In this new weight maintenance series, we interview some of our Lost It participants who have previously shared their successful weight loss stories. In this series, we revisit some of their fitness and eating habits, and find out how they really keep up with maintaining their new bodies and mindset.
Who: Tameika Gentles (Read her original Lost It feature here).
City: Toronto, but currently residing in Hong Kong
The Numbers: Current weight: 140 pounds and a total weight loss of 80 to 90 pounds over the years.
After Losing The Weight: While I’ve been able to maintain the weight loss for 10 years, even to this day I struggle. I had always been overweight, so I had a lifetime of bad habits developed. I lost 90 pounds in only nine months, so after losing the weight, it took an even longer time to develop a healthy relationship with food and weight training (and ditching the extreme behaviours).
People always tell you how to lose the weight, but they don't teach you how to maintain the weight loss. That is something you often have to figure out on your own and make it last for you long term.
Your New Mindset: For the last 10 years, I've felt unstoppable. Since I lost the weight, anything I’ve put my mind to I've been able to conquer without doubt. For me, it was so much more than weight loss. At the time I didn’t know that, but I see it now. At 20 years old, I did what most grown adults couldn’t do.
I am much more active. Being active is a part of my lifestyle. Every day I crave exercise. Also – the confidence. I’m always the first one to try something new and I am never concerned about how I will look or feel. These days I feel like a smoke show! It feels so good to say that now and love the body I am in. I didn’t get to say that (and believe it) for the first 20 years of my life. So for the next 60+ years I plan to shout it from rooftops!
"I think counting calories is a slippery slope and not sustainable long term."
Looking back at my weight loss, I wouldn’t have focused so much on the numbers for so long. I would have focused early on building a lifestyle, then getting to a 'goal weight' or 'target.' It made the process far too daunting.
The Food Element: I still avoid forms of refined carbs or processed foods when possible. It’s the one area that I can’t seem to have self-control with so I stay far, far away. I do follow the 80/20 rule with this so it allows me not be so strict on myself.
I think it’s important to have an understanding of what’s in your food. Not just calories, but overall macros. I think once you have a general understanding you should be able to eyeball what’s good to intake and what you should stay away from (or have in moderation). I don’t think it’s wise to count calories regularly. I think counting is a slippery slope and not sustainable long term.
I eat 5 times per day. Every two to three hours.
Meal 1: Three egg whites with one full egg scrambled, avocado, and one slice of spelt/flaxeed toast. I also have ketchup on my eggs and sprinkle some cheese.
Meal 2: Usually brown rice pasta with tomato sauce, a protein and loads of veggies.
Meal 3: Two rice cakes with nut butter and a fruit.
Meal 4: Protein shake with small salad.
Meal 5: Fish/chicken with salad.
Also – the most important part. I drink three litres of water per day.
I don't have cheat days, but I enjoy two cheat meals a week! They are usually junk food with no restrictions. Pizza or McDonald's, whatever.
I focus on my portions quite a bit and often use measuring cups to keep me on track. I still have a hard time eyeballing portion sizes, so I have no issue weighing or measuring my food to ensure I don’t go overboard.
The Exercise Factor: I work out five days a week — in the gym three to four days, then I swim or do yoga or hike the other one to two days.
"Losing weight is one thing, but using the knowledge I have learned and turning that into helping and inspiring others has been my biggest accomplishment to date."
Thankfully, I have been weight training for a long time, so my weight hasn’t changed much since I lost the weight initially. I would say though that as I become more mature in my weight training journey, my body shape is nicer as the years go on.
My goals? Strength. I feel so empowered when I hit new personal records and I only want to get stronger. Down the road I hope to practice yoga much more.
The Current Day-to-Day: Am I still trying to lose weight? No, as cliche as it sounds, the number just doesn’t matter for me. It hasn’t for years.
I feel more accomplished about the hundreds of women I’ve been able to help through my social media platforms and online/in-person training. Losing weight is one thing, but using the knowledge I have learned and turning that into helping and inspiring others has been my biggest accomplishment to date.
Do you have a weight loss maintenance story to share? Send us an email at CanadaLiving@huffingtonpost.com to be featured on our Lost It series.
Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
When you're sleep-deprived, your frontal lobe (which controls impulsive behaviour) doesn't function as well, so your guard is down. So things that you might have been able to resist, you can't really resist.
"I don't think about [weight] in terms of turning people into bikini models, because really for most people that's not going to be what happens. It's much more about getting people to medically significant weight loss that they can sustain. If you're obese and you reduce your weight by 10 per cent, it reduces your risk of Type 2 diabetes by 60 per cent. A relatively modest amount of weight loss can have a huge impact on your health, how you feel and yes, how you look."
"I usually have the same breakfast, and it's regular oatmeal with fruit and a non-fat Greek yogurt. It's a lot of food, it keeps me full, I think it tastes good, I'm happy having it, and I'm not making a decision. I just have the same thing every single day. What I now believe is that it's really the only way to keep it off, to get these types of little routines and habits established so that you don't have to make decisions anymore." - David Kirchhoff, CEO Weight Watchers International
"There's only so much we can do about the food environment. But the one thing we can do is change our personal environment. We can reengineer our kitchens, and make it basically safer places to exist by taking trigger foods, taking them out of sight, giving better visibility to healthier foods, making sure the kitchen's stocked with stuff that, if you're going to need to nosh at 9 p.m., don't deprive yourself of it, eat something healthy. Eat an apple, as opposed to having a bag of 100-calorie cookies."
In meetings in London a few weeks ago, Kirchhoff saw a big bowl of Weight Watchers treats, and despite not being hungry, eventually gave in and ate one. What does he wish he'd done? "I could have just said, 'you know what guys? Do you mind if I actually just put that over on the side table over there so I don't have to see it?'"
"We have a tendency to think of habits and routines as kind of obsessive compulsive, or boring -- but they're not. Because there's other things in life where we can still be as spontaneous as we need to be, but do we really need to have a really super exciting breakfast every day where it's just a great big surprise what we're going to have for breakfast? No."
"If you're keeping a food diary and there's a currency associated with the food, it's allowing you to distinguish between smart choices and not-so-smart choices, as well as forcing you to think about portion size."
It took Kirchhoff nine years to get to his goal weight because, by his own admission, he wasn't committed. "I was in kind of a dieting mentality where I'd be super hardcore for a couple of months, but I was never really thinking about fundamentally saying, 'This eating fruits and vegetables? It's not for these next two months, it's really for the next 20 years.' Which is one of the reasons why I give the advice, whatever you're doing while you're losing weight should be something that you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life.'"
"For someone who is already trying to make healthier choices, equipping them with information helps them facilitate it ... Because I'm constantly trying to make good decisions, when I see a lemon pound cake is 500 calories, I think, this is bullshit, I'm not spending 500 calories on that. It's like money. The question is like, 'wouldn't it be better if there wasn't pricing on products in the grocery store?' I want to be aware of where I'm spending money, and I want to be aware of where I'm spending calories. I want foods that are a good bargain, and I think frankly, people who are generally making the effort will feel the same way, so it's always going to be helpful to be able to rely on."
"Music is a big thing for me when I'm working out, so that's something to look forward to," Kirchhoff says. He cites AC/DC, Guns 'N Roses and Aerosmith as bands that push him when he's not feeling quite as energetic, and REO Speedwagon and the Bee Gees for his 'Big Ball of Cheese' mix.
"I really try to be mindful of what I talk about around [my teenage daughters], because I want them to be balanced and normal. But they are much more normal, not-compulsive eaters than I am ... I think it's good that they see me being healthy, I think it wouldn't be good if I sat around and talked about my weight all the time."