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Back where I belong with my butt in a boat.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

At the beginning of May the surgeon and PT said, "NO PADDLING IN RIVERS UNTIL OCTOBER."
History of all that is here: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo

So I paddled in lakes and surf until OCTOBER. Which was yesterday. And promptly started paddling in rivers again.

We took a group of 6 beginners and 5 experienced folks to Letchworth Gorge. Whitewater kayakers look mostly like normal people when they're off the river.

When we gear up it changes,

We had loads of fun surfing in the little waves, practicing our rolls (and wet exits), and tossing a ball between us all the way down. You can see the GPS track here:
The gorge is so deep the device had trouble acquiring satellite signals, which is why it looks like we're paddling on land in some places. LOL

I'm happy moving toward a future with MORE PADDLING in it!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KRISZTA11 10/8/2011 1:35PM

    emoticon emoticon

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TENACIOUSTIGER 10/7/2011 10:19AM

    whoa you are anything but normal you are abosulutely exceptional
i have had a good week got into training again, pump, zumba, weights, rpm and swimming and the body is feeling good, yay back on the way up

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JLPEASE 10/5/2011 1:50PM

    Awesome. It must have been tough to stay out of the water, but I'm sure it was worth it to be back to 100%!

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HAVASUROSE 10/3/2011 8:27PM

  Great to see you back on the river.

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MARTHAWILL 10/3/2011 7:04PM


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NIMNIX 10/3/2011 2:31PM

    WOOHOO! Feels great to be back in it, right?

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ELYMWX 10/3/2011 12:29PM


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ANNE7X7 10/3/2011 9:42AM

    YAY!!! Looks like a blast!!

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KAYOTIC 10/2/2011 11:20AM

    emoticon emoticongreat to hear your back in the paddle again!

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DDOORN 10/2/2011 10:22AM

    The stuff weekends are MADE FOR! Woo HOO! :-)


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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 10/2/2011 9:42AM

    That's 'cuz I'm so dang happy to be doing it.

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    That's great stuff. You always have a ridiculously huge smile in your paddling pictures.

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SHELLB7 10/2/2011 9:19AM

    Great pictures! Looks like a lot of fun!!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PATTILYNN224 10/2/2011 9:16AM

    I am so happy for you that you're back to where you've waited so long to get to!!


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Voted Popular Blog Post: View All Popular Posts

Rockstars of Maintenance

Friday, September 30, 2011

The statistics are disheartening no matter how you define weight maintenance.

Here are two extremes:
5% of people manage to stay within about 5 lbs of their goal weight.

20% of people manage to keep off at least 10% of the weight they lost in the first place.

But look at these numbers:

NELLJONES has maintained for almost 41 years.
SHIRLEYD1959 has maintained for over 23 years.
JACKIERN and BETH7CAM have maintained over 8 years.
PERSISTENCEMIMI, ZUCCHINIQUEEN, CAROLJEAN64, and JCORYCMA have all maintained over 5 years.

When I'm trying to do something that is hard, I like to have role models. For bicycling, Lance Armstrong is a pretty good one. I like to read about how he eats, trains, and LIVES. I'm not Lance and I'm not going to ride in the Tour de France anytime soon, but I still get good ideas and motivation for my own training. And that makes me a better cyclist.

Weight maintenance, as shown by the statistics above, is also difficult. Unlike world class bicycle racing, or even the world of weight loss, we almost never see maintenance role models acknowledged, let alone celebrated. So how do I even find out who is good at this game so I can learn from their experiences?

I make a list, that's how.

As one way to keep ourselves focused and engaged, we've started celebrating maintenance anniversaries in the At Goal and Maintaining team.

In the process of finding out when to celebrate those anniversaries we've also ended up collecting a list that can be sorted in terms of how long people have maintained. You can see it here:

Years maintained
23.125 SHIRLEYD1959
8.292 BETH7CAM
4.333 PEGGYT3
4.017 DLVANCE24
3.958 ANNE403
3.242 ERPARA
3.175 LF5517A
3.056 MOM5INFL
3.042 AEHEGE
2.747 LILAC93
2.556 BULBS
1.875 SHERONN66
1.825 LAURIE5658
1.639 SLOANARTS101
1.056 CAHUNO2
1.022 62NVON
0.897 LADYBUG999
0.892 CLARKBAR01
0.792 MEXGAL1
0.461 G1NNY7
0.372 MIRAGE727
0.369 CARTER4414
0.314 CARLAKYN18
0.125 MILEHI52`

Those long-term maintainers are the folks that the REST of us need around. For their advice, support, and as living, breathing examples of people who are putting in the work every day to keep their fitness. They have life throwing them curve balls too. And they have setbacks. And they overcome them.

