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Two years fit & healthy. New life…new lessons.

Maintaining -200 pound weight loss for 2 years. What it looks and feels like…really!

Lori Schaefer & Transformation Team O'Neal Hampton, Leif Anderson & Jay Grove

Two years ago, May 12, 2012 at my celebration party — with my physical transformation team.

Exactly two years ago today I was standing in a blue sparkly dress at Surfside on Lake Superior surrounded by 50 of my best and closest peeps. The occasion? To celebrate my -211 lb weight loss and the fact that, finally, I had put myself in the center of my own life!

After 18 months of hard work, and a personal transformation journey that had many ups and downs, I had just reached my weight loss goal — at age 49. The stats were impressive: -211 lbs, -nearly 50% body fat with a final body fat of 14.5% (that of elite female athletes), and an internal happiness that I was only beginning to understand.

To celebrate, I threw a weekend party and invited my closest friends and family to the place where my journey officially started. It was a meaningful, dream weekend and a celebration I will never forget. I still smile when I think about it. It was one of those threshold moments in life. For the first time ever, I was able to celebrate my own accomplishment,, share it with others, and allow them to celebrate me, too.

I remember being so overwhelmed with emotion that I was in tears for much of the early party. And I was so choked up when it was time to speak that I threw out my speech and spoke from the heart. I don’t remember what I said, and I’m certain I didn’t thank every person that I intended to. But it didn’t matter. I was surrounded by those who loved and supported me, they knew how much I appreciated them, and the evening felt truly awesome.

Now, fast forward two years.

Lori Schaefer Before & After 200 Pound Weight Loss

Officially before shot, and after my makeover May 11, 2012.

This time, I’m in my workout clothes after going for a hike in the blustery wind and rain. I’m taking note of my two year personal transformation alone by writing a blog. While none of my peeps are here, we did just complete a health and wellness weekend at the resort that brought up my friend and personal trainer, Sandra Swami. I spent the weekend in rigorous hikes, doing a cardio blast class that felt a lot like the weight-loss boot camp that jump started my journey. I’m pampering myself with massages, facials and some down time — something I never would have done pre-transformation. And tonight, I get to have dinner with 8 of my closest friends — many of whom were there to celebrate with me two years ago.

This is what it means to be Lori in the equation of her own life two years in! It feels great. Awesome. Better than my wild dreams. And…

It is NOT easy. It is NOT always happy. And I am struggling right now!

Yep, it’s true. Trust me, this is not the blog I intended to write on my two year personal transformation anniversary. Nor, the blog I thought I was supposed to write if I wanted to inspire people and provide hope.

Lori at one year - first "little" black dress

May 12, 2013 – one year after reaching goal. Celebrating my first “little” black dress.

Why? Because what I haven’t told you yet is that while I am celebrating my off the charts amazing transformation, I am between 15 and 20 lbs UP from my goal weight of two years ago. I have been inching up, struggling to get back on track for well over a week now. I am a bit of an emotional wreck. Flat out, I am struggling.

The truth is, maintaining this kind of weight loss is not easy. It is way harder than losing the weight in the first place. And, it is the best thing that has ever happened to me. It is a HUGE accomplishment for which I am extremely proud and grateful.

The facts: While I have maintained my weight loss of -200 pounds for two years, I have done so only by working diligently every day, every week on changing life-long patterns, embracing the idea of a food addiction and learning not to make excuses or hide behind it, and I’ve had to learn to give up control of things that I simply can’t control.

My weight has fluctuated during these two years from about 6 pounds under my initial goal weight at my lowest (a great and healthy weight but tough for me to maintain) to 15-16 pounds up. My goal has been to live at my goal weight and within 5-8 lbs up, using the +10 as my alarm bell. Everyone is different, but this is what I have found works for me.

So when I get to +15 pounds I need to sound the big alarm, get in touch with what is really going on, and usually — what helps me most — is sharing my story publicly. Why? It helps me to be authentic and not hide behind my struggle like I used to. This is real, and I think it helps others too.

