my weight loss journey: a year in, coming clean

Last month I went down to a local news station here in the Twin Cities to talk about health and weight loss over the holidays. I was interviewed about a number of things, but the main topic was “Is it even possible to lose weight over the holidays?”. It was really fun to sit on set with several cameras, teleprompters, and lights and say that yes. Yes, I started my weight loss journey with Medifast the week of Christmas last year and yes, it can work!

The day after we taped the segment, there was a large, national news event that superseded the story. I did’t know if it would ever air and I had plans the evening it was scheduled, so I didn’t get to find out. A couple of weeks later, though, I was emailed the clip of the segment and it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Y’all, I’m a hypocrite. A caught red-handed, should put a bag over my head, hypocrite.

I gained 18lbs since August and I had exactly zero self-control over the holidays.

There, I said it. And it feels so good to get that out there. But also really hard and painful to share. I made choices over the last few months that undid some of the progress I made last holiday season. In many very tangible ways, this sucks. But I have also learned a lot from my off again on again experience, for which I’m thankful.

The more I reflect on what happened and what it was that made me throw my plan and progress out the window so suddenly, the more I see that it was a combination of factors. (Cue extensive naval gazing.)

Setting an inaccurate goal.

If you watched the news interview, you’ll notice that I said I was at my goal weight in August. Funny thing is, I didn’t know it at the time. I hit 150 and was fighting tooth and nail to lose 10 more pounds because according to the BMI scale, 140 is safely within the healthy zone for someone of my height but 150 isn’t. What’s weird is that 150 felt so healthy and comfortable for me. And it was also where my body gave me the most grief. I’m not saying that anywhere you plateau you should say is just a natural weight for you (hello, I had several plateaus over my 37lb journey). I’m saying that letting an (openly criticized) scale such as the BMI indicate what it right for you is not the only way to set a goal/healthy weight.

This is tricky territory because it could be tempting to throw in the towel and say “eh, close enough”. That is not the right motivation by any means. But having a grounded, realistic grasp on what your goal should be is a powerful tool.

So there I was in August at 150lbs telling myself that it wasn’t a great result. Try harder. This isn’t good enough. You need to do more. My self talk was more about how I needed to keep going and less about the victories I had already won. It was there that I snapped. I should have been throwing a big ‘ol party, not kicking myself in the shins.

Going back, I will set my goal weight at 150.

Relaxing once the pants were the right size.

I told DanO this a while ago, and it is perhaps the most insightful statement I’ve made about the temptation to let it all go (progress, discipline, on-plan eating) “It’s hard to put on my size 4 jeans in the morning and tell myself that I need to keep dieting.” This is pretty much where I was in September when I walked out of Old Navy with those goal size jeans in my shiny plastic shopping bag and a stupid grin on my face. I’m here! I’ve arrived! I can phone it in now!

O, AllisonO in September. If only I could sit you down now and pat you on your head. How wrong you are.

I’d heard that the hard part starts when you hit your goal weight. I hadn’t believed it. When you are in the weight loss phase, you have the carrot of what your body will look like to dangle out ahead of you. Do these things so that you lose more weight, have more energy, are more fit, look (more?) better. Once you’ve reached a goal weight or size, it’s like you’ve already eaten the carrot. Once the goal is reached, there’s less external reward for continued effort.

Did you catch that? Because I didn’t the first time.

There’s less external reward for continued effort. Which means that the reward and motivation absolutely has to be… wait for it… internal.

Oy. I lack a lot of things, friends, and intrinsic motivation is very high on the most-lacked list. Turns out the hard part starts when I hit my goal weight.

Going back, my goal will not just be to reach 150, but to stay at 150, one month at a time.

One thing I did very right…

was to have an incredibly supportive community around me. DanO greatest amongst these, he has been my cheerleader and encourager every step of the way. I have also had you, friends and readers (who are friends I just haven’t met yet) leave me the most heart-warming and motivating comments and emails a dieting girl could have ever hoped for. Really, truly, the main thing I will be aiming to repeat this time around will be to share here with you all so I can possibly inspire any of you who may need an extra “We can do this!” push, and also be inspired by your words, messages, and your own progress.

Screen Shot 2013-01-21 at 10.45.49 AM

Since that news interview I have felt simultaneously convicted and motivated which is a powerful combination. I have taken those emotions and run with them, which has resulted in me already losing 4lbs. Right now, I am 14lbs from my goal and going strong. I received a new shipment full of my favorite Medifast foods and I am am feeling like I have a short weight loss road ahead of me. Which is good, because I now know that I will really need my energy for the maintenance phase.

