'I've Maintained My 186-Pound Loss for Almost Three Years!'*

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Meet Angela Baldo, a SparkPeople.com member (username 4A-HEALTHY-BMI) who lost 186 pounds! Here, Angela shares how she has maintained her healthy weight for almost three years and counting.

What is your age? 46
How long have you been a SparkPeople member? How did you find SparkPeople? I joined in the spring of 2009.  An at-work wellness program suggested the Nutrition Tracker.
What is your favorite feature on SparkPeople? SparkTeams! Specifically, the At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance SparkTeam.
Although maintainers are a tiny fraction of the entire SparkPeople.com community, we have a tremendous amount to offer, because we have experience with living the dream of every weight loser:  KEEPING the weight off.  As you may know, only 5-20% of people successfully keep weight off after losing it.  In my 20s, I was one of those statistics. I lost over 100 pounds, only to gain it all back--plus almost 100 more.
This SparkTeam has really become Maintenance Central--some of the wisest, most generous people I've ever met are involved in it.  Between the experience of our long-term maintainers (41+ years!) and our interest in the science behind maintenance, we have developed an excellent, supportive community of mentors.
We have a Hall of Fame of maintenance role models, and we acknowledge and celebrate maintenance anniversaries and compete in maintenance-oriented team challenges.  We have lively and supportive discussions about how to transition into maintenance mentality, stay motivated and engaged, handle life hurdles, etc. 
Anyone on a journey to lose weight can benefit from thinking about and planning for maintenance.  If you prepare for maintenance, you're more likely to cope well with the particular challenges it presents.  One of the reasons I've managed to keep the weight off this time is because I saw how easily I regained before.  From the beginning of my weight loss, I wanted to give myself every possible advantage in the struggle to keep it off this time.  And so far, with the help of this team, it's working.
How much weight have you lost? 186 pounds
How long did it take to lose the weight? I lost 160 pounds in a year.  Then, over the following two years, I dropped the remaining 26 pounds, bouncing around a bit while I figured out how this maintenance thing was going to work for me.
What was your light bulb moment that made you decide to lose weight? At 42, I reached 336 pounds and discovered I was ''super morbidly obese.'' (Yes, that is a real medical term.  It means your BMI is over 50.)  I suffered from arthritis, and I had trouble walking up and down the stairs.  I worried about my future mobility, and I cringed whenever I saw my image as I walked past a store window.
What was your biggest obstacle while trying to lose weight? Impatience.  As is true for many of us, I can be my own worst enemy!
Congratulations on reaching maintenance mode! In your opinion, what is the most challenging part of keeping the weight off? Thank you!  I work hard at it, and I'm pleased that I've managed to keep the loss for over two and a half years so far.  The mental shift from loss to maintenance is tricky.  Although the ''how'' of maintenance looks similar (tracking my food, weighing myself daily, cardio and strength training), the ''why'' is quite different.  I was really motivated by watching the scale numbers drop in weight-loss mode, and I've had to come up with maintenance-oriented strategies that work for me.  For example, knowing that I'm driven by competition, I developed maintenance challenges for the maintenance SparkTeam.  They satisfy the urge to beat a record (I compete against my past performance on such challenges), and provide public accountability.  I've also gradually learned how to see my goal range as ''home'' and feel comfortable there.
If you could give someone one piece of advice about weight maintenance, what would it be?

