I know that social media gets a bad wrap sometimes but one of things that I do love about Facebook in particular is the memories that come up in your feed.
This week I had a memory come up that made me think. A lot.
It was a picture of me and one of my besties out to dinner 10 years ago.
The reason it made me think is because I realised it was one of the first dinners that I had gone out to after losing 45kg.
I recall buying the dress that I wore because I had not been out to dinner for a while and I didn’t have a pretty dress that fitted me (and let’s face it, who doesn’t love a new pretty dress regardless of the reason right?).
And here I am, 10 years later, having some fluctuations with weight (swings of 5 – 8kg), but basically maintaining the weight that I was in that photo. Even as I approach menopause.
I have told my weight loss story before so I won’t to go through the details today.
It’s enough to know that it started with me standing on a roof in Tasmania telling my husband I wanted to die and ending with an experience that became pivotal in my life’s direction.
Not because I lost weight and suddenly my life was better for it. It was because the experience changed me so much that it prompted me to leave corporate and go back to college and study health. I just wanted to help people discover how great they could feel when they were healthy.
After immersing myself completely in the theories and practices around weight management in the early years (thank you Glenn Mackintosh and Weight Management Psychology), I came to know some disturbing facts about weight loss and the diet industry that I did not realise. This one being the biggest;
• Between 80% to 90% of people that lose weight through diet and exercise alone will regain that weight PLUS MORE within 2 years.
This graph below kindly supplied by Weight Management Psychology shows the outcomes with various weight treatment options. Note the red line that represents diet and exercise alone.
You can access their website for the full explanation on the link below;
The reality is that this is the category that most people embark on if they are wanting to lose weight.
Bit of shit success rate though hey?
No business or organisation in the world would ever put up with a process that had a success rate that crappy. They would have thrown the process out and probably fired the person that implemented it.
So why do we as a society continually go back again and again using a process that so clearly fails us?
Anyway, when I saw the statistics and looked at my own story at face value I was surprised. It would seem that I was in fact a unicorn. One of the rare ones where the process didn’t fail.
HOWEVER, over time I have reflected on my journey. I realised that my intervention and the 10 years since, whilst not fitting precisely in any of those categories above has also not actually been diet and exercise alone either.
My journey started as diet and exercise alone but over time it encompassed;
• mindful and intuitive eating
• therapy (although not strictly cognitive behaviour or acceptance and commitment therapy)
and a category not listed above that I would like to term;
• Being Around Fucking Great People
To be fair, it might be tricky to establish a placebo controlled double blind study with this as the research title for us to be able to include it in the graph above.
So here I am, 10 years on. What can I share with you that I have learned? How can my experience be of use to you?
Why have I been able to maintain a 45kg weight loss in a world where this is rare?
As my time poor husband has been known to say; “5 dot points or less Wends, explain it to me like that”. Well here goes….
Wendy’s 5 dot point theory of why she has maintained a 45kg weight loss….
• I like myself now.
When have you spent time, money and energy on something that you didn’t like?
Studies show again and again and again that we are more likely to engage in healthy behaviours if we have a positive self-image.
Note that this didn’t come solely from the weight loss. This came from repairing my fractured self-image with the support of other people. It also came from many hours of figuring out my motivation to engage in self-destructive behaviours like emotional eating and drinking.
Its so important to seek help regarding this point if you need to because I truly believe it’s the cornerstone of healthy behaviours that last.
• My priorities are health orientated
Our family probably spends more money on health than the average household. We have gym memberships, personal training sessions, psychology and sports dieticians on board. We take vitamins, herbs and nutrients. We stock the fridge with quality fresh foods with health benefits. We have forgone other things (like holidays, cars and bigger houses) as these are our priority.
My husband and I invest time prepping food so that we eat healthy and nutritious way.
We also invest time in exercising so that our bodies can be as healthy and strong as possible. Maybe I could have spent those hours in marketing content for my business but I made a choice.
I choose to get up early and go to the gym and go to bed early so that I get enough sleep and function well.
And look, it’s not just about money but it is most definitely a question about priorities. Understanding the consequences of them and then making choices on that basis. After all, nothing changes if nothing changes.
• My choices are sustainable
Anyone who has seen me as a practitioner knows that I bang on about sustainable lifestyle choices ALL.THE.TIME.
When I was working at the previous naturopathic clinic I was at, Verve, I coined the phrase “we play the long game”.
The long game means that changes are not for a 12 week or 10-week challenge and then you go back to what you did before.
The long game means that you apply changes slowly and gradually and in a way that you could see yourself doing for years to come.
The long game means that you look at your motivation to understand why your habits are not serving you well and then how you can go about changing them. Or, seek the assistance of someone who can help you.
The long game means that you spend the time and energy creating new habits that will serve you well in mind and body.
The long game does not mean being completely restrictive about your choices or punishing yourself if you have made a less nutritious choice.
The long game does not cast judgement like good or bad on food. It just recognises that some foods will serve you better than others.
I still go out and enjoy a number of delicious Barossa reds with my hubby or my mates. I still enjoy a delicious desert sometimes too. I just don’t do it every day because I recognise those habits don’t actually serve me or my health well.
I also recognise how closely those habits used to be related to my emotions and try not to engage in eating and drinking based only on this (eg. I am having a glass of wine because I have had a stressful day and need to relax vs I am having a glass of wine because I choose to enjoy one for its flavour)
• I’m not afraid to seek help
Nobody is an island and sometimes its hard to do it alone. In fact, I would contend its near impossible.
Just this year I sought out a sports dietician to help me. I had gained a few kgs over peri menopause and was trying to figure it out. Given my speciality, you would think that I should know what happened right?
Sometimes it’s hard when its yourself that you are trying to treat so I swallowed my pride and made the appointment. Fantastic result and underlined to me that it doesn’t matter what you know and who you are, sometimes you need other people to show you the path you lost sight of.
• I’m around Fucking Great People
I did allude to this earlier and I think its impact is critical to me being able to maintain the weight that I lost.
Over time I have distanced myself from energy thief’s and I gravitate towards positive and open people. My god it makes a difference.
I go to a gym full of people that have become my friends. They encourage me with passion and check on my well-being. They are just bloody great people to be around.
I am trained by trainers and coaches who are intelligent, supportive and genuinely give a shit about me. They have patiently (mostly, hahahaha) helped me reach my physical goals and potential.
I have friends that I can talk to about my fears, my self-doubts and my worries and they don’t judge me even if they don’t agree with me. They absolutely have my back.
My husband supported me before and after weight loss. When I wanted to change, he committed to the course too. He believes in me sometimes when I don’t believe in myself.
I choose business and clinical mentors that educate rather than criticise. They mentor because they genuinely want to see others succeed.
I once had a team leader who said to me that there are two types of person that will have the biggest building. One will build that building big because of their own hard work and perseverance. The other will have the biggest building because they will knock down every building around them.
I choose people who build, not knock down. They are the kind of people that help you keep the self esteem that is needed.
So there it is, my five dots points to why I think 10 years on I have maintained a 45kg weight loss.
I hope that it can give you some insight into not just weight loss, but how to maintain positive changes in health outcomes.
And of course, reach out if I can help you further.