The topic for this month's AIM: Adventures in Maintenance post is "What's Different This Time?" - and I could be totally flippant and say "well, this time it worked" but you'd all want to smack me, I'm sure. I've been asked this question many, many times since I managed to lose weight, and for the longest time my honest answer was "I don't know" - and I didn't. Quite frankly, I'm not the most introspective person, and when I am, it's usually in the form of a random realization that comes upon me after the fact, if that makes sense.
When I think about what was different this time, in both losing the weight and keeping it off, two words keep coming to mind: willing, and want. When I was dieting, I was willing to experience a bit of hunger between meals. I was willing to eat less, and also to eat different food than what I was used to. I was willing to skip the drive thru. I was willing to drink protein shakes for the first few months in order to get a lot of weight off in the beginning. In short, I became willing to do a lot of things that I'd balked against previously - why? Because of want. I wanted to not be overweight anymore. I wanted to be healthier than I was. I wanted to wear cute clothes that I bought in the regular-sized departments. I wanted to look like a normal-sized person.
Once I realized that I was content with with my new size, I switched over to maintenance. Again, I became willing to do a lot in order to stay at the new size. Because I'd had a lot of experience with losing weight and regaining it, I knew that I had to act differently. I liked the new lifestyle that I had, now that I was a smaller person - I liked having energy to do things, be it an all-day shopping trip, or knowing that I could go for a walk without feeling exhausted after just a short distance. I took the focus off of food...I wanted to stay at my new size more than I wanted to eat certain foods. And when I did eat splurge-type foods, I willingly split them with my husband - this way we still got the experience and enjoyment of going out for something fun to eat, while keeping the caloric intake at a reasonable level for weight maintenance.
I realized that I really had turned a corner with my attitude toward food when I went to California to visit my best friend - previous visits revolved around food - lots of food. But in 2011, we were active, doing some form of exercise just about every day, and we hardly ate out at all. We cooked healthy meals but food wasn't the be-all and end-all that it had been in the past...and we still had a great visit. It was then that I understood that I really was approaching eating, exercising and life in general with a different mindset - one that I suspect naturally thin people utilize on a regular basis. And while I am under no delusions that this is natural for me - hey, you can't undo two decades of an overeater's psyche that quickly - the fact that I was able to do this gave me the confidence that I was on the right track in how I was maintaining my weight loss.