Over 60% of us on the At Goal and Maintaining team have maintained less than 2 years.



I think if we can figure out how to stay engaged and focused and learn from these people, I think we can beat those depressing published odds.

We've started having maintenance challenges, to see who is good at holding weight steady for two months. And we're brainstorming and investigating other ways to keep ourselves interested and involved.

If you are maintaining and would like to celebrate YOUR anniversary, I encourage you to join the team

and also put yourself in our list of maintainers:

And if you'd like to make maintainers more visible and celebrated, one thing you can do is "like" this post so more people will see it (and them).

Update: One year later the list is still going strong, with twice the number of maintainers on it!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JAMER123 9/14/2012 6:53PM

    WOW!!! Congratulations to all for the great job of maintaining!!!!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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-SHOREIDO- 9/14/2012 12:43PM

    Annual thing!? gets my vote : ) Our maintaining team is there to lean on so why woulden't this turn out a success story? emoticon
G I'm a Sparker!!

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TMW54812 9/14/2012 12:30PM

    The best way to not regress is to never stop trying to improve!

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ELMAYNET 9/14/2012 7:24AM

    Now that I am at goal, I look forward to being added to the list and staying on it for years to come!

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FIREFLY4407 9/14/2012 4:40AM

    I can't wait to be part of this list! I know I can get there, and knowing that there is a group addressing the specific (and unique) challenges of maintenance is very encouraging. I am even more motivated than ever to reach my goal - thank you!

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TINAJANE76 9/10/2012 5:06PM

    Hey, can we make this an annual thing? Rockstars of Maintenance II? It would be great to see how the list grows from year to year.

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CIRANDELLA 10/14/2011 10:20AM

    WOW! Consider yourself a SuperSparked shot in my arm! Thanks for ALL of these links, and yup...I joined the list :) - Susan emoticon

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46SHADOW 10/11/2011 9:20PM

    Thanks so much for putting it in perspective!

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G1NNY7 10/11/2011 12:43PM

    I read my name on the "hall of fame" in this blog -- and I got SO motivated to stay in the maintenance bandwagon. Thanks SO much for doing this analysis. I have a suggestion for SP to help we who are "just" maintaining. Please, SP, add an optional ticker for us to show how long we have maintained (that would be awesome to have instead of, or in addition to, pounds lost.

Thanks again for this blog, I needed it right now (2 or so extra pounds need to pack their bags and leave!).


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CANNIE50 10/9/2011 9:10PM

    Very impressive and thought provoking blog. I immediately looked for Tublady, who is a mighty impressive Sparkler (and maintainer). Perhaps I just missed her name, I will mention it on her page and send her this way. THANK YOU for this.

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BIONICMONARCH 10/8/2011 7:34PM


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MOBYCARP 10/8/2011 1:45PM

    As I enter my second day of maintenance, I'm noticing that I still need to keep paying attention to both what I eat and how much I exercise. I have no scientific studies, but I'd guess the low rates of successful maintenance are due primarily to two factors:

1. Insufficient physical activity built into the cultural context, and
2. Too much food built into the cultural context.

Both of these factors can be overcome; but I can't overcome them without paying attention. Today is a big football day. I'm going to miss a lot of football on TV due to exercise, home maintenance activities, and enforcing a strict bedtime.

If I weren't paying attention, today would be a day of maybe 2K steps with no formal exercise, who knows how much untracked junk food, and watching a lot of hours of football. I might still get some time in watching football, but it isn't going to be all day and it's going to be whatever game is on when I have time.

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KRISZTA11 10/8/2011 1:28PM

    I loved this blog, thank for compiling all the data for us.
It is scary to see those 5% in the statistics, but your blog post is a great inspiration to me.
emoticon emoticon

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KIPPER15 10/8/2011 8:49AM

    I am doing better with the Spark then I have with zny other diet plan. I am glad to see the stats. emoticon

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GREENTHUMB70 10/7/2011 9:24PM

    This isn't the first attempt I have made to lose weight but I'm confident that Sparkpeople is helping me make sure this is my final walk down the path to heath. Thank you.

