Weight loss is something I’m familiar with, having struggled with my weight for almost 40 years.

I’ve written about this struggle many times and I want to address some recent information that’s been published about this topic. One study was on the effects of exercise on weight loss. It showed that people who exercise a lot (such as myself) may have trouble with their weight loss. The body gets used to the exercise and may adjust by slowing down your metabolism. Excessive exercise is also associated with some eating disorders and can increase the risk of injuries.

I walk 7-plus miles daily to regulate my mood. I have an anxiety disorder inherited from my mother. She chose prescription drugs to manage her anxiety and I’ve chosen another method of managing my mood. This works for me as I already struggle with my weight and many of the anti-anxiety drugs have the potential to increase weight. Then, I would be depressed along with anxious and overweight!

From my father’s side of the family, several of his siblings were obese. My only sibling is over 300 pounds. I have to work hard to keep my weight as low as I can. It goes up and down by 30 pounds (better than the 60 pounds of over a decade ago). Menopause complicates things as it slows down metabolism, increases belly fat and affects one’s mood. I continue to exercise every day, changing what I do frequently and continuing to cross train so my body doesn’t get used to what I’m doing, and to prevent injuries.

As we all know, there are many different ways to lose weight out there. Some work, many don’t. Be careful about any plan that offers weight loss without having to “diet” or “exercise.” Losing weight is just the beginning – keeping it off is the hard part. What works for one person might not work for another. One size doesn’t fit all.

First, you need to figure out what works for you. What have you tried in the past? Take what worked and start there. Change one habit at a time. Add more water, cut out soda. Make small changes over time that add up to a big change. If you haven’t been exercising and your lifestyle is sedentary, take the stairs instead of the elevator to start moving. Get a pedometer (or Fitbit-like product) and start measuring your steps. Get up after dinner and walk around the house, up and downstairs.

Some people lose weight on low-carb diets and others on low-fat diets. Some people do well as a part of a group, others like to go it alone. I’ve discovered that weight loss/maintenance is trial and error. What worked when I was younger doesn’t work now postmenopausal. Some people have metabolic disorders (such as myself) and science hasn’t come up with much to help. If you’ve struggled with your weight for sometime or even if it’s a new issue, check with your doctor to make sure there isn’t an underlying medical condition (thyroid). I discovered 18 months ago that I have several nodes on my thyroid and now have to undergo a yearly ultrasound and possible biopsy to check for thyroid cancer. This complicates my weight loss woes.

It is possible to lose weight even with health issues. I’ve done it many times. Again, the hard part is keeping the weight off. Most people regain the weight and more. The most important thing is to maintain lifestyle changes and not go back to old habits. Again, figuring out what works for you is key to your success with weight loss. I think of it as being a detective. I actually enjoy the process (some of the time) in figuring out another way to accomplish my goals. And, sometimes I’m frustrated that I’m still struggling with my weight after all these years!

There have been so many studies over the years about different diets and how effective they are, and different supplements and whether they work or not (most don’t). Plus what time of day to eat, how many times a day, food combinations (disproven), etc. The list is endless. Human nature is such that we want to believe that we can do something easily with minimum effort and get the results that we are looking for. If only it were that simple!

The most important thing to focus on is your health. If your weight is having a negative impact on your health, it would be a good idea to do something about it. Check with your doctor and experiment with different weight loss plans. Include exercise in your routine (which you need anyway regardless of your weight). It’s important to move your body every day. Not everyone is meant to be thin. We come in many shapes and sizes. Let your health guide you, not society’s pressures about looking “perfect.”

I’ve learned so much through my weight loss journey. I eat differently than I used to. I’ve eliminated processed foods, substituted healthier foods for those not as healthy, switched to almond milk for my tea, drink more water, eat less at night, always eat breakfast, plan my meals in advance and eat mindfully. Also, unlike my younger self, I don’t judge people by their weight. I don’t know what they’re struggling with.

I expect that I’ll learn a lot more before I’m done. I always say that I can’t live long enough to learn everything I need to learn but I’ll die trying!

This article was published at wayland.wickedlocal.com