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  • Writer's pictureSarah McDonald

Maintaining After Significant Weight Loss

If you've been following my blog, you'll know that I recently lost a significant amount of weight. I've spent the last few years shifting my lifestyle habits, thinking about my relationship with food, and incorporating daily walks into my schedule. This past January I reached my goal weight, which I determined by using the top end of my healthy BMI range. In total, I have lost 140 pounds and I have successfully stayed within the same 5 pound range since hitting my goal weight 4 months ago. I am incredibly proud of that because maintaining weight loss is freaking hard.

A before and after from September 2017 and May 2021.

Losing Weight is the Start


Throughout my weight loss journey, I have been very aware that weight loss is just the first step in developing a long-term healthy lifestyle. Still, there was a very big part of me that wanted to say, "Wow, glad that's done!" and carry on without this looming thing constantly hovering above me. Instead, that looming thing merely transformed into a dedicated focus to maintaining a healthy weight for my body.


I have been waiting to breathe a sigh of relief, but it still hasn't come and I suppose it might not be something that I will reach. I have been just as mindful now, if not more so at times, as I was when I was actively losing weight. Staying consistent with healthy daily habits, even when we know how good they are for us, can be challenging. Some days are easier than others; there are days when sticking to my goals feels completely natural and effortless, and there are days when it feels like an uphill battle.


This is now a dual challenge of not gaining weight and not losing additional weight. I have found it challenging to shift my mind from a state of losing weight to maintaining, as the shift into maintenance requires you to increase your caloric intake; that process can feel like a slippery slope. If you are experiencing similar challenges, try grounding yourself in your long-term goals by reminding yourself about what is important to you; for me, that's a long life in a healthy body. This way, harder days don't sidetrack you from your intentions.


How I Have Maintained So Far


1. Healthy Lifestyle Habits Developing daily healthy habits helped support my mental health, and that made it way easier to believe that I am capable of reaching my goals. I have a pretty regular daily routine: I wake up around 6:30am every morning (thank you cats), eat three regular meals, incorporate healthy snacks as much as possible like fruit or nuts, take vitamins, drink water throughout the day, and get about 8-9 hours of sleep each night. This routine makes me feel good but it's not always fun. Speaking of which, I've also cut way down on drinking and when I want to have wine in the evening I enjoy a couple glasses once a week instead of downing an entire bottle in one sitting. Having a healthy routine helps me to feel secure and confident, which enables me to continue making healthy choices for my body.

2. Eat Healthy (most of the time) Part of my daily routine is eating three consistent meals each and every day. For the most part, my breakfast and lunch is light, and I've developed a handful of staple meals that I rotate between. This makes grocery shopping and meal planning really easy and easy is key. I also use mainly whole foods like fruit, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy grains. I try and limit the amount of processed foods I eat and when I do, I balance it with lots of veggies. Not only are these foods good for you, but they also genuinely make you feel better! I have so much more energy and a more positive attitude in general when I am fueling my body this way. Taylor and I try to limit takeout to once a week and that way it really is a treat.

3. Walk Every Day I've already gushed on this blog about the importance of walking every day and it's still very true. I was recently telling a friend that I've missed maybe three or four days in the last 14 months. I've walked in rain and snow and everything in between. Buying the right kind of gear (winter coat, water-proof boots, rain coat) was essential to my success.

We have all heard the statistics that generally people don't maintain significant weight loss.In a study by the National Weight Control Registry, of people who had lost more than 30 pounds and successfully kept it off for more than a year, the number one factor in common was participating in an hour of physical activity each day. The most common form of physical activity was walking.


Check-in With Yourself


If you are having difficulty maintaining weight loss, there are some questions that I'd like you to ask yourself:

  • Why did you lose weight in the first place? If you didn't lose weight for yourself, it likely won't stick. I've unsuccessfully tried to lose weight more times than I can count. What made it different this time was that I was making the choice to lose weight. I wasn't doing it for a doctor or a family member or a friend. It is incredibly hard to stay motivated for long when it's for someone else.

  • Did you develop habits that you actually enjoy? Walking works for me because I like it and I genuinely look forward to it. If I didn't like it, it would feel much harder to go out and do it every single day. I've also found healthy foods that I really enjoy. If you are forcing yourself into habits that you don't enjoy, it will always be challenging. The trick is finding things that you both like and are good for you.

  • Are you being kind to yourself and your body? When I go wildly off course (and I do), I don't beat myself up about it. No one is perfect and the pursuit of perfection is exhausting and not the ultimate goal. Sometimes the best laid plans go awry when we intend to have one glass of wine and end up finishing the bottle, or the easiest of slips indulging in one too many treats. It happens. Allow yourself to make mistakes so that you can get back up the next day on track rather than allowing a few mistakes to derail your entire process.

Are you on a weight loss journey? Have you found success maintaining significant weight loss? Let me know in the comments below!


xox

Sarah


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