Part 1: The Expectations

Let me start by saying that losing 135lbs was an awakening. It was one of my greatest struggles and greatest triumphs. I am healthy, I have energy, I feel vibrant, I am confident, I live in the present, I can cross my legs, I don’t feel uncomfortable when people watch me walk away, I can get into the back seat of a two-door car easily, I can take a seat in the middle of a cramped aisle at the movie theater, I feel “red carpet ready” for any event, clothing is cheaper and easier to find, I feel unstoppable and full of life. This is the short list (if you can imagine that) of the positive outcomes of reaching my healthy weight. So much is written about the good parts but not as much about the hard parts.

Perhaps the worst part about losing 135lbs was realizing that it was just weight. It was just pounds shed from my body, not a shedding of insecurity or depression. Those still existed and without the 135 lb blanket I was so used to having wrapped around me, they were exposed. I felt very vulnerable and alone.  I was finally supposed to start living the life I had dreamed of in my thin fantasy future. Now was the time to be fun, feel fantastic, and pursue my every passion. Simple, right? For twenty years, every sentence began with “When I’m thin I’ll…” I had spent two decades pinning my hopes, dreams, and great expectations on the tail of future thinness. The saddest realization was that being thin did not bring me happiness. I was still the same person. I was just beginning the grieving process of losing food, my lifelong best friend and I wasn’t ready to live the life I had dreamed up in svelte skin. “Welcome, Disappointment, Depression, and Anxiety, so glad you could make it!”

I had to learn that thin doesn’t mean joy. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I still had to take risks, face rejection, and actively create my future. What a shame. I really might have thought thinness came with all that. Thinness is like Ikea furniture. Looks great in the showroom, but you have to get it home and assemble it yourself. Most times it doesn’t look quite like you’d hoped.

Overall this revelation made me a stronger person. It taught me things about myself and what I wanted out of my life. The process of finding what truly does make me happy and nourish me has been incredible. While it’s certainly not over, I am grateful for having gone through it.

Part 2: The Motivation

Losing weight is hard. Let me say that again. Losing weight is haaarrrd. But there’s motivation and reinforcement when you see the changing of your body and health. Each week the scale gives you a big pat on the back. And all the while, you’re telling yourself it will get easier. And it does. But when the cycle of putting in the effort and seeing the results ends and you’ve reached your goal weight you have to create the motivation to maintain.

I knew everything about losing weight. I knew how much to eat, what to eat, and how to exercise. For a year, I was determined and consistent. Arriving at my goal weight was like being given a mansion and then being told I had to come up with the mortgage. I was clueless and terrified. Would I gain every pound back if I started to increase the amount I was eating? Would I have to run every day for the rest of my life?  These were the fears that consumed me. I gradually began eating more to find out what amount worked for me to stay the same. I was still running six days a week though. I began seeing a nutritionist to help me find this balance. What I realized was that as much as I couldn’t imagine that I’d be able to eat more and not gain weight, it was the truth. I can and do eat as much as I want and maintain my current weight. At some point, I figured out that the notion that you get to your goal weight and then figure out how to stay there is incorrect. It’s only now that I see that the better idea is this: get to whatever your goal weight is (as long as it’s reasonable), assess your eating, ask yourself the following questions: ‘Are you happy with the amount of food you eat? Do you enjoy the foods you’re eating daily? Do you have to work to stay at that weight? Are you happy?’ If you can truly say that your lifestyle is what you’d like to maintain, then you are at the right weight for you. But if you are struggling, if you feel like it requires vigilance and more exercise than you want to do, then change. Gain weight. I mean this from the bottom of my heart. When I was running six days a week and I was terrified to stop because I thought it meant a return to my former weight, I learned a crucial lesson. If this was what I had to do each day to stay where I was, then that was not the weight for me. I did stop running. Cold turkey. I went from six days a week of four miles a pop to walking, not even on an incline, and not even power walking at first. And I didn’t gain a single pound. It was a lesson in trust.

I began to view food in the same way.  If I could not eat dessert, not eat things on a whim, not enjoy one cookie too many, then I didn’t want to be there. I have experimented with eating up to 2800 calories a day, all the while assessing how my body reacted. I’m happy to say that I think I’ve found my happy weight. It’s a place that welcomes oatmeal and S’Mores,  salad and pizza, fresh fruit and peanut butter cups. I’ve been here for four years.

106 thoughts on “Maintenance

  1. rebekah (clarity in creation.)

    girl, you are such an inspiration.

    although my story is a bit less dramatic (50-some lbs), my life has been a rollercoaster of gains and losses.

    this was exactly what i needed to hear for some much-needed encouagement.
    thank you thank you!

    1. Pheralyn

      Just discovered you via a Gala Darling post. You are soooo inspiring! Thank you so much, Andi, for having the courage to take this journey and then taking the bold move to share it with us. You are a brave and powerful woman and I applaud you. Bravo!

  2. Biscuit Wheels

    Thanks for such an insightful post about maintaining. I know how to lose weight, just as you said, but one never really learns what to do once you arrive there or go too far. I needed those words of wisdom.

    You are a wise one and congrats on finding such a good happy balance. Life is much too short to never eat a cookie. It obviously works for you because you glow.

    Enjoy life and your new journey.

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  5. eatmovewrite

    “If this was what I had to do each day to stay where I was, then that was not the weight for me.”

    I needed to hear these words. Wow. I lost 200 pounds, then I immediately gained back 20. Then, I lost the 20. Then, I gained it back. Now, I’m taking it off again, but I’m being smarter. Always before, with each weight loss, I was working out like a crazy person. Off the chain cardio daily. Now, I’m walking and eating reasonably, and hope like crazy that it works, because extreme exercise is simply not something I can maintain (obviously).

    For me, losing is hard, but maintenance is nearly impossible. It’s so nice to see what you’ve done. Congrats to you!!!!

    1. Can You Stay for Dinner

      Wow, 200 lbs is such an accomplishment! Congratulations, really! Maintenance is so hard. So so hard. But I admire you for trying to find that balance and realizing that you don’t want to have to over-do it at the gym everyday to stay there. Maybe you’re meant to hold on to those 20 lbs, or at least 10 of them. Thinness didn’t bring me that joy or that natural ease, so I had to find out how to maintain my life rather than maintain my weight. You probably get this too. Best of luck, I’d love to hear more about your journey!

