When I first lost almost 40 pounds, it happened quickly. I was eating perhaps 700-800 calories a day. That was necessary as at the time I had Bell's palsy on both sides of my face and chewing was really difficult.
Then, as I coordinated eating, I was cautious of new diagnoses of diabetes and hypertension, so I got rid of all the dinner-sized plates (in America that's about 10-1/2" to 11") and replaced with European dinner plates (9"). I also made myself take at least 20 minutes to eat. I put on a timer on my cell phone to be sure. Those simple things kept the weight dropping fast. In fact, it dropped so fast, my BP started hovering around 80/50, so I had to back off the BP meds until my body got used to the volume change.
But, what worried me was regaining. Like everyone else, I swore I would never ever go back up again, but over time and getting into the usual zombie-like routine, it began to creep up 10 pounds. I knew that it would find its old fat set point if I didn't figure out how to maintain weight loss.
Even though I was still eating on small plates, my work load had me eating faster and sometimes ordering Uber on a tough day. Those were the habits that got me into unhealthy weight.
So, I sat down and said this, "Sharon, who do you want to emulate? How do you see yourself? Who are your people? What lifestyle do you fit into?"
I realized that lifestyle is the way we tackle each day. Some people get up and cycle at 5 am, others sleep in, drink a lot of coffee to get started, and like to have a pastry in the morning.
First, I looked at my youthful tendencies. I always associated with the ocean and wanted to be a surfer.
In fact, I love Caribbean music, Jimmy Buffett, Beach Boys, Gidget, and I tended to watch YouTube videos of surfers living on the North Beach.
They have a way of tackling their days, in casual bright-colored clothing, easygoing, healthy produce, smoothies, yoga, meditation, lots of surf time. The breezes, the palm trees, the colors of ocean, citrus, and sky, the smell of suntan lotion, the eternal youthfulness of these people - MY TRIBE!
So, I started following surfer influencers and workouts, making healthy smoothies, meditation, just living a surfer lifestyle and identifying with them in what I wore, the colors, the activities, the desire to go out and find the best baja taco, hike early in the morning around the golf course lake, taking up yoga again (slowly).
I play surfer type music in the background. I keep lots of sunshine coming into the house. And I plan to fill an above-ground pool so I can get my water time.
I just needed a culture of health that I identifed with. I have friends who are total hiker/camper types, others who do water sports, ones who identify with pilates and yoga, ballet, pole dancing... Immerse yourself in your tribe and your style.
I may live in the desert, but my home is bright, sunny, happy turquoise and yellow and white. It makes me smile. Fresh flowers. Diffuser scents of tropical smells and Hawaiian florals, seaspray scents. I keep lots of produce around including obligatory avocados. I have lots of frozen fruits and veggies for smoothies. I get vitamin D every other day out in the sunshine. I grow my own produce. I wear beach clothing around the house and when I go out my style is influenced by Bohemian Beachcombers and resort wear. My attitude and everything around me exudes summer at the beach.
Why is it important to reinvent or define your style and your tribe? Because like in high school, it was easier to survive when you knew who you identify with, who you are influenced by, and what you won't do.
For instance, if you were a nerd in a group of study hounds, you like had "drugs" on your DO NOT DO list. When you identify with a healthy lifestyle group such as organic growers/farmers market types or hikers/climbers types, you know what you don't do. That parameter helps so much. I know my surfer folks may enjoy indulging in a taco or a pizza from time to time, but their day to day life is centered around what maintains their energy vibe.
I got a balance board and watch surfing videos and make the moves along with the surfer.
Find activities and groups that identify with your kind of zen. For me as a desert surfer girl, I can attend water parks, pool events, farmer's markets, water exercise classes, yoga classes, wave pools, outdoor arts and crafts festivals, permaculture meetings, garden tours, Hawaiian restaurants, skating events....
Even my oil painting art has always shown my propensity. In fact, I'm taking up oil painting again to do large square paintings with the theme "Summer of 75," with a nostalgic look at the tanning/skateboarding/rollerskating/surfing/beach going days of Baby Boomer's youth.
I defined my home style as Palm Springs mid century modern, my colors as turquoise and yellow (my two favorite things - ocean and sunflowers).
It's crazy but once you know who you are and own it completely, surround yourself with it, it's like everything clicks inside and bad habits, old trends, mindless repeating of the same choices over and over - it all just dissolves and is replaced by the genuine you, a person you've been repressing in order to accomplish a goal, be accepted, fufill a classical role, or whatever else excuse made you forget yourself.
Movies I suggest for finding yourself -
"Under the Tuscan Sun"
"Life of the Party"
"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"
Some of my tribe's channels
Just remember, you made some restrictions to lose weight. If you go off those restrictions, your body will want to reset. Instead of just trying to white knuckle and live like you did to lose weight, consider simply not going back to who you were previously. The weight loss helped you to remember who you were, like finding an old friend. Honor that old friend by becoming her/him again and living that life of no compromises.
Since owning my life, I've been doing some things I hadn't expected, but seemed second nature for my newly acquired lifestyle. I added bone broth to my lineup for collagen to help skin, joints, muscles, hair. I added a balance board and balance exercises to be graceful as I age. I drink a lot more water. I enjoy avocados and olive oil every day, adopting some Mediterranean aspects to my diet like olive oil, lemons, fresh herbs. I make tropical fruit salsa. I make my own tortillas. I have a freezer with a lot of forms of fish in it so I can make fish tacos, shrimp cocktail, salmon and quinoa. I drink a smoothie a day. I get up at sunrise, letting the sun be my alarm clock, go outside and take a photo of the sunrise and share it. I do a lot of dancing and playing music. I enjoy long soaks in the tub with my own home-grown luffahs. I often wear a swimsuit around the house because it makes me be aware of my actual body and not the loose baggy clothes that hide me. By upping my exercise and my renovation activities around the house, my energy levels soar. And, my appetite is greatly suppressed. When I open the fridge, I see tons of contains of produce to inspire me, yogurt, grains like rice, quinoa, oats, chia seeds. I upped the fat in my diet, and cut the carbs way way down.
My movie collection includes tons of beach-themed films:
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
The Other Woman
Beach Teen Movie
Walking on Sunshine
Just Go With It
Weekend at Bernie's
Maintaining weight loss is more like a pact with yourself that you won't be that "before" person any longer. That person likely was suffering soul suppression. Be you, be proud, find your tribe and your lifestyle you won't mind living the rest of your life.
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