Weight Maintenance For the Long Haul – What Does It Take?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

In August of 2006, I decided that I needed to lose weight. Europe There are probably people who have heard this story 1,000 times (and I’ve told versions of my beginnings on the blog before, here in pictures here with my fat vest and here with an old Myspace journal entry) but it was after seeing my EuroTrip 2006 pictures that I recognized that I needed to make a change in my life. I was feeling terrible about my body and realized that I had terrible eating habits with no sense of moderation. It was hard and I struggled, but ultimately I got to my goal weight and was awarded my Lifetime membership to Weight Watchers.

April 11, 2010 marked my three year anniversary of being at goal and a vow to myself that I would never go back to that weight or feeling that way.

In three years I’ve been able to maintain fairly successfully and I’ve always been under my “official” goal weight. When I got really sick, I lost more weight, but some of it back on and then maintained around there for a long time. In the last few months my weight has fluctuated a bit and I’ve been working to get back into my sweet spot, but for the last three years I’ve been where I want to be. It’s been work, but I’ve done it.

A few weeks ago I received an email from one of my members with a link to an article on a recent poll regarding weight loss and maintenance. The poll showed that more than 2/3 of Canadians had tried to loss weight over the last five years and of that number less than 25% had been able to maintain a weight loss over a five year period.

Added to this, in class on Monday we were discussing obesity. Now I had always known that once you have gained weight, it’s easier for your body to gain it back, but I didn’t know that it actually a factor at the cellular level. My basic understanding is that when we gain weight, our fat cells multiply and get bigger. When we lose weight, the fat cells shrink in size, but we are left with the same number of fat cells. Thanks, biology.

So what does it take to be part of “results not typical” group? In my experience there has been so much more to losing weight and keeping it off than eating right and exercise; it has come down to attitude, habits and behaviour.

When it comes to weight loss, it seems that many people go into it thinking that they will change their eating habits temporarily, lose the weight and then go back to the way they used to eat/live. Or sometimes in order to lose weight they will deprive themselves of all their favourite things and restrict themselves so much that they get frustrated and binge and/or quit. Neither of these approaches are a formula for longevity and I think both can attribute to people gaining weight back after they’ve lost it.

I think the moment you try to lose weight and you think of it as a “diet” or something temporary, it is going to be just that. In order for things you to stick, I really believe that you need to embrace the changes as embarking on a new lifestyle. In that paradigm it seems much more permanent and solid; a resolution or way of living rather than just a band aid on the problem or quick fix. Quick fixes don’t address the issues at hand, nor do they last.

I’ve been known in my meetings to say “there is no save button at goal” and quote Leslie Beck by saying that everything you need to do in order to lose weight is everything you need to do to keep it off. To maintain your weight you need to keep up with the way you’re eating and you need to be exercising but you also need to be maintaining your habits, continually setting goals and maintaining an overall positive attitude about the changes you’ve made in your life. Your habits, behaviour and attitude are going to be the glue that holds everything together and are going to be integral in your weight maintenance success.

It takes a lot of guts to make the decision to lose weight. It’s not an easy task, but definitely a rewarding one. When you find your groove, it’s really exciting and reaching the place you want to be is ridiculously fulfilling. It’s at this point that you need to make the conscious decision to continue forward by giving yourself permission to embrace your new lifestyle as part of your identity.

In 2006 when I joined WW, I never would have dreamed of the places this path has taken me. It’s been a long and winding road, but I’m really proud of how far I have come and I continue to look forward to the next leg of the journey. I have learned so much about myself since 2006 and I know that this learning will just continue in the days to come. My motivation for keeping the weight off has changed, but it is something that I am determined to do. Every day I am reminded that I am not perfect and that this is something I’m going to have to work at (even just a little bit) for the rest of my life and you know what? I’m okay with that. I want to go back to Europe and take new pictures, because I no longer cringe when I see photos of myself like I did back in 2006.   19034_454473675603_559840603_11176015_3206072_nIs maintenance hard? Sometimes, yes.

But is it better than going back to 30+ lbs ago and feeling the way I did then? Absolutely.

I want to open this up to you now because I know this can be a fairly hot topic and one that a lot of people want guidance on… 

If you’ve lost weight or changed your lifestyle in the past, what has helped you to keep it up? What habits, behaviours or shifts in attitude have helped you to be successful? Have you been able to maintain your weight loss/lifestyle changes? If not, what changed? What do you think it takes to keep weight off in the long term?