  6. offeringmyownconfusion

    Congratulations! I just strolled upon your site and love it! After having a family I have lost 60 pounds, and think I have found my happy weight. It too includes pizza here and there, even an ice cream cone. There are days I still run, but I have realized it really is movement and a balanced diet that works the best. Thank you for this really well versed post.

  7. Mandi

    Hi there! I was just introduced to your blog and I have to say, I read it once and immediately marked “favorites” on my computer. You are such an inspiration, not only because you did something that most people dream of doing, but you kept your wits about you… and humility. And you are damn funny. I am going to try your recipes as I am in the learning process right now of allowing myself to actually enjoy my food rather than using it as an escape door from issues I don’t want to face. Something about you has really resonated with me and I am so glad I found this blog!



  8. granintraining

    I have been a reader of your blog for months now and sitting here on Saturday morning with the Husband and the doggies I just did NOT want to go to the gym.
    I totally identify on the whole “maintainable balance” issue. I am still finding it hard to let myself have treats without wanting to get up the next day and have a huge guilt party and extreme sweat fest. The inherent fear of gaining the weight back SUCKS! This post helped me a lot this morning when it came down to which would be more enjoyable. I am staying in bed thanks to you and letting go of irrational food guilt for the time being! I’m a work in progress but thanks to strong women like you I can begin to find that happy weight!

    1. Can You Stay for Dinner

      Wow, this makes me so happy to hear. You’re doing exactly what you should be doing. Everyday, just think about the whole picture of your life- is it fulfilling? Go with your gut. Thank you so so much for reading and for sharing.

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  10. leticia

    i started this morning wit the plan i saw in a magazine where you are featured.
    i am at 240 lbs and can not even remember what it feels to cross my legs. i want to buy jeans in the regular size section.
    i need to see aneating plan for beginners. can you help? you are so beautiful. thank you for sharing all of what you write.
    i live in seattle.

    1. Can You Stay for Dinner

      Hi Leticia! First, thanks so much for your comment- it was very kind! It can be daunting when you’re at the beginning- just starting the journey of weight loss. Try not to let it overwhelm you. Just take each day and live in that day- not thinking of the past and not waiting for the future. If you just do the best you can, make the best choices you can make (one after another), they will build and motivate you. It will become easier- trust me on this. Give it three days and it won’t feel quite as challenging. I wish you the very best! Good to meet another Seattleite! Andrea

  11. leticia

    i am starting the plan i saw in the magazine today…tis morning. i just had a slice of toast with pbutter, yougurt with half a banana and a cup of coffee.
    i am at 240 lbs. i am 5’4” and i have a beautiful smile and i love life, just like yu. i need to shed about 70 lbs…that is how i look and feel great. i am 51 years old and i feel like i am 25 !!! but i am too big. i need a beginnirs plan. how did you loose all the weight. i need an eating plan.

  12. Brenda

    I am a lifetime member and really getting bored with counting points. I am considering switching to a calories type plan as you suggested in the magazine article. I also worked for WW, so when I saw the headline, I had to get the magazine. Way to sell magazines!

  13. Maria

    I am a dietitian but I have struggled with my weight all my life, I’ve tried everything and know a lot, but I am my worst patient…..
    I tried WW last year but lost only 6 lb in 4 months, got tired and gained all and more, I am just 5 feet tall, 38 years and I weight 148 lb, I want to lose at least 20 lb, I am doing WW with south beach, it works better for me, I can only walk, wich I will do again from now on. I’ve learn a lot of emotional eating and I am trying to heal myself, it is hard, but I am more confident this time and will try for as long as my body needs to do it, I loved your blog, I will read it from now on, I have a lot of recipes too…. I will try yours…..

    1. Can You Stay for Dinner

      Hi Maria! I know- coming to terms with emotional eating is the part that really makes it all happen. It’s when I finally acknowledged that I was eating for every other reason than hunger that I began to change my life. You can do it. You know everything there is to know about nutrition and weight loss- I’m sure of this. So just believe that you can and will succeed this time. It’s about putting yourself first, too. Making enough time and giving yourself the kind of love and attention that you give to others. And also- I think walking is fabulous. It’s what I do and I honestly love it. I wish you the absolute best!! Keep in touch.

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  15. anne kane

    I love the website and the recipes…………I am a great friend of you Aunt Maureen Dewey, she turned me on to your site…………I am way overweight and I need to read you everyday………………..just to get support…………………

    1. Can You Stay for Dinner

      Hi Anne! Thank you so much for writing and for reading! I’m so happy to have ‘met’ you, as my aunt Maureen means the world to me and generally keeps the best of friends! I hope you know that you really can lose the weight. Believe that. And if you find comfort in anything I write here, thank you! I wish you all the best!

  16. SaraDee

    Wow! I read your article in Woman’s World magazine and saw your site in there. I just started reading your blog now and WOW! Great job on your weight loss and continued maintenance:) I hope one day I can achieve my goal as you have!

  17. ArmyWife95

    I came across your article in WW magazine, and after reading your article and this site I am back in the game after a lull in motivation! I have 75 lbs to lose after 20 years of being overweight. I would love to cross my legs again, be able to feel comfortable in my own skin, and not hide from cameras. I would love to go clothes shopping and leave the mall happy and not frustrated and defeated. And, it would be absolutely fabulous to not have to think “I wish I was thin” numerous times every single day. Thanks for the motivation!

  18. Deeny

    I just read your article in Woman’s World. Loosing weight is one the hardest things to do. Congrats to you and all who have done it! I have been fighting with weight gain since I was 18. I was always very skinny person till grade 12. I just couldn’t eat what I used to eat. Since then I have been up and down so many times. I find it so hard to maintain my weight. I find that every year I am a size bigger and I am scared that one day I will look in the mirror and wonder how I got hear. I have done weight watchers and was very successful but I gain all the weight back after I had my first child. I love your article about maintaining. My problem is I have bad knees and hips so I get very frustrated when I exercise. So I find myself really focusing on the food and that is when I fail. I love the comment about regarding the guilt felt after eating too many cookies. That is totally me almost every morning. I am looking for inspiration to move forward and thanks to you I think I have found a place to go and get it.

