By Rachel Wilkerson for SHAPE.com
When I started losing weight, I often looked at women who were thinner than I was and thought, "Wow, her life must be so easy." I knew that once I got to my goal weight , I'd feel awesome, and healthy living would be just as easy for me as it was for all the "I can eat whatever I want and not gain weight" women around me.
Now that I've lost 75 pounds, I can say that I do feel awesome... but I can't say that a healthy lifestyle comes easy. Weight maintenance isn't as simple as I expected. While being at my goal weight has its perks, I have to admit: I failed to appreciate some of the great benefits I enjoyed along the way. If I did it all over again, here's what I'd do different:
Celebrate Better Health Just as Much as a Smaller Dress Size. I always thought I worked out for the health benefits (mental and physical) as much as I did for losing weight , but now that I no longer have thinner thighs as a goal, I'm seeing that's not the case. I've actually been pretty disappointed in myself for not finding lowering my cholesterol as compelling of a goal as looking hot at a social event. ("Wait, am I really that shallow?" I ask myself at least once a week. "Yes. Yes, I am," is my response.) It turns out knowing that I was doing something to change what I didn't like about my body was a huge source of motivation.
Relish in Being Able to See My Results. When I was losing weight , I actually looked forward to my weigh-ins and the feeling of my pants getting loose. It kept my motivation high. But now, I don't really see results. Now I have to find other ways to measure my progress, whether it's focusing on more toned shoulders or shaving a minute off my mile time. I wish I could say these things are just as motivating as seeing the scale change, but that's not always the case.
Embrace Change in All Aspects of Life. Or a new anything. While you're losing weight, you'll probably find yourself shopping for new clothes and trying on something that you'd never even considered before. And then you find yourself trying all sorts of new things: new hobbies, new foods, new friends. It's such a great time to redefine yourself. Now that I'm at my goal weight, life seems a little ho-hum. Sure, I could go out and try something new, but I find I'm less likely to do that when I'm not out buying new jeans too.
Remember: You Can Eat More When You're Still Losing. Though I feel a bit less concerned with what I eat now, I have to eat fewer calories overall because I no longer need the energy to sustain myself and, well, a fourth-grader. With every 10 pounds or so that I lost, I needed to eat less. And that is hard for me because I really like to eat.
Enjoy the Support and Encouragement Along the Way. When I was losing weight, I felt like everyone was cheering me on. Now I feel like at best, they've lost interest; at worst, they're waiting for me to fail and gain it all back. New people I meet assume I can eat whatever I want and don't think I need any cheering on in a workout class, but the truth is, I have just as many moments of I'd-rather-have-slept-in-and-oh-my-god-why-did-I-think-boot-camp-was-a-good-idea-can-I-just-give-up-now as I did when I was 20, 30, and 50 pounds heavier.
I remember how frustrated I often felt when I was trying to lose weight, so I am happy that I finally hit my goal. That said, I wish I'd appreciated more of these benefits when I was feeling impatient about my weight loss .
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