Real Live Permanent Weight Loss?
December 3, 2016 3:26 PM   Subscribe

Are you a MeFite who has finally succeeded in keeping weight off, after more than one try? I successfully lost 10 pounds in 2015, and have in the last year, put ALL OF IT back on. What should I do differently this time?

I used MyFitnessPal, and lost 10 pounds. Yay! But then I just... slid right back to where I was. I really want to lose the 10 pounds permanently. If you've seesawed and finally triumphed, what did you do differently that made you finally keep it off?
posted by airguitar2 to Health & Fitness (37 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
I've lost 60 lbs in total over about 5 years. I definitely had my setbacks, but I have been successful because I made lifestyle changes (and kept them in my life even once I hit my goal). I've continued to make more tweaks to improve my health even more. It also helps to have someone to keep you accountable.

You say you used MyFitnessPal. If that is what helped you loose weight, you probably need to continue to use it until you can internalize how the app is changing your habits.
posted by plo_veggie at 3:43 PM on December 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

Don't "diet".

Become a different person, not totally but someone that buys differently, eats just a little different, moves a bit more.
posted by sammyo at 3:56 PM on December 3, 2016 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Diet is a huge part of it, but so is meaningful exercise. I was doing cardio and literally getting jack out of it and eating "clean" - I was losing weight simply on the basis of food choice alone. Which is great! Unless you like food. I like food.

So I took up weight lifting in the last year along with rowing for cardio and LET ME TELL YOU. I may or may not be down by pounds but I'm *fitter* and I'm down by inches, and today I squatted 190 lbs. Which is easily 50lbs more than I weigh. I can eat -- if not anything, I can eat A LOT to keep up the weight lifting and I can, with care, more or less eat what I want. If I wanted to be really stringent with my diet, I could lose more weight.

So my highest recommendation is whatever you do with diet and cardio, take up picking up the heavy thing. Changing your body composition to be more muscular will ONLY help.
posted by Medieval Maven at 3:58 PM on December 3, 2016 [24 favorites]

I remember reading that a study showed that people who successfully maintain a weight loss usually weigh themselves regularly -- regularly being defined as "at least once a week".
posted by orange swan at 4:13 PM on December 3, 2016

I’d been overweight/obese pretty much my entire life, but lost over 50lbs 2013 into 2014, and have maintained it relatively easily for over 2 years. There are still chances for me to re-gain I suppose, but I’ve also never lost anywhere close to that much weight (maybe 10lbs here and there, but not 50!). For me the key was regular exercise (and learning to love exercise—and yes, that took a while. and get back up or modify if you have setbacks).

No "diets," no restrictions, and no calorie counting - which aren’t feasible for the long term. I eat everything in moderation and exercise for the physical, as well as mental/emotional benefits. Also if you strength train, the scale might even go up! That’s normal. If you exercise, you can’t get attached to a number - especially when we’re talking about just a few pounds. I haven’t weighed myself for over a year now, and it’s been glorious to let go of the number and focus on the fitness part -- while my newer “skinny” clothes still fit.
posted by raztaj at 4:15 PM on December 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

This doesn't exactly answer your question, but there is some recent tentative evidence that dieting temporarily changes the composition of one's gut bacteria community in such a way that contributes to regaining the weight once one goes off the diet (at least if one is a mouse). The change seems to last a few months, the implication being that if one can maintain a stable weight on the diet for several months then the gut flora normalizes again. (YMMV if you're not a mouse.)
posted by heatherlogan at 4:57 PM on December 3, 2016 [7 favorites]

I changed my habits in a significant way during my weight loss and those habits stuck. For me the habits include never having junk food in the house (ice cream is the exception), eating salads most of the time that I go out to restaurants, tracking my weight regularly, and eating breakfast with protein in it. Sometimes I find myself slipping a bit but I gently reorient myself to the habits. Best of luck.
posted by sockermom at 5:01 PM on December 3, 2016

Best answer: It's a lifestyle change, for sure. I went with a conservative deficit, because I hate being hungry (grossed 1800-2200, at 5'7 - didn't bother looking at net cals, just worked hard at exercise most days I could). 80% of the time, I eat nutritionally decent and satiety-promoting foods - prioritizing protein, fibrous carbs, and fat - that I like. (So chicken *with* skin and some fat in there. Steak, even in butter. Also lots of eggs, greek yogurt. Cottage cheese is a secret weapon for snacks, has tons of protein and is low cal. Oatmeal is a standby evening snack, also filling and low cal, while light. I think it's good to have reliable things like that around. Decent planning helps in general, this was something I had to learn.) Also lots of legumes, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, etc.

