I lost it. Now I want it to stay lost.
July 14, 2021 11:53 AM   Subscribe

I would like to hear from members who have lost and more importantly kept off a significant amount of weight over a period of a few years. Context below the fold.

I lost a total about 30 lbs last year through making adjustments to my food habits and incorporating a reasonably consistent exercise routine. Even though I hit a plateau around the 30lb mark, the weight itself held off for over six months, but is now starting to creep back. One complicating factor has been a chronic foot injury, which means anything high impact is out of the question for a few weeks at a minimum. The pain has sapped some of my willpower in terms of movement as well (unpleasant to try to be active when the immediate payout is discomfort, you know?). My work life has gotten busier, and I've turned to (greasy savoury) food for self-soothing more often than I'd like. But I really really don't want to be back to where I started from. What has worked for you in similar/comparable circumstances? I'd be especially interested in hearing from people who started backsliding but arrested it, but in general, all tips/tricks/helpful habits are welcome. Thank you!
posted by Nieshka to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I forgot to include in the question, but I am 33, F, with an extensive family history of hypothyroidism. Metabolism is not my friend in these matters.
posted by Nieshka at 12:00 PM on July 14, 2021

I like Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. She provides a number of (research-backed) approaches to changing habits. In my own life I like to use the strategy of pairing when I need to do something different (e.g., "I don't get to watch my favorite TV show unless I'm also folding laundry"). Could easily be applied to any number of food/activity goals.
posted by Bebo at 12:00 PM on July 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

In my experience: Cutting net carb intake and monitoring total caloric intake at the same time is the only set of tactics that has consistently worked for me over the decades to keep body fat off, and I'm now well on my way through menopause. My net carb gram count creeps back up, so does the body fat... and vice versa.

This doesn't get any easier with age, sad to say. Many people I've known in Overeaters Anonymous who've been abstinent from compulsive overeating for years have shared the same concern, and many of them have found a solution in keeping the net carbs on the downlow.

Even keeping net carbs under 100 grams a day allows you a decent amount of low glycemic fruit and some starchy veg, and an occasional few crackers or so.

I make sure that I'm not restricting unhealthily by establishing a caloric FLOOR per day, and by making sure I get at least x grams of high quality protein a day. All of that will depend on your lean body mass, age, and gender. The KetoGains macro calculator is to my eye the most reliable, but they tend toward orthorexia over there so take the dietary recommendations (other than establishing protein and caloric floors) with a big grain of salt.

Cronometer is what I use to track net carbs; I've heard the nutritional information is the most reliable and you don't have to figure out net carbs for yourself.

And I have largely scrapped tons of cardio in favor of bodyweight fitness a few times a week. I still do walk a lot but only because I like exploring, not to get in a certain number of steps a day.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 12:06 PM on July 14, 2021 [13 favorites]

I've lost approximately 80 pounds over a very long period of time (more than ten years) and don't really have trouble keeping it off. I am sharing my own experience, which may or may not work for other people.

I think it's only really possible to lose weight if you make permanent changes rather than going on a "diet." This is what I have done. I made changes very slowly and was happy with slow weight loss. For instance, I swapped my bacon sandwich and Coke breakfast for sardines on toast, then later switched that to oatmeal, then switched that to smoothies that are mostly kale and spinach. I quit eating after 7:00 at night. I dropped animal products altogether and moved toward a whole-foods plant-exclusive diet, which I'm still not perfect about (the whole foods part - I never eat animal products). I saw all of these as permanent changes, which is why I think I've managed to keep the weight off. I also was really OK with slow weight loss. If I lost ten pounds over the course of a year, I called that a win.

I don't think there's very good evidence for non-extreme activity helping with weight loss. I did start walking and now usually get 10,000 steps a day, though I've recently backslid on that a bit because I'm on a new chemotherapy that's really exhausting.

As far as backsliding and arresting that, I've done that more than once. For me, when I start eating badly again (which in my case means processed foods, especially desserts), I generally stop weighing myself because I figure I'm gaining weight and I don't want to know. For me, committing to weighing myself daily is essential to getting back on track. If I can force myself to see what my weight is doing, I'm more likely to be realistic about needing to get back to eating well. Aside from that, I find there's just a certain amount of white knuckling until the better way of eating gets normalized for me again.

