Monday, January 5, 2015

Keys to Sustained Weight Loss

I am 5'5.  Almost.

The healthy weight range for my height is 120 to 150.  I think I've topped out around 170.  So I've never been more than 20 lb over the maximum healthy weight for my height.  Sometimes I think that the fact that I don't have a 50+ lb weight loss story means that my story isn't worthy of telling.

           Jackson Hole, WY

But maybe I'm wrong about that.  It's still MY story.

I spent my high school years around 128 lbs.  Size 5 (back then I think it was a smaller size 5 than it is today).  And for whatever reason they don't even have size 5 anymore. It's either 4 or 6.  Either way that was and still is the lightest / thinnest I've every been.  (note I did NOT say fittest)

As an adult I've been all over the place.  I've birthed 4 children.  Up down, up down on the scale.  Since I started running I can honestly say this is the FITTEST I've ever been, in the more recent years.  I've joined Weight Watchers every time I've really committed to losing weight.  I've only been truly successful when I've attended meetings.  I've watched friends join online and some have been a little successful but never to the degree that I've seen people reach success from my meetings.  So I guess we'll start there.

                         Around my fittest.
                         Those pink shorts are my current motivation!

How have I lost weight and kept it off?

1.  Group Support.  Like I said, I joined Weight Watchers and attended meetings.  I've heard people give a million different excuses as to why this won't work for them.  Each time I think in my head, "You're not ready."  (I've said this to myself as well, when I forego the meetings and "Do it on my own, because I know how the plan works.")  Don't hide the fact that you're working on your weight.  Tell people.  Tell your loved ones most importantly, they are who you eat many meals with.  They have huge influence over your mental well being.

2.  Drink your water.  Do it like your life depends on it.  Get yourself a fancy and cute water bottle.  I love Nalgene and Sigg for these purposes.  Be prepared to fill it and carry it with you everywhere.  At least a 32 oz size one.  For ME, this meant that I would not "allow" myself to eat my lunch until I had finished my first bottle of water.  Then my next goal would be to make sure I finished my second bottle before I left work for the day.  Another game changer .. learn to like water that ISN'T ice cold.  I know .. I know .. if I had a dollar for every time someone told me they "HAVE" to have their water with ice.  Yeah .. you don't.  Just get used to it without ice.  Without ice means you can guzzle it quicker (no brain freeze).  I don't sip on my water, I gulp it.  And while you're at it, get used to drinking just plain water .. without adding all the Crystal Lights and crap.  (but if you can't do that and the only way to get it in is to add something, give Nuun a try).  I happen to love the Energy flavors, all of them.

3.  Meal plan.  I know what you're thinking, "But I don't have TIME to meal plan!"  Umm, yes.  Yes, you do.  It's a choice people.  Choose to MAKE the time.  The first time might take you a little while, but I literally spend 30 minutes TOPS planning meals for my family for the week.  We eat probably the same dozen meals all year long.  Or at least variations of those meals.  Research shows that this is pretty common for most households.  But you need a plan for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner.

4.  Track your food.  This is where things get dicey in my opinion.  Dicey in the respect that you are flooded with options. You can go old school and track with paper and pen.  Weight Watchers has their eTools app.  The only downside to their app is it doesn't talk to other apps first of all.  Secondly the majority of people are "doing their own thing" with regards to their weight loss plan, so you can't engage with people who aren't on WW's without logging in another third party app (MyFitnessPal, Lose It, etc.)  I log in the WW's app to keep track of my points.  But I often will also log my food in my Jawbone activity app (their food section).  It's kind of overkill.  But my point would be that you need to track EVERY single bite of food that goes into your mouth SOMEWHERE.  Even the bad days.  It keeps you honest.

5.  Focus on your whole foods.  Fruits, vegetables and lean protein.  I don't eliminate carbs but I do look to them last.  I rarely make a carb side with my dinners ever.  But we'll occasionally have a pasta type dish.  I'll have toast with my eggs on the weekends (always whole wheat).  But then on Friday's we'll often have sweet potato fries with our steaks.  So yeah, I limit them.  

6.  I tend to eat the SAME thing for lunch every day.  Until I get tired of it and then I switch to something different.  I realize that this may not work for everybody.  For about 2.5 months last year I ate a spinach salad every single day.  And then I couldn't even stomach the sight of it.  So I moved on to BBQ Chicken salad.  Which I have revamped this week.  If nothing else maybe you can find a few things to rotate between.  The advantage to the same lunch is I know exactly what to buy and if I'm feeling overly ambitious I can meal prep a little.

7.  Avoid restaurants.  Again, I realize this is a bit extreme.  But when I'm going hardcore, and for someone new I think it's good to get some momentum with the stuff you can control before venturing out to making good choices in the minefield known as Chili's (or wherever).  Even once I've got momentum I will limit eating out to one meal a week if possible.  

8.  Waistline is made in the kitchen, not the gym.  Ok .. sort of.  You've heard a variation of this mindset though right?  This may be controversial as well, BUT I don't believe that exercise really helps all that much with weight loss.  Physical activity is absolutely good for you, don't get me wrong here.  But don't use activity as an excuse to eat all the cupcakes.  This is where that 80/20 split comes into play.  Losing weight is 80% what goes in your mouth.  I don't believe in swapping activity for more food points in WW's.  Just consider the activity EXTRA!  Only on long run days do I allow myself a little extra.  That comes way of some fried potatoes after and the untracked fuel I take during the run.  

9.  Cheat Meals / Weekly Points Allowance.  Whatever your version is of this.  My balance in this is again on long run day.  My husband and I will often go out to breakfast after our long run. I tend to get the mushroom and avocado omelette (egg whites only with light cheese).  I eat all the homestyle potatoes and have wheat toast WITH the butter on it.  I still track it.  All of it.  And I often go over my points that day. But I consider it a wash with the 1700 calories I burned running double digit mileage.  

That's pretty much it.  I try to avoid "saving my points" for special meals and then gorging.  I focus on whole foods spread throughout the day.  I generally eat a big ass salad for lunch during the week. And that salad usually runs me about 10 points plus values.  With a mid afternoon snack I'm plenty satisfied until dinner and don't feel the need to eat more than a reasonable sized dinner.  I've found that eating whole foods really does keep me full longer.


What strategies have you used to lose weight or even maintain?

Do you feel like exercise plays a role in weight LOSS?

1 comment:

  1. Great list! I agree with all except two: I sometimes eat the same thing for lunch, but I also use a lot of dinner leftovers for lunch. It breaks things up a bit. And I do like "spending" my activity points because it makes me feel like I got something back in return for my workouts ... But I agree most people think they earned a cupcake or cheeseburger, when in reality they just earned some light popcorn or an extra glass of wine.


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