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ROOSTER72 10/7/2011 2:29AM

    I think SP will beat the odds, since it is not a diet.

If you diet hard, and kill yourself exercising - you wont understand how to maintain. If you learn what it is to live a healthy lifestyle - maintaining will be more likely.

I am not saying maintaining is ever easy - but I think SP is giving us the tools to have a better shot at it.

Great you are promoting the maintainers - it gives us all something to aim for!

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SCRAPPINPOLLY 10/7/2011 1:10AM

    Awesome job!!

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DWILCZKO 10/7/2011 12:37AM

  so motivating!

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SEYSARAH 10/7/2011 12:28AM

    Best blog I've read since joining in August of 06. You are absolutely right..we have to find a way to celebrate the maintenance and be around those who are at that pinnacle so we can have a fighting chance of being there and staying there.

I'm joining and will post my anniversary for maintenance as well..and I will definitely like this...it's high time we start liking the posts of the maintainers!

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SHEILA8383 10/6/2011 7:34PM

    Great blog. Good to hear of those who have been able to lose and keep it off.

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BELLALUCIA 10/6/2011 6:58PM

    Great blog!

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BENDIEB 10/6/2011 6:45PM

    With a 1.5 lbs to go, I am looking forward to joining the maintenance teams.

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    What a great post....thanks for sharing....

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BARBIE779 10/6/2011 3:10PM

    Thanks for the inspiration. We often think something is impossible because you hear about all the people who couldn't do it. It's nice to hear about the ones who did and prove that it is possible.

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    Lovely and inspirational. Thank you...

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MCHILSTR 10/6/2011 11:04AM

  I love your analytical approach - the numbers speak to me, and as soon as I hit maintenance (sometime in 2012) I'll add myself to the list!

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MAGGIEROSEBOWL 10/6/2011 10:03AM

    WOOHOO! Good on you for making popular blog. Thanks for posting the link to this blog on my page, I had looked at it already. Great info. Like you I am always looking for maintenance role models and you are a great one! I can't believe NellJones has maintained for 41 years. Amazing! That's what I want to do. OF course in my case it would mean living until I'm 100. The way I feel today, I think that's a possibility.

In a little over ONE week, Oct. 15 (which is next Sat.) I will celebrate 6 months of maintenance. HALF a year baby!!! I was trying to think what I want to do to celebrate. Of course food comes to mind first. Old habits die hard. Maybe an under 550 calories entree from Applebee's for lunch, and then a nice hike somewhere. That's how I like to celebrate now--healthy and tasty!!

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GRRARRGH 10/6/2011 8:02AM

    Thanks for sharing!

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BILL60 10/6/2011 7:41AM

    Thank you for sharing. What an inspiration!!

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CORKY982 10/6/2011 7:41AM

  I have 15 pounds to go, and then I'll be on that team!!

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LINDABENEDICT 10/6/2011 7:17AM

    how informative and inspirational ! thanks !

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LAURIE5658 10/6/2011 6:34AM

    For any Sparking Maintainer that would love a Spark Team that is one of the best...join the tried and true At Goal and Maintaining. IMHO Spark does does do good enough with supporting Maintainers, but this Team is chockful of information and support. The leaders are awesome!!

Thank you!

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THEIS58 10/6/2011 3:40AM

    Great! I am 5 pounds from goal, very helpful

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CAROLINA_KOUKLA 10/6/2011 2:13AM

  Great blog!

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STARDUSTD 10/5/2011 9:31PM

  I'm so grateful that there's a team of maintainers I can learn from. It's encouraging seeing my stats above, too! emoticon

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    Wow! Fantastic! Thank you! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ADAGIO_CON_BRIO 10/5/2011 10:22AM

    Wonderful blog with great information. I really appreciate it. emoticon

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VALERIEMAHA 10/5/2011 10:21AM

    Extraordinary in every way. ROCKSTARS INDEED! And you're at the top'a da list, making this important information available and celebrating those among us who are fighting the good fight.

