regarding reaching my goal, and plans for the future

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Today is January 6th, which means it’s been exactly one year since the day that I decided to start losing weight. Not the first time I’ve decided to try to lose weight, but the first time I’ve successfully followed through. On November 16th, 10 months and 10 days later, I reached my weight loss goal of losing 75 pounds. That was right around the end of the semester, so I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write a note since reaching my goal, but I figured now is a good time.

I think I’ve been handling maintenance pretty well. Because I’m on winter break right now, I’ve only had sporadic opportunities to weigh myself but each time I do, it seems that my weight is staying the same. I do seem to have a harder time staying within my caloric budget than I did throughout the weight loss segment of the year, which is ironic because I’m allocated more calories now than I was before (so as to not continue losing weight), but it also makes sense because it’s harder to stay motivated because there isn’t that glory of weight loss to keep you going. Sometimes I stress that I’ve been going over my calorie budget too often, but then I remind myself that all year as I was losing weight, there were plenty of times when I would go over calories and it didn’t negatively impact me. Either way, now that I know  it’s possible to lose weight without discomfort or hunger, I’m not scared by the idea of regaining weight because I know that I can lose it again. Either way, as soon as I’m back at school in a couple weeks and will have my scale again, it shouldn’t be a problem because I’ll have instant feedback so as soon as I see myself gaining weight, I’ll be able to respond and make sure I’m making good decisions.

Often, I stop and reflect on this whole thing and sometimes I can’t believe it. On the one hand, I can’t believe I used to weigh as much as I did. I feel so different now, and as a person who has spent a year constantly making sure to be aware of the healthiness of whatever I’m eating, it’s hard to imagine myself not caring. It’s hard to look at old pictures of myself, because that just doesn’t feel like it’s me, but maybe it’s not too bad to have a reminder of why it’s so important that I maintain this lifestyle.

More than that, the thing I have even more trouble believing is how much my life has changed this year. I always believed I was a capable person, but the one thing I knew I would never get control of was my weight. A healthy weight was unattainable. And now, I’ve had that assumption challenged, and it’s incredible. There’s so much that goes along with losing weight. First, I know that my risk for pretty much all of the diseases is now substantially lower, especially ones that are related specifically to lifestyle (e.g. heart disease). Second, I have so much more energy because it’s so much easier to move around. Third, I feel like I have a great deal more excitement for life in general and I’m much more confident about my ability to achieve my goals in life, because now that I’ve done this, all of it seems so much more attainable. Fourth, losing weight has given me a great deal of confidence, which I used this summer to venture into the world of dating and led me to an incredibly fulfilling relationship with the sweetest man I’ve ever met. Finally, I feel like this has helped me build a community for myself, as so many people have shown so much support, and others have joined me in a healthy lifestyle, including some who have started using the same program I’m using (Lose It).

It’s a new year now, and it’s making me think about what I want to accomplish next. I’ve never been much into new year’s resolutions, but because my weight loss was accomplished in just under a year (Jan 6-Nov 16, 2011), it’s made me think that perhaps a year is a nice chunk of time in which to make important changes and achieve goals. And as cliché as it is, perhaps a new year is the perfect time to consider how you want to change your life.

So, here’s what I’ve decided to focus on this year:

One) Maintain my weight, and perhaps lose a small amount more. I’ve continued logging all of my food and exercise into Lose It, and plan to keep at it, perhaps for the rest of my life. It’s become such an integral part of my daily life that I can’t imagine not doing it, and it’s comforting knowing that if I continue keeping track of all of my calories for the rest of my life, I’ll always know whether I’m staying on track. I’m probably also going to lose about five more pounds, to make the bridesmaid dress I bought for my cousin’s wedding this summer fit a bit more comfortably.

Two) I want to finish my copy of Harry Potter translated into Russian. I’ve been moving through it slowly for about a year now, but I want to make it a regular part of my schedule so that I finish it. It’s helping me learn to read faster and teaching me new words, and I feel like finishing it will be very helpful in helping me advance in my fluency in Russian. As soon as I get back to my house up in Arcata, I can look at the book and see how many pages are left so I can decide how much I need to read every week.

Three) Maintain a constant balance between academics and personal fulfillment. This is less quantifiable, but the main thing I’m going for here is that I don’t want to have periods of too much stress, because then for that time I can’t focus on myself (both in terms of health and personal relationships). So, I’m aiming to not procrastinate so that every day I’m studying and doing homework, so that it doesn’t build up right before tests. I’ve gotten pretty good at this over the last several years, but I feel like I can do even better. This winter break, I’ve been reading ahead for the second semester of my organic chemistry class, so that I can take care of some of the inevitable stress now, and I think it’s a good start.

Four) Keep track of my expenses. I’ve found a cool app called Lemon where you take pictures of all of your receipts and it reads them and keeps track of them, so I’ve been using that and I plan to continue.

Five) Floss nightly. I’m very prone to cavities and I’ve never been good about flossing, so I’m working on a nightly habit of it. I’ve made a checklist so that I can keep track of when I do it, and so far I have every night.

These are the main goals I’ve thought of, and I might think of some others later, but it makes sense to have a few main ones to focus on. Feel free to comment with any thoughts or to tell me what goals you plan to take care of this year. I’d love to hear it.

As always, a before and after picture. And a bonus one!

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