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A Step Forwards or a Step Back?

November 10, 2011

Just over two years ago I was coming to the end of a 50lb weight-loss journey*, and then I asked myself “what now?” I’d been losing weight steadily for about 15 months and actually mostly enjoyed the experience. I give you permission to come and slap me if you want, but I never had a considerable gain during that time, even over Christmas or holidays, just a steady, relentless downward trend. Transitioning to maintenance and becoming a “normal” non-dieting woman was a very scary proposition.

* I realise that “weight-loss journey” is an incredibly cheesy turn of phrase, but I’ve been sitting here for a while trying to think of something more sophisticated and stylish, but I can’t … I guess I’m not sophisticated and stylish!

I was also excited about living in my new body and exploring new foods that had become taboo while I was doing Weight Watchers. Actually, nothing is meant to be off limits with Weight Watchers, but I had restricted myself and avoided certain foods. I started experimenting with higher fat foods like nuts, seeds, avocados and oils, as well as more “treat” foods like chocolate and cake. For the first few months I continued to get weighed at Weight Watchers every few weeks to make sure I was on track, but I felt that although it was a massive support for losing weight it wasn’t as useful for maintenance. The meetings are all about hints and tips for weight loss, but I wanted to learn how to transition to normality.

Through reading blogs and books like How Not to Get Fat, Intuitive Eating and I Can Make You Thin I decided that a healthy diet full of the foods that I truly love was the way to go. This approach has mostly worked for me and I think I stayed pretty close to my goal weight for a long time, although I haven’t weighed myself regularly.

However, this year I have seen a slow creep of weight gain, which I talked about in this post. Ironically I think at least part of this creep is to do with taking up running because it’s increased my appetite and I’ve been scared of under-fuelling, leading to over-fuelling. Also, October has been an indulgent month which has left me feeling bloated and lacking in self-confidence.

I’ve been in this position before. I lost a lot of weight when I was at high school, but then steadily put it back on at university and rapidly gained when I started a stressful job. I never tackled it head-on and I ended up obese again. I’m not suggesting that I’m heading on that road again, but it’s in the back of my mind and I’m determined to maintain a healthy weight.

So, after quite a lot of soul searching I’ve decided to go back to a tried and tested method – calorie counting and regular weigh-ins. It’s not a decision that I’ve taken lightly because my philosophy over the past year or so has been to avoid going back to those days. However, after nearly two weeks of tracking my food I realise that I’d lost track of how much I was eating, and although I’d been eating mostly healthy food, I’d been having too much of it.

My diet hasn’t changed much since I’ve been counting and most importantly I’ve still found room for cake! For the most part I haven’t been hungry and because my sugar intake has gone down my cravings have subsided. I also feel like my energy levels have increased, which might also be a consequence of getting my iron levels back to normal.

I’m not comfortable talking numbers on the blog, but I do have a goal in mind. I can assure you that I’m taking a sensible and steady approach and I have no intention of losing a ton of weight … mainly because I don’t want to have to replace my whole wardrobe!

To answer the question I asked in the post title – I’m looking at this as all part of the process of maintaining a large weight loss over a long period of time, and trying not to view it as a step backwards.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. November 10, 2011 5:23 pm

    I think that you are having a sensible approach. I put on weight when I was training for the marathon in the same way- I was more worried about being underfuelled (plus I was tracking my calories but I think the website I use thinks I need more than I do) but I think you are right that a diet of foods you like do make you feel better. So good luck with it.

  2. November 10, 2011 7:16 pm

    I think your approach is perfect! I think training fro a race does increase your appetite and it’s natural that you would put on weight. I think when it comes to loosing a little extra weight that it is best not to be restrictive and eat foods which are wholesome, nutritious and foods which you love.

  3. November 10, 2011 8:11 pm

    I think neither forwards nor backwards but rather sideways. YOu have identified your upper limit of your weight range by gauging how your clothes fit and are taking steps to remedy it. I think its sensible 🙂

  4. November 10, 2011 8:34 pm

    I think as long as you are sensible with your goals you ahve a great plan. Wish you all the best. I think intutive eating is a hard thing to do. I wish you all the best.

  5. November 10, 2011 9:08 pm

    Ah, I empathise a lot. Blog-reading ‘legalised’ a lot of foods for me, but as I struggle with portion control and not being ‘accountable’ for things, I let my eyeballing of portion sizes get out of control too. I used to calorie count religiously, but lost control of that when I started running, ironically, because my hunger is out of control whether I run or not and I succumb to the over-fuelling problem every single day. But the confusing thing is that according to calorie-counting websites I should be able to eat a ridiculous amount and still stay slim, yet I keep on gaining. I don’t want to give up running, because then I’m depressed and eat even more, but I’m sick of getting bigger and bigger.

    It’s hard not to want all of the yummy treats you see thinner people around you enjoying, but I suppose I have to choose and I can’t have everything.

    Happy to hear that you’re getting your mojo back with food and your weight (not that you could see a gain there anyway!)

    xxx

  6. November 10, 2011 9:29 pm

    I lost a ton of weight (5 stones worth) over the course of 3 years and hit my ‘goal’ weight back in 2008.

    Since then I’ve maintained nicely……. by maintaining I don’t mean seeing the same numbers day in, day out, week in, week out, on the scale.

    I’ve set myself a range of what I consider ‘acceptable’. When I go over the top of that range (as I have recently) I then take action to get things back under control again.

    For me, the secret of ‘successful maintaining’ is recognising that the upper limit has been breached and doing something about it.

    That and all the emotional stuff that goes with it…….

    Simples.

    :p x

  7. November 11, 2011 2:55 am

    I’m in a similar place – it’s difficult once you’re running to know if you’re over or under fuelling, and as such you end up either eating too much or eating too little! I’ve gained weight since running too and just can’t seem to find the “magic” number or formula of how much I should eat now.
    Seems losing weight was so much easier when all I did was walking as exercise or the occasional gym class!!

  8. November 11, 2011 12:40 pm

    Hi Sarah! I’m a lifetime member of Weight Watchers. I also lost 50 pounds 23 years ago. I’ve had times since then when I’ve gone up but I’ve been able to mostly maintain all of that time. If you feel yourself gaining, my suggestion would be to go back to regular meetings. Tell your leader that you want to hear more about how to maintain your loss. I was a leader for 15 years and I would do my best to tailor the meetings to the needs of the members. I still attend a meeting each week. It helps keep me focus and if I feel I am getting off track it helps to get me right back on. Best of luck and you’ve done a great job so far. Keep it up and Keep it off!!

  9. November 11, 2011 4:17 pm

    I think health and wellness are all about constantly re-assessing where we’re at, and adjusting! That’s what you’re doing, and it sounds like you’re pretty in touch with the process you’ve gone through, and where you want to go–you go girl!

  10. November 12, 2011 4:45 am

    I think this is totally reasonable and many of not most people experience slight weight fluctuations in their lives, but it’s great to recognize it at an early stage and take responsible measures to curtail it. Plus, you know what works for you so you don’t have to experiment to find the right solution!

  11. November 13, 2011 6:46 pm

    I’m in a similar position to you right now, I’ve put on (what feels to me like) quite a bit of weight in the last month and I’m now feeling a bit uncomfortable with myself. I’ve decided to go back to a sort of rough estimate sort of calorie counting to make sure that I’m not eating to much!
    I think you have a fantastic attitude towards this and I hope I can approach it in the same way 🙂
    I hope you had a great weekend!

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