As always,

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TEMPEST272002 10/4/2011 4:24PM

    What a great blog. As a get closer to goal weight, I've been thinking about where to find role models for maintaining. Now I know about the team, I'll be sure to join when the time is right. When people mention the 97% stat, I reply that I've already beaten the odds losing 100+lbs & getting healthy. I have every confidence that I'll beat the maintenance stats too.

I wonder about that number. In the past, there was barely any support for dieters, nevermind maintainers. Recent studies have shown that support is a key factor in success. As more sparkers reach goal weight, we can expect that the community of maintainers on here will also grow. I can't see myself giving up my sparkfriends & blogging just because I reach GW! So with more support for maintainence, there should also be more success.

Thanks for addressing the issue so thoughtfully. I liked it & I'm going to mention it in my next blog for my buddies to read too. I think this deserves a popular blog award.

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JOYINKY 10/3/2011 8:41PM

    Great blog! Maintenance isn't the "goal" or finish line; it IS the beginning of a new way of life.

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MARTHAWILL 10/3/2011 7:02PM

    Great blog!!! Thanks for all the effort in putting this together. "Liked" it a lot.
I know I need to stay connected to SparkPeople and groups like AT GOAL AND MAINTAINING to help keep me on track and that's what I intend to do. That still takes a lot of discipline but I'm not going back to where I was.
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SLENDERELLA61 10/3/2011 4:58PM

    Best blog I've read in ages! Thanks for the shout out, and even more, for demonstrating so vividly that maintenance is tough but absolutely do-able. We are proof! You are doing an awesome job as team leader. Thank you so very, very much. -Marsha

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RUSSLANE 10/3/2011 4:56PM

    Go for it, 4a!

It's amazing that when I interview other maintainers, two interesting conceptual quirks get revealed:

A) They often don't "think" of themselves as maintainers, even though they clearly are.

B) They rarely know anyone else keeping their weight off, but have lots of dieting friends.

It certainly points to an absence of a "maintenance community" to speak of. Fascinating to me.

Certainly blogging and clever marketing terms ("fatosphere" *gag!*) help promote this, but having some role models, someone taking a stand in some manner (even if only for themselves) is so important.

This rocks. Keep it coming!

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 10/3/2011 4:39PM

    Very good point, Nell!

You never know someone's history just by looking at him or her.

When I see someone in the gym who looks good, I am often reminded that he or she probably works very hard to maintain that level of fitness. And if I want something like it, I can work hard at it, too.

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AEHEGE 10/3/2011 4:31PM

    Thanks for the diligence it took to sort this all out and make a blog. Thanks for sharing -- this is a good one to pass along!

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NELLJONES 10/3/2011 3:09PM

    I'm only on that list because I am on Spark. When you walk through your life and see thin people, do not assume they were always thin, or that they stay thin without effort. There are a million hidden success stories out there. You might be standing next to one in line at the store.

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WATERMELLEN 10/1/2011 1:22PM

    I not only "liked" this blog, I think it's one of the most important blogs (definitely in the top 5) which I've read in all my time at SparkPeople. And that's not just because of the shout-out, although yup I appreciate it. (I also appreciated the recent "goodie" in recognition of maintaining from the At Goal and Maintaining Team too . . . although wasn't sure how/to whom that appreciation could be expressed!)

This blog is full of hard-hitting statistics, helpfully presented in a graphic format to underscore the evidence: maintaining is tough.

SparkPeople is different from "commercial" weight loss services (Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, all the rest) because -- it's free! There's no profit to be made! And that also means no profit to be made out of recidivism! SparkPeople is purely interested in helping people take weight off AND KEEP IT OFF, to combat and to reverse that alarming 95% "off the rails" thing.

Personally I've gotta say: taking weight off wasn't so so tough. Keeping the weight off: very tough. Absolutely one of the hardest things I've done because I continue to have to do it, 200 + food choices every day . . . a food choice at a time.

As grateful as I am for all the existing and amazing SparkPeople resources, I'd be happy to see SparkPeople focus more effort and attention on weight loss maintenance.

In the meantime, 4A-HEALTHY-BMI is doing an awesome job as Team Leader, At Goal and Maintaining! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

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KAYOTIC 10/1/2011 11:07AM

    Great blog, hope lots of folks see it!

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DDOORN 9/30/2011 10:59PM

    Kudos to ALL of you RockStars, but ESPECIALLY to YOU, Anja for fighting the good fight for weight loss maintenance!

