Seven years ago I lost more than 85 pounds and managed to end up a much smaller size than I thought I would. I felt invincible land that I’d figured everything out. And then I got my dream job and was working 12 hours a day helping grow a new company. Financially I did well and even finally bought a house, but, health wise, all my progress was wiped out in a year and a half, the same amount of time it took me to lose that weight. And I’ve spent the past five years beating myself up over it.
So now with this pandemic giving me a lot of time to focus on me, I’ve finally started to get serious again about getting back to that healthy lifestyle. I was looking over some of my past posts here, especially this one: http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/857137-for-the-newbies-here-is-what-losing-80-pounds-is-like)
. I’ve also taken some time to review my past challenges and lessons learned.
So here are the things I need to remember this second time around:
1. Take everything one day at a time. If you focus too much on what may happen next year or even just a few months from now, it will feel overwhelming. It takes an average of 66 days to learn a new habit so all that matters is now and not what might be. What can you do today to start or continue working on those new habits?
2. Don’t weigh yourself more than once a week. Weight is not static. It fluctuates every day, every hour, based on what you’ve been doing or eating or things your body is going through (hello, TOM). Weight loss is not a downward slope, it’s a rollercoaster occasionally doing loops and circles before eventually getting you to the bottom. And that’s totally normal. Focus more on how your clothes fit than on the scale. Find that one pair of jeans you can barely squeeze into and, every two weeks, see if they fit better. Remember that sometimes the scale may not register changes in your body’s composition, but you’ll more easily notice it when you get dressed.
3. A calorie is a calorie. A calorie is just a measure of energy. There is no such thing as good or bad calories, just foods with different nutrients. Focus first on getting used to counting calories every day and then trying to stay within your goal. Just by doing this, you’ll eventually figure out which foods are more filling and healthier for you (like how restaurant hamburgers usually are lower in calories than the gourmet salads they offer or that a single serving of your favorite mac and cheese is the same number of calories as a spinach salad with chicken, almonds, cranberries and pear gorgonzola vinaigrette dressing, but not as filling).
4. Eat the same thing Monday through Friday. It makes grocery shopping cheaper and food prep easier. Plus it’s amazing how much time you save when you aren’t trying to decide what to eat. Save the variety for the weekends when you have more time in the day.
5. Start getting in the habit of earning your calories. Hit your limit and still want to eat something? Go for a walk, do some yoga, lift weights or jog and earn those extra calories. Once you see how long it takes to burn enough calories for that cup of ice cream, it will make you rethink those reward meals you usually get after a workout. (Also look for snacks that are lower in calories and you won’t binge on as much - seaweed snacks, popcorn and Dum Dum suckers will last longer for me than Doritos and chocolates.)
6. Sometimes it helps to hold yourself accountable to someone else. Two days a week I’m now meeting a friend to go walking. I’ve also started accepting and sending my friend’s challenges on Fitbit. And we get to help encourage each other.
7. You don’t need a gym. YouTube has lots of great, free workouts you can do in your living room (Yoga with Adrienne anybody?) and there are also lots of sites that provide body weight workout routines you can do in your yard or in the park. Stores like Ross and TJ Maxx sell a lot of fitness equipment for under $10. Family size cans of food from the dollar store can make for cheap weights. Just find something you enjoy doing and schedule time to do it each week.
8. Avoid major clothes shopping. As you go along, you’ll find sometimes you are losing weight faster than you can get clothes or even wear the ones you already bought so it’s better to wait until you absolutely need something new and wait for your goal weight before splurging on a wardrobe. And don’t buy for the size you plan to be; shop for the size you are. Styles may change, it may turn out it doesn’t fit as well as you hoped, or you may end up exceeding your goal so only buy for the size you are and later find a good seamstress who can take in your favorite pieces.
9. A plateau just means you need to change things up a bit. The first two months, you’ll drop weight a lot and then you’ll plateau in the third month. And this will happen over and over again. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed, just that your body has adapted to the changes in diet and exercise. So change things up. Workout for an extra 5-10 minutes or switch to a new routine like swapping your walk around the neighborhood with some stair climbs or uphill hikes. Increase your reps or weights a little. Add a little healthy fat like nuts or avocado to your diet.
10. Don’t do any wacky diets. Eat the way you plan on eating for the rest of your life. The biggest mistake people make is to follow some fad diet, lose weight and then go back to eating the same way they were before. 90% of weight loss is what and how much you eat. So better to get used to changing how you eat than setting yourself up to fail later.
Remember: you’ve got this. You did this before and you know what worked and what didn’t. You’ve also learned what not to do when you get to your goal weight again. Don’t keep punishing yourself for not keeping the weight off. Reward yourself by taking better care of you. It will be worth it!