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One years sans 200 lbs…my new reality

Taking stock one year after -200+ lb weight loss: Fit, active & healthy…
embracing life & reality from the center of my equation

Lori at one year - first "little" black dressThis is one of the toughest blogs I’ve written in two and a half years. I had intended to post it on the one-year  anniversary of my -211 lb weight loss (May 11, 2013) but it wasn’t ready. The words were not flowing as easily as I had hoped. The truth is, I am more proud of this accomplishment – maintaining my goal weight and living fully in the center of my equation as a healthy, happy and fit “girl” – than I am of getting here in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong. Shedding more than 200 pounds and going from a body fat percentage of 60+% to 14.5%, learning to live in the center of my equation for the first time ever, sharing my story for the world to see, and loving and accepting myself along the way – those are incredible, incredible accomplishments for which I am forever grateful and extremely proud! Life changing. And nothing will diminish that.

But LoriSchaefer-After-1somehow, this last year of learning to maintain my healthy weight and lifestyle, while keeping myself in the center of the equation, is even more incredible to me. And, perhaps even more rewarding – if that’s  possible! As is the experience of paying it forward by inspiring, coaching and helping others in their transformation journey’s. Nothing makes me happier.

When I was in fat/weight loss mode, I was focused like a laser beam on getting to goal. Quitting was not an option and it took all I had to get there. So, I didn’t think about “what next?”. I didn’t dwell on how to maintain my weight and live in this new body and new life once I reached goal. Perhaps part of me thought when I got “there” I would look and feel so great that I would simply be blessed with the willpower to maintain my weight no matter what. That it would be easy.

The truth is, it is not about willpower and it is absolutely not easy. All the same challenges I’ve had with food and work my whole life are still there and my primary coping mechanism of turning to food in times of high emotion, stress and for comfort – is gone. It is replaced by exercise and fitness, time with friends, and my coaching work. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, takes constant awareness, diligence and focus. It is a indeed a new way of living. There are ups and downs. It is difficult. And, it is awesome!

Lori in the equation, phase two

In June 2012, one month after I reached my goal weight and celebrated with my peeps, I embarked on a week-long personal retreat to Maine where I climbed mountains and began to process – “what next?”. It was an amazing experience and I wrote about it here in One Brave Thing.

My goal was to define what “Lori in the equation phase two” looked like. I established a new set of non-negotiables which included getting enough sleep, continuing my personal training and turning my focus to fitness goals/challenges (competing in a 10 mile mud run/walk and a half marathon), and monitoring my weight closely on a weekly basis. I made sure I had continued support and stayed connected to others who were learning to walk the “maintenance” journey. And, I shared my story via public speaking, writing and coaching others so as to hang on to my new-found healthy lifestyle. My focus was on total wellness – inside and out – not just the physical weight loss.

I embraced life in maintenance with passion and from a place of true happiness, grabbing opportunities as they presented themselves and tackling a whole list of “firsts” – all those things I didn’t do because I was too heavy and didn’t have self-confidence. I climbed big mountains, hiked challenging new trails, competed in a half marathon, went cross country skiing for the first time, danced, and started dating again! I was featured on the cover of a magazine, shared my story on TV, started an “In the Equation” book group, and more!

This past year has been a blast. I’ve challenged myself in new and exciting ways – now living life by daring greatly and celebrating my authentic self. During this time, I have written about the inner foundation of happiness that comes from new-found self-love and acceptance. In fact, I’ve written about it here so much that one person asked me flat out if it was real and suggested I tone down the happiness meter because it was making others who were not so happy uncomfortable. Ha! Sorry. You won’t find any apologies here for happiness. And there will be no toning it down!

A bumpier path than expected

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing. For me, the most difficult part of maintenance has been coming to terms with how diligent I have to be on the nutritional side of the journey to maintain my healthy weight. While this makes intellectual sense, somehow the level of diligence and difficulty surprised me. And it took me almost nine months of testing the waters to embrace it and settle in to my new reality.

While overall I have maintained my -200 lb weight loss and a body fat percentage in the 14.5-18% range for one year, my weight has fluctuated up and down within a 5-10-20+ lb range, a couple of times even hitting +30 lbs. In fact, when I graphed my weight over the past year on a chart, it looked something like a roller coaster ride for the first 6-9 months. The ups and downs occurred for several reasons.

First, when I would loosen the reigns and allow more “normal” food into my diet – including starchy carbs in moderation – I would gain weight fairly quickly because my metabolism was still functioning in fat loss mode. So it didn’t take much deviation to see the scale go up. Secondly, I still had occasional binges. A lot more than I would care to admit, especially in those early months. I charted my path and was very aware of what was happening. I learned that not only was I still wrestling with emotional eating, but I had an all out sugar addiction. Maybe it was always there. But I noticed that anytime I ate foods with refined sugar (a cookie, cake, brownie, ice cream, chocolate…) – instantly, I would crave more and more to the point of no return. It was like a switch was flipped in my brain. Turns out – it was a trigger in my brain.

After reading and blogging about food addiction and learning how sugar affected me/the dopamine levels in my brain, I finally came to terms with the fact that for me, sugar, is addictive. So, after several trials and errors, I completely eliminated it from my diet in January 2013. I am now five months sugar-free and it’s working. My weight has leveled out and I feel better. I now maintain closer to a 5-10 lb range. But it takes constant diligence. Never letting up or cutting loose and keeping sugar out of my diet all together. This was one of the more difficult choices for me to embrace. But once I did, life in maintenance has been far easier and I am far happier.

