Skinny Ever After: The Reality of Weight Maintenance

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After losing 1/3 of my body weight, I thought maintaining it would be a breeze. I thought I would jog off into the sunset and live skinny ever after. While I have managed to stay within a healthy weight range since I have been in maintenance mode, I have had quite a few ups and downs along the way.

I thought I would share my experiences with weight maintenance as well as some tips and tricks for maintaining a healthy weight for those that are still on their weight loss journeys.

It takes time to find your balance:

When I started to maintain I was around 150 lbs., although I went down to about 145 lbs. at one point. In the first 6 months of “maintenance mode” I gained about 20 lbs., with my weight peaking at 170 lbs. This is at the upper end of my healthy weight range. I think part of the initial weight gain was because I got too relaxed. I thought because I wasn’t dieting anymore and had more calories to spare, I could getaway with more than I really could.

Following those six months, I started to experiment with different kinds of eating approaches with varying results. I experimented with grain free diets, a miserable attempt at a vegan diet, higher fat diets, and finally finding my balance with a more thought out vegan diet.

For me a plant-based diet has worked really well. I have been vegan for about a year and I was eating mostly plant based for several months before that. My weight has stabilized and been slowly going down. I currently am fluctuating between 160 and 165 lbs. I don’t count calories or restrict the quantity of food I eat. I also haven’t had an issue with binge eating like I did with many other eating approaches I tried.

Body image issues won’t disappear.

I still have fat days. I still have those days when I base my outfit on which one makes me look the skinniest. I have days when I won’t wear shorts because I don’t like how my thighs look. I know it is not rational and that I am healthy and fit. Those days are in the minority, but they still happen.

I also feel a lot of pressure to maintain my weight. My weight loss is not a secret. The difference in my appearance from when I weighed 225 lbs. is not subtle. Many people have complimented me on my weight loss, I blog about my experiences with healthy living and physically feel better at a healthy weight. I don’t want to be another statistic of losing weight and gaining it all back again.

You have to stay vigilant.

When I say I don’t count calories or restrict the quantity of food I eat, that doesn’t mean I am not very mindful about my weight and food choices. The reason I don’t have to count calories is because I eat foods that I know are more satiating per calorie.

I get about 85% of my calories from whole plant foods. The other 15% being small amounts of oil in my cooking and small treats here and there. I average over 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. I make sure I have a good source of protein, healthy fat and plenty of fiber in each meal. I am very careful of the amount of refined carbohydrates, sugar and added fats I eat. When I do this, I eat about 2300-2400 calories per day, which is what most medical guidelines say is appropriate for my height, age and activity level (I ate around 1700-1800 calories/day to lose the weight).

But how do I manage to always eat plant based, and almost all of it from whole foods? I plan ahead. I make large batches of staples like quinoa and hummus on the weekends that I can throw into any meal throughout the week. I use convenient healthy foods like low sodium canned beans and frozen vegetables that I can quickly microwave. When I make dinner, I make enough for lunch the next day. I have back up plans for quick but healthy meals like almond butter sandwiches or hummus and veggie wraps. If I am going to be out for a while, I make sure I eat a large nutritious meal beforehand. I also keep healthy snacks like nuts on hand at all times in case I get hungry and am tempted to eat something I shouldn’t. I am very careful about how much junk food I have in the house, because I know with certain foods, I struggle to eat responsibly. I have also learned to accept the social discomfort of sticking to a healthy diet, and a vegan one at that.

In addition to being very careful about my food choices, I exercise about 5 times a week incorporating both strength and cardio. I also weigh myself regularly to keep myself accountable.

The times where I haven’t been this vigilant have resulted in me gaining weight. It is very easy for me to get back into the habit of not exercising or allowing a daily treat from the convenience store. At first it would be just a drink or a candy bar, but before I knew it I would be bingeing on the same amount of junk food that resulted in me weighing 225 lbs. My wake-up call to get my act together has always  been whenever I hit 170 lbs, since it is close to the upper end of my healthy weight range and when I start feeling uncomfortable with my size.

Maintaining weight loss is not easy, but it is possible.

If you were obese and lost weight or are in the process of doing so, you will likely have to be vigilant about your habits for the rest of your life. Just because you get down to a normal weight does not mean you can take the same approach to weight maintenance as someone who was never overweight to begin with. I wish I could say you can relax and live skinny ever after once you hit your goal weight, but losing the weight is only the first step in a lifelong process of living a healthy lifestyle.

