A dear friend of mine who has known me for ages (including when I was heavy) and then, after I lost myexcess weight, lost an incredible amount of weight (while on the Weight Watchers program) herself and has even gone onto become a Weight Watchers instructor, recently sent me an email asking for some help. It seems that even though she had successfully lost all of her excess weight, she was having some difficulties maintaining the weight loss.
My friend wrote in her email that she realized part of the reason for this struggle was that she stopped making herself a priority in her life. My friend not only is a Weight Watchers instructor, but also a great mom, wife and is also involved with several charities. All of these are valid reasons to have focus pulled from one’s life. But as I wrote to my friend, we still must giveourselves attention, as well. Sure, it’s a juggling act (and at times an intense one). But if we don’t make ourselves (and our weight loss maintenance) a priority, we could easily see our weight registering a higher and higher number on the scale. And that doesn’t do us, our spouses, our children, our careers or our important projects any good.
Fact is, everything my friend wrote I could relate to. After taking off over 250 pounds of excess weight myself, I knew (and know) what it’s like to struggle with keeping the weight off. After I initially lost all of my excess weight, I found myself “yo-yo-ing” up and down the scale for a year or two. At one point I even gained back almost 100 pounds of the excess weight that I’d lost. It was at that time that I realized my making myself — and my weight maintanance — a priority was essential. Otherwise I could find myself climging the scales not only back to 450 pounds (my highest recorded weight before my scale broke), but beyond it.
I’m sure many of you can relate to my friend’s (and my) struggle to maintain weight loss. Thus, I decided to share some of my advice that I wrote back to my friend, in hopes that it can help inspire any of you who are struggling to find some balance in life, in order to continue the weight loss success you’ve achieved (or, perhaps, wish to achieve).
First of all, I let my friend know that I could relate to everything she is going through. And I also shared that one thing that came to mind right away was that she and I (and all of us) would always be “works in progress.” I encouraged her (and encourage you) to try and accept that. There’s a certain comfort in knowing that in regard to weight (and everything else in life, for that matter) we never truly reach the “finish line.” That means there are going to be up days and down days (both mood-wise and scale-wise). There is peace in accepting this. And also peace in knowing we can never really “relax” in regard to our food choices, exercise choices, etc.
Yes, this realization can suck a little (I always marvel at friends who have such a healthy sense of food and never worry or overanalyze eating choices like those of us with a dieter’s mentality do). But constantly think about these things we must. Otherwise, we’ll go too far back up the scale.
I reminded my friend she is a thin person now. And the proof of this was realizing that even with all of her family and career-related commitments, she realized she needs to put herself first in some cases (even before her kids) and that she demonstrated that by reaching out to me. A “fat” person would have just keep coasting (in the wrong direction). Instead, like other thin people, my friend realized there needed to be some change right away — before things got too out of hand. I let my friend know those actions are so healthy — and that those actions let me know me that she actually is in control.
My friend also admitted in her email that she was relying too much on fast food. So I reminded her that fast food needed to go bye-bye for the most part. I even went as far as to suggest that she make fries (or whatever she was craving) at home — so at least the ingredients are healthier and wouldn’t potentially harm her health. I also let her know that knowing she had to take the time to make the treat might actually curb her craving.
I also reminded my friend to never think “never.” I let her know that the more I try and cut out a certain tempting food, the more I crave it. Sure, I have several days a week that I choose not to have ice cream. But sometimes on a Saturday afternoon I’ll have a medium frozen yogurt (even with toppings) to help quell the quench.
Finally, I told my friend to remember to focus on the REASONS she wanted to be healthy (and even sexy) in the first place — even beyond her husband and kids. I urged her to think about how good it feels to fit into skinnier clothes… To think about how nice it is to sit in a booth without panicking it will be too tight… To think about how envious everyone on facebook is when seeing your gorgeous pics. That’s right… I encouraged my friend to get a little superficial. Nothing wrong with thinking about the PLUSES to having to battle the bulge on a daily basis. A healthy ego can result in a healthier mindset — and body!
I’m happy to say that my email reply resonated with my friend, who took some of my ideas and used them to give herself as much attention as she was giving other people and commitments in her life. I urge you to do the same. Instead of being sad that we can never “relax” (mentally) in regard to our weight loss and/or maintenance, we should see it as a motivational tool. In other words, let’s own the work — and know that by making the extra efforts we will not only achieve our goals of getting rid of the excess weight, but also finally be able to keep it off permanently.
Do you have any tips to share with my friend (who I’m sure will read this) or with me? I’d love to hear them! Let’s keep the conversation going.