It does eventually get normalized. I know I used to eat bacon sandwiches and drink probably six or seven Cokes a day, and I just don't do that anymore and can't imagine doing it. If you can really get yourself through the rough part and really see all changes as permanent, it's very likely you'll be able to make the kind of permanent changes that work for weight loss.

That said, I do want to acknowledge that this is not easy and no judgment from me toward people who can't or won't make these changes. High-calorie food is delicious and very hard to avoid, especially if you're stressed. But it is often possible to make real changes and lose weight. And I also did learn to like the healthier foods. I genuinely enjoy my meals. It's not all white knuckling.
posted by FencingGal at 12:11 PM on July 14, 2021 [21 favorites]

I had the standard dieting yoyo experience until finding a good - and fat positive - endocrinologist who got to treating my low thyroid, low vitamin D and insulin resistance. This gave me the energy to keep up light exercise three times a week and a low glycemic index eating plan that honestly doesn't feel like a diet. It's been three years now on a gentle downward trend. Bit of a pandemic hiccup with too much high GI comfort food was easily fixed by going back to the core eating plan. I suspect I'll be eating like that for the rest of my life to keep up my metabolism, but it actually feels doable.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:15 PM on July 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I have a shorter timeframe than you are looking for, but I lost 25lbs Jan thru March of this year via calorie-counting and have kept it off since. It turns out that, when I count calories, even if I'm not perfect at it, I am good enough, and so I can vary the number of calories I consume in a day to lose or maintain my weight. But when I try to stop counting and eat as if I were counting calories but not actually doing it, I start creeping up.

What I am trying to do now is transform how I think about what I'm doing from being a temporary intervention to a lifelong practice. It's not hard, I get to eat plenty of tasty food, I don't feel hungry or irritable all day, I just have to do it, and then it works! But I still have to do it everyday. It's just part of what I do, like brushing my teeth or whatever. This is not what I thought was going to happen when I decided to lose weight but in retrospect it's not surprising.

Also, there are times when it is socially and logistically hard for me to count calories (parties and socialization- or restaurant-heavy weekends), I stop counting for a while and gain a few pounds (like 1 to 3 not like 10), and then start counting again and lose them. I am fine with this! Having this happen a few times also makes backsliding a little less intimidating -- I know that I can take weight off and that going above my goal weight isn't a sign that I'm about to give up for good.
posted by goingonit at 12:15 PM on July 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

One additional point: my diet is very high in carbs. Carbs (potatoes, rice, corn, beans) do not cause weight gain. Highly processed carbs cause weight gain. And most highly processed carbs (donuts, cookies) are really more fat than carbs.
posted by FencingGal at 12:17 PM on July 14, 2021 [12 favorites]

Just chiming in to agree with FencingGal. I am just over one year into a high carb, low fat whole-food plant based diet. High carb meaning unprocessed carbs like fruits, veg, potatoes, rice, beans, legumes. I don't eat animal products, processed food or oil. This has worked amazingly well , and after a period of adjustment, I really enjoy my food, use a lot of spices, and eat a LOT of whole carbs (including pasta sometimes). I don't count calories or weigh or measure my food, or do high intensity workouts, though I have started some light weight training to protect my bones. Happy to provide resources for this style of eating if you are interested.
posted by Glinn at 12:38 PM on July 14, 2021 [5 favorites]

The National Weight Control Registry "was developed to identify and investigate the characteristics of individuals who have succeeded at long-term weight loss." The site has research findings, which try to identify patterns, as well as some individual stories.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:45 PM on July 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

When people ask me how I lost & keep off the 30lbs I lost in a 12 month period, I say “it’s amazing what can happen to your body when you stop drinking beer … many times per week.”

What I tell only some of them is: “… and stop taking Cymbalta.” Which GREATLY reduced the presence of the cravings for carbs (usually the unhealthy processed mid) that my old Psychiatrist had said would happen but which I forgot about until much much later (and heavier).

I didn’t do much more exercise in that period, due to a chronic injury.

(IANAD, PSA: no one taking SSRI’s or SSNRI’s should quit cold turkey. Unless they like misery. Get a taper-down guide from your Dr.)
posted by armoir from antproof case at 12:46 PM on July 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Also, I think some sort of written record of what’s been eaten can be very helpful, esp when backsliding. “Ah! I see I have been eating more ______ than before. I can change that.” It’s a useful tool you can deploy in your own favor. The objective data can perhaps be more effective to deal with than “I have no willpower, I am a horrible person.” The latter is bullshit and the former had been shown clinically to NOT be what weight loss and maintenance is all about.

