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June 1, 2007 7:12 PM   Subscribe

Tips and tricks for keeping psyched up during weight loss?

Last year, I lost the most substantial amount of weight, 45 pounds, I'd ever shed, over apx. 9 mos., returning to my high school figure. Tragically, disappointingly, I went crazy with weight gain over the past few months, upon encountering some pretty depressing obstacles in my life. I fell hard off the wagon, gaining all but 10 pounds back. My wardrobe situation is dire.

Anyway, I just signed up for new dance classes, and put Weight Watchers meetings on my calendar (although I think I'll keep using my calories burned/consumed spreadsheet on Google Docs rather than adhering to points) and my car broke down so I'll definitely be riding my bike 6 miles to work like I should. I have a gym membership and I like going (though I usually have to chug a diet redbull to get there). I can meal and snack plan brilliantly. I know I can lose the weight, I just bloody did, just learned how to enjoy fitness, but then blew it. (I'll delve into maintenance issues later, and probably in weekly WW meetings.)

Today I got an email from my work, announcing a Biggest Loser contest. Well! I happen to be the most overweight employee as well as the most competitive. I am in it to win it!

What are some good ways to keep my attitude on track, to distract myself from my displeasure over how I am or soothe my constant food desires and keep my eyes on the prize? I'm a typical social/emotional/bored eater. I just feel like I forget to make good decisions sometimes, how to remember??
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
- don't buy things that you aren't supposed to have. If you're trying to cut down on cookies, don't keep them in your cabinet.

- Use your spreadsheet prowess to make lots of pretty graphs. Post them on a public blog. The fear of disclosing our failures to others is a powerful motivator.
posted by chrisamiller at 7:16 PM on June 1, 2007

I find that buying nice new clothes that fit properly and throwing out (or goodwilling) the clothes that don't fit any more is a great way to keep focused on where I've been and where I'm going. Yay! The tent I used to wear as a shirt doesn't fit anymore! Toss it! Yay! I get to buy new jeans and maybe a couple nice shirts next payday! I take a long time in the changing room and ask myself, not does this make my ass look big, but does this make my ass look good? I think about how I couldn't have worn what I'm about to purchase as recently as a month ago. I wake up in the morning and get happy and encouraged just by getting dressed. It's a good way to start the day.

Kinda funny, really, as I was never much on shopping or fashion before. Find something that works for you, though, something that will remind you, in a good and positive way, what you're aiming for, something that will remind you throughout the day.
posted by lekvar at 7:27 PM on June 1, 2007

Get a super accurate scale and weigh EVERY MORNING without fail at the exact same 'biological' time (ie before/after dump, doesn't matter but be consistent).

Put this weight on a chart/graph on the wall and keep it religiously. Obviously there will be day-to-day ups and downs but it is great to see yourself hit a new low, and you also get a clear idea of what is working for you and what isn't.

I know of no better way of staying motivated.
posted by sweet mister at 7:35 PM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think it is clear that you know how to lose the weight (and this time, you only have to lose about 3/4 of what you did last time) -- it is the keeping it off that you need to figure out. So I think that your question -- Tips and tricks for keeping psyched up during weight loss? -- doesn't quite strike at the heart of the matter.

There are, it seems to me, a really different set of motivations, approaches, and obstacles involved in keeping weight off, compared to losing it in the first place. (For one, no one maintains an exact weight; everyone has hormonal and other fluctuations. But learning to tell the difference between a routine swing up a few pounds, and the beginning of falling off the wagon, is trickier than it should be.) There have been several AskMe's recently that focused on this issue of maintenance; having a plan in place for when you hit that weight loss goal might be a really good idea.
posted by Forktine at 7:50 PM on June 1, 2007

seconding the clothing thing... I find that after losing weight, if i wear clothes that fit will remind me not to slump and gain the weight back...
posted by every_one_needs_a_hug_sometimes at 7:51 PM on June 1, 2007

I'm gonna take a *completely* different tack here.

Learn to knit. No, seriously! Find a friend who knows how, learn basic knitting skills, buy some gorgeous yarn, and make yourself a cute bag (scarf with seams) or a shawl (giant scarf) or even a summer-weight scarf. It will be tactile, have a goal, and keep your hands busy. It will also give you something to do when you're bored. Carry it with you, and when waiting in places with food nearby, you will have a distraction. It sounds like you've got the skills you need, you were just thrown off track by particular obstacles. Now that those are out of the way, focus on the weight loss again, and plan coping mechanisms in case life goes crazy again. Knitting is one good choice.
posted by booksherpa at 7:52 PM on June 1, 2007

I like sweet mister's idea about graphing weight, but I'd say go ahead and measure anytime it's convenient throughout the day and graph that too. I find that not only does it illustrate the inconsequentual fluctions throughout the day, but it's easy to pick out the larger-scale downward slide, and that's motivating.
posted by calhound at 7:53 PM on June 1, 2007

I also say weigh every day. When I lost my weight that's exactly what I did. Yes, there will be water weight fluctuations and plateaus, but it still works.
posted by konolia at 8:02 PM on June 1, 2007