The Words That Dominated My Weekend

Monday, April 26, 2010

No, not absolutely, brilliant, incredible, amazing, fantastic and awesome because I use those way too much every weekend. I’m talkin’ superfoods, smoothies, raw, and cherry blossoms.

Last week I had the pleasure of taking part in Meghan’s 5 Days Superfoods and then following it up with the 3 Day Green Smoothie challenge. Maybe you’re asking yourself why I participated in these two events (aside from my adoration for all thing Meghan) Well to be honest, I’ve been struggling lately. Ever since January, I’ve been at odds with my weight, my body and eating. My weight has fluctuated (it went down significantly and then went back up again) and lately I’ve been trying to come to terms with how I feel in my skin. I try not to be ruled by the number on the scale, but often that is easier said than done. I’ve been falling into old habits and felt that participating in the two events would rejuvenate my relationship with food, give my system a bit of a break and fill my tummy up with lots of goodness.

Mission accomplished. SANY3598Summer museli with a sliced banana, applesauce and lots of cinnamon
SANY3608 Kale pesto with brown rice pasta and a mixed salad with sprouts & beets 
SANY3636 Spinach salad with tamari & cider vinegar marinated mushrooms and sunflower seed pate

SANY3641And lots of smoothies…

Meghan’s smoothie recipes are pretty awesome and the tutorial is chock full of amazing information. I think my favourite was the green mojito – so delicious! I will definitely be enjoying smoothies as a part of my regular breakfast and/or lunch routine going forward as they left me feeling satisfied and energized without weighing me down. SANY3704I guess haircut could have been one of the words too… My new bangs make me happy! And the money I paid for the cut went to the Parkinson’s Society as a part of the 2010 Cut-a-thon.

Rather than consume solely smoothies all weekend, I decided that I would just go raw with a smoothie focus. This led to a lovely excursion on Friday with Ashley. We started off by heading to High Park to see the cherry blossoms SANY3658SANY3660 SANY3661Why didn’t I know that this happens every year in High Park? We had such a nice walk and enjoyed the absolute beauty of the cherry blossoms in bloom. After a long walk, we made our way to RawliciousSANY3662 Rawlicious is a raw, vegan cafe located in the heart of the Junction, which is a neighbourhood that I lived in from 2001-2006. When I lived there there was nothing like this! I loved the beautiful artwork, SANY3664 laid-back vibe (including super cozy chairs), SANY3667and amazing food! Ash and I shared the taco wrap SANY3665(Nut-loaf, guacamole, chopped tomatoes, red onion, shredded romaine, salsa and nut cheese in a collard wrap) and raw Pad Thai SANY3666(Raw kelp noodles, shredded romaine, carrots, peppers, zucchini noodles mixed in a tangy cashew sesame Thai sauce topped with crumbled cashews & green onions) The wrap was great and really solidified my love for collards as a wrapping device. I also discovered that I have nothing to fear of kelp noodles! They were really nice mixed with the zucchini spirals and the Pad Thai as a whole was light and delicious. I can’t wait to head back to Rawlicious again!

Because clearly one raw restaurant in a weekend is not enough, I took a trip to Live on Saturday night. It was jam-packed! 

Unfortunately my pictures came out pretty dark, but I can assure you that everything was delicious including my absolute favourite kale salad, hemp bruschetta and a few bites of delicious raw cacao cake for dessert.

So how do I feel now?

I feel great. Lindsay and I did some emailing over the weekend and helped to keep one another on track. It was great to have a supportive buddy who was facing similar challenges and to have someone to stay accountable to. I will be transitioning back to cooked food later today but plan to incorporate more smoothies and superfoods into my usual eating routine. I feel more in touch with good portion sizes and my body is thanking me for all the goodness I consumed over the last 8 days. SANY3639 I feel healthy, strong and comfortable in my body and I want to keep rocking this good good feeling going forward!

Coming up later this week – my thoughts on long term weight maintenance and another FIT CHICK Friday!

Did anyone else participate in the Superfood or Smoothie Challenge? Did anyone get to High Park to see the Cherry Blossoms? How was YOUR weekend?


The Joys of Being the Honorary Chair

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Many months ago I was asked to the be Honorary Chair for the 2010 Toronto Heel ‘n’ Wheel-a-thon in support of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of Canada to which I happily accepted. With the event coming up on June 13, things are really starting to heat up and over the last couple weeks I’ve really started to enjoy my role as Honorary Chair!

