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A Celebration of my Maintenance Victories

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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Tomorrow I'll celebrate a major personal milestone--one year of successful maintenance! After nearly 30 years as a yo-yo dieter, I feel as though I've finally discovered the keys to lasting success. To celebrate this feat, I've compiled a list of the things I'm happiest about achieving.

1. Truly stabilizing my weight
In the past, I'd lose large amounts of weight in short periods of time only to gain it all back (and often more) just as quickly. This time, I was determined to reach goal and stay there. Strangely enough, part of how I achieved this was by reshaping my expectations of what "being at goal" means. When I did Weight Watchers, being at goal meant not being more than two pounds over a specific number. Although this sounds good in theory, I've learned that my weight can easily bounce two or more pounds for no good reason. I now use a +/-3% formula to determine whether I'm in range. This takes into account normal fluctuations and even the ones that aren't inexplicable such as putting on a few holiday pounds. Since stabilizing my weight back in June and understanding where the bottom of my range is, I haven't deviated from my 3% range in spite of several vacations and some holiday eating run amok. I've just used my range to determine when I've needed to buckle down and make sure small gains don't turn into larger-scale slides.

2. Feeling comfortable in my own skin
It's taken me a while to adjust to my new identity as a healthy weight person, but I feel like I'm finally there. I no longer see an obese person when I look in the mirror and love that I can feel comfortable in just about any situation. No more worrying about whether or not I'll fit into seats or worse, break them, and no more feeling like I stand out as the heavy person in a sea of slender people. I live in Northern Italy where obesity is a rare occurrence and I was considerably larger than just about everyone. I felt self-conscious at work, at the gym and in just about every situation. I no longer get stares for being the biggest person around and finally feel like I blend in. This is my new "normal" and I love it!

3. Rekindling my love of clothes and shopping
When I was obese, I dressed to blend into the background as much as was possible for a person who weighed 240 pounds. I rarely experimented with bright colors or trendy clothes because I felt like they drew attention to my size. No more! Now I love shopping for new cute clothes and am much more experimental with fashion. It certainly helps that I can walk into just about any shop and not only find clothes that fit, but also find plenty that look good. Things that I never would have dreamed of wearing, like skinny jeans and knee-high boots are now regular parts of my wardrobe and I don't automatically assume that the latest styles will look awful on me.

4. Establishing a healthy relationship with food
In the past, weight management typically meant deprivation--avoiding the foods I loved and sticking with food that would provide the greatest weight loss in the shortest time. Although I still have some trigger foods that I try to steer clear of, I've learned that depriving myself only leads to bingeing and that I can trust myself to eat moderate portions of all types of food. And while the bulk of my eating plan consists of healthy natural food, I still find ways to incorporate small treats and my favorite less-than-healthy foods on a regular basis.

5. Redefining what a healthy lifestyle means
We hear the phrase "lifestyle change" again and again, but what it actually means had never really sunk in for me until this past year on maintenance. I've developed a balanced lifestyle that emphasizes healthy eating and activity without feeling onerous and is one that I feel like I can maintain forever. What's more, I've eliminated all of the aches and pains and minor maladies that I experienced as an obese person and the results of my latest physical back up the fact that my healthy lifestyle has paid off. I no longer have high cholesterol and have whittled down my preventable risk factors to practically zero.

To further show just how far I've come, here's a visual three-year comparison. The first photo is before I got started at about 240 pounds, the second is about one year into my weight loss at about 190 pounds (I'm on the right), the third is when I reached my initial goal of 158 pounds last March and the last one is where I am now at 148 pounds.

I've come along way since beginning my journey to better health three years ago and I know that there's no turning back. I'm committed to becoming part of the elite (but growing!) group of people who refuse to accept that permanent maintenance is an impossible dream.
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