How long have you been trying to lose weight?

Cumulatively?  Probably since I was in 2nd grade on.  When you grow up in a dieting household, you can't help but become aware and then when kids start to comment on your weight, you know something isn't quite right.  Thankfully, I stood up for myself so I didn't get teased as mercilessly as some of my friends.

As far as the go round that has netted me this weight loss?  10 years so far with a ways to go.  But for the first time, this doesn't feel like "this time" it feels like the rest of our lives.

Why don't you show your face?  Are you in the witness protection program?

No but if I was I probably shouldn't tell you anyway, ya know?  The focus is on my changing body, not what my face looks like.  I hate it when people say "you have such a pretty face!"  Is that supposed to be a compliment?  It's not so please don't say it to people.  If someone is pretty, say they're pretty, don't throw in an exclusion like oh, their entire body!  😐  So focusing on the rest of me is kind of my finger gesture to that mentality.  In addition, I have seen people's before and afters stolen to promote some unhealthy diet products and that is so far beyond uncool, a matter of fact...it's illegal.  Unfortunately, this means, for now, headless and watermarked.  I hope it's not too off-putting but I gotta do what I gotta do.

How did you get your husband to do this with you?  How can I get mine off his rump?

We were both fat kids and when we met as teens, we had both just lost 40-50 lbs.  You'd have thought that would've been a good thing to have a support buddy but it was like "hey, someone accepts me how I am...diet done!"  When we both got out of control at 494 and 455 lbs, it was a health scare for him that finally kicked our butts into gear.  I beg of you, don't let it be a health scare that gets you into gear.  I think some men who don't consider themselves exercisers tend to think it's for girls or have visions of you dragging them to yoga.  Hiking, walking, tennis, heck even yard work counts as exercise!  Be willing to try new things and even if you don't think you're "that" couple who goes out and does X...give it a try, you never know what new adventure awaits and losing weight together definitely brings you closer!  I never thought I would stand up paddle, kayak or walk a 5K but I did them all with him by my side!  I can't wait for the other adventures that await us.

How do you keep your motivation?

Honestly, I don't.  I haven't really been motivated much or gung ho at all during this adventure.  I waited around for this old motivation I had when I'd lost 85 lbs in the past and it never showed up.  What showed up in its place?  125 lbs!  Yeah.  Eating my way through diseases and deaths in the family, relationship problems (not with my husband but other people in my life) and work stress.  Guess what, motivation doesn't count for crap.  Truly.  Doing it when you're motivated is easy.  It's slogging through the trenches when it's hard that shows your commitment.  There will be days when exercising is the last thing you want to do.  For lack of a better term, too damn bad!  I hate to say "just do it" but seriously, it does come down to that.  It's irritating when people say it doesn't because "if it did we'd all be thin."  Uh yeah...exactly!  We've exercised at 11:30pm at night before and it's our commitment to ourselves and our journey that has allowed us to not miss a single scheduled workout in almost 10 years.  You really just have to put on your big girl panties and get it done.  You have to schedule it like an appointment.  It helps take the excuses out of it.

How much loose skin do you have?  When will you have surgery to remove it?

Honestly, because I still have so much to lose, I don't have a ton of loose skin right now.  It's more crepey and a wee baggy.  Sure my poor boobs look like a party balloon 4 days after the party and I've got the batwings under my arms but they're still so full of fat that it's not much worse than when I was at my heaviest.  We have done strength training from the beginning and I know as I lose this last 100+ that will get more prominent and the Mr and I are preparing ourselves mentally for that stage of this.

However, that is when our mission will change from weight loss to maintenance but muscle building.  I don't plan on looking like someone you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley or get mistaken for a hulky dude from the back but we know muscle building and taking care of your skin can go a long way.  We have absolutely no plans to have skin surgery...none.  People who have had skin surgery please don't contact me trying to argue with me about why I will change my mind.  We feel strongly about this, just as strongly as those who wanted the skin off feel about their decision so we'll agree to disagree on the skin thing.

I'm too fat to exercise, I can't do the kind of things you do.

I know it might feel that way but I was 425 lbs when I started up modified Tae Bo again.   *I'm not suggesting YOU do this if you are that weight!*  But I think we expect to do exercise programs exactly as they are rather than meeting our bodies where they are when we start them and modify things.  We give ourselves less credit for what our bodies are capable of because we're scared.  Now when I was 494 lbs, yeah, it was 7 minutes on the rower and me breaking down in tears because my butt was numb with pain.  Then it was 10 minutes on the rower.  Then strength sessions until we upped our exercise to 30 minutes a day 4x a week.  We kept that schedule to lose our first 100 lbs.  It wasn't some insane schedule like people assume.

Consult with a doctor first and ask if you can just modify things or do chair workouts.  I wasn't doing Tae Bo perfectly at 425 lbs.  I had to modify some things but just brought the intensity.  I needed to push myself outside of my comfort zone but don't push your body to do things that are going to injure it.  Before you start any diet or exercise program, you need to check with your doctor!  I would recommend going to a nutritionist instead of a primary care physician so they can give you more than pamphlets or their particular suggestion of a diet book.  Nutritionists/dieticians can give you a specific direction that general practitioners can't and you can work together to come up with a plan that you know you can stick to and fad diets aren't it.

