In the past month, I've slipped into a noticeably different stage of maintenance than I've experienced in the nearly eight months since I reached goal. I'm actually starting to feel relaxed about maintaining and my confidence that I can do this for the long haul has soared. In celebration of this wonderful new stage I've entered, I though it would be a nice idea to sum up the things I like best about maintaining a healthy weight.
1. I've reduced my risk of preventable disease to virtually zero.
Back when I weighed 240, or worse 260 at my all time high, my risk of developing pre-diabetes by the time I was 40 was almost a given. I was also at increased risk for many types of cancer, heart disease and a slew of other conditions--none of which are pleasant. As an ex-smoker, I was putting my health in even greater danger. With a BMI of 23, a healthy diet and lifestyle that no longer includes smoking, I've whittled my risk of preventable disease to almost zero. As a matter of fact, the one thing I need to worry about, low blood pressure, is actually generally considered a positive thing.
2. I have almost no aches and pains.
Carrying around almost 100 extra pounds of weight puts a huge strain on your body. When I was heavy, I suffered from chronic back and neck pain, achy knees and regularly got pins and needles in my legs. I was only in my early thirties but I felt like an old lady. Now that I'm at a healthy weight, I no longer suffer from any of these things and no longer feel like I'm ready for the nursing home just yet.
3. I feel ten years younger.
Not only do I not suffer from aches and pains anymore, but I also feel as though I've turned back the clock ten years. Although I don't necessarily think I looked older when I was heavy (thanks for the good genes, Mom and Dad!), I definitely looked older than I needed to. Now I have so much more energy and feel like my healthy habits are reflected in my more youthful appearance.
4. I finally got my leather pants...and I wear them regularly!
I've always wanted to wear a pair of cool leather pants but never in a million years thought I could pull them off. In celebration of my six-month maintenance anniversary, I went out and finally got a pair. I love them so much that wear them every opportunity I get. I feel like a rock star and think I don't look half bad in them either!
Beyond the leather pants, I love being able to walk into just about any clothes shop and knowing that not only will I not have a problem finding something in my size but chances are most of what I try on will actually look good. That's such a great feeling when you've spent years dreading trips to plus-sized shops hoping to find something that simply won't make you look awful. I'm also much more open to experimenting with trendier styles and am sometimes shocked that the clothes in my closet are mine.
5. I feel relaxed.
Don't get me wrong, maintaining your weight when you've spent 30 years yo-yo dieting requires vigilance. But I'm finally starting to feel as though my healthy habits are just those--habits--and I don't feel like a few bad decisions are going to hurdle me back to 200+ pounds in an instant. I overdo it from time to time and I often plan to overdo it. But since I'm not overdoing it every day and at every meal anymore, I know I can have a really big meal about once a week with absolutely no guilt because my habits the rest of the week are sound. And if I slip and overeat when it's not planned, that's okay too. The scale might be up for a few days but I know that it will never result in anything I can't handle.
6. I feel in control.
I've never really felt like my weight was something I could manage. I've been up, down, up, down my whole life. I've finally reached a place where there's very little fluctuation in my weight and I finally feel like I'm in control of a part of my life that's always been wildly erratic.
7. I just feel normal.
I live in Northern Italy where there are very few overweight, let alone obese, people. When I was heavy, I always felt like I stood out because of my size and that's not the kind of attention anyone wants to attract. Now that I'm at a healthy weight, I feel like I finally blend in. I love going to classes at my gym and not feeling like I'm by far the fattest person in the room. I love being able to fit in the (much smaller than American-sized) seats on boats, buses, trains and planes without a problem. I love that people no longer ask me when my baby's due or think that my Janis Joplin costume is Mama Cass. I love not living up to the stereotype that Americans are all obese. Most of all, I just love feeling normal.
When I really stop to think about it, these are all of the things that I hoped to achieve by losing weight when I got started more than two and a half years ago. Only now, instead of just dreaming about how wonderful it would be to accomplish all of these things, I'm actually living them. I'd say I've got a whole lot to love about maintenance!