10 years challenge (part 2) – 9 important steps we took to continue our health journey

10 years challenge (part 2) – 9 important steps we took to continue our health journey

Hope you enjoyed part 1 of our story. Below is the continuation:

So, with many efforts, I managed to get to a more “comfortable” weight – that’s below 100 kg (220 lbs).
Many years after I was feeling proud that I surpassed this limit going up, I was also quite proud that I passed it back going down. Life is pretty ironic at times, right?

But, as I was saying, I was stuck at around 95-97 kg (210-213 lbs) pounds and whatever I was doing I couldn’t go lower than this. I kept playing sports, was better than before, but still not perfect.
My life habits had changed a lot and I was eating cleaner, but the quantity I ingested was still quite high. Moreover, I still had a few cheat days every week.

Then I’ve met Ana and I am sure you expect me to tell you how I managed to lose more weight really quick. Well, not so fast! 😊

She was somehow in the same situation as me. She had weight problems in the past and was in the process of losing some of it.

From the beginning we were really hitting it off, liked each other and begun to go out quite a lot. And as we were both foodies, it was very common thing to go out and enjoy each other’s company over some nice foods.

And guess what, after a few months we both started gaining back some weight. 😊

Don’t know if you expected that in the story, but it happened and we sure didn’t expect it at that time.
As we became aware of this yo-yo dieting we both were doing and as were not very happy about it, it was clear that we had to do something about it.

We didn’t exactly plan back then, except for the commitment to clean up our diet, to change our lifestyle completely and to get rid of this weight problem for good.

But looking back, it seems that all came down to a few steps and actions that we took in order to achieve this. Here they are together in no particular order.

1. No order, but the first and most important step was to support each other and to change the attitude we had regarding (comfort) food.
We talked A LOT with each other about how we felt and evaluated what made us crave. Psychologically, it helped immensely to understand that we were really addicted to food, emotional eating and empty calories. And that if felt great, but also that this causes damage on your body on a long term. Not a good idea to continue living like that.

2. We stopped eating out on a constant basis.
Cleaner home cooked meals and more attention to healthy ingredients and natural foods was the way to go. More fruits and colorful vegetables made way into our diet and in our meals. And also, a lot of nuts and seeds.
Overall, a nice mix of good fats, protein, fibers and vegetables was what brought our meals to another level.

3. Also, more attention was given to foods that we needed to avoid at all costs.
It helped that we moved together and that we started to buy exactly what we needed, not more. We understood that it never helps if you have a secret stash of candies, chocolate or other sweets in your cabinet.
You WILL lose the battle with your brain every time if you have constant access to something sweet.

4. Cheat days were allowed (and still are, after all these years, but more on that in a future post), but were restricted to one day (ok, maybe two, sometimes 😊) during the weekend.
We thought of this as a reward for being disciplined every day during the week.  We put in the hard work of abstaining ourselves, but we still enjoyed something "good" at the end of the week. Fair enough! And it worked.

5. Staying true to ourselves and practicing moderation.
Moderation is a concept that we didn’t know quite well, but have learned to love and live by it within all this period.
And we also learned to stop lying to ourselves by admitting when we made mistakes in our diets.
For example, ok, there was a birthday party at work, and I’ve eaten some cake. It’s not the end of the world, but I will try not to eat more sweets during the cheat day. Sometimes you cannot have everything, and you need to choose something over something else. That’s how we see moderation.

6. We trained our minds to start hydrating ourselves better.
Being addicted to sugary drinks made it very difficult to switch to plain water. But we understood the importance of being well hydrated and we drank more and more water.
Also, in order to alternate, we started drinking a lot of teas on the side. And after some research and after realizing the healthy benefits of tea, we became huge and passionate fans. To the point when we now drink it every day. Herbal tea, green tea, black tea, matcha, it doesn’t matter for us. Bring it, we will drink it and enjoy its flavor and taste!

7. Regular meals and not eating after 7pm was so important!
Introducing regular, planned meals and stopping evening snacking was great for us. It was hard at the beginning, but then we managed to make it a habit.
Later on we understood that this was some kind of intermittent fasting that helped greatly.

8. We understood the importance of sleep
Bringing some discipline in our lives was a key factor and that included sleep. As we age, it’s important to try to go to sleep earlier to give the body (which is not that young anymore) to rest and recover. We realized that and became more conscious about the need to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. And we love it when we sleep 8 or 9!

9. Some exercise - even light - along with the clean healthy diet is a must
As I was saying in the first part, because I forced myself to play sports with that extra weight, I started developing back and knee problems.
Also, after some more time, I managed to injure myself badly while playing soccer. I had torn down the cruciate ligament in my knee and that meant the end of my organized team sports career.
Meanwhile, Ana had some older problems that prevented her to have strenuous activities and the secret for both of us to continue exercising was to switch to walks, swimming, yoga and more recently, cycling. It worked and was just what we needed!

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This pretty much sums about all we did to gain a healthy balanced lifestyle and to be able to lose the weight that wasn’t making us happy.
It probably sounds harsh to some, and we will admit it.
We weren’t saints and we struggled with cravings at times. It wasn’t a smooth journey.
But on the whole, because the mindset was right, we succeeded. Because we literally changed our way of thinking about health, food and the relations between them.

So, that’s how in the next years, I gradually lost the remaining 12-15 kg (27-33 lbs), and went down to an ideal weight of 85 kg (187 lbs).
Just as well, Ana lost her surplus of around 15 kg (33 lbs).
It’s crazy when we think that combined, we lost over 50 kg (110 lbs). And when we look at the before and after pictures, it looks almost unreal.

See for yourselves 😊

2009

2018
We strongly believe that by doing all those things we changed our metabolisms over time, and it was way easier to stop the yo-yo dieting and stay within a healthier weight over a long period of time (over 7-8 years now).

We are not suggesting that what we did will work for anybody else. But we will say that if you are trying to live a healthier, more balanced life, you will need a strong mindset and a willingness to change. And that is the most difficult step. But once you’ve done that and gained awareness of what you really want, you will be able to do anything you put your mind into.
Find what works for you. You can do it!

Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed this!

Stay curious, healthy and happy!
A & M


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