Goo onya for reaching out to seek ideas and guidance. This can be sooo challenging emotionally. Suffering in silence gets anybody nowhere. You are on the right path and there are so many people who have been in EXACLTY the same place you are, who can walk with you.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 1:09 PM on July 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Changed my diet - no sugar, bread, dairy - for health reasons. I eat mostly meat and vegetables. It's actually hard to get enough calories this way, I eat lots and lots, as much as I want until I'm full. I'm 20 lbs lighter than I used to be and it takes zero thought and zero work to maintain that weight.
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:33 PM on July 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

One additional point: my diet is very high in carbs. Carbs (potatoes, rice, corn, beans) do not cause weight gain. Highly processed carbs cause weight gain. And most highly processed carbs (donuts, cookies) are really more fat than carbs.

You do you, friend, but please don’t discount other people’s experience. There is every reason to believe that individuals have variation in their metabolic regulation in the same way there is variation is damn near every other aspect of human function.

I’m one of those people who has found that omitting carbs completely is critical to losing fat. I have lost about 90 lbs since first experimenting with this over a decade ago. Every time I’ve brought carbs back into my diet, whether through inattention or through just being tired of giving up so many yummy foods, weight has come back on. So, I have just accepted that carb-containing foods are off limits. I eat vegetables every day from a fairly limited range, mostly leafy greens.
posted by Sublimity at 2:08 PM on July 14, 2021 [13 favorites]

I have a document with weight loss tips. Something might resonate.
posted by theora55 at 2:11 PM on July 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

My aunt was the heaviest of her four siblings but grew up and started doing (and winning) local body building competitions in the 80s. Then, after kids and a bunch of traumatic life stuff, she gained the weight back. But after a lot of that was lived through, she ended up losing a significant amount of her excess weight in her fifties and has kept it off through a lot of health scares and life stage changes and all that. She never got back into body building and is just a sort of slightly more active than average woman, though. Recently I have been attempting to lose weight and/or build strength, for my cardiac health, and it turns out that what seems to be working for me is a lot of what worked for my aunt!

It’s time restricted eating, aka, intermittent fasting. Basically, I naturally only want to eat in like, six hours of any given day. I decided to try it because my diet is actually really good, like, I actively enjoy and seek out produce and don’t over salt things and am always seeking a balance of nutrients… so I was kind of at a loss for what I could do that wasn’t ridiculous and extreme and thus unsustainable. It turns out that giving myself the boundary of just eating from like, 1pm to 7pm, is good enough to maintain my weight, and if I add in sweaty exercise three or four times a week I can drop one or two pounds a week. So I eat a big lunch/breakfast, usually tea with fruit and cottage cheese or eggs and veggies plus nuts and seeds followed by maybe some leftovers or a small sandwich or salad. Then I can enjoy a snack in the afternoon, usually veggies and dip like hummus or tzatziki or more nuts or occasionally chips or other crunchy things, sometimes a fancy beverage if doing coffee with my friend. Then dinner which is a huge variety of things, followed by some very dark chocolate or fruit. If I want sweets or fried things I enjoy them but I limit myself to about one indulgence a day, so if I have a sweet coffee thing I don’t have french fries with dinner, if I have queso dip with lunch I don’t have a cookie in the afternoon, etc. But one a day and keeping portions small lets me spread my cravings out without feeling deprived whatsoever.

Anyway, being a little bit noshy in the morning and late at night is a sensation I’m getting used to. It helps to remind myself that it’s a natural feeling and not a problem to be fixed! I’m learning the difference between really hungry and just snacky. Like, turns out, eating a bunch of veggies in the night like some kind of rabbit vampire doesn’t work for me, because I guess my body needs the hours off from eating to digest things and start actually using the energy they provided. Cereal in the morning is just a way to spike my blood sugar and make me sluggish by ten. I drink water and sometimes tea all through the day, so if I’m fidgety I can fuss with a water bottle or tea brewing rituals.

My aunt seems to have hit upon a similar thing when she was dealing with thyroid problems and searching for alternative medical practices to help navigate her whole complex situation. Apparently she worked with someone to figure out her metabolism and how to listen to her physical cues and figured out she was only really hungry in the afternoons, so she let herself start skipping breakfast and went from there. Apparently she does the occasional fast for a couple days, but I’ve never attempted that and I think it’s for spiritual reasons for her.