    1. Can You Stay for Dinner

      Deeny, this is so so beautiful! Thank you for your comment. It means a lot to hear that something I wrote, or this blog in general, is inspiring to someone. You can do it. Just believe in yourself and take time each morning and night to remember all that you want for your life. I’m so happy you are on your way. Keep in touch!

  19. sandra

    I read this week your article in Woman’s World. I’ve been over weight 25 pounds for the past 25 years, last year I lost 18 pounds with Weight Watchers but I got back almost all of them when I stop attending the meetings. I’m 48 and I’m dealing with slow metabolism that makes it even harder.Thank you for sharing your experience, you really motivated me to try again.

  20. lissa10279

    Love your blog and find your story so inspirational! Your attitude is wonderful and refreshing. Life is about living … as a former over-exerciser and disordered eater — who is now recovered and about to have my first baby in like 16 days! — I really believe that, and it’s only when we trust ourselves that we can really truly be free and yes, even find that “happy weight.” Beautiful blog!

    1. Can You Stay for Dinner

      Hi Lissa! Thank you so so much for your note. It really brightened my day; I’m so happy to have connected with you- I really can’t wait to check out your blog! OH and congratulations on the baby (still on the way, I know)!!!!!

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  22. snacktress

    WOW. You are so incredibly inspiring – beautiful inside and out. I really love what you said about maintaining weight and asking yourself whether or not it’s a struggle to maintain it. I’m currently trying to maintain and find myself obsessively counting calories or telling myself I can eat something as long as I work it off. Womp womp. Life is too short. Thank you.

    You are incredible, and I love your blog. I want to lick the screen whenever I visit!

  23. Sheri Grissom

    Are you me?! After reading your story of weight loss, and challenge of maintenance, I am stunned at how closely my story parallels yours.

    I lost 100 pounds seven years ago, and it’s just been in the last year that I’ve learned how to “listen” to my body, and trust that a small dessert or toast with jam will not destroy my life. Maintenance is life long (I don’t use the word diet), and I’ve come to peace with that.

    I am so glad I found your website and will be checking it frequently. Thank you for being so honest and open – you are very inspirational.

  24. Betty Amico

    My husband & I were visiting with your grandfather and he showed me the blog you had written about him.
    I thoroughly enjoyed your writing…and the story of your weight loss success and felt I should explore your website more, as I have AGAIN reached my WW goal and need to keep the weight off.
    Between having bought a dress for my son’s Dec. ’11 wedding and the issues I’ve had with my knee, I am motivated.
    The recipes I have looked at and your description of the food as well as the easy pictoral step-by-step instructions are so much better than a cookbook…this is fantastic…they look so delicious.
    When I return to MA and have an appropriate time & place to cook…your site is the first I’ll be going to access.
    I like your idea of maintenance and have emailed this page to a friend who is in the same struggle as I…
    So I’m looking forward to a successful maintenance, using your philosophy…I know I will have to re-read this again…to keep me on track. Thank-you,

  25. Heather Leigh

    I stumbled upon your page (as I love cooking it was a great find!) and at first thought it was just another blog about food. After finding your links regarding your weight loss journey, I am convinced otherwise. I’m 19 years old and have spent the past 2 years battling my weight. I was never incredibly overweight, but it was enough to make me uncomfortable. Last year I lost almost 30 lbs by changing my diet and running every day, and it is crazy to think that the feelings I had at that time (and now) could be shared. I was so worried after initially losing the weight that I would instantly gain it back if I had an ice cream bar or anything else with over 100 calories, 5 g of fat and 30 carbs. It sounds ridiculous in retrospect but at the time I just thought that I could never go back to “that place.”
    Almost a year later, now in college, I’m struggling to find the right weight. I was not eating healthy before, and like you I was obsessed with hungry girl. Now that I’m at school I feel at a loss for food to eat- I live in NYC so making my own food everyday on top of a college meal plan is extremely expensive and the dining hall food is the embodiment of the “freshman 15.” Working out 7 days a week is also not an option now that I actually have a life. Like others that have posted, reading this was really inspirational to me, and helped me ground myself back to knowing that it is possible to be healthy and happy.

  26. Christine

    I have been lurking your blog for a couple of months now, and can I say you amaze me. Not just because of the 135 lb. weight loss, though that is impressive, it’s your attitude about food and life. I myself have just lost 30 or so pounds, and I find myself in that phase of being terrified of gaining it back.

    I lost my weight by constant measuring what I ate and adding & subtracting calorie counts into my diet. And I find myself in that thought of now what do I do? Really, I just want to ask you that question. What do I do now? I know I can’t keep on the obsessive measuring. For the past 2 months I have been slowly adding back “normal” foods into my diet with minimal weight gain. I know you aren’t a doctor or expert, but I think the advice is more sound coming from a kindred spirit of sorts.

    If nothing else, I love your blog!!

    1. Can You Stay for Dinner

      Christine, first, thank you! Second, just do what you know you should do. Know that you will find a weight that’s right for you if you live the life you’re happiest with first. I know it sounds easier said than done, but trust me: Your weight will find a place of balance once you say to yourself, OK, I surrender, I’m not going to kill myself at the gym, I’m not going to obsessively weight and measure and count. I’m going to live a life with as much balance as I know how (because think about all that you know about healthy living- I bet it’s a lot), and whatever the scale says, the scale says. At some point, I just relinquished a little control. I just knew that I couldn’t keep up with what I was doing, and if that meant I would be 10 pounds heavier, I honestly just accepted that and focused on living well and happily. I hope none of this comes off as preachy or holier than thou. It’s just that it really is what it takes to find balance and happiness. I’m wishing you the best!

