This is sort of a spin off from “How Skinny People Stay Skinny”. In that post I had a survey of questions that were asked to people who are and who stay “skinny” or at a healthy weight for their body (I guess skinny is quite the relative term, so let’s move away from that term and focus on being at a healthy weight for our own unique bodies!)
In this post I want to talk about what personally works for me and how I maintain my weight to help others who are still trying to figure out the whole ‘maintenance’ thing. It can be a hard concept to grasp, especially if you have been struggling with your weight.
My Happy Weight
I am 5’7 feet tall and weigh approximately 140lbs. Like any woman, I do fluctuate, but never more than +/- 5lbs. When I hit 145lbs, I can tell I’ve been eating too much and I can actually feel the extra weight. When I dip below 135lbs, I get cranky. 140lbs seems to be the happy place for me.
I’ve been this weight since I was 20 years old and have maintained it for 6 years. Before I was 20, I didn’t frequently weigh myself (only at the doctor’s office) and so I don’t really know an exact amount that I weighed previously. I do remember a particular time though that I had gone to the doctor for stomach problems when I was 19 and was 138lbs. So I was still around the same ‘happy weight’.
Be Realistic with Your Body
With maintaining my weight, I stay realistic to MY body. I will never ever be a 5’11 super model or even come close to resembling Gisele. This is a fact. Unless I walk on stilts and lose an unhealthy amount of weight, I just won’t look like a super model. And I am OK with that! I don’t peruse magazines and hope and pray I will one day wake up and look like an image that I see. I work with MY body and feeling the best in MY skin.
Gisele is certainly a beautiful woman. But it’s not my goal to resemble her. I can only be the best ME.
If I want to improve upon what my body looks like, I need to be realistic. To wish I could look like someone who I can’t is a waste of time.
You also need to think about what you are personally going to be able to maintain. I know that I love to eat. Eating is a part of my life I truly enjoy. I know that I can eat pretty freely (with my current activity level) at the weight I am at and maintain it just fine. I don’t want to eat less and I know that! Because I am not willing to give up my current eating lifestyle, I don’t have a goal of weight loss at this point in my life.
Start the Day of Right
I’ve always been a breakfast eater. For as long as I can remember, eating is one of the first things I do when I wake up.
I try and start my day off by eating healthy. I want to feel good before I start my day. I try to fill my first meal with a lot of fiber (usually from cereal, oatmeal or whole wheat toast or wraps). Fiber keeps me full and satisfied and by eating high fiber it also keeps me ‘regular’ which helps with feeling good in the stomach area 😉
I also include some sort of fruit or vegetable in my first meal. It’s easier for me to get my fruit and veggies in during the early hours of the day. Knowing this, I try to incorporate em’ first thing to start my day off on the right foot.
Eating breakfast helps me have better control of my appetite through out the day.
I am an avid snacker! Throughout the day I typically have 1-2 snacks, depending on the size of my meals. Snacks keep my blood sugar stable and allow me to remain satisfied throughout the day without getting that ‘starving’ feeling where I want to consume anything and everything in my pantry.
For snacks, I like to have a combination of healthy, high fiber carbs, protein and fat. An example that I eat often would be a whole wheat tortilla with peanut butter.
To maintain your weight, you have to eat enough for you body. Skimping on food throughout the day often can lead to over eating at night. Having balanced meals throughout the day help balance out your hunger. Eating the right amount of calories for your body and activity is also key. This amount is different for everyone. I typically eat 2000+ calories a day, depending on how active I am. On days when I teach 2 cardio classes I am typically hungrier and eat more. The key is not restricting at any point during your day and honoring your hunger.
Eating the right kinds of foods
I’m an advocate for not putting labels on food (such as ‘good’ or ‘bad’). I believe having a well rounded diet is key, including a variety of foods. But to maintain my weight, I do put a lot of focus on eating foods with a high nutritional value.
I make it a point to eat enough fiber, to include lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and fat in my diet daily. I don’t force myself to eat anything though. All of the food I eat I enjoy. But I do put effort into making sure I am getting in enough of the more nutritional stuff before I eat anything that just simply tastes good (like cookies).
Allow yourself to eat what you want
I eat anything I want. But in my previous point above, I make the effort to eat the more nutritious stuff first. I feel better physically and mentally. I have more energy. So for the most part, I pick the more healthier options for my meals.
But sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I really want to eat 4 slices of pizza or eat a Dairy Queen Blizzard. And I allow myself this! It’s just not on a regular basis. The more you allow yourself to eat what you want, the less you see that food as ‘forbidden’ and the less you crave it.
Be aware of your body
I don’t think anyone should weigh themselves daily and certainly not more then once per day. That is obsessive in my opinion. But I do think people should be aware in some way of their body size in regards to health.
For me it means weighing myself once per week. Typically it’s a Wednesday first thing in the morning. It keeps me in check. Today I weighed in at 141.2 lbs. If the scale is not your thing, then have a pair of pants that fit you at your ‘healthy’ weight and use that as a gauge. Or take pictures. Do what works for you.
I pack my lunch every night before bed. I plan out healthy snacks and meals that I can take to work. I even bring a variety of things so that I have choices, as sometimes my cravings change. I don’t have the luxury of leaving my workplace to go out to eat, so I always rely on packing my lunch daily. I have no excuse not to eat healthy at work! Planning is key.
I also make sure my pantry, fridge and freezer are stocked with healthy foods so I can easily whip up a healthy dinner. I keep lean meats in the freezer, whole grain products in the pantry, and plenty of canned and frozen goods. I don’t go crazy with the meal planning, but I do put some thought and effort into it.
I think exercise is a big reason I maintain my weight. I am very active and have been regularly working out since I was around 17 or 18. It’s a habit in my life and something I crave and enjoy doing. It does allow me to have some wiggle room with eating and I do eat more when I work out.
Listen to your hunger
I think that as we age, we lose our sense of hunger. We’re born knowing when to eat and when to stop. As we grow older we’re faced with a lot more issues in life and begin turning to things for comfort. Food being one of them for a lot of people. It’s important to get back in tune with your body and really listen. I’m not perfect at all and still eat just because something tastes good. But it’s not a habit that I do daily. I’m ok with eating just to eat on occasion. The holidays are a big example of that. I love to eat and relax! But the take home message is to make this something you do rarely and not daily. And realize it’s ok to eat for other reasons other then hunger sometimes.
You are more than your body
I think one of the main reasons I maintain my weight is because I am not striving for perfection. I am not striving for a body that is unattainable for me. I’m simply striving to maintain my health, but not to the point of obsession. We are more than our bodies and when I take time each day to think about that, I don’t obsess over my looks. I’m then able to put my focus onto other things that are important in my life like striving to be a good and loving person rather than striving to have a perfect body (that doesn’t even exist!)
Do you have any tips for maintaining a healthy weight?