20% of the time, I have stuff some call "junk", but I don't keep it at home and I eat just a bit at a time.

I keep meals simple, and rotate the same sorts of things reasonably often, for dinner. (Some kind of meat; some kind of starch - potatoes, rice, multigrain bread, lentils; some kind of veg - steamed greens or spinach salad, usually.) Breakfast is mostly the same all the time (and big, I hate small breakfasts). Lunch is either leftovers, or else whatever's around that's under 600 cals and has decent protein (from e.g. Starbucks, Subway, etc). Though again for that, I have some standbys that work for me, so I don't have to think too much. (I like variety so get enough of it, but also like to not have to think too much about food.)

Exercise is really important - as many days as I can do it (mix of lifting and low-impact cardio, which I vary often to try to minimize the repetitive strain injuries I'm prone to). I prioritize convenience - I work out at home when I don't need to rely on machines, and will never go to a gym more than a ten-minute walk from my place (and that is a hard upper limit, the closer the better. I will go to the mankiest gym, I don't care, as long as it's close and has a cable machine).

I didn't have a goal weight in mind beyond a rough target. I set up a lifestyle that worked for me, one that I could follow consistently, and my weight settled as a result.
posted by cotton dress sock at 5:04 PM on December 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

For me what did it was keto / low carb. I'm not at the lowest weight I've hit, but much better then when i started. I don't know if it'll work the same way for you bit it was a great, and sustainable, way for me to eat.
posted by pyro979 at 5:05 PM on December 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

Diet and exercise, of course, are important. But key, for me, was learning to tell myself "no." I was very obese in my youth and made a serious effort to shed the weight when I got to college. I've had a short setback or two over the years, but I've always been able get back to a proper weight by understanding that you have to learn to deny yourself things. I'm not saying you need to cut anything out entirely, but, for instance, instead of two scoops of ice cream, you limit yourself to one. Then, once you get used to that, you limit yourself to one smaller scoop. I'm 100 pounds lighter today than I was in high school, thanks to understanding this habit.

We live in a culture that insists that we should have anything we want, when we want it. But, if you want to lose the weight and keep it off, you have to learn the habit of denying yourself the excesses.

Losing weight and keeping it off is a lifetime effort. I wish you success.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:35 PM on December 3, 2016 [9 favorites]

Friend of mine's success story:

Leaving home - no more Asian exhortations to eat more and gain more weight
Reprioritization - no longer "going into the lab" early; mornings spent at the gym, shower, then go into the lab
Eating regularly - eat at set times three times in a day, no more snacking
Fiance - likes to eat "healthy"

Went from high-200's to 160-ish (at 6') and keeping it off. Has to keep going to the gym, though, to maintain otherwise it starts coming back.
posted by porpoise at 5:41 PM on December 3, 2016

Are you a MeFite who has finally succeeded in keeping weight off, after more than one try?

This is a bit like asking somebody 'Did you win Powerball? I didn't. What should I do differently?' And the answer is 'Why, just buy tickets!'

You'd realise, of course, that the Powerball person is a very rare individual indeed. And while they certainly bought a ticket, lots of people did exactly the same thing and came up with a big handful of zip.

And the same is true of people who lose weight, and keep it off for more than a few years. These people are exceedingly rare. And they probably lost that weight doing stuff that millions of other people are doing right now - paleo, keto, WW, weighing themselves, 5-2, CSIRO...except it doesn't work for almost every other person on the planet. Chances are, for example, that one of them just used MyFitnessPal and did exactly what you did. It worked for them. It just didn't work for you.

It's tempting to say 'if I just do what you did, successful weight loser, then surely I too will succeed'. Except this is almost certainly not true, for reasons we don't really understand, but which probably boil down to losing weight and keeping it off is really, really, really, no seriously really fucking hard, and success probably comes down to a combination of 'I tried something' and 'I hit the jackpot and it actually worked for me', in much the same way pulling a lever on a slot machine works for some people.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:11 PM on December 3, 2016 [17 favorites]

I've lost 15 lbs in the last 2 years, all through lifestyle changes (drastically reducing added sugar from my diet, adding regular exercise, adding regular walks, making small "better" food choices -- ex: oil & vinegar instead of Caesar dressing, etc) that I can keep and enjoy. I use Habitica to help me keep and add these changes and have started scheduling things more, which has been driving me to make better choices. In the end, it has all been about making the *right* choice the easy choice.

