I’d lost 92 pounds and kept it off for seven long years. Those pounds were history, right?
Wrong. When I was started on a new medication, I suddenly wanted to eat everything that wasn’t bolted down. My choices of food were not admirable, and I soon began gaining weight to the tune of a pound or two per week. Within a couple of months, I had put on 15 unwanted and unexpected pounds.
My physician hadn’t warned me of this possible side effect, but when I checked the package insert, sure enough, it was there in the fine print: “Some patients may experience an increase in appetite and an accompanying weight gain.”
Yep, that was me. It was something I hadn’t counted on…hadn’t planned for either.
God, I’m going to need some major help here, I prayed. Next, I searched my memory bank for friends who had been through the same experience at one time or another. I consulted them for tips and came up with a plan. Soon I was losing a pound or two per week. Just what I wanted to see!
If you find yourself, like me, in this predicament, take heart, and most of all, pray. God is ever-there to help you and wants only His best for you. And there are earthly strategies that work. Here are a baker’s dozen of them:
1. Plan an attack on your increased appetite quickly. I made the mistake of waiting to see if my desire to eat everything in sight would go away on its own when the medication settled into my system. It didn’t, and I had 15 contrary pounds to prove it. Thankfully, I was still weighing myself every Friday morning. Everyone is different, but I’ve found that keeping tabs on my weight helped me to be more proactive.
2. Don’t try to take off pounds too fast. I put on a pound or two per week and it was healthiest to try the same goal for weight loss as well. I set realistic and concrete goals, too, such as “I will stop eating food after 6:00 p.m.” That had been one of my strategies when I lost the 92 pounds and I was depending on it to work once again. I logged my intake so calories didn’t get away from me. But it’s important to note, now more than ever, it’s a lifestyle, not a diet.
3. Don’t purchase a large volume of groceries at once. I went to the store daily and bought just what I needed for the next 24 hours. Not having an abundance of food around was a huge help.
4. Drink plenty of water. Okay, I’ll admit it. I had gotten careless about drinking enough good old water. I’d reverted to diet sodas and coffee which fail to do the same job. Then I saw a doctor on TV commenting on the #1 healthy behavior he would recommend if he could suggest only one. Hands down, it was to drink at least eight glasses of water per day. When I followed his suggestion, I was surprised to find that I wasn’t nearly as hungry.
5. Don’t beat yourself up. When you’re regained weight, it’s easier than ever to talk down to yourself. Personally, I felt like a full-fledged failure. But doing so, I learned, was counter-productive. When I engaged in negative self-talk, I was much more likely to sabotage my efforts and reach for a forbidden food to console myself.
6. Make healthier choices. STOP, and ask yourself: “What have I done different to make me gain this weight?” If you can’t identify a legitimate reason, you may need to be evaluated by your healthcare provider. Look at each problem area and come up with a substitute that will help you reach your ultimate goal. One choice at a time…yogurt instead of a handful of vanilla wafers…a grilled chicken patty in lieu of a chicken sandwich with mayonnaise. That’s how you move forward, I discovered anew. After all, I lost all that weight by making one positive choice at a time. And I’d gained the new 15 pounds by making one poor choice at a time.
7. Don’t visit the past. I found myself lamenting all the hard work it took to get those initial 92 pounds off. But doing so wasn’t getting me back on track. I had to shift my focus from the past to now. One day at a time. No, one moment at a time.
8. Have healthy snacks on hand. I kept fruit, baggies of carrot strips, and granola bars in my car to keep me from breaking over and going through a drive-thru for something I really wanted. And at night, if I was visited by unwanted hunger pangs and absolutely couldn’t follow my after 6:00 p.m. rule, I snacked on the same healthy foods.
9. Do something inspirational every single morning. This gets your day off to a spirit-lifting start. For me, Daily Guideposts is a winning choice. It’s like having a visit the first thing each day from a dear friend.
10. Think progress not perfection. At best, my efforts have been perfectly imperfect. Yes, I’ve fallen off the wagon from time to time. But I celebrate my successes and make a concerted effort to really love myself despite what the scales or my waistband tells me on my journey toward losing those unexpected pounds. Don’t fall into the trap of hinging your happiness on achieving a certain weight.
11. Brush your teeth right after you eat. That, I’ve found, signals to your body that eating is over.
12. Try to identify the emotions that lead to excess eating. Are you angry? Under stress? Anxious? Depressed? A nurse practitioner helped me to figure out mine. My new medication had made lifelong pain a thing of my past. The next thing I knew, at 64, I was engaging in life as never before. And that meant going to dinner with friends, enjoying family get-togethers. Of course, that also meant FOOD. Simply put, I was celebrating my new destiny. I had to discover other ways to do so like journaling, reading (you don’t want to get your books marred with food), and praising God for my miracle.
13. Don’t forget the rest of you. You are a total person designed by God: mind, body, and spirit. Nurture each dimension. Always. Focusing solely on weight loss is a surefire way to get out of balance as you shed those unexpected, unwanted pounds.