Everyone is different! It’s amazing how shockingly different people are while still being the same species, honestly. But it turns out my genetics are stronk and I’m hoping my aunt’s experience continues to track for me, just, yknow, without the other health problems. So if you have a blood related family member who has done similar, talk to them about it!
posted by Mizu at 2:19 PM on July 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

I bike to work everyday, which for me is a comparable amount of time as it would take to take public transit there (when we moved we chose our house with this in mind) - it's 9km each way, so I get 2 pretty sturdy workouts 4 days a week from my commutes. (it's also very easy to motivate myself to do this because I have to go to work.)

I don't eat until 1pm. I have a cup of coffee in the morning, but other than that I "intermittent fast" until 1pm - but I like this because it's very easy. no tracking or thinking or measuring or preparing, it's just - I don't eat anything. I actually find it very nice to not think about eating breakfast ever. I usually don't eat any carbs for lunch - usually some raw vegetables and a bit of cheese or a pepperoni or something. So I don't really consume any sugar or simple carbs until about 6pm. This limits the amount of time I have to eat pastas and baking and candy and potatoes, which are my biggest problems.

It also helps to think of hunger the way we think of the rest of our bodily signals. Often when we're thirsty or tired or have to pee, we can just accept that that's the reality, and then wait until an appropriate time to take action on it. But people get into kind of a groove where they react really strongly and immediately to feeling hungry, and our body and mind kind of forgets how to deal with it just as a feeling, and not an action item. I mean, you shouldn't be starving yourself and feeling dizzy or anything crazy, but I let myself feel hungry for pretty long periods of time a few times a week and it's not a big deal. I eat all the time, I'm not in any danger from the feeling.

This won't work for everyone (or anyone?) but I really like the feeling of my teeth being clean, so I brush them a few times a day, and their nice, clean feeling is a real deterrent to eating anything for awhile after. I also like chewing gum if I'm just feeling snacky.
posted by euphoria066 at 2:22 PM on July 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

For many, carbs absolutely do create the perfect conditions for weight gain: unstable blood sugar, increased appetite and cravings, and fluctuating energy levels which can make it easy to grab whatever is easy rather than wise. If that’s not the case for you, that’s awesome. But there’s a reason that many of us have found that restricting carbs is the only thing that worked long-term. Every time I add carbs back in (slow release, complex, simple, doesn’t matter) I put on weight in the blink of an eye. So for me, the answer is unequivocal.
posted by asimplemouse at 2:23 PM on July 14, 2021 [6 favorites]

This is more about maintaining than losing, but I haaaate shopping for pants. So if I only have non-stretch waistbands, which means I notice when I have gained a little around the middle, it’s less annoying for me to change behavior enough to lose that little than it is to go find new pants.

It’s getting difficult to find non-stretch women’s pants, so I wear a belt.
posted by clew at 3:12 PM on July 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

I have a bit of a different answer to this question. It's one earned after a profound weight loss of 150lbs (50% of my body weight) that I've kept off for nearly 20 years.

I've come to understand through research and personal experience that our bodies want to be at the weight they've been. If you've crept up because of genetics or yoyo dieting or drinking beer or whatever reason, that's the place your physiology and psychology want you to be and it will do all sorts of things to get you back there. (By the way, a slow metabolism is actually an evolutionary strength in terms of the way our body protects itself from starvation. If our culture wasn't obsessed with thinness, you might feel lucky that your physiology works the way it does.)

I've managed to keep the weight off by essentially developing layers and layers of coping strategies to ignore my psychology and physiology. While every doctor I've seen in the last 20 years has congratulated me on this, my body has been in a slow shutting down. First a low body temp, then a lower heart rate, then a lower blood pressure, then dangerously low episodes of hypoglycemia. It wasn't until I stumbled upon a doctor with experience in eating disorders who recognized this suite of symptoms as starvation, despite the fact that I maintain a completely middle-of-the-road BMI.

