Yes, that is the number of days I have obsessively logged every morsel which passed my lips and every mascara running session at the gym into MFP.
I recently celebrated my 2-year weight loss maintenance anniversary and I feel that I have learned a tremendous amount through many, many bouts with trial & error and just observations. I’d like to share this collective in hopes that it’d help others. So here goes nothing!
A recent MFP friend asked how do I stay motivated to stay active in maintenance. In my haste to publish my anniversary post I think I really missed the mark on addressing the question properly. What I initially stated was that regular exercise had simply became a mindless habit which is mostly true. However, in giving the question some additional thought, I feel that I can elaborate a bit more with more practical response. So I asked myself, ‘Self, when you are dog-tired & would much prefer to veg out in front of the computer, what does drive you to go to the gym?’ The answer is in two parts.
The first is that it is a habit for me because I absolutely thrive in routines and schedules. However, to say that is the sole driver is not 100% accurate. What keeps me going is that I continue to experience measurable progress towards my fitness goals. And this one is a bit of the chicken or the egg phenomena … let me explain.
My main mark of progress when I was losing weight, like many others, was the fickle frenemy the scale. No matter if it was 2 lbs or a mere fraction of a pound loss, every miniscule step closer to my goal, the more I was motivated to carry on with what I was doing. It is not that much different to be successful in maintenance. I shifted my focus from losing weight to fitness oriented ones, ie. gain muscle definition. Although I secretly dream of looking like this,
Photo of Jamie Eason: Former NFL cheerleader & Winner of the World’s Fittest Model Competition
I know that this is something I am unable to maintain for the rest of my life. It’s not a matter of whether I can physically accomplish it. Rather it’s a matter of being able to comply with the heavy demands necessary to achieve AND maintain which is something I am just not willing to invest the time & effort into for the-rest-of-my-life. So I opted to choose something which is more realistic for me and my lifestyle.
Enter the First Lady, Michelle Obama. The First Lady’s toned shoulders and arms requires effort of course. But the ‘upkeep’ is a very sustainable amount of effort without becoming burdensome. So with a realistic goal set, an adjustment in exercise regimen, all it took was consistency and time (patience). The more muscle definition that I saw the more motivated I became. Everytime I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror and see the budding toned legs, arms, or shoulders, my initial reaction was always ‘holy shit is that me?’ Immediately followed by ‘wow I never thought any part of me could ever look like that!’
So, that’s the chicken or the egg phenomena: I go to the gym and workout regularly because I am seeing positive results towards my fitness goals. And I am seeing positive results because I am going to the gym to workout regularly.
6 mths Strength Training – still fairly doughy with bat wings & bra strap fat (Weights Exclusively)
12 mths Strength Training – starting to see some definition in certain positions – the progress keeps me motivated to carry on – tweaks exercises to get the most bang for the workout buck (Bodyweight Exercises Only)
18 mths Strength Training – muscle definition becoming more prominent – swapped out all my tshirts for tank tops & I always do my pushups in front of a mirror to check my body position but more importantly seeing my shoulder & arm muscles at work motivates me to really push myself to do ‘just one more’ (Bodyweight Exercises Only)
I mentioned previously how utterly ‘lost’ I felt initially in maintenance. The incremental progress during weight loss was suddenly POOF – gone. I felt as if my inner tube had been deflated leaving me in the middle of the ocean just floundering. Simply being intellectually aware that continued activity was ‘good for me’ was not enough of a motivator because to a certain extent, a part of me did have the ‘yay I’ve reached goal – I’ve crossed the proverbial finish line’ mentality. Embracing the reality that there is no finish line & that this is for the rest of my life sort of commitment, it was imperative that I set new goals to help me overcome a common transition pitfall from weight loss to maintenance.
Fitness goals doesn’t have to be earth-shattering or monumental in order to be effective. It can be a series of mini goals. ie. 2,000 steps in three months No matter what it is, it is a key factor to staying active in maintenance. Every now & again, when I hanker to skip the gym, I ask myself, ‘is it really worth it?’ As one MFP friend very aptly described, muscle definition is a “herd-of-turtles-slow” process and so my answer 99% of the time is a resounding ‘NO.’ It’s just not worth it to me to undo all the time & effort already invested for one night of sitting on my duff at home for an extra hour or so. Hope this more in depth answer is helpful.
Need a Plan:
The key is that you need a plan that fits your lifestyle and goals and that allows you to follow through. The world’s greatest plan won’t work if it’s not right for you.
Key Behaviors of Long Term Weight Loss Maintainers:
Several key behavior changes that occurred over the year of follow-up also distinguished maintainers from regainers. Not surprisingly, those who regained weight reported significant decreases in their physical activity, increases in their percentage of calories from fat, and decreases in their dietary restraint. Thus, a large part of weight regain may be attributable to an inability to maintain healthy eating and exercise behaviors over time. The findings also underscore the importance of maintaining behavior changes in the long-term maintenance of weight loss.
TIP OF THE WEEK
Bread … oh how I love thee! It’s my standard go-to for lunch because it is easy, quick, and perfect for a busy morning rushing two kids out the door for school. But when I decided to get healthy, I needed to tweak it so that it is the healthiest version of my standard go-to. Instead of trying to force myself to eat new strange ‘healthy’ foods (ie. lettuce wrap in lieu of bread), I stuck with what I loved and simply swapped out components in order to make it healthier. As you can see below, simply by changing the bread, I saved 80 calories per sandwich, reduced carbs, & total fat/sugar intake. Which may not seem like a lot but multiply that by a week (400 calories) or a year (22,400 calories), it adds up really quickly in my favor.
|Per 2 Slices
||Sara Lee Soft & Smooth Enriched Whole Grain White
||Sara Lee 45 Calorie & Delightful Whole Grain
||Aunt Millie’s 35 Calorie Whole Grain
||Difference per Sandwich
|Total Calories from Fat