For a year and a half, Jen Rose fought to lose 60 pounds — and she’s spent the last decade making sure she doesn’t gain it back.
Rose, a licensed clinical social worker and weight loss and diabetes prevention coach in Chicago, recalls her shock when she stepped on a scale at her doctor’s office for a physical 12 years ago. At 5 foot 4, she weighed over 200 pounds.
“If you are going to have an ah-ha moment, I guess that was it,” remembered Rose, who was 26 at the time.
Determined to lose the weight, Rose, now 38, began to make changes to her lifestyle. She went to the gym for about an hour a day several days a week, she recalls, and started incorporating healthier foods into her diet.
After a year and a half, she lost 60 pounds. But the real challenge over the past 12 years, she says, has been keeping the weight off. Here’s how Rose, author of the Wellth and Wanderlust blog, has maintained her healthy weight.
She follows the “50 percent” rule
At every meal, Rose fills at least half her plate with veggies. This “50 percent rule” forces her to be conscious about maintaining a low calorie, high fiber diet, she explains, and has been instrumental in sustaining a healthy weight.
For example, on a recent night, instead of eating pasta for dinner — a food she used to eat all the time — she substituted zucchini noodles.
“I [added] spinach and put some mushrooms in there, and some red sauce and a little protein, but the majority of the meal was veggies,” she says.
She stopped obsessing over her weight
Rose weighs herself every day to make sure she is maintaining a balanced weight, but she’s careful not to fixate on the number as a measure of self worth.
“It became more about doing things that made me feel good, like listening to my body more, and less about the number on the scale driving my day-to-day choices,” she explains.
She does what she enjoys
Rose says she never forces herself to go on fad diets or eat foods that don’t resonate with her. She lists off all the trends she’s heard about over the last decade — from diets like Paleo, to the ketogenic diet, to intermittent fasting.
“If I have resistance about it, then I’m like that’s not for me — that’s not sustainable for me,” she says.
“I choose things to do in terms of my activities that resonate with a kind of way that makes me feel best,” Rose says.
She learned to identify as a healthy person
For most of her life, Rose had been overweight. Since the age of 12, she tried every diet — from Atkins to Weight Watchers, but nothing seemed to work. By her 20s, she had simply come to see herself as an overweight person.
“It was embedded in my identity, how I related in the world, and how other people related to me,” she says.
Because Rose spent the majority of her life being overweight, she has had to spend the last decade learning to see herself as a healthy person.
“I grew up looking at the world through this sense of this overweight kid, and always feeling really uncomfortable about that and insecure about it, so because [of that] I psychologically needed to transform how I related in the world as well,” she says.
She says routinely going to the gym and adopting habits like the 50 percent rule played a big role in learning to see herself as someone who values and enjoys a healthy lifestyle.
She says losing the weight and keeping it off “feels good.”
“At the same time,” Rose adds, “it’s still a lot of work every day, but I don’t resent it because I enjoy the way I eat, I enjoy the exercises I do.”
Smart weight-loss strategies to borrow
- Use the “50 percent” rule: At every meal, make sure at least half your plate is filled with produce.
- Use the scale wisely: Weigh yourself regularly to keep an eye on your weight, but don’t look at the number as a measure of your self worth.
- Do what you love: Don’t force yourself to do workouts or eat foods that you hate. When you adopt positive lifestyle habits that bring you joy, living a healthier lifestyle is easy.
- Change the way you see yourself: Learn to see yourself as someone who values and enjoys a healthy lifestyle.
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