      1. Christine

        I appreciate the advice! None of it came off as holier than thou I assure you. Sometimes, I feel especially in my weight loss journey, it just takes someone who has already been there to tell you what you already know. :)

  27. Leslie

    Well, you gave me tears and a big ol’ lump in my throat. I literally “stumbled” onto your blog via StumbleUpon and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I read a few posts, read about you and then hit “Maintenance” and within seconds I had you tabbed, made a favorite and I can’t wait to follow your blog. Not only are you an inspiration, losing that much weight is hella hard. I am on my weight loss journey, I’m at -52, 30 to go, but when you said the insecurities are still there and the vulnerabilities are left out in the open for all to see…nailed it on the head, truly. I struggle with that a lot but reading about how you maintain gives me hope that the rest of my life won’t be sprints and weights, that maybe I can tone it down to just 3x a week and not freak over every calorie.

    Thanks for your words and I sincerely hope the best for you!!

  28. Kelsey

    I love this. I am a former 300lb-er (literally) and have lost 130lbs over the past 4 years. I am just entering the ‘maintenance’ phase of my journey and this post felt like a big hug. I’m going to be able to do it, the weight won’t come back, and I can have a healthy relationship with food. So glad I found your blog.

  29. LynseyI pu

    I’m officially obsessed with your blog!! You are awesome! I need to adopt your mentality and fast. In 2000 I was at my highest weight of 235lbs, at 5 foot 7, that was way too much. One day I woke up, started exercising but not watching what I ate. I lost 50lbs. I met my now husband in 2002 and before I knew it was up to 215lbs. I convinced him to buy me a treadmill and after 6 years of struggle/power walking/calorie counting, I reached a weight of 130lbs…I then couldn’t find a balance. I didn’t know how to stop dieting and I lost another 15lbs. I was emaciated, people thought I was anorexic, family asked if I had a parasite. I still couldn’t find that balance and began to eat all the things that I had denied myself during my journey: oreos, gallons of ice cream, peanut butter, THEN–I pulled my groin muscle while working out and was benched–and put on 35lbs. I was miserable. I bought an elliptical and started with that. I have managed to lose 15 of those 35lbs, and while I do not want to be at 115 again, I would like to get to and maintain a weight of around 125 to 130. Ugh, it’s so hard, but reading about your journey has made me realize that I don’t need to sneak those cookies–I can have some, it’s ok. I will get there. Thanks so so so very much.
    BTW, you are a wonderful writer, I can’t tell you how often I’ve laughed out loud while reading. Thanks again.

  30. Stefanie

    Wow…thanks for posting this. I have been deeply struggling with my weight. I like thinking can I make it through today? then that is good enough for now. I am going to put that in my life. I too am scared and hide behind my weight.

    I am scared to even start my program because I think I can’t do it. I love my food it has been a comfort, soothing, babysitter as well and such a big part of my life.

    Thanks for posting, from me reading this makes me feel motivated to start once again and to start the next chapter :)

  31. ricercar

    and i really love the eating attititude you promote
    i guess i really needed to see this today (about being scared that the minute i stopped being hyper vigilant i’d swing back to my old weight)

    thanks so much!

  32. Mary

    Wow, I just stumbled upon your blog today and read this. This is just what I need, I think. I’m going to ‘share my story’ so I hope that’s ok!

    I’ve been struggling my whole life with weight…around 10, I started gaining weight; around 14 I staved it off with sports, but it eventually crept back up, and my sophomore year of college I found myself at 180lbs, which terrified me! I immediately started overexercising (2 hours a day of intensive weight lifting and cardio, every day) and undereating (no more than 1000 calories, usually 800, and I started taking pride in getting by on the lowest number of calories possible). I pretty quickly lost 30 pounds, bought a bikini for the first time, felt great, looked great…but it wasn’t possible to maintain, and over the past year or so I’ve gained half of it back. I hate it. I feel so hulking and awkward and am always so aware of how I think I look to people…knowing what it’s like to feel light and pretty (I’m 5’6″, but 150 pounds on me was perfect for me…I know I’m never going to be a super thin girl, I loved the way I looked and felt) and now just the opposite kind of kills me. Even worse because it’s such a small number! And the fear of not being able to maintain a weight of 150 pounds. It’s not that much to ask! It’s a size 8! I never stopped working out (though at a more reasonable pace now), but my eating habits aren’t so great now…just this past week, though, I began targeting my problem areas with food and started to fix them.

    Anyway…reading about being bigger, I know how you feel. I know I wasn’t that bad, and actually have gotten shit from other people online before for feeling fat when my largest weight was 180lbs, but I looked so unlike what I thought ‘me’ looked like, and I FELT so terrible, like I was afraid to sit on delicate furniture or even knock over something on accident…it wouldn’t be because I’m clumsy, but because I was fat…anyway…this whole story has been really reassuring so thank you so much! I believe now more than ever that it’s possible for me. I’m an active person and sometimes I feel limited by the extra weight, the way I feel about it, and I want to live life and not feel that way anymore.

    Sorry I just wrote a novel in your comments! But thanks so so so much! I’m glad I have this to think about now when things get tough. <3

    PS – congrats! You look amazing, and your blog is great!

  33. Lisa

    Thank you for being so honest and sharing your experience! You are a beautiful soul and I totally agree with your approach “If I could not eat dessert, not eat things on a whim, not enjoy one cookie too many, then I didn’t want to be there”. True words from a true experience! I would like to link your site on my blog if you don’t mind…GREETINGS FROM EUROPE!

  34. Alana

    I am still learning that “thin doesn’t mean joy.” As a young woman in college, thin is still an ideal for me. I struggle each day with body image, however, I am proud to say I have overcome some darker times. Bloggers like you, women like you, are incredible inspiration for me. Food should never be the enemy. Bring on the lesson of trust.

    Congratulations ! You have an incredible blog, and even more importantly an incredible outlook.

    PS. Your writing skills?! Amazing. I feel like I’m talking to my best friend.

  35. Amreen

    I just stumbled upon ur blog thru the falafel recipe :)

    Wonderful wonderful bolg u have here! I lost about 60lbs a couple of years ago and have slowly gained them back (medical reasons and overeating ofc! included).

    It’s not something I’m proud of, but today at 170lbs, i do feel OK with my body, sure I want to lose weight and live healthy but I dont really feel the need to hurry there! But you, darling woman have changed that! I knw that if i get too comfortable here, i will pile on more, and then actual remorse will start.

    Thank you for inspiring and you really do write well, much like one of my favourite authors Khaled Hosseini where you can actually feel all the emotions!

