What were your goals when you started Weigh and Win?
My initial goal when I signed up, was to get back down to my wedding weight. I lost about 27 lbs before my wedding, only to gain 35 lbs in the year that followed. So, I gained it all back, plus 8 lbs. That was the pattern in a decade of weight loss let downs. I would lose 10 and gain 15. Lose 15 and gain 25. Lose 20 and gain 30. Lose 30 and gain 40. I had reached 199.9 lbs before I lost the 27 lbs for the wedding. I told myself I’d never let myself get to 200 lbs. In late 2012 when I did my FitZero weigh in at work I was 208 lbs. Reality sunk in, and I couldn’t bear to let it get worse. I didn’t want to feel any more uncomfortable, defeated, or discouraged than I already did. Once I lost some weight, rather than just having maintained it, I found the motivation to try and work at getting back down to my wedding weight, because I knew I could get there, since I had done it just a year before. It was an achievable goal. I am happy to report that I lost 25 more pounds than I had initially hoped to.
Why has Weigh and Win worked for you?
One of the things I like most about Weigh and Win, (aside from the cash rewards, of course) is that it is a one year program. It gives you time to lose the weight without feeling pressured, to lose it in a healthy way, and settle into the lifestyle change that comes with it all. It’s not some sort of fad or “miracle” diet. It’s not some sort of pre-packaged meals program. It’s not a “lose 20 lbs in 3 wks” program. Those are the kinds of weight loss programs that are rarely sustainable. Those are the kinds of programs that can lead to a weight loss history like mine, meaning, lose some, and gain back even more than you lost. Weigh and Win makes the reality known that you are indeed going to have to work for what you want, but that it is so worth it, and that it is sustainable weight loss, and a manageable lifestyle.
I was already very aware of what I needed to be doing, intellectually and conceptually, to yield healthy weight loss. I’ve known it for years. My roadblock, though, has always been finding and keeping the motivation to actually eat well and exercise. I love food…the flavor, color, texture, variety. I made very little sacrifice this year in terms of food. I still enjoyed it, a lot. And, I’m starting to get better at not feeling guilty if I indulge a little from time to time, because, I have found the balance. I know that I may need to work out a little harder, or eat a little bit lighter the rest of the day or week, but that there is no food that is off limits. For me personally, nothing is forbidden. There are no restrictions… Just balance, moderation, smarter choices, smaller portions, and personal awareness. I have found what works for me.
Additionally, I truly appreciate that the program goes into a second year. It allows you to keep moving forward if you still have goals to reach, and if you are where you want to be, it helps you to be mindful of maintaining all the hard work you put into the first year. My real celebration will be in another year, when I have maintained my weight loss. I’ve lost weight many times. I’ve never kept it off. I can’t let my guard down. I can’t get complacent. And I don’t want to ever have to do this again. It is really easy to gain weight. It is not so easy to lose. I am confident that this is it for me. That I’ve finally got it in the bag. It is really cool that Weigh and Win is willing to see you through your maintenance phase instead of just cutting you loose.
Do you have any tips or advice for new Weigh and Win participants?
I highly recommend that new participants take waist/hip measurements etc. I failed to take measurements in the beginning and found myself getting discouraged at times when I plateaued, or even gained weight. Muscle weighs more than fat, and as you build muscle, you may actually gain weight from time to time. There were times that I plateaued for over a month, but during that month my clothes were fitting looser. I was trading fat for muscle, so my body composition was changing, but the scale wasn’t moving. If I had been keeping track of my measurements, I would have had the satisfaction of seeing the results in numbers. Also, there does get to be a point in your journey where the pounds on the scale don’t matter as much as how you feel. It can be easy to obsess about the pounds, especially in the end, when the weight loss slows down. I found myself at the end of my journey obsessing so much that the stress it caused me was working against me. I was only 3 lbs away from my 30% goal at one point, and I was initially bummed that I didn’t make that last mark. I had to continually remind myself to look at how far I had come, rather than focusing on that last 3lbs that just didn’t want to come off by a certain date.
I’d also like to share that there was one other thing that I really had to hone in on this year. It was that I was doing this for my health and wellbeing, and that physical appearance was just an added bonus. The majority of people embarking on a weight loss journey have issues with body image to begin with. I know it may be easier said than done, but try not to focus so much on how you look, but rather, how you feel. How’s your energy? How’s your mood? How are your clothes fitting? What kinds of things have gotten easier for you to do? Our society puts so much emphasis on looks. I didn’t “love” myself anymore when I was 130 lbs, than I did at 208 lbs. Self-love comes from within. I still have stretch marks, I still have cellulite, I have flabby skin. Sure, people tell me I “look” great. And, I appreciate it so very much. But, for me, it’s about feeling great that matters. I strongly encourage anyone struggling with poor body image and self-esteem, to seek support. There can be much deeper reasons for your struggles to lose weight and keep it off, that go above and beyond eating too much and moving too little. There is a very mental piece to this journey, and if that is neglected, it may only be that much harder of one.