“Now that you lost weight, can’t you just eat what you want?” “Why do you still workout?”
Can I be honest with you, please? When I get these questions……they annoy me. It is not as if I don’t like speaking about my journey, it is just these questions don’t really make sense. If pounds just stayed gone once you lost them, then this journey would be easy and more people would be losing weight. Weight loss wouldn’t be a journey; it would be a destination you reached and stopped once you reached your desired weight. Once you lose weight, you still need to take certain steps to maintain the weight you lost; otherwise you will gain some, all, or more of the weight you lost and then you’re back to square one, or two depending on how much weight you re-gained. You still need to follow the principle of calories in versus calories out. If you consume more calories than your body needs, you will gain weight.
Once I lost the weight, I viewed maintenance as part 2 of my journey. Where do I go from here to continue with this new, healthy lifestyle I developed? I considered what weight was going to be sustainable over time without continuing to reduce my calorie intake and/or increase the frequency of my workouts. What lifestyle could I see myself living one year from now? It took some trial and error to determine how many calories to add back to my diet to stay within a certain weight range. I knew I couldn’t just eat whatever I wanted to since that is how I ended up needing to lose weight in the first place. I still needed to eat the right kinds of food; foods that were nutrient dense and gave my body the fuel it needed to function optimally. One of the most memorable quotes I recall from Weight Watchers is that “not all calories are created equal.” You can either have a Snickers or a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread. Of course the Snickers may be what you really want, but which choice will keep you in line with your goals?
After reaching my target weight I also stopped weighing myself as often. When I was losing weight, I was weighed weekly at my Weight Watchers meetings. Now, I weigh myself perhaps once per month. I go more by how I look and how my clothes fit. I learned that the scale can be deceiving and is only one measure of your progress. I am not telling you to abandon the scale; just don’t be a slave to it and obsess about what it shows you.
My workout routine has also evolved over time. I wanted to discover new ways to challenge my body. Even though running will always be my first love (hint: it will firm that backside, ladiesJ), I started incorporating Hot Yoga and Zumba into my workout regimen. Groupon is an inexpensive way to try different workouts. I also recently purchased a Planet Fitness membership to incorporate more weight training (and who can say “no” to only $10 a month?). Additionally, I add a YouTube workout after my run to increase the intensity of my workouts and add variety. Some of my favorite YouTube channels include Jessica Smith TV, Relentless Jake, Fitness Blender, BeFit, and Shelly Dose. I like these channels, because the workouts combine strength training with high intensity cardio, such as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and Plyometrics (jump training).
To aid in maintenance, I continue to track my food intake and calories burned during workouts using the MyFitnessPal app. This year, I began to monitor macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) more closely to make sure I am getting the nutrients my body needs. I wear a Polar watch when working out to calculate my calories burned. Fitness watches are helpful tools, because you see how different workouts challenge your body and when you need to increase your intensity level. Here is a link to the watch I wear: http://www.walmart.com/ip/38317580?wmlspartner=wlpa&adid=22222222227031170706&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=53411817512&wl4=&wl5=pla&wl6=111816524912&veh=sem
Adding variety to my meals has also been important. I’m even starting to like cooking more! Though I would still prefer to read or shop, a girl’s gotta eat! Some of my favorite recipe sites include Hungry Girl, Paleomg, My Whole Food Life, Skinny Taste, Clean & Delicious with Dani Spies, Paleo Grubs, Fit Men Cook, PopSugar, Paleo Leap, and allrecipes.com. On YouTube, some of my favorite recipe channels are Blogilates, Mind over Munch, Healthy Grocery Girl, Joanna Soh, Kara Corey Fit Life, and Baking Mad Gym Addict.
When I first lost weight I had to challenge myself to wear brighter colors, different patterns, and cuts of clothing. It may sound silly, but when I was heavier, I avoided certain types of clothing, because I wanted to conceal the parts of my body I wasn’t comfortable with. Even now, I have to remind myself to branch out and wear fun colors and patterns. I worked hard to achieve this weight and shouldn’t conceal it underneath dark colors and long, flowy tops.
To help me stay motivated, I continue to set goals for myself. My goals are no longer related to reaching a certain number on the scale. For 2016, my goals were to monitor my macronutrient intake and incorporate more weight training. I may also set a monthly goal. My goal this past February was to run 100 miles and I did it! For 2015, my goal was to drink a green smoothie every day for lunch during the workweek and I have kept up with that goal. Smaller goals I set may be how I will handle the food at an event. This means having a plan so that I don’t mindlessly eat the whole time. This one is still difficult for me sometimes if I am not entertained during an event. My first reaction is to eat to pass the time. So I am challenging myself to open up and talk to people and focus on other parts of the event that do not concern food. Even though I have kept the weight off since 2009, I still have challenges and need to continue to develop strategies to combat old habits.
Reaching maintenance is an awesome accomplishment, but that does not mean the journey stops there. You need to continue living the healthy habits you developed, be willing to try new things to keep you motivated and challenged, and set goals for yourself. Remain mindful that some habits and mindsets will be more difficult to break than others. You developed these over time and they will not break overnight. So be patient with yourself, enjoy the second part of your journey, and wake up each day with the intention to lead a healthier lifestyle and be the best version of you that you can be!
“You are Allowed to Be Both a Masterpiece and a Work in Progress.”
If you reached maintenance, what helped you reach your goal? If you’re struggling to reach maintenance, how can I help you achieve your goal?