Life these days looks a lot different than it did back in 2007. For starters, back then I was finishing up my freshman year of college in Connecticut, I was also wearing way too much makeup, and in this weird phase that involved way too many hair products. But the most highlight-worthy difference, for our purposes, was that I weighed about 70 pounds more than I do now. Standing at 5-foot-4 and tipping the scale at more than 200 pounds, I wasn’t just overweight, I was unhappy. I felt uncomfortable in my own body, and as a result, wasn’t super happy with my life.
Through learning how to eat better, practicing moderation and embracing a more active lifestyle, the weight slowly came off. Over the course of about three years, I lost weight. I gradually became more confident and excited for my day-to-day. As big of an accomplishment as it was for me to watch the numbers on the scale go down, it’s been even more rewarding to keep the weight off for almost 10 years (and counting).
There are countless pointers on how to lose weight, but weight maintenance can be a struggle. In fact, research shows more than 80% of people with obesity who lose weight regain it. Here are the biggest takeaways I have from maintaining my weight loss:
When I was in the thick of my weight-loss journey, I learned a lot about portion control and moderation. I was never the woman who would cut foods out of her life completely (Think: French fries, wine or ice cream), but rather consume them here and there. I learned that if I tried to completely avoid something, it would make me want it more, and even lead to overeating if I finally caved. I’ve truly embraced moderation over the years, which helps me continue a balanced diet, and enjoy everything from time spent with friends and celebrations to a good Friday pizza night.
When you’re paying extra attention to what you’re putting in your body, it can be easy to feel a sense of guilt if you overdo it here and there. It may not feel stellar, but it happens! The best thing you can do is get back to eating whole, good foods and not be so harsh on yourself for indulging a bit. Wasting your time getting down on yourself for your choices won’t do you any good. Rather, focus on what’s next.
Today, I’m a nine-time marathoner. However, back when I started running, I did it in 15-minute increments. I carry that lesson with me to this day: Exercise doesn’t need to happen for hours at a time. What’s important is you make movement a priority and integrate it into your regular routine in a way that feels attainable. Have a 30-minute break in the middle of your workday? Take a nice walk around the block and get some fresh air. Looking to kill some time before dinner with a friend? You can breeze through a core workout in less than 15 minutes, and you may not even break a sweat.
How many times have I strolled into the kitchen, not because I’m hungry but rather because I’m procrastinating or bored? Answer: Too many to count. Before working hard to lose weight, I’d often indulge in cravings as a way to deal with anxiety. Sure, those moments still happen, but I’ve learned filling up a water bottle is a good tactic to avoid unnecessary calorie binging. Instead, I hydrate, and give myself the time to answer the question “are you really hungry, or is this a distraction?”
Weight loss is an external change, and it’s often challenging for the internal dialogue to match the new external expression. It can be a super emotional process! It’s important to prioritize reshaping your inner dialogue as the pounds come off, and there are certainly plenty of outlets that you can use in that process. I’ve gone through stints of in-person and teletherapy, and I also have a regular journaling process. Both have helped immensely, aiding me to have better self-talk and get comfortable with who I am, letting go of who I was.
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