Two weeks ago I was an attendee at the brunch held for the TPE’s (Top Pledge Earners) from last year’s event. The brunch was held at the lovely Miller Tavern in North York. SANY3504 SANY3505SANY3506 The set menu wasn’t particularly Ashley-friendly (boo), so after starting off with a mimosa…SANY3507 the server was sweet enough to hook me up with some carrot ginger soup and a delightful green saladSANY3511 It was splendid! The soup blew me away, especially considering I love the carrot-ginger combination. I had a lot of fun speaking to the group about fundraising!SANY3514 TPE’s raise a huge portion of the money at the Heel ‘n’ Wheel-a-thon, so it was great to generate some fresh ideas for the rest of us to implement for this year.

Yesterday my duties as Honorary Chair led me to a visit with the boys at The Biz Media to shoot a PSA for the event. SANY3599SANY3606 It was my first experience with a green screen – fun times! SANY3604I have yet to see the final product (obviously, as we only shot it yesterday afternoon!), but everyone reassured me that I did a good job. Whenever I’ve worked on camera in the past it’s always taken me a few takes to get warmed up and yesterday was no exception. It’s a lot harder to be “yourself” on camera than it is in real life, but I think by the end I was finally coming off as ‘me’ on camera. We’ll see very soon!
SANY3601I will definitely be posting the PSA on my blog when it’s ready to go and hope that you will pass it along so that we can spread the word about the event. I’m excited (and nervous!!) to watch it.

Wanna get involved in the Heel ‘n’ Wheel-a-thon?

Sponsor me!After raising more than $1,700 last year I’m setting my goal at $3,000 this year and I need your help to get me there! Every little bit counts. Does anyone have any good ideas for alternative fundraising? I’m thinking about organizing a silent auction on the blog – please email me (wwleaderashley@gmail.com) if you’re interested in assisting in any way!

Join my team! – The walk takes place on June 13 in Sunnybrook Park and I would love to have a big group of friends to do the walk with me on my team Dancing Through Life. There is no minimum you need to raise in order to do the walk, and it’s a great opportunity to do a low-key 5km in a gorgeous setting for a good cause! Not in Toronto? There are HNW events all across Canada!

Join our Facebook group and follow me and Toronto Heel ‘n’ Wheel on Twitter for the latest news and updates

Superfoods, Super Weekend, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

Monday, April 19, 2010

Thinking about all the super stuff in my weekend made me want to sing the song…

I had a fantastic weekend and some pretty amazing eats… SANY3574Whole Foods lunch including chickpeas, bean medley, quinoa, peas and a mixed salad SANY3576SANY3575SANY3578Green-tea tofu fingers, mango-avocado salad and protein soup at Magic Oven. The soup was definitely the highlight with lots of chickpeas and delightful warming spices. I was disappointed that they forgot the walnuts in my salad, and the waitress forgot to retrieve them before I had finished my salad. I really want to like that restaurant, but I feel that I leave disappointed every time…SANY3582Unpictured gelato for dessert from Ed’s– so delicious!
SANY3571Cauliflower – cabbage - cauliflower curry over millet – This is such a simple recipe and it makes so much. I love it!!
SANY3583In the Superfood spirit, a snack of goji berries, cacao nibs and almonds SANY3573 SANY3584 Shopping and prepping for 5 Days with Superfoods
Broccoli soup and garden salad at Butler’s Pantry in my favourite window booth for Sunday brunch. I discovered that their soups are always vegan – score!! SANY3591 SANY3595 Incredible Hulk bread!!! I used Ener-G egg replacer in place of the two eggs which worked great. The spirulina (a blue-green algae that is a complete protein and contains lots of vitamins, minerals and superfoody goodness!) made it smell like the ocean, but it tasted great once cooked. Even the roommates liked it – success!! SANY3596 Delicious kichade made with mung beans, brown rice, zucchini, carrot and kale paired with a slice of my Hulk-tastic bread. I’m loving my Superfoods thus far and looking forward to a delicious week ahead!

How do you like to incorporate “Superfoods” into your meals?

Random Thoughts on a Thursday

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I’m loving the month of April, and not just because it’s my birth month. (Okay, well maybe that’s part of it) I’m still on a high from the weekend festivities and I’m having a lot of fun reaping the benefits of my birthday with various excursions and time with friends. SANY3568SANY3569I had a conversation with an old friend yesterday who said I seemed like myself for the first time in a long time. It was such a good thing to hear and I’m absolutely feeling it. I’m in a great headspace and I’m surrounded by a lot of positivity, wonderful people and fun things, like lunches in the park.  SANY3566 SANY3565~~~
In totally unrelated news… I saw this at someone’s apartment a few weeks ago and just about died laughing.


