I recently decided to lose 5-10 more pounds from my initial goal of 180, and this week I lost 3 pounds!

This is interesting. Before now I had been maintaining my weight at 180 with surprising ease, not counting calories but probably eating about 2000-2200 calories a day. And before that, I was eating about 1500-1800 calories a day and losing about 4 pounds a month. And I had been doing that diligently, no “cheat days” or binges. I don’t think I’ve overeaten in about a year, quite honestly. Going on forever! I continue to work out 5-6 times a week.

Everyone knows that weight loss slows toward the end and that the last 10 pounds are the hardest. I’ve come to think that this is because the body tires of weight loss and needs a break. This is the concept behind a “Spike Day” – to get your metabolism going again. But for me, I needed to completely eliminate the binges from my life. I can’t have that feeling of over-fullness. I really can’t stand it anymore now that I see it as a form of self-punishment to stuff myself the way I once did. So a day of eating to over-fullness is out of the question. Just like a day of fasting is out of the question. No more extremes for me.

But I think the two months of maintenance had the same effect. Now I’m back to eating 1500-1800 calories a day and I’m seeing a much faster weight loss than before the break. I would definitely recommend this type of break if you’re near your goal and not seeing progress. I’m not talking about going back to old habits, but rather practicing maintenance.

Practicing maintenance gave me more confidence. It was pretty easy, really. The extra calories came from a glass or two of red or white wine, a piece of extra dark chocolate, and an additional evening snack- instead of fruit OR nuts, both. Otherwise, there is very little difference in the way I eat to lose weight versus to maintain my weight.

Recently someone asked me if it ever bothers me that I will never eat like I used to- whatever whenever. And difficult as this may be to believe, the honest answer is no. It never bothers me. Eating whatever whenever has clear consequences- weight gain. It always has for me. And it has that consequence for most of us who somehow learned to eat too much too fast too often. Some people can maintain a healthy weight without even thinking about it because they eat in a way that matches their body’s energy needs. Now, I realize, the body tells you when it’s had enough. You only have to listen to it. Sometimes it is hard or impossible to listen, when we are using food to fill an emotional void. But like anything, you can train yourself to listen and change that habit.

It is pretty equivalent to quitting smoking. Yes, you may have emotional needs you’re compensating for with the substance. That is what psychological addiction is. Perhaps the effect on the brain of sugar is similar to nicotine. For me the number one realization was that neither smoking nor overeating would actually solve any of the issues I was compensating for, would not diminish stress, loneliness, guilt, anger or any other avoided feeling. From there it was just a matter rational choices winning out over emotional fallacies. After awhile, the old way of being seemed quite silly.

So, no, I don’t miss the silliness. It didn’t make any sense. Eating a bunch of crap never felt good. Maybe it tasted good for a moment, but the immediate consequence of feeling tired, a little nauseous, overly full and disappointed and guilty should have been enough to make it unappealing. The long term consequence of weight gain should have made it obvious that it was the wrong choice. I’m much happier now that I’m no longer using that crutch. It didn’t actually help me walk anyway.

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