So, as many of you know, I have lost a pretty good amount of weight-like 160 pounds. However, for many years I was stuck in this weird limbo place not able to move forward and found it difficult to fathom even losing a pound.

How is it then, that a former fatty and self proclaimed sloth has been able to keep it off when over 85% of people who lose their weight gain it back again?

Believe me, it’s not because I hate food or have become an exercise-a-holic. In fact, I still love food and could probably eat most people under the table….I am actually pretty proud of that fact… And don’t even get me started with my love of laziness…

But eating great amounts of food and being sedentary didn’t get me anywhere. I felt like crappola if truth be told and I could hardly walk up a flight of stairs without having to call the paramedics.

In fact, when I joined a workplace contest that eventually changed my life, my whole world was falling down around me. My husband was diagnosed with diabetes, we had a lot of financial strife and I knew that by age 50 I was going to be in an electric wheelchair with a flag in the back running over people on Baseline Street.

Sadly, I knew what lay ahead. Being a nurse, I knew that I could not go on the way I was. Being 300 pounds was in no way healthy, and being addicted to food and laziness was horrible—well, unless I got to watch the Housewives of the OC and eat cake….ahhh the memories…

But I digress. I am no different from anyone else. Seriously, it wasn’t that I was a special snowflake. My mother might say otherwise, but no. However, I did do some things that helped unwittingly give me a leg up, and I am going to share them with you today.

Believe me, its nothing earth shattering. It’s not anything that you haven’t heard before. I didn’t re-invent the wheel and if you think I have some crazy, earth shattering knowledge bombs, just stop….I don’t.

I do, however, have experience. I have kept it off for over 8 years now, and have been at or around my goal weight within 5 pounds for that time period.

I have a hard head, and did a lot of stuff wrong. I used to think that was a bad thing, but failure is the best teacher for me personally, although it would have been nice to have tips from a former fat person who kinda got the whole fat thing, like lifting up her stomach to pee and worrying about where she could park her plus size behind in a restaurant.

So here are my top 10 ways to lose weight and keep it off:

Forgive yourself. Stop beating yourself up. Believe me, you probably have a negative Nancy that beats you up from time to time in your life. If you don’t I would be absolutely shocked. This is one that I really struggled with, because I always felt I was weak because I failed. I felt like I didn’t have enough “will-power” to be thin and therefore I didn’t deserve to be thin. That stuff is complete and utter BS. Get it out of your head. Move on.

I planned to fail. Ok, sounds pretty self-sabotaging, right? Well, I knew I didn’t have enough “willpower” to be thin, but I sure as hell had enough smarts to know that I needed to win this contest and that in order to do that over a 6 month period of time (um, yeah, longest contest EVER) I needed to implement my 51% rule. 51% of the time I was on task and on my eating plan. 49% of the time I allowed myself to bend the rules a bit. So, I made this to fit a week. 4 days I was good, 3 days I might eat a little more than usual. As I started to lose weight and see a major difference, I started decreasing that to 2 days then eventually 1.

I put myself in scary situations. For real. I put myself into scary situations from the get go. I knew I had to overcome my head more than anything. Making myself scared and then overcoming something that was totally outrageous gave me self confidence. I started a walking group the second (ok a day or two) after I put my money in the kitty for the contest. It was terrifying. I knew I would chicken out if I made myself go to the gym….All those girls with their booty shorts and cute socks— It would have had me running for the hills. I can tell you, that single situation, which by the way was the worst, most difficult and arduous task I had ever attempted was freeing. Somehow I made it through. I went to the walking group scared, and once I found out they were going 5 miles, I almost crapped my pants. I called my husband and told him “these people are crazy! I can’t walk 5 miles!” He heartily agreed and told me to come home. I got pissed off, and for the life of me, I was glad that he wasn’t supportive that day—If I hadn’t had that anger, I would never have walked that 5 miles. I was in such pain, and felt every joint. My knees were swollen, but you know what? I had walked 5 miles. And I didn’t die! I became addicted to these types of challenges and still use this tactic to this day.

I changed my habits. Sounds hokey, but its true. I think that habits are way more important than “feelings.” What I mean by this is that if your mom called you names, or you were abused, you may have ran to food to soothe you. However it happened, it became a HABIT. So, those synapses in your brain were molded. Now, as an adult, you have to untangle that mess and make different synapses. Believe me, I have gone to shrinks galore and had a bunch of skinny people tell me how to get over being an obese female. Don’t get me wrong, I think that it does help to problem solve. But it doesn’t work unless you change your behavior…AKA habits. It’s not rocket science—its simple, but not easy. Not easy in the least.

