My family and friends are always asking me how I manage to maintain my weight. I guess they saw how quickly I gained, and they seem to think I lost it quickly (since the last question was “how did you lose it so quickly?”), but it took me around 2 years to lose 43kgs. I don’t think I’m finished yet, but it is always a job in the making.
It’s not as easy as it seems, and since I went into overeating quite easily I can find it really easy to gain weight, the only difference is now I’m more aware and more motivated. It’s amazing what realising you’ve lost weight can do for you. Even the first 5kgs, they just motivated me to continue once I started to realise what it took to do it and that I could actually do it. That was the hardest part. I tried a few “fad” diets and of course they never lasted and I would just gain the weight back, but funnily enough it was the lifestyle choices that actually did all the work for me.
I think for someone who’s looking to lose weight needs to ask the right questions. Not how did you lose it, that’s the easy part once you have the right formula for you (because not every formula is right for us), but actually being able to sustain it is the hard part. So many people have surgical interventions to lose weight but what have they learnt? And afterwards they are going to be on their own, so you really need to have some kind of a plan or formula to maintain your goals afterwards.
For me it was a few simple things. The very first amount I lost was merely from 35-40mins exercise from a dvd someone recommended to me, I don’t particularly think it was the particular exercise dvd, I think it was just the fact that I was moving and burning some energy, I would say I earned some muscle too. I lost around 10kgs in just over a month. I didn’t really change my diet too drastically but I did the exercise dvd at least 4 times/week. I plateaued again after this weight loss, probably because I didn’t maintain it, but I knew I could do it and that was my foundation. It took me another 2 years I would say before I got serious, and the next 33kgs didn’t really come much from exercise, it came from education and eating habits.
I was a bit down with uni and I didn’t eat much for a few days, just lounged around playing mario on the wii and watching tv. I lost a few kgs that week and I found my motivation. Over the next few months I restricted what I ate, I had smaller portions, avoided pasta and tried to eat healthier and managed to cruise along losing at a healthy rate. Over time I started reading about calorie values and learned what foods were best to avoid if I wanted to continue losing weight. I was surprised at some of the things I had been eating as I’d gained weight, and started to realise why portion control was so important, I was eating more than I should on most days previously and it was just like a light turned on in my mind. I finally got it, and now it made sense why I never gained weight before I moved out of home.
So I continued, of course there were times when I couldn’t help but think about food, especially when I was bored. That was always my biggest downfall, but I developed some of my own strategies. I would only take to work what I felt like I should eat, I would pick specific times during the day for meal breaks, and I would not consume any food until that time came. If I found myself thinking about food earlier or I was preparing food at work and needed to ensure I didn’t snack I would get a glass of water and chew gum. Initially I had to implement some distraction techniques, I would substitute a snack for a cup or tea or coffee and drink lots of water. The food I did choose was always low GI and I tried to keep within my calorie restrictions, however if I had gone out for dinner or had a blow out one day, I would make up for it the following day. After all we’re all entitled to a cheat day every now and then, but not everyday.
Eventually my body got used to smaller portions and I found I wasn’t as hungry, as my weight came down I found it easier to exercise and I would hop on the treadmill or cross trainer for 20-40mins a day 3-4 times a week. But, keep in mind I have never been really consistent with exercise, I would do well for a few weeks then I’d fall apart and go weeks with none. For the most part it was my eating that was the problem, and I do love food but I had to learn how to recognise when I’d had enough. I had to listen to my stomach and only eat until I was content, not until I was full, while at the same time I don’t eat on the clock, I eat when I’m hungry. However that sometimes means twice a day, depends on what I’m eating and how filling it is.
These days to sustain my weight I try to eat right, I eat a lot of vegetable dishes, I have some fruit, eggs etc. I drink more water than I used to and I try to fit in some cardio and yoga into my week. If I didn’t exercise or watch my intake I would gain that weight back, losing it isn’t the end of the journey, we have to work at being healthy when there are so many temptations out there. We have to develop good eating habits, change your lifestyle choices and do what’s right for you. If you don’t enjoy exercise find something you enjoy that requires some movement, a game or walk your dog, and remember to include vegetables in your dinner, some whole grains for breakfast and throw in some fruit for lunch. You’ll be surprised what it will do for you.