Not "there" yet, but can't wait to join the club! :-)

Duly Tweeted & Dugg (still haven't jumped into the world of FB yet...lol)!


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MIRAGE727 9/30/2011 3:10PM

    I congratulate all the winners on this team. I thank 4A-HEALTHY-BMI for her effort and the great education!

Here's my brutal truth. I never want to be as close to death as I had been in the past! I WILL maintain my healthy weight no matter what. I feel good, I look good, I have my wife and granddaughter, and I live in Paradise. I'm not losing any of that! Spark? I'm a raging fire!


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Free Will versus Genetics?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Last month there was an article published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association that caused a flurry of response in the world of weight control. It had to do with the idea of reframing obesity as a result of genetic tendencies in a toxic food environment rather than a failure of will power.

There is a nice summary of the article, here:

Before you jump to dismiss this as yet another "health at any size" platform or an article absolving the individual of any free will, please read it.

The idea is not to throw up your hands and accept that you're "meant to be this size," but rather adopt strategies that will help someone with these biological urges manage their weight. For example, avoiding temptation and exposure to highly palatable foods by sticking to grocery lists and actively avoiding challenging situations such as buffets.

In other words, it's not a character or moral failure for someone to have difficulty with temptations. It's legitimate to avoid them.

I like Dr. Sharma's closing analogy: "recognising that someone has a hypersensitive bronchial system that predisposes them to asthma should lead them to avoiding and eliminating air-borne pollutants in their immediate environment rather than simply trying to breathe less."

This rings pretty true for me. When I'm vulnerable I have to purge my house of things that I'm tempted to overeat. I don't have cable TV because TV makes me want to eat. I limit my exposure to restaurants and try to stick to ones I know have something on the menu I can enjoy without going over my calories.

It is not a personal or moral failure in me that I need to track my food to keep from overeating and control my size. It is a simple fact.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ANNE7X7 10/3/2011 9:40AM

    This weekend, I ate a lot of garbage, instead of healthy, nutritious food. Why? Because it was there. Not because I was hungry, or was craving it. But simply because it was a few feet away.

Love quote by Dr Sharma. So true!!!

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PAULINLIM 9/30/2011 5:08PM

    I liked this article a lot. It jibes with a book I just read by researcher Brian Wansink, Ph.D., called "Mindless Eating". So much of what we do is driven by our subconscious. He tells us that since it's so easy to mindlessly eat an extra 100 calories per day, we can design our environment so that we mindlessly eat 100 calories LESS. There are many tips and tricks to doing this; I have found them really helpful. The book was entertaining and funny. I recommend it.

I am also glad that people are acknowledging our "toxic food environment". When I want to avoid a "dangerous" food situation, I tell people I feel like an alcoholic in a bar, and I have to get out of there.

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ALYFITN 9/28/2011 1:05PM

    I LOVE the asthma analogy. I do best when I control my food and exercise environment. I avoid old situations to keep me on track---that has included hangin with new groups of friends that enjoy activities I enjoy.

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BILL60 9/26/2011 8:08AM

    Great blog and article. It gave me an opportunity to view your Spark Page. Your transformation is an incredible accomplishment. Your will to overcome obstacles is indeed eye-opening. I congratulate what you've overcome and pray that you continue your journey.

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DDOORN 9/25/2011 8:51AM

    It's the ONLY way to go for people like us if we want to keep a safe environment for ourselves...great to see science backing this up!


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PATTILYNN224 9/23/2011 7:45AM

    Good article. Thanks for sharing. Love the asthma analogy. Something very close to home for me and helps bring it all into perspective.

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    hey there interesting reading, Im feeling good just reset my ticker, and goals to managable ones. I avoid the breakfast buffet when I travellling as I end up eating too much even if its all "healthy food" I dont really need 15 sorts of protein for breakfast. Hope your week is good.

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ROSEWAND 9/21/2011 4:04PM

    While the idea that genetics predetermine our behaviors or
results is changing in the scientific community, it is still prevalent
in the lay community. The new approach to genetics is
called epigentics. We can shift the genetic programing by
changing the environment. We do have control over our
genetic predispositions.

We can do this with food. Think of what you eat as software
for your cells. You can literally turn the genes on and off
by what you give them. Eating healthy foods will turn on
the genes that will support your new lean body. Eating
unhealthy foods will reactivate your old programing that
kept you fat. We do have more choice than we think.