    PS: What about stretch marks, or were you among the lucky few that didnt get affected?

  36. Katie

    You’re a great writer – thanks for posting!

    I have been here too. I have gained and lost 20 pounds several times in the past decade. I know this some would consider it vanity weight, but for me – 20-30 pounds is a lot. I lost it twice with a lot of exercise (and a healthier diet that followed suit since I usually eat fairly healthy to start). I stopped running though and gained it all back. I can’t workout 7 days a week and run 50 miles a week anymore. Not even if it meant maintaining that weight loss. My life is richer now for what is in it, but I miss that success. And I miss being 20 pounds lighter. I’m searching for that balance, and the motivation to lose that weight again but keep it off this time – in a way that I can sustain without feeling like my life revolves around my weight. It is . . . hard. And I haven’t figured it out.

  37. Tara

    Thank you so much for this post. I found your website via your recipe for whole wheat sour cream pancakes (wonderful, btw), and started poking around. It’s inspirational that you lost that much weight. Maintenance has always been my biggest fear. What if I lost weight but wasn’t willing to keep up the work every single day? In the back of my mind, I’ve known it wasn’t as much of a monster as I imagined. But it really, really helps to see someone else says it isn’t necessarily so. Thank you again for sharing with us.

  38. Beth

    I too am doing WW and have been on it for almost a year. I’m nearly at the 30 pound mark (again.) I’ve fallen off the wagon several times, but have come to realize that my head and my heart are not quite on the same page and I need to get to the root of that. Reading your Maintenance story and the other comments indicates that I’m not alone in my imbalance – which doesn’t make it okay, but it does make it understandable and let’s me know that I’m not alone. Journeys…not destinations. Thank you for all of your sincerity.

  39. Susan

    I am so inspired to have finally found a healthy view of weight loss. I love how you don’t hate the body you used to have or obsess over your new body. What you wrote about losing weight not solving all your problems is more motivational than all the weight you loss. You have been on an amazing journey. Thank you for sharing it.

  40. Liz

    I really enjoy exploring your blog and reading about what you’ve overcome. It’s almost soothing to me. I’m currently losing weight – 40lbs into a long journey, and despite the fact that you’re saying that life isn’t all roses when you reach your goal weight I find the insight comforting. Thanks for that, and congratulations on what you’ve accomplished.

  41. emilyb

    I have been so inspired by your story! I have to loose 100 pounds to be at my goal weight. I just started and I have lost 14 pounds so far. I struggle with the relationship I have with food and your blog is like reading my own story! Thank you for your inspiration!!

  42. Tammy W

    I lost 50 pounds after I had my fourth child, I was back to a size six and loved it. Very soon after I acheived my goal weight I became pregnant again and was diagnosed with breast cancer. I went through treatments and had a beautiful little girl, treatments again. I am now a five year survivor of breast cancer but after pregnancy and the sedentary life of a cancer patient I have 60 pounds to lose still. I realized last night while watching the LMN movie shorts “Five” about breast cancer patients that I think I actually think my cancer will come back if I lose the weight. Silly? I think it is holding me back, whether it is silly or not.

  43. Brenda Oswell

    Hi, as some one who has struggled with a severe eating disorder I’m so grateful to finally here TRUTH. Everything you said is exactly what I have been thinking for along time, but you don’t hear it from a lot of people. I watch biggest loser and it KILLS me when they have subway and take out the middle of the bread. That isn’t living, that is an obsession a very unhealthy, obsession. I’m grateful to hear some one say that you can EAT whatever you want in moderation!

  44. Jackie

    Thank you :-)

    You’ve freed so many people from anxiety and weight-loss lies. I’m only 2 years younger than you and I’m just praying right now to be as amazing as you are when I’m 26.

  45. Candace

    I just stumbled upon your blog today and have been reading through some of the archives. While I didn’t have as much weight to lose as you (I lost about 50lbs) I went through exactly the same emotions as you. I have been struggling with the balance between wanting to be super thin and being happy (I LOVE food and eating). It is so refreshing to hear someone talk about weight loss and also being happy and eating what you want. I always look at weight loss blogs or articles (I would ideally like to lose 10 more lbs) and all they are about is how you will never enjoy food again. I want to kill people when they say nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. What a crock of bullshit! I have always wanted to think I could have my cake and eat it too (within moderation of course) and you have inspired me to not give up on this notion. Thank you for sharing your journey, you have no idea how much it helps to read your words.

  46. Jme

    I’m so happy I came across this at random.

    While reading your blog, I kept thinking, “wow – I’m learning her life story… for free! This is so good, she should write a book.” Then I looked into more of the site and read about your 2 books that are on their way. Good for you! And definitely keep us posted on this site when you’re published, where I can get a copy.

    You do have a way with words, as everyone else has said on here, and you’re so inspirational and motivational. Getting up and moving is the most crucial part. I love the NW, but am currently on the east coast, so it’s harder to be outside and move – I can’t wait to get back to Oregon and hike all those gorgeous places.

    As a rookie move, I thought running was always REALLY painful for everyone because it had always been that way for me. Little did I know I was wearing the wrong kind of running shoes since my food is wider and I have a higher arch. Lovely. At least now I feel like there are clouds on my feet while my legs get stronger from running. I’ve picked running up as a hobby over here (though I’d much rather go hiking if I were back in the NW), but I always knew I couldn’t do it every day… so walking is seriously the best because I can walk for hours! And running is mostly just half an hour. Training for a 5K (which includes stretching/yoga to help the body from such a high impact exercise) was great – and also Pandora Radio + RunKeeper App kept me entertained instead of just being bored running around neighborhoods. Trail running is the best to keep you engaged and wanting to run (or that it’s a 3.66 mile loop and you started it, so when you’re half-way there, or almost half-way there, you keep it up since there’s “no turning back” for a shorter distance).

    Anyway, thank you for your posts! You’ve helped make lives better :)

  47. Mimi

    I came across your blog tonight while on Pinterest. I can totally relate to your story. I’ve struggled with weight my entire life. You can’t maintain until you learn to deal with your emotions and WHY you’ve always turned to food. Great blog!!

