Monday, February 13, 2012

Thinking Beyond the Diet

Very early on, when I started my diet "this time" (as opposed to my countless other diets over the decades), I became aware of the concept of maintenance, thanks in part to Lynn.  I'd stumbled upon her blog, saw that she had lost a lot of weight...and was keeping it off.  It was a light bulb moment for me - oh, people actually go on a diet, lose weight and STAY thin?  What a concept!  Sounds a bit silly, but truly, how many times have you gone on a diet with a goal weight in mind?  And changed your eating habits just until you hit that goal weight?  Yeah, I think we've all done that.

Because of that light bulb moment, I kept the idea of maintenance in mind the entire time I was losing weight.  I tried to think about how I was going to keep the weight off - and as my diet evolved over the months and months that it took me to lose 100 pounds, I constantly asked myself  "am I going to be able to keep eating like this?" after I was "done" with the diet.  If I honestly didn't think it was something I could keep up, I looked for alternatives.  And that's how I eventually stumbled into the way I eat now...I tried out different things, I read tons of successful bloggers and how they were eating, and I even *gasp* read a few books along the way.

These are some of the lifestyle changes that I made as I lost the weight and consider them my "standards" now:

Eat breakfast.  I never used to do that.  Over time, I switched from eating no breakfast, to eating a Yoplait fat-free yogurt with Kashi cereal, to now eating Greek yogurt with either fresh fruit or dried cranberries and some homemade granola.   While I loved the Yoplait back then, I can't even stand the smell now - it's too artificial and sweet to me.  But the first few times I tried Greek yogurt?  Yuck.  It was too sour for me.  Now, I love it.  Tastes change, and as I ate less and less processed food, I ended up not liking the chemical taste that comes with so much of the diet foods. 

I don't eat fast food anymore - haven't had McDonalds or Taco Bell (my old mainstays) in years.  Seriously!  I keep an emergency Clif Bar and a couple 100-calorie bags of almonds in my purse, in case I happen to be out and lunch is delayed, but I rarely have to break into my stash because I try to plan my meals, even on busy days.  I know things can get away from us, and that seems to be the excuse I see when dieters end up "having" to do a fast-food drive thru, but really - aren't you worth the extra few minutes to either fix yourself something healthy (it doesn't have to be involved...lord knows, I'm the queen of simple when it comes to meals) or have a little something (like the nuts or a bar) to tide yourself over until you CAN eat a regular meal?

When you are having something (usually a treat) where you can choose the size, always go for the small.  On the rare occasion that I get an ice cream, I order a small.  EVEN THOUGH my mind tries to trick me by saying "you hardly ever get ice cream...go for the double" - I get a small.  Same goes for something (somewhat) healthy, like a smoothie.  Jenny and I used to run for smoothies, and after 4 or 5 miles, that large smoothie had my name all over it!  But a small is what I ordered, bargaining with myself that I could order something else if I was still hungry afterward.  Which, of course, I wasn't.  It's not always an easy thing to order the small, but in the end, I'm usually glad I did.

The last thing that I have to work hard at doing is splitting my meals and sharing my treats.  I'm a first-born and don't share well.  This is not a natural concept for me, STILL.  But by sharing some tortilla chips with Jeff at Chipolte, say, means that I can have a few without going overboard.  Same for the burger and fries that we routinely split on Friday nights...I get to eat something that is definitely more on the decadent side without blowing my maintenance to smithereens.  Same for desserts - while it's rare that we have anything other than frozen yogurt, if we do order a dessert, it's always split.  And as for that frozen yogurt...heck no, I don't split that!  I am, however, working hard to make sure I can still see the sides of the cup after I've filled it...those self-serves places are a blessing and a curse!

I'm not a professional dieter, I just play one on the internets.  What works for me may not work for you.  However, this IS working for me, and if you are looking to make some permanent changes in your weight, why not give it a try...after all, what do you have to lose?

42 comments:

  1. I find this very useful tips Shelley and useful to a lot of us.

    I have always eaten breakfast, Mom made me eat it :) and I kept doing it when I was grown up and had my own house :)

    I don't like fast food that much, never have actually although I do eat it sometimes but if it's twice a year, it's a lot.

    What I've noticed during the years I read blog is that portion sizes in the US are usually much bigger than here in Holland although over the years they become bigger too. When I go out for dinner I don't split but I have the rule I can either have a starter or a dessert, not both. That is when it's not a menu we are having.

    Thanks for sharing, very useful and something to keep in mind.

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    1. For sure, restaurant portion sizes are ridiculously large. Sorry to hear that it's spreading (literally) to Holland!