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CARRIE1948 9/21/2011 2:03PM

    Amen to that. I'm finding the need to keep very little in the house.

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NIMNIX 9/21/2011 1:19PM

    I've always found it weird when people tell me I have a lot of discipline or willpower because I eat the way I do, work out the way I do, or lost so much weight and kept it off. I basically redesigned my life to avoid the things I know will trigger my unhealthy habits, and to surround myself with more of the healthy things I enjoy. There's no need for willpower against potato chips when you don't have any near you. And after a few months without them, once I tried them again I was overwhelmed with salt and the overall heaviness, so there was no need to fight any cravings. There's no need for willpower to get me to the gym for 2-3 hours a day when I just enjoy the workouts I do so much.

When people are talking to me about their eating habits and such, "willpower" and language like that doesn't enter into the conversation, because from my perspective, I wasn't relying on some random strength of character. It's about redefining options, availability, convenience, your lifestyle, and how to get what you want without sacrificing either health or flavor. I generally don't even have cheat days because my normal meals involve things like home-cooked steak.

What meat-eater would ever want to cheat on steaK???

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THINAGIN2 9/21/2011 1:05PM

    This is one area that mystifies me. My first husbands mother was a very large woman who was often in the hospital so that they could watch what she ate. My first husband and his younger sister were also heavy but the oldest sister never had any problem with her weight and still is slender after 40 years. I had 4 children from this marriage and the second and the last born have both had trouble with their weight all of their lives while the other two had no problems at all. It makes me think that there might be some genetic predisposition to being obese.

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WOLFKITTY 9/21/2011 12:38PM

    I think this is an utterly healthy way of looking at environmental and mental factors as well as the predetermined genetic factors. I don't see it as an excuse or other kind of reasoning at all.

Fantastic. I wish more people understood it this way. Thanks for sharing the article.

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What I WANTED to eat today vs what I actually DID eat...

Friday, September 16, 2011

I'm still using the trick of tracking what I want to eat and choose not to, alongside what I actually DO eat.

I got this idea from NELLJONES. More about that here:

The past two days have been particularly challenging. I've spent them in a training workshop where they had a big plate of brownies and cookies out all day. I didn't have any. I just didn't want to go there or even get started.

I stopped by the grocery store on the way home and didn't buy seitan or sugar free jelly beans or anything else with calories that could be a binge risk. I got some diet sodas I can drink if I really feel the need for a packaged treat.

I didn't stop and get an ice cream cone at the awesome local place that makes their own, even though I wanted to.

When I got home I didn't cook up 2c of quinoa with olive oil and soy sauce, although I thought about it.

But I did track all those things.

Instead I made a healthy salad for lunch from things I found in the grocery store on the way to the workshop this morning, had grapes and blackberries for a treat, and greek yogurt and a banana for a midmorning snack.

Here's my salad:

Here's what was in it:

Here is what I ended up eating for the day:

Notice that what I wanted to eat IN ADDITION to what I actually ate, was almost 2000 calories. It would not have been productive. I like that this strategy gives me a chance to see all the healthy decisions I'm making throughout the day that I would normally forget about. Yay, me.

This could easily have turned into a 3000 calorie day if I'd eaten whatever I wanted. Not good. And a clear picture into how I got to over 330 lbs in the first place.

One thing that is providing some much-needed short-term motivation is the desire to remain in the running for the title of "Scariest Loser" in a challenge I'm managing between now and Halloween.

You see, I gained a little this week. And I'm going to have to be on point with my intake between now and my weigh-in on Monday if I want my average over at Physics Diet to at least break even with last week if not be below it.

So I'm going to do my level best to stick within the program. And long-term I hope this will get me back down under 160 where I'm happiest size-wise. (At my usual food & exercise regime that usually tracks with body fat being close to 20% which is where I feel the most strong and comfortable.)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CAROLYN1213 9/19/2011 11:14PM

    Boy, it really is an eye opener when you track! I have drafted tracking again...diligently! I found that I was having more indulgences now that I'm at my goal weight. Tracking put me right back on track!