I am super into building systems into my life, though, so YMMV.
posted by chiefthe at 6:37 PM on December 3, 2016

I dropped a good 20 lbs in a few months a year or two ago (after slowly losing 20-ish lbs over a longer period of time). I've regained a few lbs, but I am fairly confident I can lose those again. Medium-sized lifestyle choices are what did it.

I now eat a relatively low-carb diet (almost no rice or pasta, sparing with the bread, and very sparing with potato-based stuff), and not terribly much of it either. Breakfast is usually a smoothie, and lunch and dinner are small and very protein-heavy whenever possible. In between I eat a lot of nuts, clif bars, snacks as healthy as I can manage, and I go to the gym and do yoga 3-4 days a week. (I'm just doing cardio and some bodyweight stuff at the gym; I don't want to start lifting until I can pay a personal trainer to walk me through it all.) I drink very little, especially compared to a few years ago. I worked a very physical job last summer and that got me to drop the last 10 lbs very quickly, and I've largely been able to keep it all off even once the job ended. I miss bagels a lot, but I can still have a bagel once or twice a month, you know? Just not every morning. Ditto french fries, and other carb-y stuff. It sucks a lot, but it lets me determine what I look like, and this is how it's going to be.

So, yeah. Permanent lifestyle changes, but within that, you have to find what will work for you.
posted by kalimac at 7:10 PM on December 3, 2016

Yes. I lost weight and got in shape over two years ago and I'm still going strong today. The "secret" is to not compare yourself to other people and to be consistent with exercise and diet. Instead of dieting until you hit your weight target, change your diet permanently to include only macro nutrients, meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. Avoid sugar like the plague. Drink a lot of water. You can still have pizza and other goodies for a special occasion, but it should never become a staple. Don't follow any diet guides that include "cheat days" or other gimmicks. The goal should be to reset your default eating habits to include only healthy food.

Exercise matters a lot in our sedentary world. Most people who start working out try to do something like running because you don't need equipment or another person. Running is great and all but it is frankly very boring. I recommend trying to find something you're interested in, like rowing or soccer or tennis. Find a skill you want to develop and see how far you can take it!
posted by deathpanels at 7:35 PM on December 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

There is no mystery behind the bottom-line mechanics of weight loss - you take in less energy than you put out, and the weight will go, there is no question about it.

The unknowns involved are entirely about making it sustainable for *you* over time. You need to figure out a way of eating and a way of moving that are psychologically and physiologically comfortable for you.

A few things *tend* to help - lowER carb, higher protein diets are often useful in helping to mitigate hunger, so it's less painful. Having a few not-so-healthy but pleasant treats now and then helps you stick with it over the long haul. But not having tempting high-cal low-nutritional-value food in the house is an easy way to prevent going over on calories.

Aside from that, there are lots of different approaches, and lots of practical tips people share on forums like MFP. (About meal planning, etc.) and it's just a question of trying different things and seeing what works for you.

The one thing I think does not usually work well is extreme or crash dieting. (With the exception of very low calorie diets for people who are at very high BMIs and are under medical supervision.) People who want to wear a bikini in exactly four months and commit themselves to eating nothing but soup and protein bars end up in trouble.

(And I personally think people with less than 20 lbs to lose who are not *very* short should probably not go for the 1200 so often suggested by MFP. It's just really aggressive and painful and imo unnecessary. I think it sets many people up for failure. It can be as easy as shaving 250 off from your TDEE, and burning another 250 through exercise. Which everyone should be doing in some form, anyway, for cardiovascular health.)

But you can do all this on MFP - so 2nd going back for support and information exchange.

Exercise isn't strictly necessary for weight loss, but it helps with diet compliance and maintenance (there are studies on this, not handy now), and you can eat a bit more, especially if your non-exercise activity level isn't that high, and it's obviously good for you for many other reasons.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:49 PM on December 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

I changed my lifestyle to eat less, eat better and exercise more. For *me* it's as simple as that.

