Sunday, May 3, 2015

The post about maintenance



  • This post is going to talk solely about maintenance. I am currently in my third year of maintenance. That in itself is a huge accomplishment for me because in the past I couldn't maintain a lower weight for longer than weeks. I'd always drop 20-30 pounds and gain it right back after I tired of dieting. And that's what I did. I always dieted. I never made permanent lifestyle changes.
  • Before I can talk about maintenance, I have to tell you a bit about my history with obesity. I have been a yo-yo dieter throughout my lifetime. I have spent the majority of my life morbidly obese. I started gaining weight steadily when I was around 7. By the time I was 10, I was morbidly obese. When I was 13, I was admitted into the Eating Disorders clinic at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. I was put on a protein sparing diet (meat and vitamins) and dropped a significant amount of weight just as high school began. I went from being a morbidly obese teenager, to being an obese teen. That diet didn't last long for me but I was able to keep my weight "under control" through my teens by binging and purging. I got caught by my mother and I stopped around the age of 20. I also gained a significant amount of weight once I stopped that behavior.
  • In my late 20's (after spending about 5 years at being well over 300 pounds), I was able to drop over 100 pounds through diet alone. A starvation diet to be exact. It was about 800 calories a day. I dropped all that weight in under a year and I gained over 100 pounds back in record time. And I spent my 30's with my weight fluctuating 30 pounds either side of 300. when I got really big (size 24's were too tight), I'd refuse to step on a scale. I spent most of my adulthood recommitting to a new diet every Monday. And I tried them all. I've paid for diets, I've taken supplements, medication, injections. You name it. I have likely done it. I've spent thousands and thousands of dollars on weight management.
  • Binging has always been my eating method of choice. I'd eat processed carbs until I was so full I couldn't move. Bread, pasta, rice. Anything doughy. That food was comforting for me and I'd eat when I was happy, sad, bored, angry. Basically all the time. So processed carbs? Definitely my down fall. I never met a processed carb I didn't like.
  • Then the summer of 2011 happened and that's when I had my moment of clarity. My visit to the amusement park where I couldn't fit on a ride with my son. I knew I needed to make changes with my weight and my health. I was on 2 blood pressure medications and my birth mother was battling with type 2 diabetes. I wanted to be around for my son. 
  • So my doctor referred me for bariatric surgery and a government funded diet. Dr. Poon's Diet Clinic called me within a week and I figured I had nothing to lose by giving it a try while I waited for my referral for bariatric surgery to go through. I ended up following Dr. Poon's diet and I lost over 130 pounds in 15 months. I never ended up going to the information session for bariatric surgery. When I first started Dr. Poon's diet I was doubtful I would be successful because it was very low carb, and a no processed carbs or refined sugar diet. But the longer I stayed away from the carbs and sugar, the easier it became. And the results were consistent. I lost an average of 8.5 pounds a month. 
  • When I was approaching maintenance I began to panic. Dr. Poon's maintenance plan allowed for grains and processed carbs again. Knowing my binging past, I didn't think that bringing those foods back into my life would be beneficial for me. I thought they would be more of a temptation than anything else. That's when I started looking into alternative lifestyles. I followed the blogs of a few women who were following a Paleo/Primal lifestyle and decided to research them more. I ended up choosing the Paleo lifestyle.
  • I run. A lot. I started running when I weighed 230 pounds. One of the things I loved about Dr. Poon's diet was that there was no calorie counting or measuring. Especially after I started running. I just always ate till I was full. Lean protein and leafy greens were pretty much unlimited.I do the same thing now while following Paleo. That is a freedom with food I don't ever recall having. I rarely weigh myself but I know if I've been indulging in too much wine, nuts, or fruit by how my clothes fit. If things don't feel right, I give up the fruit, wine and nuts till I feel "normal" again. Usually a couple weeks. I have worn the same clothing size since December 2012.
  • Maintenance is hard. I was at a gathering last night and was talking about maintenance to a group of women. They were surprised when I said that the hardest part of weight loss is maintenance. I've lost and gained hundreds of pounds throughout my lifetime. I've no problem losing weight. It's keeping it off that's always been the struggle. And it wasn't till I figured out that I simply had to permanently change my lifestyle and cut certain foods out of my life that I have been successful at it. 
  • Weight loss is inspiring. You see regular changes in your body and that's exciting and motivating. It's incentive. I still have incentive, but it's not as spectacular. My incentive now is to never again look like I used to. And I work twice as hard to maintain my results. I run 5 days a week, I bike 2x per week, I do yoga 3x per week and strengthening exercises daily. I still eat a restrictive diet. And I plan. There is always planning and scheduling so I can get all my fitness and meal prep in. Because I have a very busy life outside of maintenance. 
  • The media always focuses on weight loss with shows like The Biggest Loser and Extreme Weight Loss. Many of us can lose weight, no problem. It's keeping it off that baffles. That is where the media focus should be. The daily work that I put in to maintaining my weight loss is all consuming. It's exhausting, it's frustrating, it's necessary. Because my alternative is grim. I made a promise to myself and my son. I'll not go back to weighing 300+ pounds. I only truly started living 3 years ago. So even if I never look different than I do right at this moment, the life I live now is enough incentive. Living life is my motivation.

The left pic is me in the mid 90's. That's me at my heaviest. I probably weighed
about 330 pounds. That jacket was a size 3x and I couldn't button it. The right
pic is of me on April 1, 2015.

7 comments:

  1. These are the key words " permanent lifestyle changes. "

    Well Done

    All the best Jan

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love this post, Leigh! It is hard. I've read that our fat cells have their own endocrine system. Between that, hormonal cell signaling, and my slippery slope thinking, I hear you on how hard it is.
    I'm 3 years, 3 months into weight maintenance after 40 years of yo-yo dieting. Thank you for sharing your history and your story. It will help others who will go down the same path.

    Onward. Keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am privileged to have been following your blog now for about four years. I watched as you lost weight and then as you've maintained - it is hard. Every single day, it is hard. I too know this even though my weight loss was minimal compared to you. The one thing we both know is that without a complete life change (and for us abstaining from certain foods altogether) we can not maintain.

    You are an absolute star Leigh - take all the credit you deserve :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've just celebrated 2 years of maintaining my 100 pound weight loss. There is nothing fun or exciting about it, but I'm more proud of that than I am of the weight loss. Congrats to you - I've been reading your blog from early on in my weight loss journey. I just ran my 5th half marathon this weekend - you have been an inspiration. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am not entirely convinced that I am in maintenance mode yet, I am not as overweight as I used to be but I still feel I have to reach my goal fitness level before I can say I am in maintenance mode and that keeps me going . Also I noticed so me changes have become a part of my life and I don't think I can go back to eating like I used...your journey has been amazing and inspirational :) take care

    ReplyDelete
  6. Just read your blog for the first time. I think we share a similar past / lifestyle through to the transition to Paleo. I've had a few setbacks, but like you - this is a forever thing!! I'll be back!

    ReplyDelete
  7. You are doing so well Chick... keep it up. I hope to finally stop the yo-yo merry-go-round and choose a better LIFESTYLE too.

    ReplyDelete