It isn't dire so I guess I don't care...?
April 14, 2014 8:06 AM   Subscribe

I lost close to 100lbs and have kept it off for years. I want to continue to lose the weight, but I don't have anything pushing me to do so. I'm not gaining, but I'm not losing either.

My journey is complicated. I have been overweight since I have been probably 10 years old, and seriously obese as I got older. I broke 200lbs when I was thirteen. I was 270lbs when I was 18. When I was 27 I hit my max weight of ~335lbs. Ate horribly, and was desperately inactive. It took a woefully disappointing and "this can't actually be the kind of life I am destined for" relationship for me to finally tackle it head on. I dumped my bodyfriend, joined a gym joined WeightWatchers, and over ~2 years lost close to 100lbs. I am still overweight without question but the weight I lost was the "important" weight in terms of health risks. My blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, etc. are all perfect now. I don't take any medications related to my weight (just anti-depressants and birth control). I have an active wonderful life with my family, I am physically comfortable, all is good. For all intents and purposes the remaining weight I want to lose have more to do with appearance than health risks. Would losing more help to reduce my risks even further? Hells yeah. But it doesn't feel as dire as it used to. I don't carry my weight in my midsection, but rather in my ass and thighs. The various medical professionals I deal with don't even bring it up my weight anymore. Plus (and I think this is key to all this) my life is great, I am happy, I don't feel that my weight it keeping me from doing anything, and the negative impact the weight is having on my life is pretty minimal or even non-existant. Or maybe it just feels that way because things are SO much better than they had been pre-weight loss.

I'm 32 now. I weigh ~250lbs. My body seems to have deemed 250 to be my new set weight as I have been able to maintain that weight with little to no effort. For whatever reason I have pretty much lost my drive and motivation to keep losing the weight. My weight loss has totally stalled for quite some time now. I eat fairly healthily - portion sizes are a bigger than they should be but not epically so - and I am fairly active. The winter has been brutal, but in general my family and I are very much "outside" people - lots of bikerides and walks, etc. I do want to lose the weight, but I just can't get my head back in the game it seems. Getting out of bed and getting to the gym in the morning is extremely hard (where before it was a non-effort). I am having trouble following the Weight Watchers plan for more than about 2 weeks (where before I followed it very carefully for 2 years and lost all the weight that way). I'm drinking more alcohol than I used to, not in a "I'm an alcoholic" kind of way, but a "I probably could drink less and avoid those calories" kind of way. When I was losing before I hardly drank at all. Anyway, I'm making too many excuses and giving myself too much leniency.

I want to get back on track.

Things that I think are contributing to my trouble.
- As I have lost the weight my skin has been getting more and more loose. I feel jiggly in a totally different, unpleasant way. It is making me feel more self-conscious than being fat ever did, and losing more weight is only going to make it worse. Losing weight now is making me LESS happy with my body, not more happy.
- I'm married with a family now. I have other demands upon my time I never had before. When I lost all the weight before I had been single for the vast majority of that time, and that gave me the ability to have laser focus on my goals and to spend a great deal of time at the gym. (I do have my family's full and complete support though.)
- I also can't keep the mega control over the food in the house the way I used to, now that there are others in the house who have to eat as well. When I lost the weight before my fridge and pantry were largely pretty empty just so that there wouldn't be temptations in the house.
- We are fairly active socially - dinner parties and outings with friends and family visits - and those seem to result in less-healthy eating and alcohol consumption.
- I developed a gluten intolerance. Not only is eating in general more complicated, but now a lot of my go-to foods and meals I used to have aren't viable any more.

Basically, things are different enough that what I did before to lose the weight won't work now, and I am struggling to find a way that works with my new life. I'm focusing a great deal on why everything I did before I can't do now, which is hindering my ability to find new ways.