I had a normal metabolism that slowed noticeably once I hit 30-odd, I was eating all sorts of delicious, unhealthy food in large quantities and I sat on my butt all day and all evening. It's not surprising the weight went on! I changed the obvious problems. It's still difficult to say no to the delicious, unhealthy snacks, but I do my best.
posted by eloeth-starr at 9:33 PM on December 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I lost 50 pounds 2012-2014 using a Fitbit pedometer and myfitnesspal and finally kept it off after 20 years of yoyo dieting.

-I still wear the Fitbit every day which makes me want to walk more
-I still log calories about 75% of the time...I won't do it for a few weeks, then try to have a good month or so of being a bit more careful and logging
-I weigh myself and log my weight almost every day
-No snacking..I don't even really enjoy it now and feel guilty when I do - that was a big lifestyle change
-On that note I keep very little food in the house which helps prevent binging
-As someone with low self-esteem about most things I just feel really good about being slimmer and losing weight. I try to keep up that internal monologue of "hey, you've done good"
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 9:40 PM on December 3, 2016

Best answer: I've got to point out two things -- well, three, really.

1) Your body is self-regulating and has its own setpoint: it will always try to return to it if you artificially force a gain or a loss. You can't change this, any more than you can grow an extra inch or change your eye colour by force of will. IF YOUR SETPOINT IS ONLY 10 POUNDS DIFFERENT FROM YOUR IDEAL WEIGHT, DON'T TRY TO LOSE WEIGHT. 10 pounds is not a hill worth dying on, nor is it enough to make a difference in your life, your health or your dress or pant size. I don't know if you're male or female, but you're more likely female if you're worried about a difference that small. A woman who is 5'7" and weighs 145 pounds, has a BMI of 22.7. If she weighs 155 pounds, she has a BMI of 24.3. Both are perfectly healthy, by any standard. If your setpoint is only that tiny smidge over what you think your ideal should be, leave it.

Consistent dieting (which is what you're signing up for) will cause your metabolism to slow and, especially as you age, set you up for true, gold plated, holy-shit-I-can't-buy clothes obesity in middle age. It's not fun dealing with 70 to 80 pound weight gain; don't start down that road.

Instead, exercise regularly, eat well, keep an eye on your weight and make sure it doesn't rise (and keep an eye on what you're eating to ensure that you're not consuming more calories and sugars than you think) and learn how to dress the body you have.

2) there's only two ways to 'permanently' lose weight, and both are only worth doing if you're trying to fight a very large weight gain. First, which works for a very few, is constant, unrelenting tracking of everything you eat, all the time, for the rest of your life. Second, which works for almost everyone, is weight loss surgery, which makes it possible to live on 800 calories a day for the rest of your life without going insane. Neither is fun or healthy, and both are only really useful if you're facing massive gain without them.

3) I have lost 45 pounds since May; I have another 30 pounds to go before I'm 130 pounds. But I am 55, and I've done this particular journey many times in my lifetime. I started when I was 16, and decided that at 5'5" and 129 pounds I was a whale, and I needed to weigh 115 pounds instead. By dint of constant and perpetual dieting and exercise I managed to get and keep my weight where I wanted it to be for most of my 20s, but I totally jacked my metabolism in the process, and now my body wants to weigh 220 pounds instead of 130.

So I am your awful lesson. Exercise, be healthy, and keep an eye on things, but don't screw with yourself over a difference that small.

Sorry to be so long-winded and preachy, but I've always wondered what would have happened if I hadn't dieted so consistently in my youth.
posted by jrochest at 10:00 PM on December 3, 2016 [9 favorites]

Calorie counting is helpful to many because it trains the eye and stomach towards more accurate estimation, but it's not the only way to do it. That is only a way of monitoring portions, which is the main thing. Portion control can also be done using visual comparisons/estimation, with practice, and/or by selecting a balance of foods that naturally limits consumption because it promotes satiety, and developing a reliable menu that permits a variety of foods that are pleasing to you (if you invest in learning to cook in a way that pleases you).

You do need some way to limit what you eat, because leaving it between legacy body systems and capitalism will lead to gain for most people. But you can start with one way, or two ways at once, and switch to another way later on. And it doesn't have to be awful (or "unhealthy"!), it can be fun, if you get into cooking. If you don't want to, it can be easy, if you source and plan reliable takeout or frozen options that meet your needs. It's just a lie, and a public disservice, to suggest that only masochists can lose and keep it off, or that it's impossible.