Buy something really, really nice that's a bit too small for you at the moment. As you steadily lose weight and notice the item fitting you better (try it in a couple weeks or so, depending on how it fits and how much weight you lose), you'll feel great and have a more tangible proof of progress than numbers on a scale.
posted by apple scruff at 8:08 PM on June 1, 2007

It's funny AV, my mental picture of you is not overweight. Maybe it is because you have such a svelte mind. No answers for your question, but hang in there, you can do it!
posted by vronsky at 8:19 PM on June 1, 2007

Knitting is a good idea most of the time, but tonight I am sweating just thinking about it! Not the best summertime activity, but keeping my hands busy helps me, and I am TOTALLY a bored eater. If I have idle time in the late evenings, which are the worst snacky time for me, I play video games. That probably doesn't sound like a weight loss activity, but otherwise I'd be watching Bravo and eating.

The Mr. Bento has completely changed what and how much I eat at work. I prepare lunch the night before, I have to plan meticulously, and there is a finite, appropriate amount of food to eat.

I have lost about 35 pounds before and kept it off for a several years. I was back up near my highest weight recently, due to crazy weight fluctuations before and after my pregnancy, and most dramatically, after I quit nursing. The first time it was easier (although not EASY). This time, the most helpful thing is to visualize my goal weight only as the next five pounds down. I only have FIVE POUNDS TO LOSE! I say that to myself all the time. I just have to do that a few times, and I'll be there!

I'm giving myself a lot of leeway. The first time I lost, I felt I had to lose at least 1 pound a week or I was failing. This time, as long as the scale is not moving up, I'm good. That allows me to plateau every now and then without beating myself up.

Oh, and pictures! Every 5 pounds, I put on an outfit that fit me snugly at my highest weight and I take a digital photo. Then you can look back at how you've progressed.
posted by peep at 9:24 PM on June 1, 2007

Get a super accurate scale and weigh EVERY MORNING without fail at the exact same

I'd disagree with this statement. the effect that had on me was that I became happy and lazy on days when I had lost weight and depressed and cranky on days when I hadn't. it might freak you out.

I don't know santa cruz but try to find a service that delivers a set amount of calories spread out over meals to your doorstep. nukitchen does this for new york city. their food rocks. you want to go with something like 2000 cal, not 1500 right away (your body will go into shock-shutdown mode if you go too far too fast).

when I did nukitchen, people at work commented constantly that I was eating way better than they were and still was losing weight. they delivered six awesome meals in a puch type of thingie. not going shopping meant I didn't have a lot of stuff in my fridge and often I'd have stuff left over anyways. I never went hungry on this stuff, in spite of working out every day, and I couldn't believe I lost so much weight using it. the powerful downside of course was the cost involved.

anyway, my point being that it was a sure-fire way to lose the weight without jojoing back. if you can find something like this in your area, do it.
posted by krautland at 9:32 PM on June 1, 2007

you can soothe your "constant food desires"! but healthier food.

instead of snacking on unhealthy, calorically dense food like chips or whatever and simply controlling your portions, which will leave you hungry, it might be easier to get used to eating, say, some chicken, veggies, and some peanut butter.

Fiber and fats will keep you full. You can also eat a lot more chicken and veggies without exceeding your caloric limit than a lot of other foods.

if your diet program leaves you constantly hungry, you will not be able to maintain it. You can't live the rest of your life perpetually hungry; the trick is to eat foods that keep you full (or at least not hungry) while staying within your caloric limits
posted by I like to eat meat at 9:49 PM on June 1, 2007

the effect that had on me was that I became happy and lazy on days when I had lost weight and depressed and cranky on days when I hadn't. it might freak you out.

This is an important effect that John Walker solved in his Hacker's Diet:

TAKE A MOVING AVERAGE of your daily weighings.

The formula is easy:

0.75 x yesterday + 0.25 x today

ONLY look at the moving average to measure progress/slippage, and seeing the line move was a really good motivator for me after Week 2.

The result was this for me.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:14 PM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

I lost over 30 pounds about 6 months ago and have kept it off. A couple of things that worked for me were eating tons of carrots and apples and other raw fruits and veggies as soon as I got home in the evening. The volume of these foods made me feel so full that I couldn't possibly eat too much of anything calorie-rich. Also, I don't keep cookies or any junk at all in the house - occasionally I'll buy a bar of high cocoa percentage dark chocolate in case I really need a treat. The other thing that helped a ton was cutting way, way down on the alcohol consumption (in my case I smoked weed instead of drinking but I realize this idea probably sounds ridiculous to most other people, although it worked for me, and it's certainly not healthy to smoke anything. Also I'm a strange person who doesn't get the munchies when smoking so YMMV).
posted by hazyjane at 3:24 AM on June 2, 2007

if you like your evening dessert, i find low-calorie ice cream bars (or fudgecicles) are the way to go--the portion is controlled.

also, you may want to set a higher target weight. i don't know how tall you are or how slim you are aiming for, but maybe settling for losing 20 pounds instead of 35 will make it easier to maintain in the long run. there is some research that people who are significantly overweight will just never be as slim as they used to be without massive discomfort--their biology has changed, and their bodies actually believe they are starving even if they are not. it's no way to live. perhaps making peace with a few extra curves while maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best medium.
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:55 AM on June 2, 2007

I'm a typical social/emotional/bored eater. I just feel like I forget to make good decisions sometimes, how to remember??