I would love some suggestions for how to reframe this so that I can get back in the game. How do I convince myself that this weight is a MUST LOSE like the first 100lbs? And how do I deal with the fact that any weight lost now is resulting in more loose skin? Are there any ways of attacking this that may fit in with my new life more easily? Is there some brilliant technique for ramping back up?
posted by PuppetMcSockerson to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Talk to a plastic surgeon about removing the loose skin. Ask the doctor how much more weight you need to lose before it's worth doing the surgery. Use that information to set a new goal weight, and use the surgery as motivation. Tell yourself "only x more pounds to go before I can get rid of all the flappy and jiggly skin and look as fabulous on the outside as I feel on the inside!"

As for controlling food in the house - aside from portion control, why can't you make a family pact to only keep healthy food around? It's not just for weight loss - healthy food makes everyone healthy.
posted by trivia genius at 8:12 AM on April 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

How tall are you? What does your doctor say? I have a friend who is 5'8" 170 and she looks great, very strong. She's a paramedic.

Sounds like you need a good reason. Have you done a nutritional assessment? Bloodwork? I spreadsheeted my nutrients and realized I was seriously deficient in magnesium, which helped me change my diet to more whole grains. Whenever I read this book it inspires me to have a healthy diet since it is all about healthy fats, vitamins, phytochemicals etc.

You could do the 6 days on, 1 day off kind of a eating plan.

I hear you on the 'can't control food in the house' deal. I have my bf hide the chocolate and I'm considering a small safety box wit a combo that only he knows. Because I am an animal who will eat chocolate for dinner.

Finally how is your energy level? If I eat too much sugar/coffee then I'm exhausted, I just feel piss-poor. If I eat too much dairy I break out. So this helps me stick to better food. The closer I eat to a plant-based diet, the more fan-fucking-tastic I feel.

This winter has been hard on everybody, soon it will be warmer and you can go for walks after dinner as a family.

Also figure out how much you'd like to weigh after menopause. Subtract ~20lbs from that and make it your target weight. It will only get harder when you get older*, so get on it now while its still relatively easy.

*so they say
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:19 AM on April 14, 2014

How about a big vacation after you hit a milestone weight?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:21 AM on April 14, 2014

There is nothing like that, "shit, this is going to kill me if I don't fix it" sense of urgency at the beginning of a big weight loss effort to get you motivated. I am right there with you - 100+ pounds lost, 40 pounds from a really healthy weight for me but currently quite healthy. But my clothes feel bad and I don't look as good as I can. And all of that is woefully unhelpful in getting me fired up to work on the rest of my weight. And I don't have the family situation to contend with.

Normally I would say, if you are okay where you are, then be where you are for now and be happy. Keeping off what you've lost is a huge freaking accomplishment and you should be doing cartwheels for doing that for yourself. But since you said you want to get back on track, you need to find a new sense of urgency to get you started. And then commit to yourself as you would to a child who needs you to make the smart decisions for them. You know what to do. You know the alcohol is a waste of calories. You know how to work Weight Watchers regardless of whether you're eating gluten or not. That's an excuse. As are the all the other things like parties and other people's food in the house. It's an excuse to eat what you want, not what you know you need. Start going to meetings again if you aren't. Be tough with yourself until you find the rhythm of it all again and you don't have to think so much (does anything feel better than being on healthy autopilot? What a relief that space is!). You are the only one who controls what goes in your mouth. And it's all about the food. Exercise is excellent and necessary for your overall health, but it's a very small part of weight loss.
posted by cecic at 8:22 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've found weight loss and best plans are really different depending on the person.

I've tried most of everything. Mild to moderate success with standard diets/life changes. It was always a fight though.

What really worked for me was a ketogenic diet (and is still working for me).

I never really have to worry about portion control. Eat when you are hungry, and for me I have to REMIND myself to eat anymore. I'm notorious for super late lunches because of this.

I've got energy like crazy and I feel so much better (A few times a year I'll go off the wagon for a few days at the Holidays and carby food is never as good as I remember. And I feel way worse. Blegh)

It would handle your gluten issues, as you'd not be eating ANY.


- First few days you can feel crappy (aka Atkins Flu)
- The cravings usually go away but even after they do, you'll occasional want something from the old days. When you have it, it won't be as good as you remember. It's all in your head. If you kick yourself out of ketosis you will kick yourself in the pants for the next 3-5 days getting back into the swing of things.
- Harder in a house where people eat regular food. It takes a while to get used to shopping and cooking. You can find recipes that you can make for the whole house as the main meal and then add in different sides for different dietary restrictions.
- Fresh Veggies and Meat are more expensive than carby food in general.
- Parties and Dinner out can be tough.