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KSNANA2 9/18/2011 10:46AM

    I never thought of tracking what I wanted to eat vs what I actually eat! What a great idea! This is going to help me! Thank you! emoticon

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LJCANNON 9/18/2011 10:03AM

    emoticonHmm, maybe a Great Idea, along with "Imagining yourself eating things you WANT to eat but know that you shouldn't." It at least makes you more mindful of the Decisions you are making on an meal by meal basis.
emoticonThanks for sharing!!

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    Wonderful idea! I might try this too. It's amazing to see how many calories are in all that stuff you're salivating over. You know what I've discovered--when you give in and eat that stuff--it doesn't even taste that good most times. Okay--sometimes it's wonderful and I savor every bite, but sometimes I think, "What was all the fuss about? This is nothing!"
More power to us maintainers. We never want to go back to that place we came from and with inspiration like you give us, maybe we'll make it! I'm betting on us!!

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LADYGWEN25 9/18/2011 9:35AM

    great job!

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KAYOTIC 9/17/2011 11:03AM

    That salad looks great.....I'm going to have to make some salad today, and I do like the idea of tracking what you didn't eat, but wanted too, very eye opening....

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PATTILYNN224 9/17/2011 7:18AM

    I like the idea of tracking what you don't eat. It is an eyeopener. Thanks.

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FENWAYGIRL18 9/16/2011 11:55PM


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Can you learn impulse control?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Binging and night eating are tough for me. When I get the urge to eat when I'm alone, it can be extremely difficult to break the chain between the urge and getting up to go to the refrigerator.

It appears I have problems with impulse control, or deferred gratification.

According to this article, skills in this can be taught, but it's not clear how long the delayed gratification behaviors persist:


It seems the key, at least in this article, is self-distraction. There are a number of techniques I've heard of that people can use to break the chain when the urge to eat strikes:

- Doing sit-ups or push-ups or going for a walk
- Logging the food in the "I didn't eat that" tracker
- Making sure that preferred trigger foods are inaccessible (locked or not there in the first place)
- Setting a timer and telling yourself that you can have it if you still want it after 20 minutes
- Meditating on the feelings you're having at the moment

When I'm successful at dodging the urge to eat, it's usually due to a combination of factors:

1) I've usually had at least 150g of protein
2) I've avoided starches and sugars
3) I've eaten enough fat and fiber
4) I'm not dehydrated
5) I've exercised in the past 2-3 hours

These things help prevent the physical sensations that trigger the urge to eat. And even if I do get the urge (and I do, believe me) it's not as strong if I've fueled myself in the above ways earlier in the day.

Once I'm alone at home if the urge to eat strikes there are things that have worked for me with varying degrees of success:

1) Engineering my environment so that tempting, easily eaten food is not there. My pantry at the moment consists mostly of dried beans, which take too long to cook to satisfy an intense short-term urge. I do most of my eating at work, where there are people, and I'm less likely to slip.
2) Logging what I *don't* eat in a separate tracker
3) Drinking a glass of water or Crystal Lite or having a diet soda if the urge for a treat is really bad
4) Not having cable in the house so if I want to watch TV it has to be streaming over the internet. (TV is a big trigger for me.)
5) Exercising after work. This minimizes the time I spend alone at home before going to sleep and also provides those appetite-suppression effects of exercise right when I need them the most.

Is this normal behavior? Probably not. But if I were a normal person, I never would have had a BMI over 50 three years ago.

I will do whatever it takes for me to continue to be a healthy, active size so I can continue doing the things I like to do (white water kayaking, cross country skiing, cycling, snowboarding, swimming, etc.)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LINZEE118 9/23/2011 7:36PM

    I loved this blog. Learned some tips that I am definitely going to apply to my eating habits. I can see myself in this blog. Love to eat sweets & love to eat at night. Portion control is key for me losing weight. Also liked what Salsify wrote on eating soup. Going to try that. Linda emoticon

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PONYFARMER 9/20/2011 7:39PM

    You are such an amazing inspiration.

The binge's you speak of have been in my life for a long time. I even had some scheduled binge's that I would go to the store and get my favorite binge food. It was easy to get to my highest weight with these issues rolling around in my head. At this time im my life I had given up any hope of ever losing another pound and my goal at that time (which I was not doing well with) was to NOT GAIN.

Then I found SP and that has changed my life. It took time and I have not gotten all my weight off yet, but I am working on it. I learn something everytime I read a great blog, like this one and/or read a SP article.