Me too. I think the best approach for personalities like this is to take fast-food and take-out establishments out of your life. Although, I have found myself in a trance with a half-eaten Whopper in my hand more than once. Sometimes the overwhelming urge to get fed trumps any kind of rational decision making. Proper planning of all meals is essential. It's always better to prepare your meals at home. You can control the fat and sodium. Keep and apple and a few high fiber crackers in your bag at all times. Never be without a healthy snack if you're on the go. The food snobs may disagree but stock your freezer with a few South Beach meals or Healthy Choice meals. They help on busy nights when there isn't a healthy dinner plan.

I like the day of plotting a graph with daily weights. My mother follows a similar approach. She's always been thin and I've thought of this method a little obsessive, but it works.

I wouldn't think of your diet as a means to an end. This is a new lifestyle. Your goal should be to continue a healthy way of eating throughout your lifetime.

Adopt a new way of thinking. Don't think of exercise and eating right as drudgery and deprivation. You may not feel this way, but the people that think of diets as deprivation will always fail. Always. I wouldn't place a whole lot of importance on "diets" either. Eat what you enjoy and always make the better choice. Wheat over white, fruit over candy, yada, yada.

I think it's great that you're in a dance class. It's an activity that is enjoyable for you. People that go whole hog into weight-training and aerobic plans that they haven't done before rarely stick with it. We advise our patients in cardiac rehab to simply walk. Walk a few miles a day, cut calories. It works people! We discourage fitness equipment and crazy diets. They're expensive and have a high failure rate.

Adopt a new mindset for your life and health. AV, I'm sure you'll come up with a more eloquent and personal affirmation, but try something like this: "I'm not going to treat my body and health poorly any longer. I'm unhappy being overweight. I've decided that I'm going to make better food choices and stop overeating. My goal is to achieve a normal BMI and to be regularly active for the rest of my life."
posted by LoriFLA at 6:53 AM on June 2, 2007

What works for me is daily weighing plus a daily chart against a projected rate of loss. If I'm under my projected rate, I can have a treat. If I'm over, I'm extra careful.

Once a week I measure myself and take photographs, front on and side on, in the same spot, in the same pair of shorts.

In four months from my start date, I am posting the pics online, which is a motivator.

Also, the forums here have been very supportive.
posted by tomble at 8:21 AM on June 2, 2007

I concur with the daily weighing. I do it in the morning to remind me to behave! You'll be amazed at the bizarre fluctations (I've "gained/lost" as much as 6 pounds from one day to the next-- however the trend will stay downward.0
posted by nax at 11:30 AM on June 2, 2007

Breaking up after a long-term relationship completely kills my appetite.
posted by bkiddo at 1:23 PM on June 2, 2007

I too am a bored eater - my solution is to only eat if my stomach is growling. No growl - no snack. I'll bend this rule for normally scheduled meals, but I try to time and portion things so that I'll be hungry around those times.
posted by vonliebig at 5:49 PM on June 2, 2007

To echo some of what others have said, measure yourself in various places (upper/lower arms, upper/lower thighs, ankles, calves, waist, hips, chest, neck), and measure again every week. Keep the data in a spreadsheet, along with your caloric intake and daily weight.

When you're bored or get the urge to snack, look at and play with the data you've collected. Chart it, look at trends, etc. I Don't know if Google Docs does charts and graphs, but Excel does. This can be quite satisfying and motivating. (Periodic pictures of yourself help too. You see yourself constantly, so it's easy not to realize the changes you're undergoing.)

Also, find as many novel 'free foods' as you can (e.g., artifically sweetened beverages, diet jello, popsicles made from artifically sweetened beverages) and have these when you feel like snacking. I know that aspartame etc. may have negative effects on weight loss, but, hey, better to have aspartame sweetened diet chocolate soda than, say, chocolate cake.
posted by sentient at 7:52 PM on June 2, 2007

THANK YOU all!!! What a super thread, chock full of excellent suggestions! Thrilling!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:58 PM on June 3, 2007

OK, here's a bunch of tips to help you out-

First, learn how to cook more exciting dishes using healthy foods. There's tons and tons of good food out there. You can get really excited, eat a ton, and still lose weight.

Do more of your eating earlier in the day.

Make your 'reason why' bigger. Why do you want to lost the weight?

And I disagree with the statement that artificially sweetened is better. Nope - Nope - Nope. Stay away from chemicals and corn syrup. You'll be messing up your long term health otherwise.

Eat healthy in the first place, and you won't ever have to worry about dieting again.

A hyper dog helps too. One that has to be walked a mile or 2 a day. Gets you out, you both get fresh air and exercise, you talk to people - yeah, it's a pain - but it has it's benefits too.

Good luck! Let me know if you have more questions.
posted by Carole at 11:56 PM on June 10, 2007

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