Getting and keeping it off

January 15, 2015

It's now been a good month since I've been exercising regularly, and two weeks since I've been on a healthy eating plan. I've lost six pounds and feel ever so much better.

I'm not worried about whether or not I can lose the weight. I am concerned about keeping it off.

 For the past 15 years, I've been losing and gaining the same 15 to 30 pounds. Enough. Really. I  am heartily. sick. of. this. 

I'm 57 years old and I don't want to do this anymore.

Are you with me?

The key is a real lifestyle change. And I've known this for years. It's not a lack of knowledge. I could write a book on healthy eating. So why do I always seem to slide back into consuming processed foods and sugar and refined carbs?

I want to be healthy, fit, and into a routine that is relatively effortless so that I can once and for all, stop feeling every day that little nagging, shameful feeling that I'm too heavy and out of shape.

Mahi-mahi, on a bed of cucumber slices, with fresh mango salsa

So how can I ensure that this time I'm successful?

Here are a few of my thoughts.

* Certain foods just have to be banned. High fructose corn syrup and even corn syrup is highly addictive. Somewhere I read they act on the brain like cocaine. And I believe it. When I have jelly beans or gumdrops in my house, I will eat them until I literally feel sick. 

Instead of beating myself up for lack of willpower, I will simply say to myself that these foods, and anything with HFCS, are drugs, and not allowed in my house. A recovering alcoholic does not stock booze in the house if she wants to stay sober.

(and this stuff is sneaky -- Wheat Thins have corn syrup in them!)

* Have a buddy. I'm thankful my family is with me on this. It's so much easier when somebody else is on board with this kind of lifestyle change. My husband and I purged our pantry a year and a half ago. How did things gradually creep back in? We are working on this again together.

* It really is a mental game. The physical addiction to sugar can be broken in three or four days, but the mind is not so easily convinced. I have to think of certain foods differently. Lean meats are almost like medicine for me; they give me energy and I feel good after eating them. Refined carbs make me feel sluggish.

I'm trying to ask myself this: do I want to feel good for 5 minutes, or feel good for three hours? The cinnamon roll is definitely going to make me feel good for 5 minutes, but how will I feel an hour from now?

* Have lots of yummy-tasting foods ready. Berries are prohibitively expensive in the winter, but if I'm not buying all the other stuff, I can justify raspberries in January. A real treat. We made up some wonderful waffles (protein powder, egg white, banana, and cinnamon) ready to pop in the toaster. A batch of healthy granola bars. Lots of vegetables ready to grill or steam. Loads of yummy citrus fruits. A lovely mango salsa made from scratch.

*Keep it out of the house. Just don't buy it.

* Drink lots of water. This is a really tough one for me, as I've never been a water drinker. But the more I drink, the more tuned in I am to thirst, and the more I drink. Good for everything, including skin, digestion, mental health, you name it.

Long term?

Does this mean I can never have a homemade scone again? A piece of homemade pie?

This is where it gets tricky.

Over the past two years, I have successfully given up Diet Coke and bread at meals (always loved crusty Italian bread warm from the oven with butter). I've just told myself Diet Coke is poison, and that white flour and water just makes glue in the body.

So I've thought about what other things I could give up permanently, and what things I really would like to have occasionally.

Ice cream, crackers, french fries, potato chips (I love them, but hate the feeling of starting and not being able to stop), and store-bought baked goods can really go on the no-fly list. I wouldn't really miss them. I just eat them because they're there. And I've never cared for fast food, so that helps.

But homemade baked goods are the Achilles heel. Can I just bake once a month for a treat, or will that open the floodgates again? Can I modify my recipes so that they still taste good, but have far less sugar? 

And what do I do with all the guests we seem to have? My husband says that that's really how all the unhealthy foods crept back in, as we have lots of overnight guests. (I'm not sure we can entirely blame it on that!) I can't necessarily serve high-protein, sugar-free waffles to friends and family accustomed to white-flour pancakes and bacon!