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    2. Overweight is getting a bigger and bigger problem here. The people I know (family, friends, co-workers) there are more people that have overweight (including myself) than those that haven't. Even the government and health organizations are getting worried about it.

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  2. yep.
    it is 10000% that line of what works for YOU may not work for me.
    and it's workworkwork to find what does for us individually and SO worth it.

    xo

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  3. I'm coming up on my goal weight (5 pounds away!) and while it has taken me 2 1/2 years to lose the first 95 pounds, I suspect that maintaining that loss is where the REAL work begins. I like your suggestions, thanks for taking the time to write them down here. (And your "I just play one on the internets" bit at the end had me laughing over my tea this morning.) :)

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    1. Don't get me wrong, it's definitely work to lose the weight (as you've seen, and congrats on losing 95 pounds!), but you have to be pretty vigilant about maintenance or you'll be back to having to lose weight again. Not fun.

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  4. It's fine to do drastic things to lose weight but if you can't maintain that, what is the point? I truly believe that those who work at what they will do in maintenance even while still trying to lose weight are those who are successful at maintenance. Great post Shelley!

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  5. I never was a yogurt fan at all and now am loving Greek yogurt!

    As a yo-yo dieter, I wish I had read this post YEARS ago.

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  6. I enjoyed this post. I am just starting my journey and I like the concept of keeping what I can sustain down the line in the back of my mind when I am making choices now, though as you said what I might be able to live with later could very well change from what I think I could live with now too.

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  7. You share your Chipotle chips? What a concept. As a first born as well, I need to try sharing more often.

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  8. Thoughts of maintenance are constantly swirling around in my mind. I hope I can do as well as you when I finally get there. Working on those thoughts daily. :)

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  9. Great post, Shelley. Wonderful information. I, too, am amazed at how my routine eating has evolved over the years. The old me worshipped at the Altar of Potato and Corn: The Only Vegetables worth knowing. Now, I love and adore all sorts of greenery.

    I love the idea of the small order. Seriously, it's really only the first few bites that are that awesome, anyway.

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  10. Standing up and cheering!!! Love reading this. Love that we had much the same path. I don't know when that concept of changing the way you eat forever got into my head (I think it was there for years and that's why I never STARTED to diet) but it was there from the very start of 'this time.' I remember early on looking longingly at some BIG brownies, and my W.W. friend saying "pretty soon we can have one of those." And I thought to myself, "no, never again will I be able to have one of those."

    Okay, you're more evolved than me, eating greek yogurt without sweeteners. I keep trying to wean myself off...

    And the fast food--yes!! sometimes I am amazed at how I DON'T even think about, much less crave, fast food. Yay for permanent good changes!

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  11. I loved reading this post Shelley! You are living a lifestyle, so you won't ever be done, just living life as healthy as you can.

    And you are correct, doesn't everyone deserve to eat well, and treat themselves well - just a few minutes of planning can mean the difference of eating a grilled chicken salad you prepared vs. a Big Mac at McDonald's.

    At my heaviest? Breakfast was a egg, cheese bacon croissant from Burger King with those little round potatoes, and a large Coke. Lunch was a 20 piece chicken nugget, with two small diet cokes, so they wouldn't think I was eating the whole thing.


    Dinner was usually tacos, or pasta, and on more than one occassion, I may have thrown a 12 inch frozen pizza in after Hannah went to bed. And I wonder how I got fat! :D

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    1. LOLing at the two small diet cokes - at McDonald's, I'd order two egg mcmuffin meals...one with coffee, one with OJ, so it would look like they were for two different people. I'm SURE we fooled 'em, right? ;)

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  12. Yay! Changes do stick - and you are so right, tastes *do* change!

    I have always been a breakfast eater. For me - it was all about the protein. I was a big carb eater and all white carbs.

    John and I share a lot and I am very thankful that he is willing to do that with me. I hate to waste food, so I would eat a large dessert rather than throw it out.

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    1. Well, yeah - you CAN'T throw out dessert! Vegetables, sure...

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  13. These are such great and easy tips! I love hearing about these kinds of things - it helps me formulate my own "plan". :)

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  14. Great tips Shelley!!!

    I like the idea of getting a small. I'm going to add that one to my list of things to do.

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  15. Always order the small is an AWESOME rule! I can't tell you how many times I have gotten a large and wished halfway through that I hadn't.

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  16. This is an awesome post because it shows that, in the end, you listened to yourself...that you got to know yourself better and developed a natural way of eating well, over time, based on your unique requirements and limitations. And that is priceless!

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  17. Whatever you're doing must be working because look at you! :-D

    I also used to never eat breakfast. Weird how we adopt new habits.

