Saturday, April 25, 2015

Weight Loss: What No One Tells You About the "After"

I'm not sure what gave me the idea to do this post. Quite possibly, it might be the fact that I had FOUR slices of homemade sausage pizza for dinner last night and woke up this morning weighing less than yesterday morning. Who knows? Anyway. I want to talk about weight loss, and more specifically, the "after."

When I started losing weight, it was HARD. Every day was a struggle to make sure I got my workout in, and every meal was a battle between what I wanted to eat and what I needed to eat. It got to the point where I thought it would always be hard. I would have thoughts like, "Can I really avoid all of this unhealthy food for the rest of my life? Am I going to have to kill myself working out this hard every day forever just to stay fit? Am I going to give up, gain weight, and have to start all over again?" These thoughts were real, and all-consuming for four months. During that four months, I passed on every single dessert, every opportunity to go out to eat, and I worked out 5-6 days a week every week.

But then something weird happened. I was going through my closet, trying to decide what clothes I was going to donate, and in the process I had to try on all of my jeans. Even those from when I was a freshman in high school. To my surprise, EVERY SINGLE PAIR FIT. I no longer owned a pair of pants that was too small. Whaaaat? I knew I had lost quite a bit of weight, but I had been afraid to try on those jeans because I was certain that they were too small. It wasn't making sense in my head.

See, when you lose all of the weight you intended, and you see that goal number on the scale, you don't see that reflected in the mirror. There is something that just doesn't compute. I would look in the mirror and see all of my "loose skin" from having kids, the fat around my hips and armpits, my stretchmarks - and I would think, "I know I weigh what I wanted to weigh, but I look bigger." It's like my brain didn't catch up with my body. I was still seeing what I was used to seeing, and not what I actually looked like. It's a strange "after" complex, as I like to call it. I was so stuck in weight loss mode that my brain was still trying to find ways to lose weight.

So now what? I reached my goal weight. Everyone is looking to me for weight loss advice, and all I want to do is celebrate by eating REAL PIZZA, and not pizza made with a cauliflower crust for once! (Though that is a yummy alternative ;)) I see these quotes that say things like, "You aren't a dog, so don't reward yourself with treats." Seriously? Then the guilt sets in. Everyone is looking to me for these healthy recipes, and wondering how I'm staying fit, and I just ate PIZZA made with white flour, covered in sausage and cheese. What people don't like to tell you is that YOU WILL GET TO A POINT WHERE YOU CAN INDULGE AGAIN. It's easy to get caught up in the "don't eat this, don't eat that," but once you get to a weight that is comfortable for you, and you have a good amount of muscle built up, it is fairly easy to maintain that.

It's easy? Did I just say that? YES. I would seriously have to blow my diet completely every day, and not workout at all in order to start gaining weight back. I eat well most of the time, but I can treat myself often too. I can maintain my physique by only working out for 15 minutes, 4-5 days a week. This is a huge difference from my "weight loss" phase where I was pushing myself so hard every day, for what felt like little results. It felt like forever. 

I guess what I am trying to say is, those of you who are trying to lose weight, it is hard, but it is not hard forever. It feels like such a huge sacrifice. It feels never-ending. I am here to tell you - IT GETS BETTER. It gets easier. You will eventually reach that "after" stage. You will be able to enjoy yummy foods again. You don't have to spend over an hour working out every single day for the rest of your life. By all means, you can, if that's what you want to do, but you don't have to.

Those of us who have gotten fit and lost weight want it to look like we have this unattainable, super-strict lifestyle, but it's just not true. I eat well most days because of how it makes me feel, but I have days where I don't eat well at all. There are days where I skip my workout because I just don't feel like it. Do those decisions make me lose the progress that I've made? No! Don't let the fear of change keep you from reaching your goals. Understand that we are all human. We all struggle with the same things. I am here for you because I have been where you are, and I have felt how you feel.

Now, I'm not saying lose all of your weight and then hit up the McDonald's drive-thru every day. Yuck. I believe in a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Eat foods that will fuel your body to function well, but don't beat yourself up if you want a big ol' plate of pizza or stack of cookies now and then.

I'm not sure if this post even makes sense, but I just wanted to share my thoughts on the "after" part of weight loss. I am still trying to improve my fitness level, but I am technically living in the "after" side of my weight loss journey. It has been strange, and not at all what I expected, so I wanted to share the experience with all of you :).

For those who are unfamiliar with  my weight loss journey. The first picture is me at 149 lbs, and the second is me at 121 lbs.

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