This question came from Kelly on facebook:
“I’d be interested to see what your weekly routine/diet was like when you were losing weight and how that’s changed now that you’re maintaining. I know many people kind of go through phases with eating where they grow and change, and same with working out. It’s interesting the things we discover about ourselves on the journey.”
Thank you, Kelly, for this fantastic question because maintenance was definitely not what I expected.
The effort I put in to lose weight and the effort I put in to maintain it are virtually the same. That totally sucks, right? Unfortunately, you have to work just as hard to stay there as you did to get there. If you do it the right way (without the help of pills, fad diets, shots, or any other craziness) it won’t seem like “work” after a while; it will just be part of your lifestyle. I can’t stress this enough. Resist any quick fixes. The reason they don’t work is they are not sustainable forever. Unless you only want to be really hot for a short period of time, you’re totally wasting the effort.
I hit my goal weight in 2005. While it does take the same amount of effort, my exercise and nutrition have definitely evolved over the years as I learned more and really tuned in to my body to find what worked for me.
I lost my weight by running using C25K. Running was very good to me and all the people telling me how bad it was for me (knees and other injuries) fueled me to want to become a marathoner. (I SO hate when people tell me something I’m doing is bad that’s working for me. It makes me want to do it and do it well and be all HA! Take that doubter!) I didn’t become a marathoner. In fact, a 5k is still the only race I’ve ever ran. But, running did what I needed it to do for me at that time. I not only lost weight, but for the first time in my life I felt like an athlete! That was the push I needed to keep going.
I ran 3-4 times a week, usually about 3 miles each time. That was ALL I was doing as far as exercise and that was definitely a mistake. If I had it to do over again, I would most definitely have incorporated strength training. Sure, I was stoked to fit into a size 4, but there was still flab everywhere. Yes, flab! In a size 4 body. What the what? I ran in 20 degree weather and ate 2 pizza slices instead of 6 for this? Oh, hell no!
When I finally started doing strength training, I did what a lot of women do – I went for the small weights. I didn’t have the confidence in myself to reach for anything heavy. Oh, how silly that was! Now, I love to see how much I can lift and I’m totally over the eye rolls I still sometimes get from the guys when I go to the weight rack. I’ve been beside a guy and looked over and was actually lifting MORE than him. I can’t think of a time I felt more kick ass than that! I also like to lift with my hubby who pushes me to go heavier than I could ever imagine. I’m able to push over 200 pounds on the leg press. That’s pretty freaking incredible. I switch up weight routines, but the one thing that never changes is that I lift as heavy as I can. If I don’t leave with my muscles twitching, I don’t feel like I’ve went hard enough. 😉
As far as cardio, I don’t run anymore. I’m just not that into it now. One thing I’ve learned about myself is that if my workout is something I don’t enjoy, I’ll dread it. If I dread it, eventually I’ll skip it. And then skip it again. Next thing you know, I’m riding the couch and I don’t know if you know this, but that doesn’t burn many calories. That’s not cool. My cardio of choice is currently spin. I’ve found it makes a tremendous difference in the shape of my legs. It’s more interval cardio, rather than steady state which is much more beneficial. (You probably already know, but I’ll just throw this out there: interval is bringing your heart rate up, then back down over and over. Your body has to work to recover, then you take it right back up. Steady state is keeping your heart rate steady for a certain period of time, like running on the treadmill at a 6.0 for 30 minutes.) I also like to get to know the instructors. They push the people they know harder. Try having an instructor yell your name out in the middle of a crowded class. Yeah, you’ll pretty much work your butt off (um, literally)!
As far as food, I knew myself well enough to know that if I forbid any food, I would fail. So I practiced portion control. I was still eating the EXACT same thing I always had, but I was weighing and measuring everything religiously. I had a bad, bad case of portion distortion. I had previously been eating 2 and sometimes 3 servings of something thinking it was only one. Getting that in check was a wake up call and a real challenge. I was the girl who was thinking about a second helping before I even finished the first. That was probably the biggest struggle for me.
I’ve tweaked my diet over the years. I recently stopped eating meat. I eat a lot of fruits and veggies. I still eat pizza and Diet Coke. Portion control really is the biggest thing here. If I catch my weight going up, I track my food very carefully for a couple of weeks to get myself back under control.
It was actually easier to push myself when I was losing weight because I was working toward something. Now I have to work just to be awesome. But, most days it’s totally worth it.