I've got a ways to go before I am on my long-term maintenance eating plan, but I want to be prepared.

Have you been successful at keeping weight off? At making permanent healthy lifestyle changes? If so, how? I'd love to hear.


  1. Woo hoo, you go girl! I am so excited for you and am very happy to hear you feel better. You are absolutely right, it is such a mind game. My biggest issue is grabbing something to eat that is easy and doesn't take much time to prepare and more often than not it's unhealthy food.

    You have and continue to inspire me, Deborah! Keep us the great work, sweet friend. Hugs to you!

  2. You really are doing well and are an inspiration. I do really well with the food and eat well now but am still struggling with an exercise programme.

  3. Hi Deborah,
    I am struggling with trying to avoid the sweets that I love, especially coffee with cream and sugar. (Double-double)!!!. I love my tea black so that isn't a problem for me. I am 59 this month and my weight has gone up considerably the last year. Christmas certainly adds to the goodies around my house. You should be very proud of yourself losing 6 pounds already. Wow! I need to exercise too.
    Keep up the great effort and have more teas like the healthy one in your previous post. I am inspired by you and when I finish this yummy cup of coffee I will start to cut down! Thank you for reminding me of my goal. Karen

    1. Karen, have you tried stevia? It's an herb that is very sweet, and can be used in place of sugar. Available just about anywhere now. This is about my third go-round with it (didn't care much for it when I first tried it), but I've been putting it in my herbal tea, and it does as a substitute for a sweet for me. I don't often use cream, but when I do, I'm trying to use almond milk now instead.
      Happy birthday to you!

  4. Congratulations on the weight loss and increased level of fitness.
    You said one thing in your post that I found a bit odd. "I can't necessarily serve high-protein, sugar-free waffles to friends and family accustomed to white-flour pancakes and bacon!" You were talking about the many overnight guests in your home. It is your home. The guests have come to you. They want to share what you have, not what they have left behind in their own homes. Yes, let them eat exactly what you eat. If it is bread crusts and dripping for you, then it is the same for them. If it is healthy fruit and yoghurt for you, then it is the same for them. Whole foods? No white sugar? Low carb? Remember it is your home and they are merely passing through. This is part of the charm of staying in a home instead of a hotel.
    I struggle with my size from time to time. Mostly I just ignore the situation until it is too late and then make a half-hearted effort. Half-hearted results follow. I admire your consistent progress. I have found that there are definite times of the day when I must drink more water. Tea and coffee just do not work at these times. When I went to Weight Watchers I remember lots of talk about how when some people are thirsty they interpret the sensation incorrectly and eat instead of drinking. That's me too. Perhaps a squirt of lemon juice in the water would help. Or serving it in a particular glass. I've tried both tricks.
    Keep up the program you are following. Give your self a little reward for your progress - maybe a special piece of china.

  5. Wow...6 lbs...that is awesome! I could have written this post word for word (except for the 6 lbs part, unfortunately). I have battled my weight as long as I can remember and at one point in my life, probably during the mid '90's, I was at my highest...and there was no baby involved! After losing close to 50 lbs, have gained and lost the same 20 since then. And why is it that I NEVER buy donuts but when my hubby brings them in the house on a semi-regular basis, I can't NOT have one...or two???
    I really do love my veggies but for me it is nothing other than a lack of disclipine. You are an inspiration, Deborah and thanks for this post!

    1. I'm not entirely sure anymore if it's a lack of discipline. I have beaten myself up about this, too, but now I'm wondering if the stuff in these foods really is addictive, and some people (like you and I) are even more sensitive to it than others. Notice you don't have a problem avoiding donuts. It's when you start . . . that you can't stop. That's exactly my problem, which tells me I have to think of certain foods as bad street drugs, and stay away from them!! Thanks for sharing Debby.