It is very possible to learn these habits of portion monitoring so that they are mostly automatic, and to move to a way of eating that is enjoyable, over the long term.

I've been maintaining a large weight loss for seven years, and have moved between these methods. I did not track calories at all for several years, and didn't shift more than a couple of pounds in that time, because my lifestyle was consistent. I've gone back to tracking during changed life circumstances to keep an eye out, but it hasn't been necessary for *most* of the time since I lost.

A person's relationship to food is personal and multifaceted. Of course, change from a lifelong way of eating (and planning, and maybe cooking) is stressful, initially. But it's not once the changes and new habits are ingrained. And that can absolutely happen, in a healthy, life-enriching way, if it's done in a manner that's sustainable for you - that accounts for your tastes and lifestyle, and if you invest in it.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:46 PM on December 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

I lost about 50 pounds 5-6 years ago. I completely changed my diet, from high-carb vegetarian to low carb (and a year or so into that, meat was suddenly appealing, so now I'm no longer vegetarian). I also exercise daily and completely changed a lot of my lifestyle to incorporate that; I ride my bike most days (about 10 miles, 20-30 minutes each way) and run 30-40 minutes 3-5 times a week.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 10:51 PM on December 3, 2016

Best answer: I lost 60 pounds roughly 6 years ago (after 20 years of half-assed dieting) and haven't regained any of it. I think the most important factor in maintaining weight loss (as opposed to achieving weight loss, for which there are a bunch of effective methods, several described above) was the mental work of accepting that 1) the behavioral changes I was making had to be permanent, so I'd better make some smart, sustainable choices on that front and 2) I would have to maintain some active oversight of those changes, because clearly letting things go into autopilot wasn't working for me.

Nowadays my body has reset to the new normal and my activity levels have been trending upwards, so I am no longer as strict as I was in the first couple years - I'm no longer actively tracking calories, no apps, no turning down a work lunch or beers with the team or obsessing over anything. I weigh myself roughly once a year. This is decidedly NOT a life sentence to obsessive weighing of baby carrots or calculating the calories in air. I am, however, still actively mindful of my diet, every day. I'm still considering all my meals with an eye towards keeping nutrition and satiety and portion size and calorie content and tastiness all in balance.

If it helps, the way I got over the mental hurdle of "I have to be on a DIET for the REST OF MY LIFE?!? :( :( " was this:

Yes, it is not super great that my body, if left to its own whims, does not maintain itself at a weight I am comfortable with and instead will cheerfully eat potato chips for every meal. It is in fact super annoying that some members of my family can eat whatever and whenever strikes their fancy and somehow not eat too much while I must be descended from some always-hungry cave people who were really good at storing away all their extra calories for the winter on their hips. It kind of sucks that I have to do this sort of food mindfulness manually, every day, and probably will always have to, if I want to have the body that I want to have.

But. I figure almost everybody every day is fighting (or wishes they were fighting) their natural tendencies on something in order to live the life they want to be living. Controlling spending, controlling a mercurial temper, managing healthy boundaries, maintaining a desired weight, being organized or on time for things, performing emotional labor, controlling clutter, fighting an addiction, etc. etc. etc. This just happens to be one of my particular burdens that I decided I wanted to address - and frankly, it's not a particularly onerous one, addressing it comes with a ton of side benefits, and it has gotten easier and easier and more forgiving and more rewarding as I go. Ultimately I am happy with the trade-offs.

I really think that the moment the switch flipped from 'ugh, I need to go on a diet again' to 'actually we need some permanent changes here that I need to stay on top of' was the moment I stopped entertaining the idea of weight loss and actually succeeded with it.

Best of luck - it IS possible.
posted by colbeagle at 11:04 PM on December 3, 2016 [7 favorites]

One question that might be relevant here is whether you actually are overweight. (I ask because I've known a few people who talk a lot about trying to lose 10 or 20lbs., as I stare at them confused as to where those pounds would even come from.)