What plan do you follow?

Our own.  We knew that the common denominator in our past failures was that we were following someone else's idea of the perfect plan.  Soups, low fat, deprivation, etc  You name it, we did it and we gained the weight back and then some.  The same diets have been reworked, repackaged and are being re-marketed these days and we just have to shake our heads.  We believe that moderation is the key.  It is completely irrational to think you will never enjoy a piece of birthday cake or a slice of pizza again for the rest of your life and that if you did you have suddenly gone horrifically off the wagon.  Balance, Daniel-san.

We do a high cal day once a week.  I know this doesn't work for everyone and that is fine.  People like to tell me why we'll fail doing that but we're talking about how we lost over 200 and 190 pounds EACH.  I understand people are passionate about their eating plans and everyone thinks theirs is the best but no amount of 'persuading' will convince us that our plan is wrong for our goals.  (Yep, there are people out there that have criticized when they don't even know me and to them, I laugh and enjoy a bite of my cupcake that I've figured into my calories.)

We keep it about 1650-2100 calories per day based on our activity level, metabolic rate (we had BodPod tests done), etc.  We're meat eaters but not against having vegetarian dishes as often as we can.  I don't consider any type of recipe, meat or not, off-limits, so long as it's good.  Lots of fruits and veggies, lean meats (including super lean beef on occasion), drinking water and decaf tea over soda/pop (1 gal a day total liquids) and making sure that the meals I prepare never make it feel like we're on a diet.  That's one huge compliment my Mr gives me is that he's never once felt like he's on a diet.  Therefore we don't feel deprived and can keep this up for life.  Exercise is 6x week.  On the days we do strength training (2-3x week) we may also do 30 minutes of cardio with it.  We do primarily at-home exercise.  We're not runners, we're not gym goers (we have a gym in our basement) and we're not class takers and we have no desire to be any of those.  It's all been done in the privacy of our home.  I have way too many favorite DVD's to list but go to the My Favorites tab at the top of the page and you can see all of the DVD's, fitness equipment and food prep items we use to lose weight.

You were certainly big enough to have weight loss surgery, why didn't you do that?  You'd be thin by now!

I might be thinner by now but how much better off would I really be?  There are lessons that you need to learn in order to be successful in keeping weight off.  People mistakenly think weight loss is physical and it's not...it's 90% mental.  You make the decision to eat well or not, you make the decision to exercise or not, you choose to use food for emotional reasons, etc.  WLS is a tool not a cure.  Until you master the reasons you got fat in the first place and find alternative coping mechanisms for stress and triggers (which for us is exercise now) then it doesn't matter how much you alter your anatomy.  I have seen WLS up close and personal with several people close to me in my life and known a few people who have died of complications from it.  The hubby and I agreed it was not the path for us.  I think we're living in a society that throws "just have the surgery" out like they're telling you to go to the store.  It is still an elective surgery that comes with risks not just having the surgery itself but afterward as well as side effects that last the rest of your life. Just because you have WLS doesn't mean you are no longer in danger of regaining weight.  The stomach stretches and does not stay the size of an egg if you eat more than you should post-surgery.

I wish anyone who chooses that path well and hope that it works long term because it's all about health.  For me, I don't want to live a life where eating a cupcake could make me sick.  (I'm not a fan of barfing and will bargain with God for hours to make me not go there so yeah, the surgery definitely is not for me!)  This is *my* opinion on the subject and I don't want to debate it with pro-surgery people. We're all different, let's take our paths and be better off for it.

In the end it will always come down to healthy eating and exercise...always

What is your advice to someone starting out?

First, talk to your doctor to make sure you don't have an underlying health issue you don't know about and get cleared to start something.

Believe in yourself!  Don't say something to yourself you wouldn't say to your spouse or parent/child.  I used to be one of those people who called herself names all the time and thought people were full of crap that said: "positive self-talk is important!"  You may call yourself "tubbalicious" to make yourself or others laugh but trust me, you listen and whether you think it does or not, it takes a toll on your self-esteem.  I'm still working on this when a funk rolls in.

Start small.  Master portion control or drinking water or adding exercise and then add the next component.  Changing everything at once can be overwhelming and make you want to give up.  Find exercises that you like because if you hate it, you're not going to do it.  Watch your fiber, sodium and water intake...these all play a big part in getting your weight to not fluctuate as much.  Fiber needs water to do its job.  I get 30+ grams per day all from food. 

Most importantly NEVER give up...especially when you're not seeing results.  That's the time to switch things up and try a new exercise because your body is used to what you're doing.  Strength training is very important because muscle burns fat.  Do your research, there is a TON of info online from reputable sources.  Piece together the things you like to come up with a program of your own that will equal success! 

How do you eat healthy on vacation?