So what do I eat now?

A very healthy diet of organic, whole and non-processed foods just like I did in fat/weight loss – including lots of vegetables; healthy proteins like eggs, chicken, fish and seafood, turkey and lean beef; healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado; and some starchy carbs like oatmeal, sweet potatoes, beans, whole grain brown rice, and a little whole grain bread (though that one I am still exploring).

What don’t I eat: Absolutely anything with refined sugar, no fast food, and I try to avoid processed foods as much as possible. I am careful not to go in a fast food restaurant or drive thru. I limit myself to non-grocery items when I stop at a SuperAmerica. And, if I identify a trigger food – even if it’s a short-term thing – I limit it from my diet for a time. Earlier this year, I hit a period where I couldn’t eat peanut butter or cheese in moderation so I don’t have them in the house and consider them a treat.

My particular maintenance plan is not the right path for everyone. Not everyone has an addiction to sugar, or trouble with starchy carbs, but a lot of people do, so I share it here. The key is to be aware and know your body, your triggers and figure out what works for you. The primary lesson for me about my nutritional program in maintenance is that I will have to be forever diligent – not letting up, not letting loose. Finally, I have embraced this. And now, I am healthy, happy and fit and that beats any temporary pleasure I get from food. I mean it.

Claiming my power and lovingly creating my own reality

On the internal transformation side, it has been a great year. Now that I love and accept myself – embracing all my beautiful quirks and imperfections – I am living life with a new passion and happiness that I never thought possible. The ways that this manifests itself every day are astounding.

This is the gift of transformation that you can’t describe adequately or really understand until you’re there. The payoff is profound because it affects all areas of your life. It absolutely rivals that of the physical weight loss itself. I believe in myself. I am not afraid to try new things, put myself out there, and embrace risk and opportunity. I go for it way more often. And, when things are difficult, I am able to more easily allow the feelings to wash over me and embrace the learning. I continue to get to know myself, claim my power and strength and lovingly put myself out there – attracting opportunity and creating my own reality. I am no longer the victim. Yay!

This doesn’t mean I am done. Or, that I have it all figured out. Nor, that every day is easy. I believe we are all a work in progress and we are never truly “there.” I don’t ever want to stop learning and growing. But I am thrilled to have a solid foundation of self-love and happiness that is prevalent every day. I no longer sacrifice myself or my needs for others. I am a loving, fun, giving and generous person but I give those things to myself as well as others. And it makes all the difference.

I deserve and accept the best

In celebration of my one year anniversary, I pulled a card from my “Power of Thought” box of cards by Louise Hay. The card read: “I deserve the best and I accept the best now.” On the back it read: “I am mentally and emotionally equipped to enjoy a prosperous and loving life. It is my birth right to deserve all good. I claim my good.”

I love this quote. It pretty much sums up my year of life at goal, living as a fit, active, healthy and kick ass woman in the center of her equation. I wrote this personal mission just after I reached goal and I’m now living it and smiling while doing so:

“I am a fit, active, and healthy “girl” who holds herself in the center of her equation with authenticity, inspiring others to do the same.  As a hope giver and “inspiration queen,” I help others discover how to claim the lives they’re meant to live and reach their greatest potential. Living life awake, alive and impassioned, I fearlessly contribute my gifts to the world so that in every step I take forward, others take a step forward too.”

And my intention for 2013 – LOVE! 😉 Thank you all for your love, support and encouragement this past year. I could not walk this path without my team – you know who you are! And I love you.

Cheers,

Lori

Here are some of the blogs you might be interested in related to topics discussed here:

Celebrating one year in a “little” black dress

Embrace who you are and love will find you

Learning from life’s moments of impact

Food and addiction: Research and hope. Yes!

My word is love. LOVE in 2013!

Celebrating two years of daring greatly

One brave thing

 

 

 

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9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Congrats!!! That is one heck of an accomplishment!!

    May 19, 2013
    • Thank you Barb! I appreciate your stopping by to comment. The feedback means more than you know.

      May 19, 2013
      • I’ve lost 30 in the past two years, but am now seriously working at it, due to health reasons! Slight problem, having a disc removed tomorrow from my L5-S1 area.

        May 20, 2013
  2. micka.ana@gmail.com #

    amazing post Lori! Love it – looking forward to spending more time together and thinking about your role as Inspiration Queen!! xoAna

    May 19, 2013
    • Thank you Ana. I was so energized by our call and am so excited to get together and see your new life and explore opportunities! You are a blessing to me. Thank you. Hugs.

      May 20, 2013
  3. Lori – You are such a wonderful inspiration! Life (not just weight) is an ongoing process. We have our ups and downs in many realms. I think we all (well, most of us) go through gaining and losing those “10” or “15” pounds throughout life. Unfortunately, “life” overcomes us with different things and food is sometimes our comfort. The good thing is that you know your limits and what to do. Keep encouraging and motivating the way you do. You’re the BEST!

    May 21, 2013
    • Thank you Abby. Right back at ya on the inspiration. I am so glad our paths crossed. Thanks for the nice comment and the wonderful book and wisdom you bring to the health and wellness circle. I am grateful for you.

      May 25, 2013
  4. Hi Lori – you are an amazing writer. Thank you for your honestly and your willingness to share your story. What an inspiration you are! Keep on going!

    Warm regards,

    Steph Blackbird

    May 24, 2013
    • Hi Stephanie. Thanks so much for your kind note. I appreciate it so much.

      May 25, 2013

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