Anyway, like a lot of people I'd suggest gradually incorporating small, permanent changes in your habits. If you drink soda, juice, or a lot of alcohol, that might be an easy thing to cut out. Find ways to eat a lot more vegetables, and so forth. Ten pounds isn't an enormous amount, and if you've been pretty steady at your current weight then it's possible that even a few smallish changes will do you.
posted by trig at 2:02 AM on December 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I lost about 45lbs last year and have been at a stable weight for about 12 months now. I wasn't actually trying to lose weight when I did, which is why I think it worked - instead, I was having a lot of problems with anxiety and just wanted to feel better, so I started making a few changes, including cutting out refined sugar and caffeine, getting way more sleep, then eventually I also realised that I had an intolerance to gluten so I stopped eating that, too. And it worked - I feel much better, and I also happened to lose weight. I still have a high BMI which came up as an issue recently when I was trying to get life insurance, and for a few weeks I started stressing that I must lose weight, but then I decided that I'll just do another round of feeling better instead. I already started, in fact - I started running to try and improve my mental health. If the weight comes off, great, but at least I'll feel healthy and rested.
posted by ukdanae at 2:25 AM on December 4, 2016

Like others here, I lost weight with a high fat, low carb, moderate protein way of eating (keto). That's what I did differently. On regular diets I'd dream at night of eating cupcakes. I once dreamt of a chocolate cake and woke up chewing on my pillowcase. With keto, I don't crave sweets. It only took a few days to be able to walk past the doughnuts in the staff kitchen. At night, I dreamt of walking into the grocery store and walking past the free samples. An employee asked me if they could help me find something and I said in the dream "You have nothing for me." And walked onto the veggies, meats and cheeses.

I lost 35lbs in four months eating at a 20% calorie deficit. For the past 11 months, I've been eating keto at maintenance calories and have stayed within four pounds of that 35lb loss. I'm up a few pounds before my period, and at 36lbs lost directly after.

Exercise hasn't been any part of that weight loss. I'm mostly sedentary, but last month, I did walk 12-14 miles a day up and down hills in Scotland on vacation. It turns out that while exercise had nothing to do with losing weight, losing weight has contributed to my ability to exercise, when I feel like it.

While this way of eating was challenging at the front end because I started weighing my food, tracking my macros and cooking almost everything from scratch (project management skills needed), the food itself is glorious. I don't have guilt or shame around food and eating anymore. The food I make is delicious and a daily reward. (I no longer weigh my food and track macros.)

My specialist agrees that it put two autoimmune diseases into remission. I also have far fewer migraines. It's been a revelation.

I like to say that I spent my forties feeling like I was in my fifties, and now that I'm almost 50, I feel like I'm in my thirties. It's supposed to be so difficult for perimenopausal women my age to lose weight without deprivation and discipline. I found out that's bull$hit.

Here's a link to my progress pics.
posted by vitabellosi at 5:54 AM on December 4, 2016 [10 favorites]

As others have said, losing weight is a fairly mechanical process. If you work at a small calorie deficit for a sustained period of time, you will lose weight. Your body is programmed to store excess calories as fat and to use that fat when there is a shortage. By purposefully eating at a deficit, you're just using your body's internal programming to start "eating" your fat.

That part is easy. The hard part is the personal/psychological side of the equation. How do you keep yourself motivated to continue with the project? This all depends on who you are. For me measuring my progress every few days was helpful. I also got involved in a new fun activity that was very physically demanding, so I was eating differently in order to accommodate the new strain I was putting on my body.
posted by deathpanels at 6:12 AM on December 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I lost a good amount of weight. I'm assigned-male-at-birth, 6'1", and my highest weight was 230-240 lbs, and I'm around the lowest I've been since high school at 170 lbs. However, I feel like I lost and kept it off for atypical reasons.

You see, I suffered from depression for many years, and it got crippling when I turned 18. I've only recently started feeling much better at 27, and working out some other stuff (for one, realizing I'm trans). One of the habits I picked up was compulsive eating, I think because I had so much dissociation being stuffed was one of the few things I could feel. When I became aware I was doing that (specifically, that I never felt hungry at all, but always had big meals), my diet changed overnight and I fell back to my baseline weight from my teens pretty quickly.

I can't say that's useful to you, but I think this is important to consider when you see people who say they lost a ton of weight. Not everyone gets heavy because they're predisposed to it. Don't get too discouraged by yoyo-ing. We're still animals with hormones and garbage, so it's natural for our bodies to want to put on weight sometimes.

