What really comes with long term weight loss success and tips for enjoying your journey towards a healthier lifestyle.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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?
I’d love to hear from you. Happy New Year, friends!
Check out my healthy living Pinterest board to help your journey!