Healthy Weight Loss and Maintenance

If you have ever lost a significant amount of weight, commonly, you will be asked, “How did you do it?” When you reply with the changes you have made to your entire lifestyle, you can almost feel the groan of disappointment from others. It is like they wanted to say you had a magic wand, and that you would wave it over them too. Losing weight, and maintaining weight loss can seem like a lot of hard work, until you realize you just need to develop the right habits. I have been trying to think about how I can break down, “how I do it” for those not as far along on the journey.

My number one, without a doubt key, is my meal planning. I go through phases where I prep food and where I have less involved recipes, where I use the crock pot daily, and where I experiment with new, involved recipes. The mainstay is the meal plan, for almost 10 years now. How I plan and what I plan has dramatically changed, but I still plan every week. I have been using the bottom of my weekly page in my Erin Condren planner these days for my plan. Until supper, my food is pretty much the same every day, so I write in the suppers and the ingredients I need to buy. I snap a quick pic of my planner and off to the store I go, on Mondays. When I make more involved meals, I need to write my shopping list separately, so the produce is in one section, the meat in another, and so on.  This prevents me from wandering the store because I forgot 10 things.

I also plan my work outs. I literally schedule the time into my daily planner like I would a doctor’s appointment. This has also meant that I wake super early to get my runs finished. I know it is just a season in my life, and I look forward to the day I get to work out at a “normal” time again. However, I enjoy being more productive before most people are awake. Who knows, maybe I will become a person who always rises early to exercise.

The best way to eat healthy is to provide healthy food for yourself. If you keep junk food in your cabinets, you will eat junk food. When you come to my house, unannounced, I may freak a bit if you are hungry. That is because my cabinets and fridge have the food I need to get through the week, and often requires cooking before serving. Gretchen Rubin talks often about abstainers and moderators. I am an abstainer. I cannot have a bag of candy in the house because I will eat the whole bag of candy. A moderator can have a small piece a day. I have often suggested to take control of your cravings, let’s say that you want chips. Don’t run to the nearest gas station and buy a giant bag. Put it in your meal plan for next week, and when next week comes re-evalutate. If you still want the chips, go buy a snack size bag, and if you changed your mind than just move on.  Invest in smaller plates. At our house, we actually use a square shaped bowl as our plate most nights. Check out your local dollar tree, if money is tight. A visually full plate will trick your mind into thinking you ate more food. You are also better able to control your portions with a smaller plate, there is not a temptation to fill a large plate with more food than should be in your portion. I have also heard that the color of the plate matters, because when your plate matches your food you take more food. Blue is supposed to offer great contrast to food and be a great pick. Personally, my plates are white, but I don’t eat much food that is white in color.

You also should go through your clothes. Get rid of things that are not your style, don’t flatter your figure, and especially items from when you were bigger. When you feel like you look good, you are more inclined to take better care of yourself. Healthy comes from the inside out, you need to love yourself enough to treat yourself better. You don’t need a brand new wardrobe at every size, but a couple staple items. Fill the rest in from a resale or second hand store. I have never been a person big on clothes, but I did buy a couple things as I was losing weight that reminded me of how far I had come.

You are embarking on a lifestyle, not a short term diet. You need to find friends and coaches who will support you in this endeavor. I am the type that decides to follow through with something, just because I said I would. When I realized how much I weighed back in 2007, I decided right then and there to make changes. I was single and living with Ty, so I overhauled both of our diets. I was in a very transitional time in my life and many of my “friends” were fellow bartenders. When I gave up drinking, well, those friends and I no longer had anything in common. It is totally fine that some of your best friends will not like the changes you are making. It is more a reflection of them than of you, so you keep doing you. A significant other who supports you is great, one who is willing to get healthy with you is even better. If you are on this journey with a friend, make sure that you have a back up plan if they are not as committed at you are. Often times, you can find support groups on social media, you will also find haters though, so be sure to establish your support group before just posting. Then your support group can be extra encouraging when others make stupid comments.

Back to the healthy from the inside, you want to make sure that you are in the right head space. Visualization, mindful meditation, journaling, and reading self help books can all be a great way to help heal yourself from the inside, so that you can be the best you on the outside. Any and all of them will help you to have more gratitude, and gratefulness. You will also find yourself more mindful in more aspects of your life, like eating and exercising. Just going through the motions will leave you unsatisfied, unfulfilled, and unhealthy. Find something that excites you about eating, the cooking, the researching, the journaling, and use that to fuel your healthy lifestyle. Same with exercise, find an activity that excites you and makes you feel strong and healthy. I have joined different mentoring groups and support groups from various self help books I have read. All of last year I experimented with different exercise styles and challenges until I found a great balance for me.

“It is a lifestyle, train like there is no finish line.”

Share where you are at in your journey in the comments below! What habits have you developed to help you on your journey? Do you agree or disagree with the points I have shared here? A great thing, albeit frustrating at times, is how different each and everyone’s journey looks, the path each successful person takes.