The Dirty Truth About Long Term Weight Loss Success {The Part No One Tells You About}


What really comes with long term weight loss success and tips for enjoying your journey towards a healthier lifestyle. 

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Whether you’ve been a loyal reader of The Lemon Bowl for the last eight years or are reading my website for the first time, you may not know that in February of 2006 I began my weight loss journey. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to read How I Lost 59 Pounds and Kept it Off before reading the rest of this post.

Liz Before and After

Fast forward 12 years, I felt it was time to pause and take a moment to get down and dirty with all of you. It’s time to come clean and share the hard truth about long term weight loss success, the part no one tells you about. The part no one seems to mention in those glittery weight loss ads, inspirational fitness commercials and endless advertisements for magic diet pill.

Deep Cuff Jeans

Before I dive in, I want to make one thing very clear. Whether you’ve heard me say it once or one hundred times, I didn’t decide to reach a healthy weight so that I could fit into size 2 skinny jeans. When you’re wearing size 22 Lane Bryant pants or sneaking into the men’s section at Gap to buy 42 waist jeans, the last thing you care about is being a single digit size.

Floral Top High Waist Jeans

You just want to be able to shop where your friends shop. That’s pretty much it. To this day, the lowest size I’ve ever reached is the size I’m wearing as I write this post: a beautiful, healthy and normal size 10. Ten. Two numbers: 1-0.

Fitness Classes at Loews Ventana Canyon

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I want to share why I did decide to change my lifestyle: I wanted to reduce my risk of long term diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. My father is a doctor, a Pain Management Specialist, and I spent much of my life watching him help treat patients with chronic pain. While not all pain and disease is avoidable, much of it is preventable. At the very least, you can reduce your risk of many long-term health issues by living a healthier lifestyle.

Liz Farmers Market Tomatoes

This might sound odd, but I’ve always been very healthy (knock on wood), even when I was heavier. As a result, I didn’t want to take my healthy genes for granted. I didn’t want to press my luck. Could I still be diagnosed with lung cancer tomorrow even though I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life? Of course. Can it hurt to exercise regularly and pack more nutrient-rich foods into my diet? Nope. It sure can’t.

Liz Downtown Jump Mural

Guess what no one tells you about reaching long term weight loss success? It’s not nearly as fun, rewarding or motivating as losing the weight in the first place. Hear me out: when you’re just starting out, you will start shedding weight pretty quickly. In time, you’ll start to lose a pound or two consistently each week. These immediate results are extremely motivating and will keep you going.

Liz Hiking Sabino Canyon Tucson

What’s more? Your friends and family notice and comment on your progress regularly. You get to shop for new clothes because your pants won’t stay up when you walk down the stairs. It’s fun, it’s fresh, it’s exciting!

French 75 Champagne Cocktail Recipe with Gin

Then, after months and possibly years of hard work and dedication, you finally reach your goal weight and transition from weight loss mode to maintenance mode. Woohoo! Party time!

City Surf FitnesS Denver

Oh wait. Except it’s not a party at all. You guys are smart cookies, so I won’t bore you with the obvious (Guess what! I still can’t eat ice cream every day!), but I did want to shed light on the reality of maintaining long term weight loss. For example, when I first started losing weight, I worked out at Curves for 30 minutes, three days a week. Each week I was rewarded with a one or two-pound weight loss. Fast forward to maintenance mode: I take 60-minute, high-intensity fitness classes five or six days a week and don’t lose any weight. I’m literally burning 500-600 calories a day simply to keep the weight off.

Liz at Smith Cove

Another difference between losing weight and maintaining weight loss? No one notices when you stay the same. When I was first losing weight, coworkers, friends and family would constantly comment on how great I looked and how strong I was getting. While this might sound vain (and it totally is), it is also extremely motivating. These comments fueled my next healthy meal, my next workout, my next smart decision.

Vancouver Travel Guide

When you lose your cheering section, you have to look inward for 100% of your willpower and motivation. In fact, it’s one of the many reasons I started my wellness travel series, What to Eat & How to Burn it Off. Long gone are the days of taking a week off from exercise and eating right just because I’m on vacation.