I don't!  I can't imagine going to Hawaii and not having loco moco, plate lunches and Mac Pie.  Or to Memphis and not feeling like I couldn't savor some good barbeque or soul food.  (Talking to you Sweet Potato Pancakes at Arcade or a headlight from Gibson's Donuts.)  Or San Francisco and enjoying a good piece of sourdough bread from Boudin, a Nutella milkshake from Pearl's Deluxe Burgers or a Fleur De Sel cupcake from Kara's Cupcakes.  Or Chicago and not have a Portillo's Maxwell St Polish or a slice of deep-dish pizza.  You get the drift.  Do these put pounds on my butt?  Yes.  But the pounds have always been temporary water weight because of the sodium.  I'm not gonna lie though, middle age is being a bitch with my metabolism even with all of our exercise/strength sessions so it doesn't come off as fast as it used to by any means.  While we're in any town, we walk for miles and miles every day (usually 5-8 miles per day), drink water only while out to eat and bring along our resistance bands.  Life is for living.  Food is for enjoying, especially when you're going somewhere that has regional cuisine.  We would be miserable people if we smelled some wonderful treat that everyone else was able to enjoy but we weren't allowing ourselves to indulge in.  We don't eat that way all the time for those who may judge us for loosening the reins temporarily, we've never had a problem getting right back to healthy eating and exercise the day after we come back.  That wasn't always the case in our past but now it's non-negotiable.

"How can you justify publishing fattening recipes on your blog?  You're not much of an example."  (Yes someone actually wrote that)

Well, I've lost 200 lbs while doing that so yes, I do feel like I'm an example that balance and moderation work.  Also, I'm not eating a whole pan of it!  I take a serving, maybe hold back another for the next day and the rest go to The Mr's work or to the nursing home up the street.  Could I do that back in the days when I used food for reasons other than eating?  Probably not.  My relationship with food isn't as abusive anymore, therefore, I can have things like candy in the house, completely forget about it or not obsess that there's an extra piece of this or that that I'm saving for the next day.  I get my serving, I fit it into my calories and I move on.  I try to make recipes healthier than I found them, always practice portion control and don't sacrifice taste when I make up my own.  If you're not down with that, I get it but this is how I lost more weight than most people should have to.  I won't apologize for it.

Why do you have stores?

Since we have done 95% of our weight loss by doing at home exercise, people always ask what I recommend.  It just seemed easier to compile a list of everything we use and refer people to that.  If you buy through either my Amazon store which features all of the items we use to change our lives or the Zazzle or Cafepress store links at the top of the right hand sidebar, yes, I will get a nominal kickback from those purchases.  It's not making me rich and I'm not asking to be, I just want enough to help make our dream of sharing our story from beginning to "end" and that takes a little money to keep the sites I design for up and running.  If that's "selling out", so be it, the world isn't free but if you'd like to pay my blog related expenses then hit me up babydoll!  :-)  I have had some really amazing feedback from people encouraging me to keep it up and I would love to help someone else because of what we're doing.  That's what it's all about!  (Well that and the hokey pokey)

I posted a comment but it's not showing up!

If you're a new commenter, your comment must be approved first which I am usually pretty quick to get to.  After that if you comment regularly, they should show up as soon as you post.

Why don't you comment on my blog when I comment on yours?

I try to comment on as many blogs as I can so if I didn't respond to you here or swing by yours, it wasn't intentional!  (The only time I don't comment on blogs is when they have those invasive widgets that say "you have a visitor from San Diego, CA at 8:54pm" because that just feels like an invasion of privacy. Doesn't mean I don't stop by from time to time!)

I read you're a member of a weight loss community, can I add you as a friend?

Honestly, I don't like the change in attitude over there from when I started and maybe stop by once or twice a year.  But feel free to hang out here or on my Facebook page.  I'm glad to have you on board!

How do I contact you?

You can email me mrs{at}successalongtheweigh{dot}com

If you are a normal (okay normalish! HA!) person who just wants to say hello or has a question that hasn't been answered in this FAQ page, I'm more than happy to hear from you!

Just a word about my personal philosophy on less than kind emails.  I've had contact info up before and the first three emails I got were criticisms and just plain rude.  I don't go to your house and tell you your furniture is ugly, your dog smells and your food is inedible.  Please don't come to my house (blog) and insult me either.  It's common courtesy and I believe in it.  I've read plenty of things on other blogs that I don't agree with or like and I just don't comment.  I don't feel the need to tell other people how wrong I think they are just because I don't agree with them.  If I get a rude or aggressive email, it goes straight into the trash.  I don't respond to people who feel the need to slam me because my way of losing weight isn't the way they choose to do it or my writing ticks them off.   I'm not PC, rainbows and unicorns.  I'm just not.

Life is too short to give any attention to those few rude people looking to get a rise out of me.  Let's spend more time trying to emotionally lift each other up than tear each other down.  Again, sorry I have to address 99% of you awesome people by talking about the 1%.  I promise I'm not mean, I'm just, unfortunately, a little defensive over past run-ins.  Don't hold it against me.  😊

Side note:  Writer is Anele (the Mrs) and editor/proofreader is the Mr.  He's my typo catcher!  😃