I'm being a bit of a ramble, so if you want more info, feel free to memail me.
posted by PlutoniumX at 8:27 AM on April 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

I suck at weight loss plans. I do SO much better with an external motivator. Mr. Kitty and I just entered the pre-drawing for the Paris 2015 Marathon. It's (potentially) training for marathon a year away that got my butt up and running this morning.

So try not to look at this as losing weight, eating plans, exercising to lose more weight - set a goal for yourself to run a 5k, 10k, 10 miler, half marathon, or whatever motivates you, and then start training for it.

Also - triatholons are GREAT for motivation and losing weight, since you are switching up your exercise routines between running, biking, and swimming. So - stop obsessing about food and start training for your big day!
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 8:30 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Basically it sounds like your need to lose weight isn't DIRE, and maybe you need a new mental framework, instead of trying to return to your old one.

Are you a goal-driven sort of person? It sounds like you're reasonably active already, but need a little push. Would signing up for a 5K/triathalon sort of thing be inspirational for you? Or maybe learning a new skill, like a dance or martial art? I just did a "biggest loser" type competition at my office, and found it super helpful to be accountable to my team, instead of myself.
posted by chocotaco at 8:31 AM on April 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

The thing about body positivity is that it is not just a thing for fat people who are never going to be anything but fat ever again. It's about getting to know and appreciating the things that your body is capable of doing. You don't feel motivated anymore by the things your body can't do, and that's a good sign. But what about the things your body is capable of doing that it's not at the moment? Running, biking, climbing, lifting, find something out there to accomplish that you can't achieve because you're not working at them, rather than because you're too fat. Take the focus off of weight loss as the achievement and shift it to something else. I can't get to the gym for the life of me just because I'm supposed to be exercising; I can get to the gym because I want to jog a bit further today, or a bit faster, than I have ever before in my adult life. I dunno if I'm ever going to be able to do a marathon, but when I started, I wasn't really sure I was going to be able to run at all, so it's very exciting to even be looking at a 5k by the end of summer. But if you're starting from a fitter place, then sure, look at marathons, century rides, that sort of thing.

Changes I make now in the service of this feel not at all as depriving as the same changes would have if they were just done to be thinner, anyway, it's a really huge difference.
posted by Sequence at 8:47 AM on April 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

How about picking a different goal that may or may not result in lbs lost, but rather inches? Like being able to squat or deadlift a certain goal weight? I don't love cardio, so running goals never worked for me, but being able to lift a certain amount really spurred me on. Building muscle is cool, too.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:51 AM on April 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

I think weighing 250 pounds is unhealthy, and it will catch up with you at around age 40.

So this is not a question of body image or societal expectations about what you ought to look like. You need to lose at the very very least another 50 pounds.

How to motivate yourself?

I have the same challenges, although you have a bigger one - you are a woman, and women store fat more easily than do men. So it is going to be harder for you to slim down.

Doing the math, I've lost about 70 pounds over the past 6 months (I have high blood pressure) and I have another 30 pounds to go before I reach my optimal BMI.

I'm fitting into clothes haven't worn in 10 years. I'm feeling pretty good. So there is less urgency now for me to keep on keeping on.

And there is tons of good stuff to eat in the fridge, thanks to two sons with two big appetites.

It's easy to fall off the wagon every day, that's for sure. Booze (beer and wine) is my kryptonite, and it does suck to only drink wine on Saturday evenings.

My solution to keeping motivated is to hit the gym and start a seriou weight-training schedule. This adds another metric to be measured, and another motivation for keeping the fridge door closed.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:54 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

male/female height?
posted by jjmoney at 9:31 AM on April 14, 2014

I think it sounds like you're in a great place! Congratulations on your weight loss. That's amazing. I really hope you're proud of yourself because you should be.