1) Frequent monitoring
2) Immediate correction
I guess that's actually TWO pieces of advice, but they don't work very well unless you do both of them! 
What does your weekly exercise schedule look like? For most of the past two years, it was cardio-heavy and looked something like this:
M - Tae Kardio at lunchtime, Body Pump class in the evening
Tu – Cross-country skiing at lunchtime (if there is snow), Spinning in the evening
W - Tae Kardio at lunchtime, Body Pump class in the evening
Th - Tae Kardio at lunchtime, Spinning in the evening
F- Rest, stretching, sometimes a deep tissue massage
Sa - Playing outside (kayaking, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, road cycling, etc.)
Su - Playing outside
Over the past few months, I've been experimenting with a greater emphasis on lifting heavy and building muscle (using the New Rules of Lifting for Women plan). Recently, my workouts look more like this:
M - Lifting weights in the evening
Tu - Rest or spinning in the evening
W - Lifting weights in the evening
Th - Tae Kardio at lunchtime
F- Lifting weights in the evening (or rest, if I'm driving to a weekend kayaking destination)
Sa - Playing outside (kayaking, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, road cycling, etc.)
Su - Playing outside
I have an Olympic barbell setup in my basement that I bought on Craigslist, and that's where I do the lifting.  So far, I'm quite pleased with the results.  I'm getting stronger, I have more definition in my arms and legs, my body fat is slowly dropping, and I am actually spending less time working out!
What is your favorite way to exercise? White water kayaking.  It's like the best water slide or roller coaster ride you can imagine, except YOU get to decide where the boat goes!  It's a blast!  When I started losing the weight, I would have been thrilled to just get under 300 pounds.  I never in a million, billion years ever expected to get to 150 pounds and take up extreme sports.

As much fun as it is, kayaking is more of a REASON to stay in shape than a WAY to stay in shape. I spend a lot of time driving to and from rivers, and there is a lot of opportunity to make bad food choices. I continue to work on strategies to cope with these factors, and I train during the week so that I can perform on the weekends.

Do you have any personal fitness goals coming up? I'm going to spend a couple weeks white water kayaking and trail riding on horses in Argentina and Chile this winter. So I want to be in peak physical condition to have the most fun possible!
What does a typical day of food look like for you? How does this compare to the way you ate before your transformation? These days, I'm eating between 1,700-1,800 calories because I'd like to nudge my weight down to the center of my goal range. I've found that I maintain my weight between 2,000 and 2,300 calories, depending on my activity level.  By trial and error, I've discovered that I'm most satisfied with about 150g of protein, 40g of fiber, 50g of fat, and less than 100g of sugar.  I eat a lot of Greek yogurt, lean protein (buffalo, fish, poultry, soy), green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and protein supplements.
When I was over 300 pounds, I would skip meals, didn't pay attention to calories or macronutrients, and ate a lot of starchy carbs. I LOVE pasta, especially paired with fats.  I would blow through a whole box of macaroni and cheese (with butter of course), or several Ramen noodle packages. I would bake bread and eat an entire oven-warm loaf in one sitting because it tasted so good.  I also liked baked sweet potatoes (with butter and brown sugar), Sara Lee cheesecakes and carrot cakes (I love cream cheese), ice cream, etc. I didn't always eat junk food—sometimes, I'd roast chicken or make corned beef stew. The problem was that I ate TOO MUCH food in general.
What is your favorite healthy food? Greek yogurt.  It has tons of protein, which helps keep me full and protects these muscles I've worked so hard to build.
What is your favorite treat food? Anything dairy. I love full-fat Greek yogurt in small (tracked) amounts, and I love ice cream.  I get a kiddie-sized cone once a month at the local Cayuga Lake Creamery where they make it themselves (the waffle cones are made by hand, too!).  This ice cream place was my personal secret local gem until the New York Times went and wrote about them in the travel section.  Now the lines are out the door.  I suppose that's a good thing because the lines help discourage me from going there more than once a month!
Who is your biggest inspiration? My biggest inspiration in the SparkPeople community is NELLJONES.  She has maintained her weight loss for over 41 years and sticks around here to help those of us navigating the maintenance waters as newbies.  She's generous with loads of very sensible advice, born of hard-earned personal experience.  As my friend Birdy phrased it, ''Nell is the Real Deal.''  I'm also inspired by all of my other maintenance teammates who share their wisdom and support on a daily basis with me and everyone else fighting in the maintenance trenches with us.
In real life, I have dozens of role models who overcame adversity against tremendous odds.  Some examples:
  • Lance Armstrong (despite having his titles recently stripped) for his athletic comeback and achievements after cancer nearly killed him. 
  • Ernest Shackleton for his leadership after Endurance was trapped in ice. 
  • Slawomir Rawicz, a WWII POW who escaped from a Siberian gulag and walked all the way to India.
  • Juliane Koepcke, the sole survivor of a plane crash in Peru. She walked for 10 days through the Amazon jungle to civilization. 
  • Joe Simpson, who survived a mountaineering accident in the Andes that left him alone with a broken leg deep in a crevasse. He crawled five miles back to base camp with no food or water.  
When I think about these people and the things they faced, my own struggles seem relatively manageable!
Do you have a personal mantra/saying/quote that you live by that you’d like to share? Yup.  It's the same thing as I have on my signature: ''Never, Ever, EVER give up!''

