Over the past month, I've successfully maintained my goal weight of 185 pounds - gaining not a single pound between weigh-ins, and even managing to shave off some body fat in that time. One month certainly does not an expert make, but I've definitely developed some thoughts on it all regardless of the short time-frame I've experienced it. Figured I'd share what's happening in this brain of mine! :-D
Losing weight is sexy. Seeing that scale drop each week or month, and starting to see changes in your body, leads to such a confident and self-inspiring reflection of one's self. Fitting into smaller clothing... starting to like how you look... getting compliments from so many people... it's hard not to feel like a superstar when you're losing weight and feeling comfortable with the habits you're forming. Maintenance on the other hand is interesting, but rather mundane in comparison. The compliments slow down as people become accustomed to your new appearance. You're no longer ear-marked by people as a superstar "loser" (tee hee), but rather just recognized as being an average healthy person - which don't get me wrong, is fantastic - that's all I ever wanted during my darkest moments being overweight and eventually obese. So there's deep breaths of relief whenever I stop and consider my accomplishments, and never do I entertain a moment of self-pity now that the sexiness of weight loss has passed. It just feels different.
Another strange occurrence is what I see in the mirror. As the weight loss slowed and eventually stopped at 185, I've begun to see my body differently. The truth is that just as friends and family become accustomed to what they see, so do we. I once looked at my body every week stunned at how much better it looked, while now I start to see parts that still need work. I have a strong mind though, and thankfully a great deal of self-love, so I don't get hung up on those parts, and generally just take a quick peek at a before picture. When I see my before pictures, even the ones of me I've posted here from the different months of my journey, I'm seriously floored by the visual changes. So I think maintainers, just as those losing the weight must do, need to constantly remind themselves of where they came from, and be proud of everything they've accomplished. I've said it recently, and I believe it to be completely true, that the best way to keep your fire burning is to be inspired by yourself. Take the encouragement from others, draw inspiration from their journeys, but remember that you're the star in the movie of your life. You're the main character despite an ensemble cast of other stars. You're the one that makes all the difference for yourself, and you're so incredibly capable of accomplishing all that your heart desires. Any voices externally or internally that say otherwise, are liars and need to be pushed aside with furious determination... but I digress, lol. I think we always need to consider, during our moments of maintenance or plateauing, that although it's easy to begin to entertain the old feelings and our old way of viewing our bodies, we must remember how far we've come, how much healthier we are today than yesterday because of our efforts, and that life is good.
Maintenance is not without it's curve-balls though. The biggest change is in terms of what you eat. For months I said no to so many things, like pizza, pasta, cheese, desserts, alcohol, fried foods, the list goes on. I never planned to never eat these things again of course, just to re-introduce them once I was healthy, and do so in a measured way that continued to support my health. The answer to the question of maintenance is not to simply loosen the reigns though, since that's generally what leads to gaining weight - at least in my experience. Changing your exercise routine should never be a consideration, since let's face it, you're badass and all that exercise makes you feel like a freakin' rockstar (or it should, because you are... fyi...). So that leaves the food portion to consider, and raising your calories slowly and surely for the intended purpose of plateauing. See this is why I always think plateauing gets a bum wrap. If you're plateauing for months at a time, please don't think that you're a failure for even one second. You're SO stinkin' incredible! You're showcasing that you have EXACTLY what it takes to maintain! Use it as a source of inspiration and just keep working at it. Maybe it's just having one less drink now and then, or passing on the butter while cooking, or stepping up your exercise intensity (or better yet, switching your routine up to include something new - which causes the body to adapt again, which increases your metabolism). Plateauing showcases incredible strength and perseverance. Be proud, hold your head up high, and if you've still weight to lose, be thrilled that you get to attack it from such a stable foundation. (Mini rant over, lol). Training for a half marathon burns a ridiculous amount of calories as well, so I've had the extra challenge of experimenting with calorie intake. Really, it's been a case of ingesting more protein and unsaturated fats - like nuts and fats from olive oil and vegetable oil. Eating french fries is no longer a sin, lol, because potatoes contain an incredible amount of potassium - which I've found I never come close to getting enough of in my daily diet - and as long as they're not super salted, my body could use them for good electrolyte balance. I'll post a blog eventually on the studying I've done as it relates to fats and salts. We make broad assumptions about both, and for good reasons, but there are many truths we don't embrace in our zealousness to cast those two things aside from our diets.
The practices of self-control that you ingrain throughout your weight-loss journey come in very handy during maintenance, because you can actually allow yourself that one doughnut now and then. The trick is staring that doughnut in the face, and saying "I'm gonna eat you, real good, but then I'm gonna cast your tasty friends aside and resist their delicious allure." It can be a frightening thing to come face to face with the version of you that once ate the entire box of doughnuts in one sitting, to put yourself in a situation that tests your willpower, but it's important to remember who you are now, and all the strength you've shown to get there... to trust yourself again. It doesn't mean you'll be perfect, but I've found that the most I've had is one extra doughnut now and then - which considering I haven't stopped my exercise routine, ends up being a wash. So don't kick yourself when you give in, just go pump out an extra few minutes of cardio at a higher intensity and enjoy your day. If your tracking says you've eaten enough calories during your week, then just pull out the old "No way, Jose" card and throw it at whatever food is looking fine and tempting. If you've managed to make it this far in your journey, then you definitely have shown the strength to do this, so again, trust and appreciate yourself and the great strength you have. I say this all as an outward statement here, but understand that really all of this is just what I tell myself on a daily basis - in case it sounds preachy and idealistic, but not realistic. This is simply how I'm living my days in maintenance.
What else... lol. So much has changed in my life since losing weight. Now that I'm back at a weight that I was when I was 24, I just feel like I've slipped back into the personality and fearlessness of that 24 year old self. I've got the stretch marks to show for my troubles, which I'll wear with pride (they fade away over time anyways, turning regular skin color - I know this from when I lost all that weight when I was 17). They never disappear fully though, but again, perfection is not what we should ever hold up as our blueprint on this journey, just a healthy self-love and acceptance of ourselves. Doesn't mean you can't strive to make your body look how you want it to, just temper your expectations and laugh at yourself along the way.
And now... PICTURES! :-D Cause let's be honest, who doesn't love to look at pictures on this site.
These are my kick-boxing pants from when I was 21... these were in my drawer of clothes I wanted to fit into again. I still have my gloves and a big punching bag. I seriously need to set it up somewhere in my house and get into this again. I tried doing a roundhouse kick when I put these on, and failed miserably, lol! Good times.
This was my favorite T-Shirt when I was 24. Not a fan now, but still love that I fit into it so perfectly.
Pre-dodgeball picture with my favorite little girl in the world.
My personal record setting 5k run from last Friday.
My calorie burn from the amazing run and strength training I did at the gym that Friday. Best burn I've ever had apart from my long runs.
And just me. :-D
Have a fantastic rest of your week Spark Peeps. Never forget that you can do anything if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other.