So, if you want to hear advice from a person who's lost the weight and kept it off, my advice is to throw away your scale, listen to your body, buy clothes that fit, comfort yourself when you need comfort, rest your foot, and move in ways that you enjoy once your body heals.
posted by 10ch at 3:12 PM on July 14, 2021 [19 favorites]

Best answer: I'm not sure what my highest weight was a few years ago because I stopped stepping on the scale, but I'm going to guess I gained 50 pounds or more over a few years, which included a lot of emotional eating. In the past five years, I lost 45 or more pounds and have mostly kept it off. I have gained a few pounds during the pandemic, especially when I injured my back a few months ago, but I've stopped the backslide and lost most of that too. My weight has fluctuated throughout my adult life, but here are some general things that have helped me keep a lot of that weight gain away the past four years:

The big shift started with a shift in my mental health. Work had been hard, and I took some time away. More significantly, I ended a relationship that was pretty unhappy for me. I think there were two parts of the end of this relationship that helped me lose weight. First, my former partner was overweight and did a lot of the cooking and meal prep, and it was really easy to eat too much of the very tasty food he made; I don't blame him for my behavior, but having a bit more control over the food that's in my house has helped me regulate myself better. I also think I was doing a lot of emotional eating because of my unhappiness. Also, he was pretty sedentary at the time, and it was easy for me to mimic that. I know this isn't exactly a diet or lifestyle hack, but since you mention self-soothing with food, I want to suggest that therapy could really help here. If you find that some of your eating to excess is connected to emotional upset, then that's definitely something to think about and work on.

Next, lifestyle choices: I bike commute to work (some of my pandemic weight gain has likely been because I'm working from home and just not as active), and in the past few years, I've been doing more things like walking and biking to the grocery store and generally trying to avoid my car. I've made some pretty big decisions that have allowed me to live someplace where I can walk and bike and take the bus and not be so car-dependent, and in general this is a big part of a healthy and active lifestyle for me. In the past few years, I've also been thinking a lot about aging and movement and trying to make sure I don't let little injuries linger (I'm going to physical therapy for my back injury now) because I'm becoming aware of how much those things can accumulate and add up over time. My next thing is focusing on little movements I can do on a regular basis so I can keep doing things even as I age.

Monitoring my weight and how my clothes fit has been really important for me. I usually find that if I'm not stepping on the scale, it's because I don't want to know what I weight, and I might be starting to tick up. I'm not focused on keeping my weight at once specific number--fluctuations of a few pounds are totally normal for me--but I do find that regularly weighing myself means that I become more aware of upward trends. If I haven't been on the scale in a while, it's time to step on the scale. Similarly, paying attention to when my clothes feel snug or loose works the same way.

Being kind to myself is key, though. If I beat myself up for eating too much one day, or feeling bloated, or gaining a few pounds, then I can get stuck in a cycle. In May, I injured my back terribly and was in a lot of pain for a few weeks, without being able to move very much, and I was eating poorly, and too much. I gained some weight pretty quickly, and I finally stepped on the scale to see the number. I definitely had some bloat, but it was also an eye-opening moment for me. But I had to forgive myself. With the pandemic and my back injury and work stress, it was a tough time. Forgiving myself doesn't mean letting myself continue poor behaviors. Rather, it means acknowledging what's going on so I can shift to better behavior patterns.

Weightlifting/resistance training is a newer one for me, but I've been reading more and more that the best way to keep off a weight gain is by weight training with heavy weights. I'm not doing much now as I recover from injury, but this will be focus soon. (And to be clear: body weight can fluctuate with muscle gain, so I should clarify that I'm not too worried about the number on the scale as I lift weights; a higher number on the scale but clothes fitting the same or more loosely is an indication of growing muscle mass and losing fat).
posted by bluedaisy at 4:00 PM on July 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Ah shit, I was going to say, “don’t get injured, especially not in your lower body” :/ As I’m sure you’re aware, it’s not just about the calories you’re not burning through exercise, there’s less of the non-exercise activity thermogenesis. The daily total could be as much as 500 cals a day you’re not burning. But do an estimate here.

So the logical yet difficult thing to do is reduce your daily cals. I would prioritize satiety-promoting food choices - high in protein, essential fats, and fibre - and eliminate or substitute like ANY fluff (sugar, beverages, creamy salad dressings, that extra 5 g of butter on toast)… I wasn’t able to do this, myself :( I guess some people can manage more rigid diets and see success, I haven’t found it possible. So given a non-e.g. keto diet, with limited exercise and NEAT, really I just accepted *some* gain.