I just have to say you are helping to change people's lives with what you have done in your own life. To be honest, you could just take off and live your life and not stay here at SP and help others. Thank you for sticking around!

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TENACIOUSTIGER 9/20/2011 10:42AM

    yes I have been a late night eater, especially sweets, there was a time when the eating day just wasnt over until I had something sweet, it used to be a bowl of icecream. But the bowl has got smaller till now it is a teaspoon. I dont have it every night, now maybe only 2 x times a week. I dont eat desserts ever in restaurants (im a pastry chef and its always disappointing.) If I cook its only when there are lots of people over and I send them home with dessert or throw it in the bin.Total abstinance doesnt work for me, the cravings build up and I end up eating a whole portion and then feeling self loathing. I like your ideas it makes me reflect on what motivates me to eat. emoticonFrozen raspberries are good

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JULIE_76180 9/18/2011 10:39AM

    Very informative information!

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CMPEARL 9/18/2011 10:20AM

    I love the idea of a didn't eat it tracker!!! Thank you for posting and good luck!!

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DAWNDMOORE40 9/18/2011 10:00AM

    I have that problem sometimes. I have to keep stuff out of the house I know are my weaknesses! For example: cheesecake, potato chips, etc... those foods get the best of me everytime! I don't know if there is an easy answer. I believe you just have to have faith in yourself and like yous said, do things to distract you from having the urge to eat. You are on the right track! It's just that we don't learn those behaviors over night, so we aren't going to unlearn them over night either. I wish you the best and have a blessed day! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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    I have regained so many things in my life from losing those ugly pounds. Like you, I need to keep the weight off so I can continue to do those things I'm loving again! And like you, I will do whatever it takes to keep that weight off. I like your ideas of how to avoid the binges--taking a walk is a good one. Sometimes if I just get up and out of the house while dinner is in the oven, and take a quick walk (and I tend to go even faster than normal especially if I'm trying to beat that oven timer) I avoid that period of time when I'm so hungry, waiting for dinner to be done, and am at my most vulnerable snacking-wise. I will try some of your other ideas too--thanks for sharing!

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SALSIFY 9/15/2011 4:21PM

    I hope I'm not out of line for thinking this (I'm quite new & it's my first comment on a blog) but I think that you must have pretty good impulse control to have managed to lose all that weight & keep most of it off. My skinny husband who has a completely normal relationship with food will binge occasionally if it's something particularly delicious (roast dinners, mainly).

Unfortunately I binge more than him - my days, pre the current weight loss, were slow-motion binges. I've been trying to redirect my urges to binge onto stuff which won't do too much damage. I make really good soups - I've got loads of good recipes - & I keep a big pot in the fridge & allow myself to eat as much as I want. The good thing is there is only so much soup I can take in one go & it's low or lowish calorie. If I haven't got homemade I have a cup a soup. As it takes quite a long time to eat as it's hot - often the urge has gone by the time I finish. Also a hot milky drink like hot chocoate helps me in the evening - the protein makes it satisfying and, like the soup, it's hot & takes time to drink.

I hope you don't mind me describing how I try & control my binges. I'm in my mid forties now & I don't think I'm going to change entirely my tricky relationship with food, I'm just trying to find a way to live with myself which will work.

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HEALTHYCALM 9/15/2011 1:54AM

    I like the idea of logging what you *don't* eat! And I'm with you on the protein. I know it's not necessarily the best or most sustainable way to manage weight but it totally works for me for helping with self-control, and I think on balance if it helps us maintain then that makes it a good strategy!

I just read about a new book that says that willpower is like any skill--practicing/exercising it makes us better at it! (The book actually also apparently talks about that people are better able to practice willpower when they have higher blood glucose levels, and uses that to explain why dieting is so hard.) The book is reviewed here if you are interested:

I can't wait to set aside some time to read the New Yorker article you linked to--it looks great.

emoticon emoticon

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DDOORN 9/14/2011 11:26PM

    Great ideas...some "review" some new...ALL worth hanging onto! Thx for pulling these all together!


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MY_HEALTH_BABY 9/14/2011 11:06PM


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REDSHOES2011 9/14/2011 9:52PM

    emoticonuse every trick in the book to avoid what annoys you..

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TATTER3 9/14/2011 9:48PM

    The more I try to distract myself the more focused on food I become!!! Blaugh!!! Just keep Sparkin'!!

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