Liz Chicago Skyline Travel Guide

To be quite clear: I’m not looking for sympathy here. I live a very charmed, wonderful life. Rather, I’m encouraging you to enjoy the ride. Enjoy the now. Enjoy your journey to a healthier lifestyle. Instead of thinking “I’m going to be so happy when ______” or “I can’t wait until______”, I want to suggest you say “I’m so proud of myself for _____” or “I’m having so much fun _____”. James Taylor said it best, “The secret to life is enjoying the passage of time.” (That was for my husband. Love you, Rich.)

Tight Club Athletics TRX Class Vancouver

But it’s true. Savor wherever you are at now in your journey. Trust the process and have fun. Because one day you’ll be in maintenance mode, sweating at the gym on your 50th burpee of the hour, wishing you were back at curves doing one of those casual 30-minute workouts while still being rewarded with a weight loss every week. Trust me, I speak from experience.

Jacob and Liz Making Salad

For those of you who have been in my shoes and are maintaining long term weight loss, what advice do you have for people who may just be starting out? For those of you just starting out, what questions do you have for me? How can I help you live a long-term, healthy lifestyle?

Liz Farmers Market Strawberries

I’d love to hear from you. Happy New Year, friends!


Check out my healthy living Pinterest board to help your journey!

22 thoughts on “The Dirty Truth About Long Term Weight Loss Success {The Part No One Tells You About}”

  1. I just discovered your blog and recipes today. I have spent the last few hours reading recipes and now I’ve been reading other posts you have. You have an awesome blog I’m really glad I discovered it. I look forward to your emails and other posts. Happy holidays.

  2. I also lost nearly 60 pounds between April and December 2016, bringing me to my goal weight. I also did it for health reasons–horseback riding is my passion and, at 63, I figured if I didn’t finally get rid of the extra pounds, I would not be riding for many years to come. So I was very excited to reach my goal, and then panic set in. Now what? I did a little research and found out 1) most people gain the weight back within 2 years and 2) you pretty much have to stick to the same diet that let you lose the weight–it takes fewer calories to maintain a lighter body. So, after sulking a bit, I decided to move forward, sticking to pretty much the same diet, and be extremely vigilant for 2 years to keep the weight off, and then continue to pay attention. I’m a little over a year into that 2 years and the weight is still off.This is the first time in my life I have been at a normal weight and I am loving the way I look and feel! It’s been worth the struggle, and I sure don’t want to gain the weight back and then have to take it all off again.

    1. Joan, I so agree with you about the challenge of keeping it off. The body does not like to lose weight. It goes against it instincts. And also there is the emotional element of thinking oh I have lost the weight so I can go back to my old ways. The trick I think is to find a way of eating that is satisfying and interesting. When the occasional splurge, dinner out, pizza, ice cream come my way I now enjoy it on occasion and then jump back on strict mode for a couple of days. In the past I didn’t know to do that, so very gradually I started eating too many of the foods that put weight on. Don’t you just love the feeling of slipping on clothes that fit and look good! I love the health benefits of being thinner, the increased energy too. But the journey never ends for some of us. That’s just how it is.

  3. I am reading your blog for the first time and I enjoy all the information. Let me first of all say that I am aged 76 and have been battling the weight loss issue since I was 21 and just married. So it’s been weight off and then back on for a long time. In the last few years I have slowly lost about 20kg (about 40+ pounds). About 4 years ago I joined a Gym and started work-outs with a Personal Trainer. My session with her lasts an hour (weights etc) followed by 30 minutes cardio. I eat two meals a day – Smoothie for breakfast and meat and vegetables or some sort of salad for dinner – forgotten what Pasta tastes like and I love it! It is not an easy regime and I still seem to gain small amounts of weight. As you get older it seems to be harder to take off as well. When I travel I don’t deprive myself of tasting local food but I am spatan in my quantities.
    So, I’m afraid it is an ongoing battle which you have to believe you will win. And I think you have done very well and you look lovely.

    1. Hi Mary, Thanks so much for your note. I’m so happy you found my website. Congrats on your weight loss success! It sounds like you’ve made some incredible lifestyle changes and I’m sure you feel like a million bucks. Thanks again for reaching out and please let me know if you try any of my recipes!