That being said, it is possible to maintain a healthy weight long term. You don’t have to overly restrict food or over exercise. You just have to continue to maintain the habits that got you there.

Read More: 

My Weight Loss Journey

Weight Maintenance: Expectations vs Reality

Former Fat Person Disorder (FFPD)

How to Annoy Someone Who Has Lost Weight/ Is Losing Weight

National Weight Control Registry

7 Habits of People Who Lose Weight and Keep It Off

The Habits of People Who Lose Weight and Keep It Off

5 Secrets of the 5%: What You Can Learn from Successful Dieters

 

 

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How to Annoy Someone Who Has Lost Weight/ Is Losing Weight

1. Single them out and oversaturate them with positive reinforcement whenever they make even the most basic of healthy choices. Treat them like a toddler that is finally learning how to poop on their own. 

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2. Act like they are ruining all the fun when they make healthy choices while eating out.

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3. When it comes to offering baked goods, refuse to take “No” for an answer. 

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4. If they decide to unleash their Inner Fat Kid for once, ask them, “Aren’t you supposed to be on a diet?”.

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5. If you ever suspect even the slightest amount of weight gain, act like the Skinny Police and make a comment. 

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6. Ask them what their starting weight was, how many pounds they have lost or what they currently weigh. Act like since they are losing weight, you have the right to know.

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7. Provide your opinion on how much you think they should weigh or how much more they should lose.

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8. If and when they reach a healthy weight, imply that they aren’t allowed to talk about struggling with their weight anymore. 

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9. Express your concern about them getting too thin when they are at a healthy weight or even overweight. 

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10. Remind them that most people just gain the weight back, and imply they shouldn’t believe in themselves because they will probably be one of them. 

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How to Know When it is Time to Begin Your Skinny Ever After

Deciding I was done losing weight was an anxiety ridden process for me. I had never kept my weight stable in my entire life and been happy about it. Not to mention all the panic I had about what would happen when I stopped dieting after working my ass of to lose weight (literally) for 18 months. Having been maintaining for a year now, I think it is safe to say my world did not end and I did not get fat again.

I think it is important once you are at a healthy weight to eventually decide you are maintaining. I think it is liberating because making that mental switch will make you much more relaxed about your eating/ exercising. I’m not saying it’s one giant party with cheat meals all the time, but personally, I don’t feel the need to count calories or really put much mental effort into it. I just eat when I’m hungry (or occasionally just for fun) and exercise regularly. I don’t panic as much when my weight has minor fluctuations, I know it is a reality of life.

Goal Weights

I think setting an adjustable final goal weight is very useful for staying motivated. You may also benefit from setting smaller milestones along the way. You should probably set it within a healthy BMI and body fat percentage.

When it comes down to it, specific weights/ BF% don’t matter. Try to figure out an approximate range, but decide by how your body feels. The weight that you feel best at may also change if you gain muscle since you can be leaner at a higher weight.

What will it feel like at your ideal weight?

  • When you are maintaining at your ideal weight, staying there shouldn’t be much of a struggle.
  • You will feel balanced and energetic.
  • You should be able to eat based on normal nutritional recommendations without your body fighting you.

Keep in mind…

  • Different diseases and conditions could get in the way of figuring this out. You could be at a healthy weight but not feel energetic because of any number of chronic conditions, a less than optimal diet or sleep deprivation.
  • Your body type will influence what weight may be realistic. For example someone with a stockier build and denser bones vs. someone built like a marathon runner.
  • It is always a good idea to consult with a professional about what your goals should be. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietician to know what is best for you.

Read more:

Body Fat Percentage

Weight Maintenance: Expectations vs. Reality

Can you be fat and fit?

Former Fat Person Disorder (FFPD)

Weight Maintenance: Expectations vs Reality

What you think weight maintenance will be like:

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  • …and I lived skinny ever after. The End.

What weight maintenance is actually like:

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  • Weight maintenance is going to be a piece of cake. Ooh cake sounds good. Fuck it. Why not? I get to eat more now that I’m not losing weight.

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  • How the hell did I just gain 7 lbs.? Why is my body out to get me?

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  • Time to behave again.

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  • Just lost 5 lbs.! #winning

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  • Oops. Just gained 5 lbs.
  • Am I getting fat again?
  • Never mind. Weight is back down. False alarm.

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