Friday, December 24, 2010

Maintenance: Year One

Weight: 122.0 (used a different scale than normal)
Body Fat: 19.3% + 3% = 22.3%
Measurements: 34"-26"-33.5"-17.5" (I am pretty sure these aren't going to shrink anymore!)
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WOW! It's been a whole year! I can hardly even believe it. Time seems to go faster every year. I decided to celebrate the anniversary by answering some interview questions which Mikala has been so gracious to provide me with.

What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
I am a planner by nature. I make very intricate plans with lots of little details. I'm also a perfectionist by nature.

I think you can see where I'm going with this.  I made so many intricate and detailed little weight loss plans that they were impossible to stick with. I expected myself to be perfect, and my plans were never robust enough to handle setbacks.   At the first detraction from my plans, I'd crumble and go back to my old habits.  This continued for years, and it wasn't until I hit self-esteem rock bottom that I realized what I was doing wrong.  I had to stop planning so far into the future; I had to keep it simple.  I stopped trying to make radical changes and I started making itty-bitty changes.  I didn't try to clean up my diet in one fell swoop, instead I slowly switched to cleaner, healthier foods. My motto became "baby steps."

For exercise, I started walking first. I worked up to walking 30-40 minutes every other day.  After that, I started following a simple walk-run exercise plan.  I just kept building slowly and incrementally upon this base and am now running 4 miles at an average pace of 8:55 minute a mile, with a long run of around 6.5 miles once a week.

Did you weigh everything, even veggies and fruit?
I weigh everything but lettuce. Veggies and fruits have calories too and I like to see how much a serving looks like. I know that many popular diets have foods that are considered "free", but the only thing that I consider free is water and lettuce.

Did you eat back your exercise calories? If so, did you use a heart rate monitor to figure out calories burned?
Not when I was losing weight.  I kept my exercise relatively light during my weight loss phase, 30-45 minutes of exercise five out of seven days. If you actually do the math out, you'll notice that exercise really doesn't add that many more burned calories into your day.  I averaged a 1.5lb weight loss each week without eating back a single exercise calorie.

What's the best part about losing the weight?
This is a really tough question. I think the best thing is quality of life. I feel more energetic and clear-minded.  Nothing seems as daunting anymore because I have the energy to face life.

Did you ever hit a plateau? If so, what kept you going?
I was extremely lucky and unusual.  I lost 31lbs last year without ever hitting a plateau.  I've tried to analyze my diet to see if I could understand why.  I think it has to do with the fact that approximately every three weeks, I would have to have a day where I didn't log and had to eat out.  I most likely ate maintenance calorie levels on those days and shocked the heck out of my body.  I read later that this is essentially a strange form of calorie cycling, which is one of the best way to avoid or beat a plateau.

How did you learn "positive self talk?" Or was that not an issue for you?
My internal monologue has, and likely always will be a huge problem for me.  Even losing weight doesn't silence the self-doubt and negative internal monologue.  I try to be highly self-aware of what I am thinking about myself.  If I catch myself spiraling into a storm of negative self-talk, I stop and ask myself if I am being reasonable.  If I'm not, I stop myself and actively tell myself that I'm not the things I was thinking and chase the bout of self-doubt with some positive reinforcement. This usually consists of me mentally repeating positive things about myself.  Ultimately, I spend a lot of time in my own head.  I'm definitely better than I used to be, but I find that when I get tired it's more difficult.  I think this is one of the aspects that people underestimate when they embark on a weight loss or life changing journey.  You have to learn how to be introspective.

How did you get over the "I already screwed up today, I should just continue sabotaging myself and start fresh tomorrow" mentality?
I signed up for a 13-week binding contract on Stickk.com that said if I didn't lose .85 lbs a week, I would lose $50.  This forced me to start thinking about what was going into my body and prevented me from losing  control.  I couldn't just say "Forget this, it's not worth it because I already screwed up," because I didn't want to lose the money!  This really helped me achieve perspective on my habits

Did losing weight boost your self esteem?
I think the process of losing weight, not necessarily the weight loss itself, has boosted my self-esteem.  I know that I am more outgoing and confident in myself, but I think that has come from constant re-evaluation of my mental inner workings.  I'm much more aware of how things make me feel and how I respond to them.

Thanks so much for coming up with these questions Mikala! :)