A lot of people who lose weight gain some back, I am no exception. There’s even a statistic often quoted that 95% of people gain their weight back, but there may be no real science behind that notion. (Check out the article, “95% Regain Lost Weight. Or Do They?”). However, it’s not a rule that you have to gain it back. What works for someone else may not work for you, but it’s worth it to find your path.
The Journeys program at Cox Monett Hospital helped me get the weight off by structuring my eating, and getting me in the habit of exercising. The program acts as a support structure for weight loss through regular exercise and food accountability. Simply put, if you are eating the recommended foods and following the recommended exercise guidelines, you should lose 1% of your body weight each week. As a participant, and now as an instructor in the program, I can attest to the fact that it works. There are a lot of plans that work for a wide range of people, and usually it comes down to reducing calories and increasing exercise. BUT the means of losing the weight isn’t the real issue as it regards long-term weight loss success.
The real issue is what happens when the structure provided by a program or diet plan is no longer in place. If you lose the weight and go back to eating the old way, and don’t make activity an important part of your life, chances are you are going to gain some, if not all, of your weight back.
They say that if you want to master something, teach it to another person.
The structures I put in place that keep me on track are teaching and competing. They say that if you want to master something, teach it to another person. I find this to be true for me. When I understand something such that I can teach it to another person, I’ve studied it enough that I’ve found more things I can apply to my own life. I became a certified Group Fitness, Spinning, and Pound Instructor, as well as a Personal Trainer. As a personal trainer, I learn something new with every single client I work with. As an instructor with the Journeys program, I work on my goals as the participants do. I report to them how things are going for me, and this keeps me accountable.
I also compete with myself in various ways. It started out with cycling. I remember the first time I went for a ride with a local group we rode 20-25 miles. I thought to myself, “Wow, I can’t believe they ride this far.” Just a few years later, I found myself competing in 100 mile races and even rode with some fellow cyclists across Iowa….Twice! I then moved into triathlon for a bit, ultimately coming to running as my current go-to for motivation. What I like about running is that there is little needed to get going on a simple run. There is always another level for me to get to either in speed or distance. Since I started running regularly about five years ago, I have run 9 races of marathon distance or longer, and many shorter ones. My next big goal being to run a 50 mile trail race.
I still have my struggles.
I have kept the majority of my weight off for over seven years now. I am literally the poster child for Journeys with my photo on the brochures. I still have my struggles. I don’t have it “handled”, and may always have that to some extent. I still have that voice in my head that says, “Mmmmm, cheesecake sounds good”, or “go ahead, have a dinner roll, it won’t kill you.” In all honesty it’s a bit of a constant battle, and my success varies. I will go through periods when I give in to less healthy eating habits, though still healthier than my past (it’s all relative). What pulls me back and keeps me on track overall is having that constant reminder that others look to me for support. It also helps when I have a race on my calendar. The closer it gets to race day, the more that I’m apt to adhere to a healthier diet because I want to be successful in whatever goal I am pursuing.
…the “struggle” seems way less important
Whatever my struggles, it is worth it to me. My clothes fit better. I have way more energy. I can walk up a flight of stairs without being winded. There is literally no activity that is off the table for me! If I want to climb a mountain, I now see it as a matter of getting proper education, not physical ability. I can run a marathon! It’s not at all easy, but how cool is that? Given my past, I still find that kind of amazing when I really stop to think about it. When I take the time to stop and recognize how much this transformation had added to my quality of life, the “struggle” seems way less important.
I attribute my long-term success primarily to one thing. It’s really the one thing that I see different between those that keep it off, and those who gain most if not all of it back. Since I started Journeys, I have continued to make exercise a priority in my life. I don’t always work out hard, but I always work out in some form at least five days a week. Even though I have periods where my eating swings a bit between more and less healthy, eventually my commitment to results through exercise pulls my eating back in line.
My formula for long-term weight loss success:
- Find an eating plan, or design one, that teaches you portion control and make healthy food choices.
- Develop an exercise routine, at least three days a week.
- Set up your world for success by letting everyone know what you are up to, and how to support you. You may even want to minimize time with those who really won’t support your efforts.
- Seek out others who are into what you’re up to. Become their cheerleader and they will become yours. Be an example, teach someone how they too can be successful.
- Be kind to yourself. If you’ve gotten off track, take that next single step that’s going to help you get back, and let those around you know it.
- Have exercise goals that encourage you to improve. Compete with your previous self to look for accomplishments.
- Let your success feed your self-confidence.
- Make exercise a priority in your life, and KEEP SHOWING UP!