I guess my one practical tip would be, work with your cycles. Recognize when you're having a "fat" month, and do what you can to minimize it but don't get depressed you can't stop it, and when you have a lot of energy and motivation to eat right and exercise, make time to make the most of it. It works great for mood and motivation, too.
posted by MuppetNavy at 7:27 AM on December 4, 2016

Best answer: I've kept off 15 pounds (give or take) for 10 years now. I excercise 5 times a week. When time gets tight I try to get some walking in. I also try to get at least 4 servings of fruits and veggies a day. I eat a very healthy breakfast on autopilot. All these good behaviors are habits that take almost no effort at this point to keep up. Without them I assume I'd be 50 pounds plus heavier. I try to eat reasonable lunches and dinners most of the time but there's some sort of candy/pizza etc most days.
posted by Kalmya at 7:30 AM on December 4, 2016

I finally got serious this year and dropped 45 pounds by changing my lifestyle. Whatever you do, you have to make it a permanent change, not something you do for a short time while you lose weight. For me, it was cutting out carbs and junk food. I don't ever expect to eat that way again.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:53 AM on December 4, 2016

When I was pregnant I developed gestational diabetes and was forced to go on a diabetic meal plan. I spent a week experimenting during which I learned which foods spiked my readings. Then I spent two months only eating foods I knew were safe for me. I am six weeks postpartum and am almost 20 pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight.

It was really eye opening for me to start comparing labels on things. I found a load of bread where I can have two slices for the same carb count as one slice of the bread I was eating before. And even a tiny bit of exercise kept my numbers much more in line. It was very instructive. I hate to say it because it sounds so fad-ish but I really suspect that for many people, carbs matter more than calories do.
posted by ficbot at 8:07 AM on December 4, 2016

I lost ~30 lbs a couple years ago. It took me the better part of a year to get it off via calorie counting and taking up running. I put on and lose about 5 lbs of that pretty frequently because my base state is lazy potato chips. It continues to be a struggle, there's no point where I'm just going to be like "I can do whatever I want at all times and stay under 160 wheeee!" Nope, not gonna happen.

I'd be lying if I said that I do all the same stuff that I did when I was losing. I don't. I run less, but I still run--about 8 miles a week (I was probably running 10-12 miles a week when I was losing). I eat more, but I still try hard to control my portions and avoid junk food (this tends to go out the window round about 9 PM every night, which is where that pesky 5 lbs keeps coming from--I should probably take up knitting or something). The kitchen scale still gets used to weigh out portions of pasta and rice.

I just stepped on the scale this morning and it said 160 which means it's time to buckle down. I try to stay at or under 155, I get mildly concerned between 155 and 160 and when 160 is hit, klaxons sound and I stoop fooling around. I will have to do this for the rest of my able-bodied life. There's really no getting around that.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:24 AM on December 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I lost about 90 pounds over the course of a few years, maybe seven years ago. I've since gained about 30 back because of pregnancy and general kid-related lifestyle changes, but the net is still pretty good.

What did it for me was exercising a fuckload. Like eight-mile runs and boxing classes twice a week and just working out like it was a hobby. Which it kinda was! I didn't treat it like "oh I gotta burn off some calories," but like "it's a beautiful day to run around the lake and maybe I'll see some cool dogs aw yeah." It takes a lot of crappy unpleasant workouts before you get to the point where you actually feel good about doing it, and it's easy to give up before you hit that point.

I no longer have the time to exercise as much as I used to, otherwise I'm sure I'd weigh less. But I still stick to a regular workout schedule as much as I can, otherwise I'm sure I'd weigh more.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:50 AM on December 4, 2016

First, I sort of agree with a poster above that asking people who have lost weight how they did it is not necessarily going to give you great results, because of survivorship bias. The people who answer are the people for whom the techniques they describe worked. The people for whom it did not work will stay silent. So you only get one side of the picture.

The people to ask are the people who do research into the subject. They see both the successes and the failures, they have analyzed a broad set of techniques (wheras each individual loser typically has settled on a single thing that worked for them, etc)

That said, my personal anecdote is that I am a 6' 40 yo man. When I was 18 I weighed perhaps 150 or 160. By the time I was 28 I weighed 250. I slowly lost weight over many years and I'm currently around 175. I did it by logging calories religiously, weighing myself often, and doing a fair amount of exercise.

If I stop logging, after about 6mo, my weight will start to rise. Not a lot, but enough that I can see it - I still weight myself regularly. So I go in a yearly cycle where I will gain 5lb in the fall/winter and lose it in the spring/summer. This coincides with the cycling season - I am usually working hard and riding a lot in the spring and summer, and relaxing more in the fall and winter.