I started to deal with things I would have rather put on the back burner. I started to actually pay attention to myself. Like myself. Put myself first so that I could be there for others. I was so drugged up with cake, I sure didn’t want to do anything else. Thinking about myself grossed me out. I hated walking by a mirror or hearing myself speak into a microphone. It was as if I was hiding from myself. Having to deal with things make me face what I had done to myself, but not in a mean way, more in a loving way. It didn’t happen overnight, either. It was hard. Scary. I still sometimes shy away from a mirror when I am feeling particularly bad about myself that day. Those days still happen but it’s not an every day occurrence any more.

It’s not about the food. Ok, hear me out on this. You can lose weight on any diet program out there. You can lose weight without one lick of exercise. I still deal with this issue to this day. We need to think nourishment rather than happiness. We need to eat because we are hungry versus because we are at a social event and don’t want everyone to think we are that “A-hole” that is eating chicken out of Tupperware and being all depressed about it….Yes, I have been that A-hole on several occasions. Food is there to nourish us, but we get all creepy thinking that it has to be “good” or “bad” which is pretty lame. Portion control is a must, and that is why I still use myfitnesspal because even after 8 years, my portion sizes get bigger over time. I don’t believe that there is any food group that you need to cut out—and believe me, I have done every way of eating known to man. It depends on what your end game is. Food is a tool for fuel and for nutrition, nothing more. Food should not be used as a crutch and you should not have to eat celery 20 times a day unless you love it. No one needs to go through McDonalds and have everything supersized, either. Like, NO ONE. My hubby does keto. Is that bad? Well, not for his blood sugar. It works for him. I am lucky because I can eat different ways and it works for me most of the time. Portion control is my issue, and it continues to be my issue.

Moving was essential to my wellbeing. Yes, moving my body was horrible and hard at first. Believe me, I was the girl that would drive around the parking lot until I found the closest spot, and I didn’t care if I was late to an appointment, either. You would never see me walk across the parking lot. It hurt my knees and hips and I just wasn’t going to be embarrassed by having other people stare. When I went walking that first time, it was horrible. I would be lying if I said anything else. My knees swelled every time I walked for over a year. But you know what? I did it. I was one of the weirdos that got excited about walking. Then I started to run. Then I started to do half marathons. I did this for years. Then I started doing bodybuilding, and then transitioned to powerlifting. Scary things coupled with movement helped my head. It kept me moving forward in my mind. It basically saved me from myself. Hence leaving the nursing field and becoming the owner of my own mobile fitness company. From absolutely abhorring exercise to absolutely needing exercise…totally weird.

Recognizing triggers was key to help me decrease my bingeing. Most people say everything is a trigger, but that isn’t true. I thought the same way until I started to pay attention to it. When I got depressed and was alone, I binged. This is a little different than habits, because you are recognizing things that may not have happened yet. So, if you know you will be in a situation that you will likely overeat or even binge eat, then remove it from the equation altogether. I binge when I am home alone. Hence, if my hubby is gone and I have a ton of work to do but want to procrastinate and eat, I will go to the office and do my work, because I won’t be apt to binge there.

Don’t hate what you are doing. I didn’t even know I didn’t hate it until a while after I got started. I wanted to win money in a 6 month contest to lose weight, so I had to do stuff that would help me win the money over the long haul. In doing so, I found that I really didn’t hate what I was doing. Like, at all. It was kind of exciting and fun. I only recognized this about a month in. I still whine about stuff I do, but on the inside, I love every single bit of it. I left my good paying job and became a personal trainer…at 48. I absolutely love the life I have now and who knew I would love exercise?

Ok, the last one is a fake out. Love yourself and forgive yourself. It’s the beginning and the end because it’s the hardest one to do. Loving yourself daily can be hard, and some of you will persist in the angst that self hatred brings. I am here to tell you that it is a journey. Love who you are, on the inside. That means way more than just losing weight or fitting into cute clothes that you can get off the rack. Look at your flaws and look at your strengths. Take an account of what you stand for and what is lacking. Work on things you know you need to, but do it in a loving way.

Conclusion

If you notice, this blog told you nothing about how to diet, nor did it tell you what exercise plan to do. You aren’t lame and I am sure you have the internet at your fingertips. However, it’s your head that needs the fixing in this endeavor. Anyone can lose the weight. That is simple science. But habits, triggers and changing your thoughts around food is really the most important part of this whole equation. And guess what? It will continue to be a journey. An amazing, exciting journey. Yeah, well, thats called life, people, so this is the part that you go outside your comfort zone, put one foot in front of the other and start living again!