I think that those of us who have dieted for large parts of our life grow used to looking at nutrition/exercise as a thing with an end-goal, rather than an ongoing approach, so once we don't have that urge to see the numbers go down, we feel a bit lost.

I really like the idea of training for a marathon or learning a new physical skill. I think, given the fact that you don't have any impetus to see the numbers on the scale move down, that is the kind of push that could help you.

My own approach (I am overweight too) is slightly different because I was tired of feeling like nutrition and exercise was a war-zone for me. So, I just shifted my focus from "taking stuff away from myself" (delicious food! leisure!) to "giving myself good stuff" (A lot of delicious vegetables; a treat a day; trying out different activities till I found one I liked, with the result that I now swim and do yoga and hike).
posted by Ziggy500 at 9:47 AM on April 14, 2014

At 250 pounds, you are probably in X sizes. For motivation: go shopping. See the cute clothes in the smaller sizes. You could have those if you continued your admirable weight loss.
posted by Cranberry at 9:56 AM on April 14, 2014

As for keeping junkier food in the house - there's no need for it, even with other people around. It's not integral for them either, even if they really like it. The fiance and I have much, MUCH more success eating healthier when things just don't come into the house and I don't think it's unreasonable to ask your family to support you by not bringing unhealthy stuff into the house.

Is there some sort of major goal that appeals to you in the sense of being able to say you accomplished it? A triathlon, marathon, biking a century? Or maybe a specific fitness goal, like doing 100 pushups or being able to do a kickup. Perhaps rewarding yourself with a trip when you can hike a famous trail or mountain?

I would also say maybe look at your diet and see where you can fit in a small change. Can you be vegan during the day and only have animal products at dinner? Can you cut carbs out of one meal a day? Do Meatless Mondays? Sometimes I like to say that whatever I'm having for dinner, I have to eat a big salad first.
posted by brilliantine at 10:44 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

My grandmother is heavy, maybe was your weight at 50yo. She has joint trouble that the weight seriously exacerbated. That's a horrible cycle to be in. She's been in chronic pain and unable to do much for 30 years now. Imagine, not being able to bike or even walk around the mall without pain for more than a third of your life.

You may be active now, but the strain you're putting on your joints is very real, and if you want to stay active, avoid joint replacement, minimize problems from injuries, and slow down age-related joint degeneration--lighter is better.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:19 AM on April 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Also, 250 is not out of health risk zone. Again, your numbers are fine now, but do you really want to struggle with type 2 diabetes for decades? Or heart disease? If not, you want to get your BMI to "overweight" instead of "obese".

I had loose skin from weight loss that went away after I lost even more weight. Oftentimes it's the last of the fat left in that area, less dense than it used to be so not as firm, not permanently loose skin. You might be pleasantly surprised.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:25 AM on April 14, 2014

I developed a gluten intolerance. Not only is eating in general more complicated, but now a lot of my go-to foods and meals I used to have aren't viable any more.

I have no answer to your larger question, but as someone who hasn't eaten gluten in five years, this is silly. Being intolerant to gluten means that you can't eat a lot of things that are bad for you, and it means that you should focus on food that is good. I eat a lot of vegetables, lean meat and fish, and grains such as a quinoa. I am gluten intolerant and I can't eat dairy and I have a godawful digestive system in general, but I think that means that I have to make sure that the food I put into my body is good for me. I can't mindlessly eat packaged food or pizza or pasta.

(I do miss beer, though).

Reframe the negative into a positive.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:28 AM on April 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Develop some goals tangentially related to healthy weight and lifestyle:

1. Stop drinking entirely.
2. Physical feat of interest (hike such and such trail, climb x mountain, walk or bike all points of interest in city y, raft river z).
3. vacation at teh National Parks!
4. Learn to garden, hunt, fish or forage. Prepare your goods and eat them.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:34 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Congratulations on losing the weight, and keeping it off!

I love WeekendJen's suggestion about choosing a "physical feat of interest" and, to the short list of suggestion, would like to add my own.

