When you have a lot of weight to lose, like I did, it takes a long time. Well, that is, if you do it the right way. The right way is the sustainable way. I say one to two pounds per week, and no more. I also say, you have to do some serious visiting to the inner self as this journey is not one for the fainthearted.

I lost a total of seventy-something pounds over a long period of time. When I tell people about my weight loss or they see pictures, they frequently ask how long it took to lose The Weight. The Weight in their questions seems to be One Big Thing, like it once was and now it is no longer. The Weight was removed.

They rarely asked about the middle of it all. They wanted the dates, the answer, how did I do it, and how I felt after. But I had suffered for a couple years losing The Weight. To me, it was days and weeks and months and sometimes back to minutes. It was a couple years of the pain of losing me and finding me.

Most of us are uncomfortable being in the middle. The far side of the left may allow us to indulge uncaring of consequences and conveniently detaching from their root causes, and the far right is keeping armed guards inside of us waiting for us to do something “bad”. Both sides are disconnected from the inner self, as it is sitting in the middle, waiting to be felt.

My journey took place in the middle. I do not know how long it took me to lose seventy-something pounds or how many times I gained a few back along the way. It was painful physically, mentally, and emotionally. But even when I fell off, I always still sort of hung on.

I am back on the bandwagon now. I am nine pounds away from my lowest weight as an adult, and then I’ll be on to my goal weight for another few months. Then, it’s maintenance time – something I have never accomplished!!! I am still very much in the middle. This is where the change happens!

This is long-term weight loss. This is how you hang on…..

-We all have the kid inside of us who is nagging us to go down the candy isle at Walmart or to go through the drive thru for a milkshake. When our kids do this to us, the answer is no. When they ask why, we say things like “You’ve had enough” and “Not today.” I have done this with myself for over four years now. Not today, Katie. You’ve had enough. Maybe Saturday, Katie. If you do a really good job this week, maybe next week. It’s no more than a kid in there wanting a treat just because.

-Be willing to adjust your diet as you go. You will find different things work for you at different times. Sometimes you have to tighten it up. When you have a lot of weight to lose, the first small changes can often trigger a big number in weight loss. When the long-term weight loss plateaus, you need to be willing to change some things up a bit. The less weight you have to lose, the harder it can be to lose it. You may find yourself going from “moderation” to a stricter regimen and then back to “moderation.” Practicing weight maintenance in between weight loss periods can help with the emotional challenges associated with long-term weight loss.

-Long-term weight loss is sustained by crossing small thresholds, first one, then the next, and the next. There is no end. Even when you get to your goals, you make other goals. When I get to my goal weight, I want to compete at CrossFit! I want to come in first place in my group workout just once! I want to maintain my goal weight for life! All of these things will take work. I dropped the “How long will I have to be on this diet?” a long time ago.

You are not on a diet. You are figuring out what health is.

-There is no end to fear. It is the human condition. Sometimes it sticks me in the stomach, and I curl in and crawl back to some of my old ways. But then I remember the line from my trainer that she says to me when I am on the verge of I-can’t; she says, “This is where we get better.” If I can do it when it is hard, then I can do it. Fear is okay and normal, but not the same fears over and over again. Get a new set of fears as you get over the old ones. Keep fears moving.

-When I was truly ready to push along to some big numbers of weight loss, I decided it was time to give The Weight a proper goodbye. I highly suggest doing this as it was quite the release of anger I needed. It has tried to come back around a few times since then, but I pulled back out the letter and remembered why I left in the first place.

A Letter to My Fat

My name is Katie, and I’m the one you’ve been covering up for at least twenty years. You have suffocated me, locked me in a prison, showed everyone what was wrong with me, kept me from trying new things and meeting new people, made me feel ugly my whole life and not enough, and gave me all the excuses I needed to never participate. You made physical activity way too hard, so I stopped doing it! You made dressing up for an event a nightmare, so I just stopped going to events. You almost made it hard for me to breathe.

I fed you, protected your existence like it was my own. I defended you even when you betrayed me, claiming you were forever a part of me, like a naïve girl does with a lowlife boyfriend. I laughed you off, made jokes about the quirkiness you bring, played the fat and funny role with you.

I made everyone get through you first in order to get to me. If they could not accept you, they certainly would never understand or accept me.

I molded my walls with you, melted into your crevices, fed you, and fed you, completely covered up with you. I hid underneath you.

Today you need to know that I no longer need you. I am done with this relationship, this codependency, these years of disguising self-indulgence as self-love.

I am okay to participate now. I do not need you to cover me or protect me anymore from anyone or anything. I am okay to be seen now. And people look!

No one ever really looked at me when I was with you, including me. Now I see me, as you evaporate into a bunch of sad stories and still-slightly painful memories, maybe some poems or a novel or something. And for the first time in my adult life, I love what I see.

I choose to live, and life is not with you!

P.S.) If you see me coming me through your drive-thru, I’m not trying to check up on you. I just need an unsweetened tea.