I don’t physically feel good.
- Accepting this is my new life. I don’t know what God has in store for my journey, but I know that this process of learning how to stay at a healthy weight is one I’ll always work on. Being healthy isn’t just about weight. In fact, my healthy weight is above the BMI scale and I’m 100% okay with that. It’s a weight my body can easily maintain and where I can enjoy foods I love without spending hours working it off. It’s balance. It’s freedom and it’s a choice. I CHOOSE my healthy lifestyle every day. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy. But, I know that the place I am today, is where I wanted to be for so many years and I don’t take the privilege of being here lightly. I thank God every day for the second chance I’ve been given at good health.
- There is always more to learn. There is always more to learn about how we can treat our bodies well. That hasn’t changed just because I reached my goal weight. I am committed to learning how I can treat my body the best as I age and as I navigate maintaining my weight. I am a sponge for all things nutrition and health. My degree is in Health Promotion so I’m wired to totally geek out about this stuff and I’m honestly thankful for it now, knowing that is is a forever journey… not just a few years.
I’ll continue to fight for the woman I’ve become in the process of shedding the weight and finding myself. I won’t give up on myself again.
I am worth healthy eating and proper nutrition and an active lifestyle.
Maintenance is hard but attitude is a choice. Even though I’m struggling to find my way a bit it doesn’t mean I quit.
I’m not a quitter anymore.
I’m not the first person to reach maintenance and struggle a bit, but when I can admit it, and share how I’m dealing with it, it takes the shame away from this part of my journey. The more we work on ourselves from the inside out, the better we become and the more honest I am, the less scary it is.
When things got hard I used to quit. Now, when things get hard I KNOW I can conquer it. It may take some work, some tears and a healthy dose of determination… but nothing is sweeter than accomplishing that which we once told ourselves we couldn’t do.