    2. just may be right :)

  6. Yes, I've kept the weight off, but I don't think of it as a diet any more, but a way of life. Balancing my carbs and proteins has really done it for me, once you get the hang of it. I'm with you, and love my fresh berries, Deborah. I think they're a good food choice. Best of luck, my friend, in accomplishing your goals. You're doing a wonderful job already. Woohoo!!!!

  7. Well done on the weight loss! Thank you for this encouraging post :)

  8. Hi Deborah:
    I've been "eating clean" for a year and a half. In that time I've lost 35 lbs. and kept it off. I have done EVERY diet and paid too much money to count on diets and plans. This has been the one that's worked for me. I did work with a holistic health coach for 6 months and it was expensive but because my husband was on board with me from the get go we ended up get 2 for the price of 1. I think what was key for us is the education that went with the eating plan. I know now that a healthy fat i. e. organic eggs, avocado, organic butter, olive oil, coconut oil, or nuts is going to sustain me much longer than my crusty Italian bread (btw I'm Italian and giving up bread and pasta was no easy feat). Since I've been eating some form of healthy fat with each meal I no longer feel the need to snack - ever!! Eating clean has also allowed me to go off of several medications. The holidays were difficult but mostly because of the "tradition" that surrounds food more so than needing or craving it. Only gaining 3 lbs. from Thanksgiving to New Year's result in being back down to my lowest weight within a week of my normal eating. It is absolutely doable! Best of luck to you :-)

  9. I've got a few years on you Deborah and it is really hard to lose weight as we age. Congratulations on the 6 pounds.
    I'm eating whole foods and exercising but it's very slow going.

  10. Congratulations on the 6 pound loss. May it never be found! I'm a year older than you and never had to worry about weight at all until about 10 years ago when I gained 10 pounds. I struggle with taking it off and keeping it off, too. It's easy to allow myself one treat because I've lost the weight, but then one treat turns into two, three and pretty soon the weight creeps up. Aging isn't for sissies.

  11. Dearest Deborah,
    As far as weight loss, I've never ever had an issue with that but for health reasons in 2007 I had to cut the sugar out of my diet and I did it cold turkey! It is not easy but you learn to find substitutes and healthier recipes, also for baked goods. You for sure have Trader Joe's nearby, so why don't you start buying the Coconut Palm Sugar? I did a blog post about it, explaining about its low Glycemic index. If you put Diabetes type 2 in the search box; top right on my blog you will find a lot of info.
    Wishing you good luck and you can look forward to a happy spring and summer when you adhere to this.

  12. Glad to hear you are doing well in your weight loss. Being young as I am, I'm fortunate not to have to worry about my weight--no matter how much junk food I eat, I never seem to gain weight. But sugar is addicting and has to be watched carefully!

  13. Hi Deborah, Congrats on the weight loss. That amount makes a huge difference in our blood and overall health. Sounds like you are well on your way to accomplishing your goals. I find it an on going challenge and one of the keys is to keep moving. My weight has stayed the same since high school but it is always work. However, I allow myself a treat now and then so not to feel deprived. Thinking you can never ever enjoy a little cookie is setting us up to binge. Moderation and self control really help and a little prayer now and then. LOL
    Great Job my friend~~ You are an inspiration!!
    Have a great weekend!

  14. I am so with you. Congratulations on your success.

    I guess like life, we all have our ups and downs, even in weight management.

    Best Wishes to you!


  15. Having a buddy to what I did and it makes ALL the differences. It makes loosing weight fun and we would go out for lunch together and all eat healthy. Congrats on your weight loss :))

  16. So true! My hubby and I are in this same battle together, and he is good about NOT buying the bad stuff that we simply cannot have in the house. THe kids hate that the house is no longer full of junk food, but he can't resist it. I keep popcorn (make on stovetop with coconut oil), prunes, and almonds. Those (in moderation) are my evening snacks if I need one. We no longer buy soda pop AT ALL. Avoid processed foods like cookies, etc. I still eat bread, but Adam makes it. And bike-riding helps so much. Go girl!!! You can do it :)


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