The other thing I would say is it’s better to let yourself heal before launching into exercise that could hamper healing. Just let it heal. If you can swim or do aquajogging, that’s **great**, but limit it to stuff approved by your physio. (Def get a physio.) That’s to say that for me, absent activity of some kind, with the only diet I can really endure, it hasn’t been possible to avoid some gain.
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:22 PM on July 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

My impression is that current thinking is that exercise is one of the most important things to do for your health, but that it doesn't help that much with weight loss. In your place, I'd try to resurrect my will power about healthy eating. Planning ahead is your friend. Grabbing something convenient at the last minute is the enemy.

I lost a lot of weight when I put myself on a low fat diet because reasons. I think the biggest reason I lost weight was cutting out the sugar in cookies that I didn't eat because of the fat content.
posted by SemiSalt at 6:22 PM on July 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

My family members and I have lost weight and kept it off by adhering to a low carb or keto diet. So for me that means I rarely eat bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, cake, cookies, candy, or ice cream. The only juice I have is heavily watered down. I don't drink heavily sweetened coffee and tea beverages, and I don't drink alcohol. I never touch soda. The key thing for me is I don't think of myself as dieting or being on a diet. Rather, I think of what I eat as a diet (my diet) in the sense of simply being the set of foods that I eat. That mindset is an important psychological tool. I walk once or twice a day for 30-45 minutes and I do some calisthenics. I don't do any rigorous exercise. From what I've read, you burn calories no matter what you are doing, and indeed I don't think exercise has nearly as big an impact on my weight control as my diet does, but I do think walking is important for me to maintain healthy metabolism. A booked called "Always Hungry?" influenced me a lot.
posted by Dansaman at 7:20 PM on July 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm almost in the same boat as you, OP.
Lost around 30 pounds since the beginning of the pandemic, with most of the weight gone in the first month's. For the past six months or so, I'm pretty much at the same weight. I've reached a natural plateau as I now roughly eat a number of calories I'm happy with long term.

Some things I found very helpful

1. Having protein with every meal. At least 20 grams for every main meal, 10 grams for snacks.
2. Cutting out bread entirely with the exception of the cottage cheese muffin for breakfast on the weekends. No bread means no sugar cravings.
3. Not eating things I find meh. If I want to indulge myself, I eat a good quality version that is worth its calories. Not taking a piece of cake to be polite (I'm not a fan of cake in general). Saying no to random snacks that are better than nothing when I'm slightly hungry.
4. Weighing myself every day. Helps to get acquainted with my normal weight fluctuations during my monthly cycle.
5. Reading The Diet Fix by Yoni Freedhof. A very down to earth, no nonsense book about the mechanics and psychology of weight management without restricting calories.
posted by M. at 3:35 AM on July 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

I lost 20 lbs during the pandemic and have kept it off. I use a keto-adjacent approach—though I eat some bread, almost all of my diet is protein heavy. I eat three meals a day and space them out at least 4 hours. I don't drink alcohol. I walk a half hour each day and do some other exercises to maintain flexibility, having officially entered into geezerhood. Portion control and shunning starches and processed foods six days a week has made this possible for me. I'm 62, male, and white, FWIW. My daughter has issues with her weight that only began to resolve when she got on the right thyroid medication: I would make absolutely certain that your thyroid numbers are right while trying to arrest your backsliding, given your family history.
posted by ivanthenotsoterrible at 5:22 AM on July 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I lost 40 lbs and have kept it off for a few years. What works for me:

* Weighing myself every day and putting it into HappyScale app, which shows your trend line. I got lax about this in the maintenance stage which was fine, as long as I still did it every so often.
* Eating sort of similar meals most of the time so that I didn’t have to count calories but knew I was in a certain calorie ballpark. For instance, we eat a lot of rice bowls for lunch and I know roughly how much of each thing I ate for a weight-loss sized lunch, so I added a bit more to that to get to maintenance. I have the measurements of rice, tofu, etc. basically memorized and I use measuring cups. I have a lot of other recipes in my back pocket.
* I work out consistently but am not tyrannical about it. For instance, I run and do Pilates. I just got back from a 2.5 week vacation where I didn’t work out at all, so I started back up with a beginners program and have done some 20 minute recovery runs. As long as I’m moving for about 30 minutes a day I don’t fret over my performance. I do challenges occasionally but that’s mostly to stay motivated for my exercise health, not for weight.