:: :: :: :: :: ::

My Journey to Health:

December 30, 2011, 187 lbs

April 28, 2012: 160lbs

July 27, 2012: 152lbs

September 18, 2012: 158lbs

October 1, 2012: 155lbs

January 1, 2013: 168lbs

January 21, 2013: 164lbs

23 lbs lost!

14 lbs to go!

You can click here to read all of the posts on my weight loss journey.

:: :: :: :: :: ::

How am I losing that weight, you ask? Medifast! If you use the coupon code, OFAMILY56, and sign up for Medifast Advantage, when you order $250+, you’ll receive 56 free Medifast Meals and free shipping! (More details at the bottom of this post.)

Disclosure: I receive free product in order to evaluate and comment on my experiences on the Medifast Nursing Mothers Program. I will only ever tell you how I actually feel about this experience and the Medifast products. Pinky swearsies. I am supposed to tell you that the Medifast Program is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or illness and that any medical improvements noted while on the program are related to weight loss in general, and not to Medifast products or programs. K, you got that? Good. There will be a quiz later.

25 Responses to “my weight loss journey: a year in, coming clean”

  1. Stephanie

    I have never and will never step on a scale! I did not and do not want someone I do not know tell me what my weight should be. What I am concerned with is how I look, how I feel and how healthy I am being. Healthy habits to me include self control (I am a MASSIVE over eater!), good exercise habits and thoughtful choices about what types of food I am eating. Over the last 6 months I have gone from a sz 12 to a sz 8. Could not tell you what I weigh though. That number means nothing to me.

    All the best in your renewed motivation to hit your goal! I know you can do it :)

    (I would like to add, in order to not offend anyone, this is what works for me and is my own opinion for my life. If the number on the scale motivates you in a healthy way than that is great :) )

  2. Beth Anne

    You can do it!

    You know, I struggled with the EXACT same thing. When I lost all of my baby weight & was down to 190, I felt great. I was physically where I wanted to be, I liked the way I looked, I was comfortable. 190 has always been where my body gravitated to naturally when I’m exercising & eating right. To be under 190, like my wedding? I was exercising 2 hours per day every day & eating Lean Cuisine because I was single. That’s not a life I can (or want) to live right now.


    But 190 at 5’11” is “overweight” based on BMI, I believe.

    Whatever. It’s my goal weight.

    You can DO THIS. You’ve got this!

  3. Esther

    Day 4 on Medifast!! I see your pictures and your journey and I am so encouraged – even with this setback. (which is not now because you haven’t given up!!) Your journey is real and true-life. Thank you for your courage and honesty. You are helping this Mama on my journey. I will be praying for you. You can DO IT!!!!!

  4. Karey

    This is so encouraging! I’ve lost 51 lbs (so far) and am now at 143 lbs. My goal weight was initially 145 (but once I got there I realized that…NO, this girl’s got more to lose {here and here and here}) ;) so I changed it to 135 (I’m 5’2”) – but honestly, I can feel myself already slipping, feeling so much better about where I’m at that I’m compromising my normal eating standards ‘just because’ and it’s got to stop – especially if I’m going to have healthy maintenance habits.

    I love your openness and your honesty about this subject. It can be so hard to talk about (especially when we’re not doing as well as we’d like), so thank you for being so real.

    • Karey

      Just wanted to add that I only changed my goal weight because I can see that (after four children and subsequently four c-section surgeries) I still have “flab” to lose and if it gets closer to toned through the strength training I’m doing and the scale never moves another pound downward I’m great with that! For me it’s not so much about the number as it is about feeling, looking, and *being* strong. We’re mothers and that takes energy – that’s the most important thing to me. Not the number. (Just wanted to clarify.) :)


  5. ashley

    girl I hear ya! Motivation is key to losing weight and the way i stay motivated is to read other blogs of people who are also losing / or have lost weight. I love to read about it! One pound at a time girl, one pound at a time!

  6. Katie

    Thank you for being so honest. I think (please excuse the assvice) part of the problem lies in referring to yourself as a “dieting girl,” and being on a perpetual “diet.” Maybe you’d have better and more permanent success if you settled into a less extreme but still more healthful “lifestyle” of eating. To stay at your goal weight, you’ll have to do whatever it took you to get there- forever, essentially. You can not be “on a diet” forever. There needs to be a lifestyle shift that you just get used to. I hope you get there, you are truly beautiful at any weight! Good luck!

