The Letter, c. 1906, oil on canvas by Pierre Bonnard
This post is not written for you, dear reader, instead it is a note to my future self. I’m at that point in my weight loss where people are noticing and starting to give me quite a few compliments. It’s wonderfully nice, of course, but it also makes it really real. I did this. After all the years of thinking about it and trying different things – this is it. This is the start of a new me.
But I’ll be really honest, the more real it is, the more scared I am of gaining the weight back on again.
It isn’t a health thing; in December my physician told me that though I was over the weight she’d like me to be at, I was in excellent health. It has a little more to do with the physical looks, but just a little bit. After all, I haven’t gotten rid of all my old clothes yet! Mostly, it has to do with the fact that it is just so darn easy to fall back into old habits. That I know that while I have been at this for a few months now, I am not in a place of permanence yet. So, I thought I would write this post to myself if I ever found myself struggling again. I wanted to write down what has been working for me, so if I ever fell lost, I would know where to turn.
I should say, dear reader, that is not necessarily what you should do. This just my own personal weight loss code.
Dear Long View Hill,
Sounds like you are going through a rough patch. You and I knew this might happen. We’ve known each other all our lives, we know these things can happen. So this is a letter to you – my future me – from your past. If you are ever stuck, or feeling stressed and having a hard time staying on track. Here’s what we know what works for us:
#1. Walk the Dog.
Walking the dog won’t solve all your weight problems, Long View Hill. You had Hermes for over a year and were walking him for up to a couple hours a day there for awhile, and while you lost some weight, it didn’t start really paying off until the rest of the pieces of the puzzle were in place. However, getting outside is good for you. Spending time with your dog is good for you. They are good for your emotions, your sense of calm and your happiness. As a benefit, walking the pooch also burns calories, so if the reason you are gaining weight back has anything to do with stress, this is a good place to start. Hermes will love you for it.
We really should be on a walk right now.
#2. If you bite it, write it.
The moment things started to change for you is when you downloaded the My Fitness Pal app onto your phone. Trying to track calories on a computer doesn’t work for you LVH – we know, we’ve tried that. It is putting the food in your phone as close to having eaten it as possible, (without being super rude while out to dinner with friends,) that makes it work for you. You know you need that immediate feedback. There might come a time where it won’t be as important, but if you are reading this again, it is probably because you fell off the tracking wagon. Time to saddle up and get back on board.
#3. Do Not Go Over the Line
You lost your weight by sticking to the rules. Like tracking, there may be a time where you can be more relaxed with this, but again, if you are reading this, it is time to go back to square one. You know where the base is, My Fitness Pal will tell you where the max is, just stick between those two numbers. You can do it, you’ve done it before! If you get to the end of the evening and see you only have enough calories for green beans for dinner, well, it is time to do Rule #1. A 30 minute walk will buy you enough calories for a bowl of soup and a light salad! Best yet, leave some room – don’t walk the line. Leave some extra calories for the end of the day. Then, if you want a glass of wine or port before bed, you can have them. Remember Long View Hill, if you leave a cushion of unused calories, you won’t go over.
#4. Get Moving – Whatever it Takes
Well, if you are gaining weight, you might not be exercising. Figure out what it is going to take you to get back to it. Bored of running? Join a gym! Take some classes! Do something! Exercising makes you feel better, stronger and more healthier. Don’t forget to slide in a little extra exercise when you can. Keep running up the stairs at home when you do laundry, keep a smile on your face when it is time to shovel snow – and of course, keep walking that pooch!
#5. An Ounce Weighed, is a Pound Saved.
Don’t forget to measure. You don’t need that fancy scale, girl. You can use that $.50 thrift store find you used for the first 3 months of losing weight. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you have to have a fairly good idea of what is really going on. This is why you have three sets of measuring spoons and had to wash them every day. Don’t forget about that.
#6. Every Day – Weigh
Oh my!I heard the groans across the internet as I write this. We’ve all heard the countless reasons why you should never weigh yourself every day. “You’ll get depressed! You’ll quit! It doesn’t help!” The fact is, there are very few scientific studies to back “what everybody knows.” There was, however, a study with college students that showed those that weighed themselves daily were better able to lose weight and keep it off. But regardless, this is not about other people, this is about you. I’m not saying you have to do this for the rest of your life Long View, but I am saying that prevention is the best way to nip problems in the bud. Like Rule #2 and #3, this is one of those things that might change with time, but you know what works for you. If you think the scale is going up – check. Then start following these rules again.
#7. There Are No “Bad” Foods
One of the reasons we’ve been successful is that we decided not to exclude any food. You have to follow rules #2, #3 and #5, but with that in mind, nothing is off limit. I put this here, because I know us. One thing that could happen is we could get all overly into it and start restricting yourself to a particular way of eating. I can see us trying to make all the daily summary numbers on My Fitness Pal come out absolutely perfect. If we’re doing that, knock it off! It is only a matter of time before we get all frustrated, mad and rebellious and quit everything. Don’t do that, me! Keep in mind you can eat what you want, and you will never feel like you have to eat to prove some kind of point.
#8. This is the most important one of all – Don’t Listen to Everyone Else.
I saved this one for last because I suspect it is the one that is most likely to go wrong. Already we’ve weathered this. Remember the day that Weight Loss Guru Coworker spent 10 minutes telling you different ways to cheat? Remember how the next week she was upset because at her weigh-in she was far short of her goal? Remember the person who sent you the article about how calorie counters don’t work because they are not perfect. Remember how much weight you lost using one?* This is the most important rule: Do What Works For You!
There is no magic pill. Different things work for different people. Some people hate My Fitness Pal, other want specific diets. But don’t listen to them – do your own research. Look gal, I know it is fun to talk about weight loss with people, but how many of them have already given you bad advice? I bet the reason you are back here in your blog archives looking at this letter is because you listened to someone else, just because they said something with a lot of confidence. Ignore weight loss advice that conflicts with your own code. Triply ignore advice that goes against your own code that comes from anyone who is still struggling with their own weight loss.
There are three exceptions to this rule: your sister Em, your friend Cee, and your boyfriend (who shall now be known as) Julian. They love you, they know you. They know what you have been through, your history, your temperament and your struggles. They understand you and want the best for you. If you want advice, go to them. Everyone else – tell them to blow it out their ears.
This also is true for articles, blogs and even things on NPR. No matter what someone is doing, there will always be someone in the background being *helpful* saying, “you aren’t doing it right!” Don’t listen to those people. Turn off the news, only read positive blogs, and trust your gut instinct, Long View Hill.
Eat well, exercise, and be happy, Long View. I am depending on you for it!
Your Past Self.
* The article basically said that calorie counters aren’t accurate, sometimes because of the information put into them, sometimes because the manufactures make servings bigger than they claim. I say, that’s why you leave a cushion of calories.
Photo credit: cliff1066