For more on Angela's journey, check out her appearance on the Today show. What pointers from Angela can you use in your own journey to healthy living?

*Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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Very motivating! Thank you! As I near my goal weight I am concerned about what is next. You've given some great pointers! Report
Thankyou sooo much for your support! It is soo inspiring to read your blog! Report
I think you are the inspiration for many !!!!

Awesome! Report
Thanks for sharing your story - youare truly inspiring! I have over 125 pounds to loose. Spark People website seems a little overwhelming to me -- any suggestions where I shoukld start? Report
You are such an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your story! Report
You my friend, are also the REAL DEAL! I love the stats you keep and you look amazing! I would never believe you are 46, and I bet you don't feel like you're 46 when you're out in that kayak maneuvering the rapids!!! Thanks for your help in my own maintenance struggle. I'm working every day to keep my weight off, and your advice, stats and comments always help! Report
This is so very inspiring - I did not even think to look for a team on maintenance so thanks too for bringing that to our attention. Thanks for doing these interviews! Report
You have done so much. You are an inspiration to many of us. Thank you for writing. Report
Very inspiring. Thank you! Report
Great story. You will make 40+ years too. BTW, I agree with you about Lance Armstrong. What an amazing story. Report
your photo says it all. Thank you for sharing an amazing story. :) Report
Angela, thanks for your leadership in the At Goal and Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance team. Congrats on navigating a long, difficult road from your former self to your peak-condition self! Report
Congratulations on attaining your goals and keeping the weight off. You are an inspiration. The SP website has been the tool I needed to stay focused. Thank you for sharing your journey here. Report
thanks for telling your story! and congratulations on your successes!!! Report
Thanks! Report
Awesome...just Awesome. Congrats!!! Report
You are the bomb. It isn't so easy to take it off, but to keep it off...Awesome! Good for you. You look fantastic. Congrats. Report
fantastic and motivating before and after pictures! I wish now that I had kept my 'fat' pants. I just wanted to get rid of them never to be able to have to wear them again. I am doing that with all my stuff.
My BMI had gotten to 49 (I think) so I know about where you are coming from. I had a lot of fat but I still would see others that were a lot bigger than me- that always made me feel a little good for myself. I am now under 40.
I really don't like the bmi because it doesn't take in consideration how much the weight is fat and how much is muscle.

I too LOVE pasta and breads and pastry's and could eat a whole box of Mac and cheese too- No problem. Not anymore. Having some kind of pasta I now consider a treat! Report
Excellent blog! Thank you for sharing info on the maintenance group! Report
Thank you, thank you, thank you for the inspiration, for the spark of belief that it is possible for me, too! Report
Fantastic story, Angela, and thanks for being such a great leader, and helping us focus on maintenance! You're challenges have been so helpful, I'm really looking forward to the next one. You rock! You get my vote for SparkTeamLeader of the year! Report
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. At 57 yrs old, I weigh 100 pounds more now than when I met my husband 21 years ago. I am blessed with 4 daughters, 14 grandchildren and a partner who adores me. I finally realized that if I don't get control of my weight, I would probably not live to see them all get married. Your story has shown me that it is possible and I can do it if you could. You are my inspiration and my hero! Thank you again and I will be following you to good health! Report
Simply amazing!! Report
Amazing and really inspirational - thanks for sharing. Report
Congratulations on your success and on that cool photo. Maybe my wife and I will try to do same thing with my old 54' pants. Report
You are incredible!!!! I pray someday that I can do sports, I will think of you often to motivate me~ Thank you for sharing your story. Report
Thank you so much for posting your awesome story! And for letting me know thta there's a maintaining your loss group. I'm just toe-in-the-water back after majorly falling off the SparkHorse. I'll be keeping my eye on you for inspiration. Thank you again. Report
Congrats! You look great! Very motivating! Thank you! Report
Awesome.. Thanks for the inspiration. Report
WOW.......... YOU DID FANTASTIC..........i am 61 and it is so hard to loose.........i have so many oweee's on my body with arther and rhummy and fibro....... it hurts when i walk anywhere..........knees and lower back and hips feel like they will break off when i walk.......... but i am still trudging along...i am right now fighting to get under that 300........... for two years i have fought with this same twenty lbs..........