  4. Liz!! I love this! I’m still learning how to maintain a 30-pound weight loss. I did Whole 30 to get there, but it is just NOT sustainable long-term for me. My biggest secret is the fact that exercising consistently means that I make better food choices, too. Eating Cheetos for a mid-morning snack means that my noon workout class is going to be full of upset tummy burps (too real? haha). Instead of cutting out whole food groups, I ask myself if the splurge is WORTH IT. A slice of homemade chocolate cake is worth it, but a packaged cupcake definitely isn’t. Since homemade treats are available less often than packaged junk, this rule lends itself to some balance.
    I write about this topic too, and I love reading your perspective. You’re so inspiring!

    1. I agree 100% with all of your thoughts!! The harder I exercise, the more I understand the value of a calorie burned and the types of foods that simply aren’t worth all the hard work at the gym. Thank you so much for reading!! xo

  5. Hi,
    Wondering how you went about managing a healthy lifestyle while you were preganant, while your kids were younger – with night wake ups etc.? I always feel zapped of energy and its especially hard when I fall off the workout and healthy eating train due to a sick kid etc. especially being a working mom – finding time, etc.

    1. Hi Lauren, Such a great question!! Believe it or not, I found that exercising GAVE me the energy that I lost during all those late night wake-ups. When I sit around on the couch all day I have no energy. When my kids were little I would do a lot of living room workouts (yoga DVDs, free workouts online, etc.) We would also go for a lot of walks with them strapped on me or in the stroller. In a way it was easier when they were younger because they didn’t argue or complain or have an opinion haha. When they got a little older I started taking them to the kids club at the gym. We live in Michigan and it’s been below freezing for weeks – often times the gym is their only chance to run around and get out their energy during the day! I would also shower and get ready at the gym since that can be so hard when they’re younger. Does this help at all??

  6. As a curvy, petite woman who has been all over the map with diet, exercise, weight loss, gain, loss and gain again, I applaud you!! This post made my first day of 2018 well-balanced! It is so true that after all the accolades and feel good moments of losing weight and getting in shape, you need something to keep you motivated to stay in that great place and it does not come easy. I have to keep going back to the drawing board and try different things to feel motivated and rewarded for my efforts. You are a great motivation and your blog helps me get fresh perspectives and ideas to keep me going! Thank you! Happy New Year! May 2018 be blessed for you, your family and all your readers:))

    1. Thank you so much Amy – I truly appreciate that!! This post was pouring out of me so quickly I almost wasn’t sure if it made sense or would resonate with anyone else. Thank you for reading and best of luck in 2018!

  7. Thanks for all of your inspiration, Liz. I’ve been thin all my life, but it’s more work to maintain every decade!

  8. This is amazing! You look incredible and are truly inspiring. I lost 35 pounds 4 years ago and have more or less kept it off but have fluctuated here and there. This past year though, I started putting a lot of effort into noticing what makes my body feel good and what does not, and I really think it’s that simple. I’ve done a few Whole 30s, and while I don’t advocate them for weight loss or any type of long-term solution, one thing they have taught me is that so much of this is a mental journey. You will be okay if you don’t eat that slice of pizza! You won’t DIE if you don’t have a cookie! Once you realize how much better you feel when you choose to eat a salad or vegetables instead of pasta – and that healthy food is actually delicious – it makes sticking with it long-term so much easier. One thing I would also add that has helped me over the past year is incorporating weight training into my workout. So many don’t work out with weights because they’re afraid of bulking up – I don’t know how this rumor got started. When I first started my weight loss journey, I tried every workout in the book – barre, spinning, yoga, etc. but nothing has given me more dramatic results than weight training. Finally, if this is something you’re coming comitted to, know that there will be work and there are times that it will be hard. Is it more work to plan a week of lunches ahead when you could just get takeout? Sure, but then you’re in control of exactly what you’re putting into you’re body. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. It takes commitment and dedication but it’s so worth it to feel like you’re in control of your life.

    1. I love all of your tips and agree with them 100%!! I love your comment about how you won’t DIE if you don’t eat that pizza. A line I often use is “This isn’t your cookie!!” Sometimes without realizing it we go back into our ancient hoarding times when we feel like we have to eat as much as possible. In today’s times most of us have no shortage of food available to us at all times, any time of the day. There’s no shortage so why are we acting like it’s our last cookie, pizza, meal, etc. :) Thanks again for your tips – I’m sure so many will find them helpful!

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