I've found that I'm more motivated to go do a workout when I'm meeting someone. Maybe you could make plans with a group of friends (maybe the same ones you dinner-party with?) to do a weekly walk or hike? It's a great way to create some you-time, and to make a social space where you and your friends can spend time together without the food-focus of a dinner party.

Along that line, why not volunteer to be a sighted guide for an organization like Achilles International? (Full disclosure: I'm one of their athletes and have run tons of races with various guides).

Not all Achilles athletes are runners. Many are walkers, run/walkers, tandem cyclists, swimmers, wheelchair athletes and handcyclists. It's easier to get motivated when you know that someone else is depending on you.

Good luck on this journey, and congratulations again on all that you've already achieved!
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 11:59 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Whoops. I fail at HTML: Achilles International
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 11:59 AM on April 14, 2014

It's great that your family's on board and already engaging in activity, generally. (This winter has been awful awful awful, with temperatures and weather and darkness unheard of in decades; everyone north of the 40th parallel is forgiven for retreat, imo). But are you stuck eating 'special' gf food while everyone else is having warm rye with their eggs in the morning? If so, what if you got them (mostly) on board a new amazing and delicious and satiating menu that just happens to be calorie-conscious? Agree with ablazingsaddle - perhaps you could take a gf-friendly cooking class, or get into recipe books/blogs, and then share the results.

For daily exercise - make it as easy for yourself as possible. I think gyms are ideal for a few reasons, but if the inconvenience is a problem and you think you could motivate yourself on your own (and you can afford a few pieces of equipment), it might be worth getting a stationary bike for home, so you can squeeze in 30 minutes in the morning. Or, get a membership somewhere that's exactly along your route home from work, if you can, so you can get it out of the way before you put your feet up.

Totally agree with substituting an aesthetics focus with a performance focus, too, so you can ride out the disconcerting body and mind changes that come with weight loss. It is definitely a head trip, but actual physical changes and your own psychological adjustment/acceptance improve with time, especially if you can forget body part x while you're doing y amazing thing. And, if you (and maybe your family?) have a competition to commit to that involves lots of training, drinking won't be as appealing after a few trials.
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:02 PM on April 14, 2014

Congratulations on your weight loss! That's incredible!

How do I convince myself that this weight is a MUST LOSE like the first 100lbs?

If you are a woman of size who works for pay, according to the research, you are more likely to be discriminated against in employment. (See Extra Pounds Prove Costly to Women in the Workplace.)

Are there any ways of attacking this that may fit in with my new life more easily?

They say "you can eat through any amount of exercise." Focus on eating clean. You might try juicing (using a blender to mix fruits and veggies - see the documentary "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" - it's on Netflix.) Also, the Paleo Diet is totally compatible with being gluten-free.

Is there some brilliant technique for ramping back up?

30-day bootcamps work well for folks who need a kick-start. Jillian Michaels videos worked for me. Best wishes!
posted by hush at 3:17 PM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

The only thing that motivates me is doing a physical activity that I love. That may sound like a no-brainer, but I have so many friends with gym memberships they never use (because they hate it, which is understandable) but keep saying they'll go back "soon." They won't.

When it's a physical activity I love doing, I make the time to go. I eat better because I don't want to eat pizza after exercising or eat a huge meal for lunch when I want to do the thing I love in the evening. I drink less because I don't want a hangover to impair my success. I don't even think about weight loss; it just happens.

So my recommendation is to find a physical activity that you enjoy (if not love) doing, that you want to go do each day. Clearly that isn't the gym for you, and it is never going to be. I would also recommend something with a degree of accountability if you don't attend -- something that involves a group and/or a trainer. Yoga, martial arts, rock climbing, flag football, jazzercise, spinning, fencing, kayaking, kickball, dancing, swimming -- I don't even think it needs to be something crazy high-intensity, just something that motivates you to make healthier choices in the rest of your life.
posted by retrograde at 9:01 PM on April 14, 2014

I'm not sure why you want to lose more weight. Your question doesn't give any reasons for you to do it. If there aren't any, why force yourself to do unpleasant things? It makes sense that it would be hard to get motivated if there really are minimal benefits for you.
posted by metasarah at 7:23 AM on April 15, 2014

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