  48. athycai

    from part 1 to maintenance – this has been an inspiring read. i got here thru pinterest (looking at recipes) i lost about a 100 pounds 11 years ago and am currently at a about an 80 pounds loss. i agree with you 100%. i love so much to cook and eat – it’s a HUGE part of my life. try as i would to change it, i just flat out love food. but i have found that a tiny ice cream cone of perfect ice cream is just as fun. 1/3 of a piece of cake is still delicious, and sharing an entree is more fun than trying to stuff myself silly and feeling regretful afterward – not that i don’t sometimes but i would rather share. i work very hard at sharing. One of the biggest changes i made was letting food go. give it away, let others have bites, be willing to give it up. rather than being told i ‘cannot’ have something – i had to develop a desire to share what i ate, what i have. it’s changed lots of things. (ripple effect) if a grandchild or another adult likes what i am eating? they can have it. i only needed a few bites anyway.
    i also learned to NEVER tell myself i couldn’t have any of ‘certain’ foods. (which is silly because i most certainly can if i wish) I tried to do that for years and it simply made me obsessive about food. you can have anything you want. simply change the amount. experiment with amounts and see where you have to draw the line. but if you LOVE chocolate, for cryin’ out loud, eat some every day. make adjustments. i wonder if everyone doesn’t need to just work out their very own food ‘margins’. we are all a little different in the way we eat and why. Love, love this blog. thanks so much for putting your experience into words. hugs. cathy

  49. Elizabeth

    Thank you for “keeping it real”. I don’t have 135 to lose (omg if I did because just 40 is like an Everest) but I don’t think it’s so much about how MUCH you have to lose but the thought process surrounding the food. I am like you, I eat for comfort, not to survive. The mere thought of a DIET sends me into a panic thinking about the “can’t, don’t, better not eats”! Sadly, I had to be 35 to realize I didn’t need a diet so much as a lifestyle change. My father died of a massive heart attack at 41, two months before he was to walk me down the aisle. I don’t think I ever really recovered from that. This year woke me up….I’m not too far from 41 and my husband will hit that fateful age this year! And we are overweight! That’s terrifying! Amidst much grumbling and cursing my name, I decided to take a “Real Food” challenge and only eat those things which are unprocessed and foods who’s ingredients I can pronounce! HA! My husband is having to constantly remind me that this isn’t a D.I.E.T and that it’s ok to occasionally eat that cookie or drink that milkshake (I still haven’t though HAHA). The thought process has been the hardest part. I’m just beginning week 3 of my challenge but I feel good. Now, I just have to work around the one car and kids, yadda yadda yadda and get back to the gym for ME. Thank you for NOT being the “oh everything’s great when you’re thin” cheery chirpy harpy! LOL There are good days and there are bad days, and I appreciate you sharing both.

  50. Shannon

    My daughter turned me on to your site!

    Like so many people who have already responded here, I am just attaining the goal weight I had set for myself, 111 pounds gone, and that little worm of worry was wiggling about in my brain. Thank you for your insight! Maintenance was starting to look like a brick wall instead of like a new path, and I really appreciate you showing me the path around that wall!

  51. Erika

    I just wanted to say you’re right. Right now I’m terrified of gaining back the recently lost weight. But even though sometimes I slip up, sometimes I give in to that 4th milky way, I did not gain it all back in one night. No matter how much I eat in one night, I will not gain it back instantly. I’m simply amazed and often I can’t believe this is the case, but it’s true. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. And for the most part, I’m good. :)

  52. louise

    Your writings are amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your journey in such honest words. I am on the path to myself now, and i have never before heard or read such insight into the whole weight loss journey. I love your “what I miss” yikes! So true! Thank you!

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  54. Rachel

    This was exactly what I needed to read. I’m currently in the process fo losing, and by the time all is said and done I will have lost 90 pounds. Lately I’ve started wondering about how to maintain when I get there, and I LOVE what you said about it. It’s exactly what I was looking for. Thanks again!

  55. Ashley

    Hi Andie, I love your blog! Do you have any advice for trying to eat healthy while eating out?! I find it to be a struggle as I cannot eat at home 24/7 even though I try to as much as I can. Also, what’s your take on diet sodas? Do you drink them? Do you think they help/hinder weight loss?
    Thanks so much!

  56. Michelle

    I began to view food in the same way. If I could not eat dessert, not eat things on a whim, not enjoy one cookie too many, then I didn’t want to be there… I’m happy to say that I think I’ve found my happy weight. It’s a place that welcomes oatmeal and S’Mores, salad and pizza, fresh fruit and peanut butter cups.”

    That. Right there. THAT.

    That has to be the most concise, most perfect expression of where I want to be that I’ve heard in YEARS.

    I will be 38 on Tuesday, am 5’8 and weigh 285 lbs. My best friend is working with me to get me in to see her nutritionist, and when I get in there, I am taking that EXACT quote with me. I want to reach my happy weight.

    I will be eagerly devouring your site (apologies for the food metaphor there) for more gems like these and the wisdom I WISH I’d had when I was your age. (OMG, did I really just say THAT?!)

    Anyway, brightest blessings on you for this bit of much needed enlightenment! :D

  57. Jenny

    Andie! For 20 years (since high school), I’ve read hundreds of articles, dozens of books, and now more blogs than I can count. I’ve watched every season of The Biggest Loser and I own many of Bob and Jillian’s workout DVDs (and books). Weight Watchers has welcomed me 5 times. I’ve written detailed food/exercise plans, set goals, and even run a few half-marathons. But still, I’m 40 lbs overweight, and it’s ALL emotional. YOU have penned EXACTLY how it is for me… for so many of us! I found your blog yesterday and couldn’t stop thinking about it last night. Not in a “gotta plan, gotta do this!” way, but a “wow. she gets it. I’m ready to get it too” way. The reason I always quit is because I’m terribly afraid of getting there and not being able to stay there. You helped me realize that. AMAZING. THANK YOU.