It’s been nearly a year since I went off the pill and I don’t miss it. In short, the pill made me crazy. Like really crazy. And for a long time I just thought the crazy was “normal” (do you see a theme here??) It was amazing to come off the pill and return to a much more normal state. I haven’t looked back since. If you’re anything like me and the pill made you crazy, check out the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility, the Justisse website or the amazing workshops run by the lovely ladies at Red Tent Sisters.
Coming up in the next couple weeks I’ve got some at-home workout suggestions with the beautiful Laura from
Fit Chicks, details on my experience going 5 days with Superfoods and 3 days with smoothies as well as some thoughts on moderation and the idea of “enough”. Is there anything you would like to see/talk about?

Have you had any random thoughts today?
How is your month of April so far?
How are you doing for activity? So far I’ve got 9 stickers on my calendar and adding a 10th tonight!! I will be making a
new activity chart for May because I miss them!!

Last but not least… a quote that accompanied the my birthday page in my planner: Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best. (Henry Van Dyke)

My Birth Week

Monday, April 12, 2010

Thank you for all your birthday well wishes on facebook, the blog and twitter. I really appreciate your words and was thrilled to have you share a part in my special day!!

I am still giddy on flip side of such an incredible weekend!

I had an action packed birthday and unfortunately I caught a cold about two days prior, making it a little more challenging than I had anticipated. On Thursday morning I awoke to find that the roommates had decorated my kitchen cabinet in my honour.  SANY3492They even used my extra special pink chalk. Made me smile! Mother nature missed the memo on the date of my birth and decided that Thursday would be a rainy day. I tried not to let it get me down, grabbed my umbrella and headed to my Thursday WW meetings. My lunchtime members surprised me with a cakeSANY3474 (created from WW 1 pt cakes, which I couldn’t eat, but the sentiment was so appreciated!!) and a sweet sweet card. So thoughtful!SANY3475 After my meetings I enjoyed an awesome lunch with Melly at CamrosSANY3478 Kale salad, funny squash stew & red rice and millet salad which was absolutely delicious as always. We followed it up with some goji-chocolate raw cheesecake. SANY3479 It was like a little piece of heaven!! All birthdays need good cake, and this did not disappoint. After a birthday nap, a walk and quick (unphotographed) dinner with my roommate, and boot camp, I went out with some friends to karaoke. SANY3485 I sang a couple of songs (Heartbreaker a la Pat Benatar and Just a Girl) and realized that my voice was going as a result of my sickness. Definitely an awesome way to cap off my day of birth and get in some quality time with some of my favourite people!

After getting in some more quality time with other friends on Friday night, I was ready for the big party on Saturday! I haven’t had a proper birthday party in a very long time, so I was ultra excited when the roommates suggested we combine our housewarming with mine and Matthew’s birthdays for a big shindig. There were a lot of preparations at the house for much of the day, including the creation of some mini raw chocolate cream cakesSANY3521and raw chocolate chip cookie dough bitesSANY3524 which got the triple thumbs up from the roommates. Seriously, the Pure2Raw gals rock my universe. Super easy-to-make raw treats that are healthy and delicious!

I was pretty excited about my birthday dress. I had found it at Mendocino a few weeks ago and knew it would be absolutely perfect for the party. SANY3530 Such a fun party dress in my favourite colour and an excuse to wear sky high heels!!

I spent the whole night chatting, laughing, smiling, and dancing with amazing friends, old and new!!SANY3533SANY3547SANY3543SANY3548SANY3538SANY3552SANY3540We had set up a costume corner and everyone kept getting progressively more dressed up by the end of the night. It was hilarious!!SANY3564The party was a huge success!!
I think by the end of the night my face hurt from smiling so much.

The party also solidified how happy I am in my new place with my roommates. When everything was ready to go before our guests had arrived we started to have a mini dance party with just the four of us. I said to them “no one could show up right now and we could spend the night dancing and I would be the happiest gal on earth” and I truly meant it. The other guests (and their amazing attire) were simply the icing on the cake and it was so special to be surrounded by such an amazing group of people for my special day!!

My birth week is starting to come to a close, although it’s pushing into a bit of a birth month as I’m having a birthday dinner with my dear friend Charis tonight and then spending some quality time with my dad next week. While it will be nice to get back into a bit of a normal routine, I would be lying if I said I didn’t love it!!

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