I was a guest speaker at a Handel Group® “Dream Body” event in Manhattan with Laurie Gerber, discussing my 130 pound weight loss story. (I reached my goal weight in May 2008.) A woman attending the event asked me the predictable question, had I put any of the weight back on after reaching my goal weight. The question made me smile. It was the Monday after Thanksgiving and I was at least seven pounds over my goal weight because of my five days of planned overeating during the holiday. I was honest and shared that I had put on several pounds over Thanksgiving, although I was back on my diet that morning. I told the group that besides periodically putting on a few pounds during vacations or holidays, which I always shed immediately after, I have stayed a size 4 and maintained my weight for more than three years.
That night on the train back home, I was thinking about the woman’s question. I get asked all the time how I maintain my weight. Everyone wants to know and so I will share with you the “secret” I learned from my life coach: I stay at my goal weight by keeping food promises.
I smiled as I reflected on my Thanksgiving holiday binge that I had copped to at the event. I had told my coach that I wanted to take a break from my food promises for five days and we agreed I could eat anything I wanted. I thought this would make me abundantly happy, turns out it was fun, but also a bit overwhelming. I realized that not only do my food promises help me maintain my weight, but when I am keeping them, they are an invisible key to my self-respect and happiness.
Take a look at my Thanksgiving Holiday Binge chronicle and see what I’m talking about.
Day 1: My vacation from promises started Wednesday morning. I woke up and got on the scale. I was ½ pound over my goal weight. One of my promises is to have treats only if I am at (or under) my goal. This is an important rule. It really does keep me thin. So, I decided to go on a run to lose the weight. A half hour later, I was a pound thinner, felt great and ready for my vacation!
My first day of food freedom was a blast. I went to the store and bought my favorite junk food: Dove chocolates with caramel, croissants and Oreo Vanilla Cakesters. I was like a kid in a candy store.
Day 2: Thanksgiving morning. I ate a bagel, a blueberry muffin and some pumpkin bread for breakfast. I hadn’t done that in ages. I went to my brother’s house in New Jersey for dinner. There was so much great food, it was almost too much. Appetizers. A big Italian Thanksgiving meal (a la my Italian sister-in-law). Numerous desserts. By the time I went to bed that night I felt so uncomfortable; I could barely sleep. I was not happy with me.
Day 3: Friday. It should have been a recovery day, but instead I was aware that I only had 2 ½ more days to eat what I wanted and I thought I should just keep on enjoying the freedom. Truthfully, I was divided. There was a part of me that wanted to return to my food promises. I even called my friend Jason in Los Angeles to talk to him about it. He said, “Katie, you don’t have to eat any more junk if you don’t want to. You can be healthy.” I knew he was right, but I was on vacation. I was “supposed to” eat junk! And I did.
Day 4: Saturday. I didn’t eat much during the day because I was so burned out on food. That night I hung out with friends at a dinner party. The food at the party was healthy because those friends eat healthy, but it didn’t stop me from eating potato chips and a banana split cookie sundae. Why? Because I could.
Day 5: On my last day of vacation, I didn’t feel good. I wasn’t enjoying the freedom of eating what I wanted anymore. I missed my food promises. I missed feeling good. Even knowing and feeling this way, I still chose to eat a cheeseburger and sweet potato fries for dinner. Although, I will give myself some credit, I shared my meal with a friend so I didn’t make myself completely sick.
Day 6: Monday morning. My vacation was over. I woke up exhausted. I was back on my regular food promises, but it was too late. The damage had been done. I felt lethargic and slow. Even my mind was slow. I spent most of the day in a fog. I will admit, I was relieved it was over. I was glad to be back keeping my food promises. I felt in control again. By the time I was on the train home that night, I felt more like myself.
Since I’ve been back on my diet, I’ve lost most of my holiday weight and I feel great. I had fun over Thanksgiving and really enjoyed my vacation. I’m even looking forward to Christmas. Although, I’m now even more aware of how much I like having my food promises. I like the way I feel when I take care of myself. I like eating healthy and treating my body well. I smartly designed my food promises to ensure that I care for me and so they keep me thin and happy. It’s how I maintain my weight. If I didn’t have rules, I’d probably weigh 265 pounds again. So I leave you with the answer to the question I get asked most, six steps that I use to maintain my weight. By the way, they will work if you are still trying to lose weight, too!
How to Maintain Your Weight
1) Create a healthy, regular eating plan with food promises that are catered specifically to you. (I eat lean protein, veggies and fruit every day. No bread, pasta or rice. Limited sugar and only “good fats.”) Working with a coach, like I did, will really help.
2) Implement a consequence system if you break a food promise. (Here’s one of mine: I run at 6 am if I break a promise.)
3) Get on the scale every morning so you always know how much you weigh. (My goal is to keep my weight between 132-134 pounds.)
4) Exercise at least four times per week. Design a program that works for you and make a promise about it! (I run outdoors, play soccer, stair climber, stationary bike, pushups, situps, leg exercises and am starting to do yoga.)
5) Keep a daily food log and write down everything you eat so you’re aware of what you’re eating and how much. (I email my food log to my coach every night. It helps to be accountable to someone.)
6) Allow yourself a fun “cheat” meal once a week and enjoy it! But only if you’re at your goal weight! (I must be 133.5 and under to have my cheat meal or dessert.)
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