The thing is, it isn’t really about the weight. It wasn’t in the beginning and it isn’t now. Skip the last paragraph I wrote and read my facts paragraph above. The key to maintaining massive weight loss is a head game, and one of learning to change life-long behavioral patterns. For me, it also meant embracing the idea of,  and combating, food addiction. I’ve had to find a host of healthy alternatives instead of turning to food when things are stressful, hormonal, or difficult. Food was my go to and it comforted me.

It has taken a whole lot of internal work, planning, focus and practice to learn to replace food with other things that make me happy, comfort me, or fill me up — things that are good for me like walking, meeting a friend for coffee, calling a long distance friend for a nice long chat, going to a fitness class, going to the spa, reading a good book or writing a blog, etc. And I do not always succeed. But I do always restart and bring myself back to the basics and my go to list here.

Most importantly, I’ve had to learn to let go of the things I can’t control. Yep, me give up control. Imagine? Right now, for example, I am in a hormonal tailspin. I’m experiencing incredible food cravings, hot flashes, and mood swings like never before. (Yep, I see a lot of nodding from the women my age. You got it!)  This morning, it occurred to me, “Wow, this is another one of those things I can’t control.” And the more I try to do so, the more I try to fix it or control it, the tougher time I’m having. So, just like I had to let go of how other people react to the new me and my weight loss, I have to let go of the fact that I can’t fix or control my hormones. Maintenance life lesson number 610!

The gift, and the secret to maintenance for me: I KNOW the way. I KNOW how to restart and refocus. And, I KNOW that I can do absolutely anything! Not everything. Not perfection. But anything!

The gift of the personal transformation that continues two years into my maintenance journey is that I know the way. I’ve been here before….hundreds of times. And this time I love and accept myself exactly as I am. I know how to spot my imperfections and embrace them — like the desire to control my emotional upset caused by hormonal shifts in my body. And I am resilient beyond belief.

I am smiling now because until I started writing today I had no idea what the lesson really was or how it would come out. Honestly, that’s why I blog. All of a sudden, I realize that this past year has provided an internal transformation that has exceeded my wildest dreams. As I open myself to new experiences, like love, and grab on to opportunities as they present themselves, I’m learning and growing and changing at a whole new level.

She climbed until she saw…and saw…and saw…

I titled my blog on the very first day of my transformation journey: She Climbed Until She Saw. It was titled for the mountains I had to climb, both literally and figuratively. For those of you know Compendium, there is a book and a series of  “She” quotes. So many are appropriate to my personal journey and at least 10 made their way into my book of transformation.

But this one, most of all still rings true three and a half years after my journey began and two years into my new healthy life. What I didn’t know then, that I know now, is that the climb continues. The path is wild and curvy with obstacles overcome and obstacles yet to be. And that, is the coolest, the most exciting and the very best part!

She is strong. She can do anything. She is transformed…and transforming. Smiling and crying her way through to new heights and embracing both the laughter and the tears because she knows it is all part of the journey.

Two years after standing in front of her peeps in her blue sparkly dress totally moved to emotion, she is on fire. She has within her a self-awareness, self-love and internal strength that means she can do absolutely anything. She is more forgiving, and more resilient. And when the going get really tough, she is grateful for every step of the journey…the opportunity to learn and grow to new levels.

She IS an inspiration and hope giver, even and especially, 15+ pounds up dressed in her work out clothes with no make up. She is real. She is authentic. And for the first time in so long, she is true to herself.

She is me.

 Check out my photo gallery:  Celebrating my second year as a fit, healthy and happy girl!

Links to my before and after, and related blogs:

Me: Before & After

A whole life…the best life

Three years – another cool milestone

One year sans 200 lbs – my new reality

Embrace who you are and love will find you

30 ways to pamper yourself without food

Learning to feed the soul…without food


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