Exercise has not been fundamental to my weight loss, except maybe in that gaining more muscle has improved my metabolism. Otherwise every time I started working out I had a very rocky period where my caloric needs changed, my weight trend plateaued or went up, etc. These are all normal things but are frankly confounders if you’re trying to lose. I did mostly stretching and Pilates until I was close to my goal, then started running because I wanted to run, not for weight loss.

I lost weight on a “French food” diet (eating rich food in small quantities with tons of vegetables) and then transitioned to vegetarianism, then veganism. It really didn’t matter what kind of diet I was on for me as long as I counted calories. On the weekends I rarely count calories, eat whatever I want but practice some portion control, which basically means continuing to eat veggies and not bingeing. We have a lot of movie nights with snacks and I just dole out a variety of snacks (everything from chocolate to chips to fruit to veggies and dip) into small bowls so that I can snack well without just bingeing out of a bag of peanut butter cups. If I’m traveling or eating with friends and family I don’t think too much about what I eat, but I still bias toward veggies because it makes my body feel better.

It does frankly take a portion of my brainpower/willpower but I’ve gotten to the point where it’s mostly on autopilot. Changing my diet to be very veggie heavy was the most important factor for me, along with substituting addictive high calorie snack foods for high quality, often homemade high calorie foods with high nutrition that I eat in reasonable quantities, alongside well prepared veggies.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:27 AM on July 15, 2021

To follow up on my earlier answer: as of this morning, I’ve lost the weight I gained from my May injury, so I want to pass that along for some hope. You said you can’t do anything high impact because of a foot injury, but do you happen to have dumbbells so you could sit and do some upper body resistance training that won’t require putting any weight on your foot? You could use cans of food or other household items too. I sometimes find that the act of exercising and being mindful of my food intake helps adjust my mindset to get back on track.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:10 PM on July 15, 2021

Best answer: Hi. I am in my 40's, Hashis, Hypothyroid. I lost 120 pounds 12 years ago and have kept it off. In-between all that, I've had 3 back surgeries. So I've had a lot of pauses in physical activity. I cannot work out as hard as I did prior to my surgeries.

I have found (for me) that purely measuring and restricting my calories (or raising my calories to a maintenance number) have allowed me to keep my weight in check through various stressful parts of my life. I weigh myself every day. (Some folks find this triggering/unhealthy but I do well with data so it's great for me.).

I eat what I enjoy (no carb counting or keto or specialized diet-type) but I eat within my numbers. I eat more vegetables than meat. I eat smaller amounts of rich food. I try to eat whole foods and avoid overly processed food as well. Doing these things makes me feel physically better as well.

When you are injured, your body is recouping. I'd first say to be patient as you heal. One thing at a time.

In terms of maintaining/keeping weight off - these are things I do when I am under high stress to avoid overeating:

Am I hungry or thirsty? Sometimes when my brain is telling me 'EAT!' - it's honestly telling me to drink water. When I get this signal, I pause, and drink a big glass of water - slowly, and wait. I try to see if I feel better (satiety) or if I am still getting a signal to eat something. This can help me also slow down and not react immediately. Also, it helps me stay well-hydrated. :)

I don't keep comforting foods in the house. For me, this really works. There are foods that I really enjoy and will overeat. I do not buy them. I have to want them so bad I'll walk to the bodega.

I log my food. Even on days when I eat more than normal. I log every day. I look for patterns and try to identify where I may be emotionally eating or overeating.

I work on my emotional and mental health as it relates to food. I had a very hard time as a kid (overweight kid who was put on multiple unhealthy diets) and I try to be as kind as possible to myself.

Exercise helps you look nice, but diet is where you lose weight. Do not stress over not being able to exercise as much. How, what, and how much you eat has way more impact on what you weigh. That said, don't always go by a scale. And be super kind to your body. It does amazing things every day in great and tiny ways.

Since you mentioned you were hypo, my endocrinologist did a trial of Ozempic to see how I would respond. It was amazing. It really took my cravings away and reduced the noise in my brain around eating. It slows down gastric emptying, which seemed to be a problem I do have. (Always feeling hungry.) This may not work for your case, but it gave me some understanding of what it looks like not to be getting constant hunger signals.
posted by carmenghia at 6:06 PM on July 15, 2021

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