Post Weight Loss: Now What?

So you lost the weight. Now what? Here’s how to live your life post weight loss.

Image title I embarked upon a 70-pound weight loss journey in the course of 12 months, via running and eating clean, nutritious food. I have now been maintaining that weight loss for over a year. Post weight loss, my journey continues. It did not stop once I reached my goal weight. In fact, at times, I feel I struggle even MORE to maintain my weight loss than I did when trying to lose the weight. When I got to my goal weight, I kept waiting; waiting for a moment when the trumpets would sound, with me running through a grassy meadow filled with flowers and butterflies, my arms held high in TRIUMPH, feeling like a WARRIOR, throwing my 70-pound weight loss in the dirt and burying it there forever. But, as I slowly came to realize, that kind of a movie-like happy ending wasn’t going to happen. There is no end to any weight loss journey, you see. It is a CONTINUOUS learning and growing process! As the days, weeks, and months pass, I continue to learn more about myself: my health decisions, my physical and nutritional limitations, and my likes and dislikes with regard to fitness and food. For me, maintenance is a challenge. It is spending hours on the pavement and in the gym, all while balancing it with work, family, and my own happiness. Herein lies the struggle! I wish I had realized that earlier on in my weight loss journey. So I present you with the top five things you should consider when you get to YOUR weight loss goal.

5 Questions to Consider Post Weight Loss

1. What’s your maintenance eating-plan look like?

Now that I’ve reached my goal weight, I take a mindful eating approach to food. This is a big change for me because, to lose the weight, I counted calories. At times, I still struggle with this approach, but it is the approach I know that I can live with for the rest of my life. I also have decided to become a flexitarian. While I was losing the weight, I went vegetarian, but feel that completely restricting myself from any food group OR food item(s) will not work for me long-term, so I’m allowing meat back into my life, as long as it is pasture raised and/or organic, and in controlled portions.

2. How can I allow treats and rewards into my life without going overboard?

Now that I am no longer dieting, I wanted to work treats back into my life, but was scared to because I wasn’t quite sure if I could trust myself. Here’s what I have come to realize: I workout hard, and I eat clean, whole foods. I DESERVE a treat periodically! For goodness sake, I am a HUMAN! If I want a glass of wine with dinner on a Friday night, or a piece of cake at lunch to celebrate a coworker’s birthday, then I am NOT going to sweat bullets and refuse them thinking about what they will do to my waistline. I am going to enjoy those moments! I have changed my ability of knowing when to stop. I now know when I have had enough, or to just allow a small portion… JUST ENOUGH to tame the cravings, but not enough to derail me. I have also learned a new form of “treating” myself, and that is with shopping for clothes. Every now and again, if I find myself falling into a slump, I treat myself with a new clothes item! When I look in that dressing room mirror and am happy to fit into something I LOVE, and feel CONFIDENT wearing that item, I am quickly reminded WHY I am doing this, and it is a REWARD for it all. It is the perfect BOOST! I also “treat” myself with workout-related gear, such as new running shoes or running clothes, and bigger splurges on my birthday or around the holidays, with items like an iPod shuffle, a Garmin GPS watch, or signing up for a destination race! I really love treating myself to things like a massage, a manicure, or a book I’ve wanted to read too. I’ve learned that “treats” don’t have to be with just food!

3. What should my workout regimen look like long-term?

To lose the weight, I ran… A LOT. In the past two years, I have run nine half marathons and one full marathon, along with other various 5Ks and 10Ks! I eventually got to a point where I felt over trained and TIRED. I decided that I needed to adjust my workout patterns to accommodate for a lifestyle of healthy living that was more manageable for me. So I lowered my mileage to around 15 to 20 miles of running a week. I found that this was the optimal amount to allow me to maintain my work-life balance. I tone things down in the wintertime, when it is very cold outside. I use that time of the year to do more CrossFit and Spinning, experiment with new types of exercise, and have dubbed it my off-season for running. Once spring hits, I gear back up in mileage, tone down in CrossFit and Spinning, and sign up for a fall race to have a goal to work toward during the summer.

4. How should I hold myself accountable long-term?

I want to know where I stand weight-wise, but I don’t want my weight to constantly be in the back of my mind like it was when I was trying to lose it. I used to weigh myself every day. I struggled with this once I reached my goal weight. There were times when I actually put the scale in a box under my bed, thinking I didn’t need to do that to myself anymore, but I eventually decided that it is a way for me to check in with myself and hold myself accountable for my food and exercise choices throughout the week. I was OK with periodic check-ins. So now, I weigh myself on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I allow for my weight to be within a three-pound range. As long as my weight is within that range, I know I am doing OK. If it is above (or below) the range, I assess my week and think of my current situation. I find things that may be letting me lose or gain too mush (i.e. stress eating, not eating enough, a lack of sleep, exercising too much or not enough, etc.), and I quickly modify those actions to get back on track for the next week. I find that this is what works best for me.

5. How do I accept the things I cannot change?

I’ve come to realize that I will never be a supermodel. I’ve learned to accept myself just the way I am, stretch marks, extra skin and all. I’ve thought about getting a tummy tuck to get rid of the excess skin that is preventing me from having ROCK HARD abs, or to never wear shorts out in public so the extra skin on my legs doesn’t show, but instead, I’ve decided to be PROUD of those things. Those are my battle scars! Those are the little things on my body that remind me of how far I’ve come. Recently, I got a PR in the half marathon distance, and my husband snapped a really neat photo of me during the race. My leg was hitting the ground, and you could see the extra skin shooting around my quad, not knowing where to go, bouncing around like JELL-O. I was smiling while I showed the picture to my daughter, so happy to have reached my goal! She said, “Mom, did you know you have all this extra skin on your legs?” I replied, “Yes, Honey.” She asked why I don’t wear longer shorts or try to hide it and I told her, “I’m proud of that skin! It reminds me that I lost 70 pounds! It’s just a part of me now. I’m not going to let it stop me from being ME.” And in that very moment, that’s when I realized that I had FINALLY accepted the things I cannot change. Sure, periodically I relapse and need to be snapped back to reality (and thank goodness I have a supportive husband who helps me with those reality checks!), but I want you to remember to always focus on the GOOD things, and LET GO of the things you cannot control. Learn to love yourself, EVERY DAY. If you remember nothing else from this post, PLEASE, just remember that. I hope these 5 questions have given you something to think about in your own weight loss journey. These are the things I have chosen to focus on in mine. Your focuses may be different, and that’s OK, because no two journeys are exactly the same. I ask you to consider what your approach to diet and exercise will be once you reach your goal weight. Come up with the answers to these five questions NOW. Have an action plan in place for what you’re going to do post weight loss. Then, test it out, and come up with alternate solutions if something’s not working.
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