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?