Interview with a Weight-Loss Master: Shannon Canaday

Shannon Canaday lost roughly the same amount of weight I did in slightly less time using the same basic methods: Weight Watchers and jogging.

But Shannon’s kept her weight off for nearly four years now. That makes her a “weight loss master,” according to the definition* established by Anne M. Fletcher, author of Eating Thin for Life.

Shannon at her favorite pub, where she goes once a month for a burger and fries.

Shannon is a blogger who lives with her longtime boyfriend and dog in a town in British Columbia about 30 minutes from Vancouver. She also has a twin sister, a motorcycle and a dream of leaving her desk job to work in something related to health, fitness and/or nutrition — though she says she hasn’t “figured out what that’s going to look like yet.”

“I see my old self in women all the time and I have to stop myself from going up to them, giving them a huge hug and then asking them if I can help,” she says. “I know the road they are on, I know the bumps and the hurdles and the hurt and the heartache…

“But I also know the joy and the freedom that comes with not giving up … with breaking your self-made mold and shaping your own life along with your body. I want that for everyone — and one day I’ll find a way to do that.”

Q. Do I have your figures right: Around 95 pounds lost in around 9 months?

A. Yep, pretty close.  I went from 259.8 pounds on September 4, 2007 to 165 in May of 2008. It was an enormous change in a very short period of time and it took a considerable amount of mental adjustment.

Q. Whatever your day-to-day struggles, do you feel like you have this maintenance thing pretty much under control?

A. I suppose I do have the maintenance thing down at this point, it’s been a few years. I do think though that if I wasn’t always trying to lose a couple pounds whether I need to or not, I would gain it all back. The struggle never ends, you just do it in a different sized body than you did before. That’s a blessing and a curse though because you have a bit more wiggle room before you need to worry but because of that you can end up with a false sense of security.

Q. I assume that wasn’t the first time you tried to lose weight. What was different this time?

A. It was not my first attempt…some “attempts” lasting less than a day. This time I really gave it a lot of thought before I committed to making a change. I thought about it for about three weeks beforehand and decided that if I was going to do this, it was all in and all forever. I knew if I started and failed one more time that I would be condemning myself to a lifetime of fat. Something in my head clicked when I made my choice and it all turned around.

Q. Do you still count Weight Watchers points or do any tracking of any kind?

A.  I pay attention to approximate calories more than anything…..since I know what I burn at rest and during exercise it’s a good mathematical formula for maintain vs gain vs lose.  Every couple of months I’ll track & measure for a couple of weeks to make sure that my portions and intake are appropriate.

Q. How do you feel about Weight Watchers at this point?

A. How do I feel about WW now? WW saved my life. I may have done all the work but without it I absolutely would not have the life I have now, I’m not sure where I would be, nor do I like to think about it.

There did come a point though when I felt that WW no longer served my needs. This was all back in the old program where the points were very calorie based and you had to count fruit etc. I felt like I had reached the point where I no longer had the lifestyle that they cater to. I was eating only fresh and whole foods, no junk, very little grains and I was running….a LOT. So I made the leap and left WW (my family doctor also told me that I’d better find a way to live without it because it’s not a long term solution). I continued to weigh myself in every week (and for the most part I still do) and write it down; getting on the scale is one of the Pillars Of Not Gaining It Back.

Q. What do you eat for breakfast now as opposed to before you lost weight?

A. LOL!  Therein was the absolute biggest cause of my obesity. I didn’t eat. All day. I’d get up in the morning, go to work, eat nothing all day and then go home, gorge myself and pass out in a food coma. It was awful. That was the first change I made, eating breakfast. It’s normally cereal but I’ve discovered that my tummy doesn’t appreciate grains so I’ve switched to a protein shake (powder mixed with unsweetened almond milk) and a banana. I’m satisfied for almost 4 hours with that.

Q. Favorite restaurant meal now and before?

A. We don’t dine out that much. Unless you count a monthly pub trip…..which includes a burger and fries. Love that….but I always feel like crap afterwards. Go figure. Before my weight loss I used to eat a LOT of fast food…in huge quantities. I was also single and no one knew what I was eating…..although I was wearing the result on the outside, wasn’t I? 😉

Q. Is cooking more or less fun now?

A.  I LOVE cooking now. I never cooked before. No energy to do so. I love grocery shopping and cooking delicious and healthful meals for us. It makes my heart happy to feed us good food that nourishes the body.

Q. How has blogging changed your diet/fitness experience?

A. Blogging keeps me accountable and honest. Whether I necessarily write about it or not, I have it in the back of my head and it does help me make better decisions. I had a different blog when I was losing, I had a lot of followers and I reported my losses and actual weight every week. I refuse to lie or fudge the truth so I made sure I did what I had to do to be successful. Obv I did it for me more than anything but the blog definitely helped. Now with this blog since its more health & fitness based, I don’t want to look like a fake and write about health and fitness and be eating bonbons every night.

Q. On your blog I notice you’re doing more gym workouts now. Is that because of the weather, or have you come to prefer the gym to jogging?

A. I do love the gym, my gym is gorgeous and spacious and bright and I’ve found a bit of a home there.  At the beginning though,  I did start out teaching myself how to jog and I spent a lot of time doing it. For 3 years I ran 5km, 5 days per week. And then I burned out. My life changed a little and I just couldn’t find the love for it anymore.

Eventually I decided to try something altogether different and fell in love with indoor cycling (spinning). I do jog occasionally now, preferably on trails not the road…and I do have a couple of organized runs planned for this spring because I think it’s a skill that is worth keeping. Yes…running is a skill!

Q. Death row, final meal of your life: what do you order?

A.  Oh, gosh… gramma’s meatball stroganoff over egg noodles, garlic toast, caesar salad and a mocha chocolate torte for dessert.  And then I’d be in a food coma so I wouldn’t know what was happening anyway. Perfect!

Q. Anything you’d like to add?

A. Food is love. How you feed yourself is how you love yourself and conversely how you punish yourself…for crimes real or perceived. Learning how to love ourselves with healthy, nourishing food and turning that horrible bitch-switch off is key. That and exercise!

*To be a “master,” under the terms outlined in Anne M. Fletcher’s book “Eating Thin for Life,” requires a loss of at least 20 pounds maintained for at least three years.
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2 Responses to Interview with a Weight-Loss Master: Shannon Canaday

  1. Shanny says:

    Thanks Tanya, I love how you did the intro! I would say that “master” is definitely not how any of us feels regarding weight loss….but it’s cool to know that there is a ‘title’ for us when we get a certain ways away from our old selves!

  2. tischcaylor says:

    I like to think I’m “working on my master’s degree in weight loss,” and so I love to find people who’ve already earned theirs. Thanks for all your insights!

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