I think if I stopped caring about riding a bike, then I would put a lot of the weight back on, because my desire to keep the weight down is tied to liking to ride bikes. Logging your food is not "hard" but it's difficult to keep doing it every day of your life, which I think for me is just a requirement. It's too easy to lie to myself about how much I'm eating and left to my own devices I just drift upwards.
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:49 AM on December 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hi! I lost 60 lbs during 2008-2010. I've maintained my loss for 6 years. Here's some stuff I did and still do!

Dropping "eating out" and "being a foodie who has to try everything" as hobbies. I cook at home now. I make simple, satisfying food. I don't spend time looking at recipes, watching food shows, viewing food pics, etc. Dropping any care about keeping up with the Jonses regarding Hot New Restaurants.

Carb awareness and reduction.

Awareness of food cues and avoidance of them whenever possible, ESPECIALLY at night. Examples: I don't watch/focus on people eating, don't watch fast food ads. Ask the hubs not to announce how hungry he is and then list aloud all the things he wants to eat.

(FYI I don't judge others for eating when I'm not eating. I just don't pay attention to them eating. Hope that makes sense.)

I pretty much try to ignore food except when it's time to eat. And then I eat yummy stuff I enjoy that doesn't spike my blood sugar. I don't white knuckle it or deprive myself. If something is driving me nuts, I eat it. With full awareness that certain foods trigger hunger, overeating and weight gain in me. So if I end up eating treats and splurges all the time, I will gain. It's not a mystery (for me in this body, that is).

I make decisions about how I want to operate and then I set up my life so those things happen as easily as possible.

Last note - all of this is about my own personal brain, body and digestive system. It's not rules for everyone. As we all know, people live their lives differently. So, I don't presume that I know THE 100% FOR SURE RULES ON HOW TO EAT. Just doing my best to figure out what works for me without making me crazy, starving, obessive, etc.
posted by TheClonusHorror at 11:34 AM on December 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you want to lose that 10lbs forever, all you have to do is exactly what you did last time to lose it then keep weighing yourself regularly and adjusting your food intake/exercise as appropriate. If you lose 10lbs then go back to the lifestyle that made you 10lbs heavier in the first place, you're going to regain that 10lbs (and because our bodies hate weight loss, likely you'll put on a few extra too)
posted by missmagenta at 2:55 PM on December 4, 2016

I am a healthy weight, but the one time period in my life where I actually was ripped and thin I was training for a marathon and eating strictly. Running was my main hobby and I was running 4 times a week, 6-12 miles each time. I also did the 7 minute workout daily, which ironically I found much more grueling than a 10 mile run. I am a very small female and I cooked a lot out of the hungry girl cookbooks... not particularly healthy, but tasty enough and very easy to keep within the calorie limits. I remember for breakfast I usually had some scrambled eggs with lowfat cheese and turkey, for lunch I had a peanut butter English muffin with a Greek yogurt and an orange, and for dinner I had a hungry girl recipe that was 300 calories.

There is no way I could have adhered to a low carb diet while running that much. I tried and I just didn't have the energy and would poop out after a few miles. YMMV.
posted by pintapicasso at 6:27 AM on December 5, 2016

I'm 44, and currently about 30lb lighter than my peak weight, when I was about 33. It's basically been all through running, though some of it's been diet. I lost most of that weight in the last year or so, training for distance runs.

I run on average 200km/month, and that's increasing. I don't particularly watch what I eat, or cut out food groups, but eat reasonably healthily:

very little alcohol and diet sodas only; usually drink coffee or water.
For breakfast I'd normally have a few pieces of toast with muesli and lunch would be homemade, usually sandwiches.
Dinner through a week would be something like: roast chicken with veges; chickpea-based curry; sausages with potatoes and green vegetables; pasta with a tomato-based sauce and vegetables/beans; one takeout meal - probably fish and chips. So not following any particular regime.
For snacks I eat a couple of pieces of fruit each day and a few small crackers, and maybe a couple of pieces of chocolate, sometimes potato chips.

Obviously that may or may not work for anyone else, and I note that what has worked for me is different from what worked for others.
posted by Pink Frost at 10:22 PM on December 6, 2016

« Older How can I print selected pages from multiple PDFs?   |   Of love, heroin, and . . . . . cocktail sauce? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.