  58. Kayla Sandage

    First off, you are an amazing writer. This is so inspiring to read. I have struggled with my weight and eating problems since I was 11. I’m currently 22, and still have some of the weight issues come and go. This past weekend I tried on a pair of old jeans that I keep to remind myself ‘if I can’t button them, I need to lose weight.’ I base all of my happiness and confidence on a pair of size 6 jeans from my junior year in high school. Sad.
    I have been working out 4-5 days a week on the elliptical for 30 min a day the last 3 months, and my body feels amazing – although I haven’t lost weight, and I don’t look any more toned – I feel good! But after I tried on those jeans last weekend, I was so down. Reading this today changed my outlook. I thank you so much for your wonderful words, I feel like a light bulb just went off in my head.

  59. Gg

    I was linked to your blog on the NoS forum and I am so, so impressed and inspired. Thank you for sharing your journey so candidly. I love your sense of humor! I lost 23 lbs this past year, which though not a great deal of weight for many, was a very big deal for me, and have just decided that though I had wanted to reach for another 10, this, where I am feels just right. Now I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to go forward and fearing a relapse into old habits if I let go at all. Reading through your blogs has cleared my thinking and really encouraged me. Thank you!

  60. Beth

    I have a question that may not be relevant to everyone’s experience, but I know that you’ve had to learn to change your fears and attitudes about food while traveling, and I was wondering if you could speak to that experience a little bit more. I’m moving to Norway for a couple of months and am concerned that, since food has always been a comfort to me, I’ll rely on it more heavily as a coping mechanism in the face of being by myself and in a new country. I’m overjoyed that I get to go, obviously. I’d just like to approach this new experience fearlessly, at least in terms of anxiety about weight. Any insights?

  61. Kelly

    This is such an inspiring post. When I was 19 I got up to my highest weight of 165 pounds. Over the past 3 years I’ve gotten down to 115 pounds. I’m am so terrified of gaining my weight back. I’m an obsessive measurer and calorie counter which I have a huge love/hate relationship with. I love that it has helped me to lose the pounds but I truly hate how food obsessed I have become. I’ve been wanting slowly stop measuring and counting and just listen to my hunger but then again in the back of my mind I keep thinking “Well that’s how you got overweight in the first place!”..

    What helps me to think everything will be okay if I do is the knowledge that I’ve gained throughout my weight loss journey about food and myself. I’m just so terrified of my OLD habits creeping back up again!

  62. Michal

    You’ve probably answered this ten times just above me, so thank you! x10 and here we go anyhow: Having used both weight watchers and calorie counting, which do you prefer? Which proved more successful? I’m currently weight watching but am considering making the switch.

    1. admin

      Hi Michal,
      This is a good question. I prefer calorie counting because it seems less constraining. That is, a two hundred calorie donut is simply two hundred calories, whereas on Weight Watchers I felt like taking into account fat and fiber to calculate points made the donut ‘cost’ more in your daily budget. Though I do still think it’s incredibly important to focus on eating whole, real foods while calorie counting, I think it allows for treats to be nothing more nutritionally threatening than their calories regardless of fat and fiber.
      Make sense?


  63. Leah

    I’m throwing the following thoughts out there for any blogger to respond to. What about the pain of being valued MORE as a person after the weight loss? The prejudice an over weight person feels, makes me so angry. After a significant weight loss you are suddenly seen as being a better person, more attractive, entertaining etc. by parents, and extended family. Has anyone else experienced this? The extra weight makes it easier to hide.

  64. talia


    For the past two days I have been poking around on your site during my kids’ naptime. I have learned so much from your insights (and I haven’t even gotten to the recipes yet!). Your words have brought me to tears several times already. My husband and I are both facing huge weight loss hurdles and as daunting as they may be you have opened my eyes to realizing that the weight loss is not the only hard part. Maintaining it and fixing what emotionally ails you is equally as important. You have inspired me to inspire my husband so that we can collaborate our efforts and set a positive example for our girls so that hopefully they will have a much healthier relationship with food and exercise than we have. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself. (From a fellow Massachusetts girl)

  65. AF

    I recently came across this blog and, I have to say, while I love every post I’ve read so far, this particular post really gives me so much hope. I’m in the process of losing about 100 lbs. and I’m a little more than halfway to goal. Since the beginning of my weight-loss journey, I’ve been in fear of maintenance because I keep letting certain people put the idea into my head that, in order to remain thin, I’ll have to maintain an “all-or-nothing” attitude; in other words, that I’ll have to be incredibly restrictive in my diet to the point of cutting certain foods out completely. I don’t want to live a life of constant rigidity with regard to food – that sounds utterly exhausting. After reading your experiences, I finally have an example of someone who eats really well, but doesn’t live a life marred by food restriction and is able to maintain their weight. It’s absolutely possible and I’m no longer fearful of what life is going to be like after I hit my goal weight. So, thank you :D

  66. Awesomizer

    hello..I hope you answer my question
    maybe you’ve answered before ^_^ but I appreciate if you answered one more time :)
    have you suffered from loose skin?
    I need to lose 50 lbs & the idea of loose skin demotivating me to start working to have my dream body
    & if you had loose skin how did you deal with it?

    1. Kay

      I would totally love an answer to this, that what came to my mind as soon as I read your first post. Loose Skin. I have that from my pregnancies and have been struggling to get that off my tummy. It is not fat and I know it.

  67. Michelle

    Andie, I love you. When people ask me what I do to stay inspired to loose my weight I tell them two things: sign up on and follow Can You Stay For Dinner. I look forward to your posts and read every one from beginning to end. I was sitting here wondering, “What happened when I finally get to where I want to go?” and I found myself here, wondering what you had to say on the subject. Thank you for your honesty and you’re great style of putting it all out there.

  68. Silvia

    This is the most sensible, honest, touching holistic take on health, nutrition and weight loss. Thank you.

    You are a real inspiration and beacon for all.

  69. Kay

    Here is my issue. I am skinny (to the world) but not skinny enough for myself. I know people will scoff and howl at me when I tell them I NEED to absolutely lose 2 pounds to feel better. Yes! I am talking TWO pounds and people think I am fishing for complements. No. I am not. Losing 2 pounds will get me to my HAPPY WEIGHT. It is also more for a sense of achievement for me. I had two kids and the two pounds have been stuck ever since (for 4 years now) and I am just determined to get that off. I exercise, I UNDER-eat but every morning it is the feeling you are talking about the treadmill is my nightmare at dawn! I HATE IT. I hate it that I am maintaining my food diary and I hate it I cannot just stop obsessing over it and cant live my life! I am trying to get to that sweet spot…..

