My 10 year Weight Loss Anniversary!! The years in review.
As I enter my 10th year of weight loss maintenance, I feel compelled to share now more than ever.
First off, let me celebrate this milestone!! Wahoo, I did it!! I am NOT a statistic. I once heard that over 90% of people who go through extreme weight loss, regain it within a few years (regaining within the first year is most common). The odds of me keeping this weight off in its entirety were so slim. So I am happy to celebrate this milestone because I have earned it. While I wouldn't change this feeling for the WORLD, this journey has come with its fair set of challenges. I wanted to share my reflection.
Overcoming Addiction: Losing weight was the easy part - keeping it off has been the biggest hurdle. Food is an addiction. The worst of all addictions because your "substance" is easily accessible and cheap. For my whole life I was obese and I had a food addiction. Unfortunately, that doesn't automatically go away when you lose weight. It's a daily struggle. For 3,650 days since I lost the weight, I have struggled with food. I hate to break it to you, this hasn’t ended… and honestly, I don’t know if it ever will. I have to constantly remind myself (and be okay with the fact) that I am a recovering food addict. I think if you approach this journey knowing and accepting this, it makes things much clearer for you.
The CONSTANT Yo-Yo: While I haven't gained all the weight back, I have definitely struggled with the yo-yo. I go up/down about 10lbs each year. For those who follow me, you've probably seen this cycle in my semi-annual "50/60/70 Day Challenge" - when I proclaim it's time to whip myself back into shape LOL. Honestly speaking though, it is a constant cycle. Thankfully, it has never gone higher than the 10lbs, but I can easily see how it could! After being obese my entire life, inevitably, I slip back into my old ways. It's normal. These behaviours are almost too "normal" that you sometimes don't notice until it's too late. Being present and mindful each day has helped me here. The constant "check-ins" with myself and being mentally aware have helped me to keep my health a priority over the years.
The need to re-wire my thoughts: This was probably THE biggest struggle. Mass marketing had completely brainwashed me and took a toll on my journey. Between low-carb/low-fat diets, weight loss pills, going Paleo, meal replacements, being gluten-free/dairy free, the Keto diet, detoxes (incl. teas), waist trainers, and all-natural/raw food diets, there have been A LOT over the years. I've tried the majority of these and it took some serious reflection to realise that for me, it was all nonsense. These "extremes" in my journey were not sustainable. That's not to say I can't incorporate some aspects into my regimen (i.e. raw foods are always a good thing in my eyes) - but to fully commit my life to any of these trends was just setting myself up for failure. This was a process to get through. A long and agonizing (and expensive) process. So please, be mindful of what's "in" and simply ask yourself, "What can I commit to for the next 20, 30, or 40 years?" Only then, when you are honest with yourself, can you prepare for a lifetime of maintenance.
Finding my Balance: Listen, I'm an extreme person by nature. I go big or go home… always. Lol. That means, you tell me to that I need to go to the gym to lose weight? I'll go 10 times a week. Or, tell me I need to eat well to lose weight, I won't touch junk food for 100 days (extreme.. remember?). Finding my balance with this process took me a solid 7 years. It wasn’t until 3 years ago that I reflected and realized that this way of life isn't sustainable. If I want to avoid obesity forever, I had to change. So, I did. I built balance into my plan. A treat meal regularly… the gym 3-4 times per week max… and allowing myself to just LIVE from time to time. This was a mental struggle because I feared becoming too lenient would result in falling off the wagon. However, I'm well on my way and realise it's a marathon and not a sprint. As you approach this journey, I encourage you to consciously build balance into your routine and keep it top of mind.
Let's move on to the GREATNESS. Because even though the struggles are real, the greatness that comes with this lifestyle is endless.
My Health: The last 10 years have been amazing health-wise. I go to the doctor and things are seamless. For 10 years I have been pegged as "perfectly healthy." Do you know how good that feels? Especially coming from where I come from. I am aware this is largely due to my blessings, but a big contributor is the way I live my life. I am healthy! That feeling is indescribable. Especially when I used to dread going to the doctor and being told (again) that I needed to watch the weight. Oh, and always being handed one of those patronising "Time to get healthy" pamphlets to review.
The Embarrassment - It's gone: For the last 10 years, I haven't had to be embarrassed by my size. I can ride a rollercoaster without worrying if I'll fit in the seat. I can go into a store confidently knowing they'll have my size. I can wear a FREAKING BIKINI (something I never thought possible.) I have the stamina and confidence to run somewhere if I'm late. I can participate in recreational sports without worrying how my endurance will hold up. The embarrassing hurdles you have to go through with being overweight (that most will never understand) have completely vanished.
Hair, Skin, and Nails: I am now acne-free, I couldn't say that growing up. I suffered with teenage acne and adult acne. When I switched my diet for good, I never looked back. Also, my nails and hair are always thriving.
Courage: This is probably where I’ve seen the biggest change. Now, if I ever feel the least bit unhappy, I make the changes necessary to rectify. Losing the weight (and keeping it off) has helped me to see that I can do the "impossible." So to say that this weight loss has changed me for the better is an understatement. My first real "accomplishment" in my adult life was losing that weight. After that, I felt (and continue to feel) invincible. I now set a goal, and I accomplish it without fail. Whether it's buying my condo, excelling in my career, moving abroad, traveling the world, starting a business - I now have the courage to do anything I put my mind to. The accomplishment of losing the weight was the catalyst to how I approach my life today.
You'll see, the process was so much more than 90lbs. While this journey has been a turbulent one, I am thankful for it. Without it, I wouldn't be the woman I am today.
I really hope this helps. My goal was to share with you candidly what you can expect as you approach your weight loss journey and to highlight the things people don't really talk about. While it's been a bit of a rollercoaster, my hope is that you can mentally prepare for the [ahhhh-maaaay-zinnnng] life that awaits!