Long weigh to go
October 6, 2008 3:44 PM   Subscribe

Have you, or anyone you know personally, every lost more than 20kg in weight – and kept it off for five years or longer? And what was your / their key to long term maintenance of the new healthy weight?

I'm just curious. I know a couple of people who've lost recently shed substantial amounts of weight (20kg-plus) They've done it, as far as I can see, through moderate, health eating and exercise.

Lots of people who lose weight *do* put it back on. But that's not what I'm interested in.

I really want to know about people who've shed the kilos, kept the weight off for a long period of time - and what it was you/they did (or didn't do!) over a period of years, rather than weeks or months.
posted by t0astie to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I lost over 20kg of weight through dieting and exercise and kept it off over 5 years. I've actually gained back quite a bit in the years past the 5 year mark (it's been quite some time since I lost the weight), but I'm still 20kg less than my top weight, so I figure I'm still qualified to answer even if no advertiser would really want to use me in the "after" picture right now.

I kept off the weight by:

1) doing 40 minutes or slightly more of fairly intense cardio 5 times weekly (walking, jogging, biking)
2) doing strength training 20m 3 times weekly (mostly dumbbells)
3) weighing food when making meals and counting calories to keep at a strict daily calorie count (3000-3300kcal)
4) keeping a food log to assist with 3, above.

I had no problem keeping my weight down -- or even losing a bit if it trended up a bit -- when I was doing all four. I regained slowly when I slacked off one or two of these for a while. I only regained quickly when I stopped paying attention to all 4.

The issue with maintaining lost weight is just that -- if you're the type inclined to being sedentary or eating poorly, you need quite a bit of will-power to maintain your commitment to keeping up with the exercise and healthy eating. Stress, schedule and emergencies tend to eat into them over time, and it's hard to get going again when you fall off the wagon. But it is possible.
posted by eschatfische at 4:07 PM on October 6, 2008

I got this joke from a "for Dummies" book, but it seems apropos. It was for exactly this question of motivation to change diet and lifestyle to avoid future complications.

In The 2,000 Year Old Man, the following exchange:

"What was your means of locomotion?"

"What do you mean, locomotion?"

"I mean, what made you go from place to place?"


The author/doctor tells it to his patients to make sure they understand the importance.
posted by dhartung at 4:21 PM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I used to weigh close to 300 lbs when I was younger and I lost close to 80 lbs over a year and a half span. For me, cardio is a life saver. I try to jog 2 miles 5 times a week and I can eat pretty much whatever I want and maintain my weight. I've been trying something new as of late though. I try and eat 5 small meals a day such as a bowl of cereal, fiber bar + yogurt, etc. It seems to really work even with my beer drinking on the weekends.

You just have to find your jam and stick with it!
posted by dunderwood at 4:41 PM on October 6, 2008

I know a guy who recently turned 40 (former coworker) who did that and kept it all off for at least ten years. He claimed it was his switch to a vegetarian diet that did the trick for him. Just an anecdote, not an endorsement.
posted by trinity8-director at 4:42 PM on October 6, 2008

You might want to check out these people; they do research on what you seem to be looking for.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:54 PM on October 6, 2008

Best answer: When I learned I was prediabetic, I was advised to increase protein and cut all sugars and grains from my diet. At the time I didn't know much about food - my doctor recommended I check out low-carb books. I went on Atkins, as it seemed easiest to follow, and lost about 40 lbs. That was in early 2003, and while I no longer am as restrictive about my diet, I still don't eat sugar or processed foods - and, I've kept the weight off.
posted by chez shoes at 5:02 PM on October 6, 2008

My aunt did it through surgery. A friend from college and her husband both lost a little more than that by training for triathalons. They've also modified their eating and shopping habits, but mostly, they that training a priority. Now they have dedicated space in their lives for exercise.

Like dunderwood says, as far as I can you just have to find something that motivates you to eat less and eat better and then stick with it.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:07 PM on October 6, 2008

My boyfriend's brother lost about 100 lbs 7/8 years ago by going to one of those Dr. Bernstein clinics. He's kept it off, looks great, exercises regularly, and eats very well (better than me). So it is possible. However, they don't have snacks or sweets around and the kids' Halloween candy gets tossed out. He's said that if this stuff is in the house then he will eat it, so his secret has been to avoid those temptations. YMMV.
posted by LunaticFringe at 5:10 PM on October 6, 2008

Best answer: I got fat from eating too much and not getting enough exercise. To lose weight I reversed this process, getting a lot of exercise and not binge eating.