    • AllisonO

      All assvice welcome, friend. :) I have thought about this, believe me. The difference between dieting and maintaining is large, in my mind. To lose a single pound, a body needs to expend 3,500 more calories than it takes in. To maintain weight, it only needs to expend the same number of calories it takes in. In losing several pounds a week, I am doing a very different thing (deficit of 7,000-10,500 calories) than I will be doing in losing no pounds a week, but maintaining. You are right, I cannot eat like *this* forever, but I can eat differently forever, and exercise forever. It’s realizations like this that are helping me know what I ACTUALLY have cut out for myself this time around, because frankly, I can’t stay overweight forever, either.

  7. Erica

    Thanks for your honesty and inspiration! Working on the same goals and sharing it along the way with the same hopes. It is hard to share when you are disappointed in yourself, but it’s all part of the journey, and this fellow traveler appreciates it :-)

  8. MamaBear

    This is so insightful Allison! It hit very close to home as my hubby and I are almost 1yr into our weight loss journey. I found that if I didn’t keep going at full speed (even after meeting my goal) that it was so easy to slip up. I gained 7 pounds over the course of November and December but am determined to get back to where I was and then figure out how to be able to maintain that.

    My husband has been working on the last 10 pounds of his 70 pound goal for over 4 months…….I wonder if he would have been as successful at maintaining a sixty pound loss if he hadn’t had to work so hard on the last ten?

  9. Trisha K

    I’m right there with you! I was at 164 today, and need to be at 150 to be considered “healthy”. You can do this, we can do this! :)

  10. Brettan

    I needed this post today like you wouldn’t believe. I was down to 164lbs before the holidays, should have used your advice for all those Christmas parties! I’m nervous with the maintaining when I reach my goal of 150, my pear shape 5’4″ body likes to hold onto to every darn pound and I have a feeling maintaining will be the hardest part of this journey.

    So in talks of calories in and calories out, I’m doing 500 calorie defict daily for 1lb/ week loss. D you find the 1000cal defict hard to achieve even with working out?

    • AllisonO

      Depends on what you mean by hard – hard with cravings? yes. Always. But I am learning self control that I need for now and forever. Hard with feeling hungry? Not really. Medifast plan has me eating every 2.5 hours so I never really get to that hungry stage. Andater is my best friend. If I’m eating a small snack or a medifast meal, normally it would only go so far in making me feel satisfied. But if while I’m eating that meal, I determine to drink (chug?) 16-24oz of water before I’m done, I feel so much more full.

      • AllisonO

        I should add a last one: Hard as far as effort? Yes-ish. It’s getting better. It used to feel laborious to be so aware of what went into my body, but ultimately, that’s a skill I will need for the rest of my life. I track all of my food and exercise with an app on my phone called MyFitnessPal, and the more days I am within target, the better idea I get of what it looks like to have that deficit and be on plan. I also get a better rhythm and solidify habits.

        Hard is so worth it, though.

        • Brettan

          Yes! MFP is the only reason I can stay on track I think! The cravings are what get me and the weekend glass(es) of wine, but I do count those to my calories.
          My hardest goal is the working out 5 days a week, no YMCA around and gym is 25 min with no daycare for the kids. So I have been doing videos via TV and YouTube, today me and 3yo little were getting our jumping jack on together, but about 20 min is the amount of time I get in a day.

  11. ann

    Allison, I love your honesty and candor. You’re a lovely person inside and out no matter what the number on the scale says! You also share a name with my youngest daughter!
    Finding the realistic weight can be key in this journey. I made peace with the fact that the only way I will maintain 120lbs is going to bed hungry most nights. With eating properly (most days!)and moderate exercise, I’ve found the balance that works for me and my body is very comfortable at 126-129lbs. So what if the stupid charts say I should weigh 115-119?

  12. Elaine

    O, Allison, I know this. I am back up quite a lot of pounds too from when I lost weight in 2011. I had to stop running due to ankle injury and so I ate instead. Great. But I happened to be looking at some pictures in my son’s little pre-school scrapbook the other day and I was inspired by the way I looked then (and remembering how I felt!). And so even though I cannot run as much as I did before, I can find other ways to exercise and I can do the “push aways” of food. I started today and I have 20 lbs. to lose myself, so here we go! We can do it! xo

  13. Laiana

    Allison, I found your blog as a nursing mom (of a 11 weeker and 6 yr old) who’s a week into Medifast. I’ve really enjoyed reading about you and your family! Congrats on your awesome weight loss! I’m in search of more support! There seems to be tons of info and paperwork on just being on Medifast but not much for the nursing mother. So I had a few questions for someone who is successful! I was wondering if you’d be willing?

  14. April Reisenfeld

    Thank you Allison, for sharing the ups and downs of your journey. I have been on Medifast since mid January and I have lost about 15lbs. I have fallen off the train a few times. I was wondering what your favorite Medifast meals are. Lunch time is the hardest for me :)


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