i am so glad you made it ..........wow you are wonderful and beauitufl Report
Amazing! You are an inspiration! Report
Thanks for sharing this story. You are amazing and inspirational! You give hope to so many. Report
Congrats Angela! You are a true example of a favored quote of mine:
If you want something you've never had,you've got to do something you've never done.
You should be the poster child for this one : ) Good job kiddo!!
PS Great write!! G Report
Congradulations. I have been on the weight loss/gain roller coaster all of my life and have become very sick of it. Seeing you and hearing your story about keeping the wieght off for three years is inspiring. Thank you for letting me know that there is life after weight loss and that the struggle to keep it off can be won. Good luck. Wish you the best. Report
Fantastic story, tremendous achievement ! Thank you for sharing your story and what you have learned . Report
I have had the incredible honor & pleasure of knowing Angela over the past few years as we're both in upstate New York and have caught up at SparkRallies we've held and a pretty awesome bike ride as well.

You are amazing Angela! Thank you for showing us all how amazing we ALL can be!! Thank you too for your vital role in forming and keeping the momentum going for the At Goal & Maintenance SparkTeam!!

Don, Co-Leader of All Health Professionals, Binghamton Area Losers and Laid Off But Staying Strong SparkTeams Report
Very inspiring story! The before and after pictures are extremely powerful! Thanks for inspiring me! Report
Thanks for sharing your experiences with us Angela! Congratulations on reaching and maintaining your goal. It is encouraging to read your story and others about reaching goal and maintaining and the reminder that it's not over once you have reached your goal....you still have to work at maintaining....it is a lifestyle change. Thanks for your encouragement!! Report
Wow! Thanks for sharing your story. It was very inspirational. Report
So proud go call you a teammate and sparkfriend!!!! Thanks for all your support! Report
Wow! Wow! Wow! You look amazing!!!!! Report
Thank you for being such a wonderful inspiration to other people! It is great that you lost the weight and became a so physically fit to participate in extreme sports! You are a great role model for other women at there trying to become physical fit and mentally fit! Good luck on your future kayaking trips! Report
I can vouch for the change in focus as being a major hurdle in the transition to weight maintenance. Three years ago I lost 70 pounds, only to regain 50 of it. I'm now well on my way back to a healthy BMI (30 pounds gone, 20 to go!). I am so glad that there is a team that is oriented on the transition to maintenance and members like Angela who are not only determined to be in the 5% who keep it off but are working with other team members to share their support and insights as they work on maintenance. I'm looking forward to joining this team, hopefully close the end of this year! Report
I love that you weigh daily, since some people talk about how they throw away the scale and then wonder why when their clothes get "tight" that they have packed back on 15#. So, daily weight and CORRECTING is the right way to go and you have certainly proved that. Report
Wow! You are amazing and an inspiration. Maintaining can sometimes be harder than the actual weight loss Report
Thanks for sharing your remarkable story and congradulations on keeping the weight off for three years!! I have lost and gained weight over the years and this time I am determined to be DONE with the "rhythm method of girth control" . I am still about 12 pounds from my goal weight but after reading your article I think I may join the "At Goal and Maintaining and Transition to Maintenance team" to help me keep the weight off. I recently had my annual physical and I weighted one pound LESS than I did last year so I maintained the loss for one year.. next year I want to be at least the same weight,if not at my goal.
Thanks for the very inspirational story. Report
you motivate me Report
There is hope that I get to the top of my mountain. I feel like my foot is stuck at the bottom!
Thank you for your story, it helps. Report
what an inspiration! Report
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