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: Ben Pobjoy (Read his original Lost It feature here)
The Numbers: Current weight: 150 pounds and a total weight loss of 100 pounds over the years.
After Losing The Weight: Maintaining weight was easy because it wasnâ€™t a concern. Instead, I was more concerned with making time to implement as much varied physical movement into my day-to-day life as possible. And because my lifestyle shifted to a tremendously active one â€” comprised of a lot of walking and boxing â€” my metabolism completely changed. Now, I can probably get away with eating whatever I want, and sometimes I do. But more often than not, Iâ€™m super disciplined with my inputs â€” maintaining a wholesome plant-based diet â€” since it affects my physical performance and my general sense of well being.
For me, losing weight was easy because I found physical pursuits that were enjoyableâ€¦ which was key. Additionally, losing weight is a straightforward thing; you just have to calorically expend more than you calorically consume. Others made the process sound much harder than it actually was. But, what was more challenging â€” and remains challenging â€” is the time and commitment it takes to eat well; all the grocery shopping, meal planning, meal preparation, etc. I generally make almost everything that I eat, and this requires a lot of time. Thereâ€™s definitely been a lot of late nights making the next dayâ€™s lunch or early mornings making shakes before a workout.
"Healthiness to me isnâ€™t about denial, itâ€™s about balance and joy, and certain foods, ha ha, like cookies, just bring me joy..."
Your New Mindset: Iâ€™m the same personâ€¦ just in a retrofitted vessel. While it was nice to be indirectly complimented for my efforts, the whole experience was eye-opening as to the objectification of bodies and the value people generally place on aesthetics; in terms of how things look vs. how things feel or inherently are. Now a healthy weight and in shape, Iâ€™ve experienced how thinner people are made to feel â€˜moreâ€™ or better or just generally celebrated, and itâ€™s troubling and sad. Overall, itâ€™s been a personal reminder to judge character, not bodies.
I also now feel connected to my body like never before. In terms of the â€˜meâ€™ inside, I feel like the same person. But, achieving better health through walking expanded my consciousness. Iâ€™ve seen a lot of suffering on my walks both at home and around the world; homelessness everywhere, Syrian refugees in Istanbul, addiction on East Hastings or Skid Row in Los Angeles, and how people with mental health issues lack support and fall through the cracks in every city. This has made me keenly aware of my privilege/luck in life and has increased my empathy, and inspired me to distribute sandwiches to hungry people on the streets when I walk. Iâ€™m not naive enough to think I can change systemic issues but I refuse to be apathetic.
Movement has been meditative for me, enabling me to become a new person in terms of consciousness. It has rewired how I see and experience the world, which is why Iâ€™m always challenging myself to retool my physical movement into social movement that helps others, even if itâ€™s just through small acts.
Iâ€™ve long been a fan of boxing, and getting in shape has allowed me to pursue boxing in a serious way. Iâ€™ve been fortunate enough to train under a striking coach named Jorge Blanco for the last year. It has been humbling, incredible and really damn tough.
The Food Element: When I began to get healthy, I was very disciplined with what I ate because I had to rewire my unhealthy relationship with food. So, I cut out everything bad; soda, chips, refined foods, starchy things, etc. Previously, I ate until stuffed and ate treats all the time. But, when I overcame my compulsions, I learned how to pepper in treats because I could finally and responsibly enjoy them as such. I eat overwhelmingly healthy now, but Iâ€™ll occasionally crush a bag of cookies or a whole pizza if I want. Healthiness to me isnâ€™t about denial, itâ€™s about balance and joy, and certain foods like cookies, just bring me joy.
"I donâ€™t care about what it took to get here, it was just a reset to a baseline of basic health."
Breakfast is some ungodly green sludge smoothie slurped back after a workout; spinach, romaine lettuce, goji berries, cucumber, unsweetened almond milk, blackstrap molasses, flax seeds and hemp protein. Lunch is a massive salad or veggie bowl with a spectrum of plants, seeds and proteins like beans or tempeh often with fermented dressings. Dinner is smaller and often made in a bamboo steamer; a head of broccoli, a brick of tofu, fermented miso sauce, avocado, olive oil, walnuts, etc.
I donâ€™t have cheat days, but if I want something unhealthy, Iâ€™ll have it. To me, itâ€™s just about keeping unhealthy foods in check. I try and eat way more good than bad. And because I train so hard and so often, I know how important it is to eat well; because this not only fuels me, it helps with recovery post-workout.
Portion size is irrelevant to me because Iâ€™m more concerned with nutrition. If a meal is small but nutrient dense then I eat small. If the food is less nutrient dense then I eat more. However, I typically have a small breakfast, a massive lunch and a small dinner, trying my best not to eat late at night. And, Iâ€™ll eat raw vegetables as snacks in between all these meals.
The Exercise Factor: I box six days a week, sometimes twice a day. Yes, itâ€™s exercise, but I just love it like a pastime. I donâ€™t even do it for the fitness, I just do it because itâ€™s so enjoyably challenging and gives me happiness. And, over the course of a week, I walk about 100 km because I love walking and live in the city so I donâ€™t need a car, cabs or public transit.
I train with my striking coach Jorge twice a week. He corrects my boxing technique, teaches me new techniques then gives me homework which I do in my own gym outside of the time I spend with him. Jorge has vastly improved my strength and conditioning. Iâ€™ve maintained the same weight but have become leaner and more muscular.
Ain't a trip to Montreal unless I rip it at HardKnox in Saint-Henri. My OG club, where we did nearly 3 hours today. Shout out to coach Herby Whyne; for always being so welcoming, and for always letting me train off to the side during group classes...because I'm that guy that ignores schedules. âšœâšœâšœ
The Current Day-to-Day: I donâ€™t care about what it took to get here, it was just a reset to a baseline of basic health. So, I donâ€™t view it as an accomplishment, itâ€™s just a reset I shouldâ€™ve done a decade sooner. But, now that Iâ€™ve arrived, I try not to take it for granted because health is a fleeting, ungraspable thing you have to actively try and grasp at every day. So, I try my best to grasp it and go beyond it, because every degree of improvement unlocks new performances or potentials and thatâ€™s exhilarating to experience. I donâ€™t care about past accomplishments, I care about future challenges and surpassing them.
Iâ€™ll drink a million lattes, savour American menthols or occasionally get blind drunk. I like to keep it funky. Iâ€™m far from perfect and rife with contradictionsâ€¦ meaning thereâ€™s always another area of myself to conquer and improve. The process is perpetual. Thereâ€™s no finish line.
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."