I was listening to a podcast yesterday discussing successful long term weight loss maintenance. Now, I am no where near maintenance, however that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t think of the future. The lady being interviewed sounded somewhat like me. Compulsive over eater who only did well by writing things down. She also lost a lot of weight only to gain it back when she stopped tracking her food. Once she began to track again she lost the weight and continues to track even in maintenance. This conversation raised a lot of questions for me.
What will happen once you reach the ultimate goal? How will you maintain? What will be your motivation then?
There are many questions yet to be answered. One that was clear though, and she emphasized clearly, is that you can never, I repeat, never stop tracking what you put in your mouth! When I began to track my calories I was aware of every morsel of food that came on to my greedy little hands. I knew why I had gained a certain week and I also knew exactly what worked the following. The thing is, if you are anything like me, once you stop tracking it all goes down hill.
When I stopped tracking my calories I thought I had it under control. I was honestly
lazy sick of counting and thought I knew all the numbers anyway. Trust me, you don’t. You might think you do, but you really, really don’t. Unless you’re a human calculator and have the memory of a filing cabinet. Perhaps the first few days I did well but after a while a snack here or there didn’t make it into my memory bank for the day. Or I decided to have a second helping of something else. The weekend came and it became a habit to go paint the town red! Drinks, dinner..more drinks! If I had to write that down on my food diary, I guarantee you I wouldn’t have drank so much wine and beer or eaten so much. Because seeing it on paper or the screen, all together into one day staring you back, you are confronted with your weakness. You are confronted with that which you love and fear and sometimes even hate. You also realize how out of control you are.
If there is a lesson to be learned here is that you can never stop tracking your calories. Even when you are in maintenance you will need to. I have yet to come to terms with that. It’s like being told you have an incurable disease and tracking is your only way to stay alive. That’s how it feels like to me anyway. Let’s face it, for the morbidly obese and all the health problems that come with it, it isn’t far from the truth. Our fat cells will be with us forever and are always ready to be filled up again. The fatter you were, the easier and faster it is to gain it all back again if you aren’t vigilant.
In about 6 months, I threw away about a year’s worth of hard work and dedication. I have this weight chart list by my PC, divided into two columns, and every time I reach a new weight I would highlight it green. I was well on my way out of the first page (124kg-81kg) before I stopped tracking my food. I just barely made it back to the second column again. I know now, that I can’t afford to take these breaks from tracking.
This week I did fairly well. I suspect a lot of the weight loss came from water loss. I had been bloated for weeks! Waking up every day with swollen fingers and legs. It was painful at times and worrisome as well. That is now getting back to normal.
This week I have:
- cooked delicious & nutritious meals (5:2 Fast)
- tracked my calories on my fitness pal
- drank a lot of water and tea
- exercised – walking & kettlebell training
So, there is the formula. Eat and drink well, move your butt and track!!!!!