  70. Kristin

    I just discovered your blog through a Pinterest pin and I am in love with it and your story. I appreciate your honesty. I have lost 30lbs over the last five years, with the last ten pounds coming and going. I am lucky in that I love working out and became a fitness instructor in the process, but I also love cooking and food the same way that you do. I am trying to figure out the maintenance era of my life and enjoyed the way you put some of my feelings into words. Thank you so much for sharing SO much.

  71. Susan

    Found this blog off Pinterest. Love it! I am not a good cook but got inspired with your recipes! I want to eat better but struggle with what to make all of the time! I agree with what you say… Your goal weight is what you are comfortable with! Very well said!

  72. Elaine Morinelli

    Second Comment:

    I can now sit in the middle seat of an airplane aisle and my hips do not touch the sides of the seat.

    I can wear a pair of pants that fit me around the waste, the hips and the thighs. All in the same pair. No flab hanging out. Is that even possible?

    People say “you’re so ‘good’ that you don’t eat fast food any more.'” It’s not a question of good. It’s a question of, do I want to live or not? And having chose to live, do I want to be healthy and vibrant and enjoy my life? I don’t even WANT the stuff any more!

  73. Laura

    Thank you for writing your blog. I stumbled across it today from Pinterest.. This post in particular I think I will read and read and read. In the past year I have lost 90lbs. I have about 25 more to be at my goal. I live in fear some days. I ask myself if I eat this, will I gain it all back? If I stop running or lifting will I stop being able to see muscles in my body? I need to let go of the fear (which was heightened when I gave away all of my ‘big’ clothes). Thanks for your help with this.

  74. Stephanie

    I’m so glad I found your site. You made me cry.

    I had WLS – the sleeve – this past March. It’s made weight loss easier (well if you call having pneumonia three times this year and a leak easy, then I guess…) but I’ve lost about 95 lbs. In 2008, I had lost 80 lbs by working out 7 days a week, but after my mom died I went into overdrive. My dad’s death 9 month’s later, I hit burn out city. I also went through a deep depression, as you can imagine, and I got to a place where I was tired of being depressed. I can’t do 8 miles a day and I’ve been “killing” myself to ‘get to goal’ by doing 1000 calorie workouts as much as possible. This last bout of pneumonia has shut me down totally from working out and I am seeing I can still eat and do this w/o exercise. I just need to figure out my daily caloric intake (as 900 a day isn’t going to work for life… remember I am a weight loss surgery patient so yeah, that’s low).

    Now that I’m almost to my goal, I wonder how I can live in this body, at this place. Your entry about maitenance really helped me to begin to see that maybe I can live this way – forever. I just need to listen to my body and “tweak” things up a bit.

    Kudos to you for keeping the weight off. I pray to have the strength you have had, to listen to myself as you have learned to do, to sit still and not bolt and overall, more than anything else, I hope to be successful like you.

    Bless you for enlightening those of us out there that need to see the light to know we CAN do it too. xx

  75. Jeri

    Thank you for writing this! I really needed to read this. I lost 170#. It took me 2.5 years. I’ve regained 35 lbs and am not happy about that. That being said, it was very hard to maintain my “goal” number weight. It was VERY HARD to maintain that. I felt like everybody was looking at me in a different way and that every time I left my house, I was in a photo shoot.

    Probably that first 10-15 lbs is my comfort zone. The rest is depression eating. You are so right ~ being thin doesn’t make you happy. You have to find that joy whether you are thin, or not. Thank you for the reminder. I have been struggling. Your words have affirmed what I have been feeling for over a year now. Congrats on your weight loss. You look fantastic!

  76. Alyssa :)

    You are such an inspiration to me!!! I started off in August at 240 pounds. I struggled with eating disorders and trying to starve myself or throw everything up that I ate in order to lose weight. It never worked for me.. I finally put my head on straight and started simply eating healthy and exercising. I am now at 203 lbs and am so ready to see that 1 as a beginning number. You really inspire me. Congrats on your success. I am hoping to be down to 160 by the end of February. :)

  77. s.m.

    I’m 5’5″ and 90-something pounds. I have anxiety and take medication that has completely killed my appetite. I’ve never been one to weigh myself (but have gone to the doctor recently so now I know), but I think I’ve lost maybe 20lbs to get here. Doing no exercise, actually. And as much as my body scares me, as embarrassed as I feel wearing anything body-hugging around my family and knowing I look skeletal, being this thin has also triggered something in my brain that makes me afraid to eat at the same time. I mean, I can go out to eat and eat my entire burger and fries meal and that’s ok, I don’t feel guilty because I’ve done it all my life. I never gain weight. I listen to my desires and, actually, I know if I did gain weight from it it’s a GOOD thing. Yet force feeding myself, purposely trying to gain weight? That is terrifying. So then I find myself restricting my intake for no reason, comparing myself to others just because they “can’t” eat a cupcake I believe I “can’t”, either. Society/the media/our own past habits, whatever, has us so brainwashed into thinking we can’t eat food, that we should always be striving to lose weight, that we aren’t allowed a pleasurable eating experience! But of course I can have a cupcake! I know this and I needed to read this post. You eat. People eat. Humans were given mouths and stomachs and hunger signals and they don’t function on photosynthesis, because they were made to EAT. I need to eat. No more foolishly depriving myself when I, now rarely, have a craving. I have a great metabolism, and I need to remember to EAT. Without my appetite, I’m not fueling my body properly and I need to remember it’s going to take actual effort, at this point, to actually gain weight. Most people here are mentioning how they’re afraid of returning to their former weight, but I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum and this post has helped me, just the same. Thank you.

  78. Maureen (

    Hi Andie! I just wanted to let you know how much of an inspiration you are to me! I stumbled upon your blog when I was looking for inspiration after suffering from binge eating/emotional eating after a significant weight loss and the depression that ensued after gaining some of it back. I cannot wait to read your book!!! I use your recipes all the time and am actively using your tips to listen to my body and find my way to a happy, healthy, me. Your blog also inspired me to start my own blog documenting my recovery and journey towards health and happiness. So, basically, I just wanted to say, THANK YOU!!

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