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  18. I love your focus on the sustainability of weight loss. I'm such an all-or-nothing person it's a BIG problem!!!

    Deb

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  19. Thanks Shelley! I have lost 95 pounds and have about 20 more to go...and have thought about the maintenance stage since early into the game. About 11 years ago, I lost 80 pounds and gained it back plus 15 more. I want this time to be different and try not to look at this as having an ending. Yes foods can be allowed, but moderation, exercise and not going back to old habits are key. And I still haven't tempted myself with ice cream...I'm afraid it may be a gateway drug!

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    1. I think it's important to know what your personal gateway drug is, and it's ok to avoid it. Why make things harder on yourself?

      Mine is coconut M&Ms. A serving size (to me) is two bags. A day. I haven't had them since last June, I think...I just can't go there with them. Not worth it.

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  20. I liked seeing this all spelled out.

    I too have learned I must eat a healthy breakfast. I almost always succeed at this one.

    I take a greek yogurt or some kind of healthy food with me when I am on the road. Almost always, bc you just never know. Of course I don't always need it. I do also have an emergency food bar in my car just incase I didn't bring any food.

    Splitting/sharing is a good rule of thumb, as is ordering a small when possible. I do this as well.

    I would add another 'tip' here, a topic that was touched on in the other comments. LEARN TO WASTE FOOD. Yea, that sounds bad, after we have all been raised to *not* waste a drop. I sure hate to waste food myself. Really do! But I feel learning to leave some on my plate, or throw out part of something I ordered too much of is so much better than me eating it. I would rather see that food wasted in the trash, than 'utilized' by my WAIST! I do take food home from restaurants to eat the next day though; it's not like I waste a lot of food.

    And some unhealthy things are best utilized by going in the trash from the get go! (we have bought fundraiser dinners that come with a carton of orange drink. My dh is the only one who likes it, so I dump the extras down the drain. Where they do the most good imo!)

    Chrissy

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    1. You make a great point on the wasting food so it doesn't end up on the waist! Love that.

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  21. this was very well written, you sound like a professional.

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  22. All sage advice...and most awesomely something that you practice as well as preach...preach sista, preach.

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  23. Great advice and very similar to things I do too! I hope that means I will be able to maintain when I get to my goal too. I can't remember that last time I had fast food. It just seems so wrong to me now. Isn't eating healthy great?

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  24. Fantastic widsom Shelley!!!! You are a true role model!!! Have a wonderful week.

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  25. love this post.. so sensible and your blog!!!been following for a little while now, and also o the weight loss wagon :P

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  26. I so needed to hear this! Last year I lost 60 pounds of the 100 or so I'd like to lose, and then I gained 15 back over the last few months of 2011, a period where I intended to maintain that 60-pound loss. Clearly, my weight maintenance skills need some work! Fortunately, I am back on track with weight loss and exercise, and I'm starting to wrap my head around the changes I still need to make to avoid regaining the weight I've worked so hard to lose. Your blog has been a big help through this process, and thank you for linking to Lynn's blog. I'm looking forward to delving into her insights as well!

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    1. Expect to lose yourself in Lynn's blog for about a week, but it's well worth the journey!

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  27. Great post, Shelley! I don't share my fro yo either - I once went out with some girls who got ONE DOLLAR worth of fro yo - what the f is the point of that?!

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    1. LOLOL - could they even SEE any yogurt at that point?

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  28. I smiled the whole time I read this post as I was so agreeing with everthing you were saying! I'm fairly new to your blog and am currently working on maintaining my own weight-loss. Sometimes I think it's harder than losing the weight.

    www.joyjourneypaige.blogspot.com

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  29. I KNOW it's harder... maybe because of the expectations and the things we have to tell ourselves to get us though the hard times.... BUT it's all good....
    I pulled my sweet tooth long ago... and knew I can't dip my foot in that pool too often.... not without weight consequences.... lol!
    But it's a great trade off for a lifetime of better health!
    Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours!

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  30. Thanks for this post. I'm going to adopt your plan of always ordering the small when there's a choice--funny, but I'd never heard that advice before and it makes all kinds of sense. Every once of a while I'll see a pink cruiser with a basket when I'm out biking and it always makes me think of you.

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  31. I am definitely going to follow the small indulgence rule from now on. It is a good one!

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  32. I have had this sitting in my tabs for weeks because it is such excellent advice! I do a lot of those already, especially eating breakfast and ordering a small. But I am terrible at sharing, and I always know when I have hit rock bottom on my eating: I order Taco Bell! LOL.

    I am keeping this one in my tabs to link to your interview. I have answers from everyone and will be kicking off the posts next week!

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