I've lost roughly 70 pounds in the last 4 years by eating less, walking as much as possible, doing short intense cardio, taking pilates classes, and weight lifting.

I think taking long, long walks really helped me - like 2 hour walks around Toronto. That is how I started the weight loss. Then I started cutting back on junk, not eating stuff that had hydrogenated oils or corn syrup. That cut out a lot of the junk food.

After about a year of long, long walks and eating better, I started going to a gym and doing weight machines, some free weights and cardio. For the cardio, I would do 20 minutes at a very intense setting rather than doing a long time at a slower setting.

I'm still losing weight, though sometimes it will go up especially if I have been sick or had a medical proceedure done where I was not able to go to the gym.

Here is a before and after photo partway through my loss
posted by Melsky at 5:54 PM on October 6, 2008

Best answer: I lost 70lbs (32kg) over the course of 18 months.

We bought a kitchen scale and I forced myself to limit food intake to one serving. It is amazing how little food one serving is.

After about 6 months and 30 pounds, I started running. The remaining 40 pounds came off over the course of the following year. For about 6 years, I ran 3 miles a day until one year, I decided to run a marathon -- I did that, trashed my knees, and haven't been able to run more than a mile since. I've gained back about 10 pounds over the course of the last 2 years.

So the long and short of it... eat less (a food scale is key), exercise more, and don't overdo it.
posted by jknecht at 7:05 PM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ive lost about 45lbs, this is when i went from a long bulking phase to becoming a runner.

Basically just stook to a calorie controlled diet for a while and upped my running. I easily kept the weight off while i continued to run. I am not talking crazy distances here could get away with 20km a week

although nowadays I am more interested in gaining weight again! its all cyclical i tell ya!
posted by moochoo at 11:17 PM on October 6, 2008

My spouse did. We just threw out a bunch of his 'fat' photos this weekend.

He did it by:

Cutting out cola (he drank a LOT)
No more fried foods (he ate a lot of that too)
Walking more (fewer taxis, long walks a few times a week)
Taking up cycling (a couple of times a week, 15km round trips)
Generally eating better

His weight loss started after he met me and became a diabetic- he became a more positive person and made these changes in his life very gradually. It's been about 8 years since he started losing the weight and so far he's keeping it off.

I, on the other hand, have gained about 16 kg since I met him, which I attribute to becoming an adult, discovering alcohol, and being more sedentary. I find it extremely hard to lose weight.
posted by wingless_angel at 11:54 PM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've lost about 75lbs since 2004. I know that's not quite the long-term loss you're asking for, but at the moment it's been stable for two years so far.

- Low carb. Not no carb, but the only ones I eat are, occasional small treats aside, from vegetables, fruits and small portions of whole grains.
- 'Occasional small treats' means once a month, maybe. No cake, pastries, soda, anything like that. You won't miss them.
- I only eat when I'm hungry, and I only eat 'real' food.
- Cardio: I run 5-10k 2 or 3 times a week, swim 1k two or three times a week.
- Simplefit, as frequently referenced on MeFi. I can still only do two pull-ups, but boy, do they make a difference.
- If I ever think I'm starting to go astray (and I've developed enough awareness to spot that pretty quickly - early enough to avoid actual weight gain) I keep a food diary for a few days.
- Underlying all of this is motivation, which is very strong. You need to find yours. I use six-monthly short term goals to stay on track for my long-term objective. I know it's a bit cheesy, but this makes sure that I do whatever I have to do to stay on target. I've developed the habit of checking whether or not something is going to take me a step forward, or a step back. And if that means saying 'no' to a slice of cake that someone's carefully made for a dinner party, I still say no, politely. My health is more important.
posted by dowcrag at 1:17 AM on October 7, 2008

I think the answer is that whatever change you made to lose the weight doesn't stop once it's gone. A proper and successful diet doesn't end -- it is a change in lifestyle that continues forever.
posted by dzot at 6:15 AM on October 7, 2008

Best answer: I agree with dzot. It's only been 2 or 3 years since I lost my 40 lbs, but I only have soda once or twice a month and I eat far less fast food now. The "diet" has to become permanent, the regular exercise needs to continue even after the weight loss.
posted by exhilaration at 3:01 PM on October 7, 2008

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