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Punching it back down - the joys of maintenance

Monday, February 13, 2012

Holy Moley, this maintenance thing takes vigilance. And not just vigilance, but DOING SOMETHING about it when you see a problem.

My last night in Costa Rica involved a painful stomach bug and between that and the ensuing weakness and exhaustion from traveling I was laid low the week after returning. Missed two and a half days of work, even.

I tried to get back into my "normal" routine last week, but the eating was spiraling out of control and by Wednesday I knew there was a problem and I wasn't happy about it.

I started trying to take steps to do something about it, but I wasn't as strict as I apparently needed to be, and it wasn't until the scale told me this morning that I'm overweight, that reality really hit me in the face. Hard.

So now I'm back to doing the things I should have done on Wednesday, but with some extra pounds to push off. I will NOT go there again. I will NOT. I. Will. Not.

When I first hit goal I gradually gained back 30. And pushed it back off. And then gained 20. And pushed that back off.

I will NOT continue the trend and gain back 10 and push it off. I'm going to push it off NOW, while I'm still only 6 above my original goal weight and 11 above my new goal weight. This is going to stop, NOW.

So here are the specific things I'm doing.

1) A "Week of Accountability" with CARRIE1948. We've done these before when we've needed to reverse trends. It's kind of like a spark streak with a definite end. We pick a few habits and then tell ourselves we will do them for One Week. Just One Week. Because forever is too long to contemplate, when I'm in this state. My goals for the week?
a) Stay under 1700 calories every day (current target is 1500)
b) Continue with my normal exercise routine
c) Add in the 30min kayaking yoga routine at least three times

2) Follow my new heart rate monitor's recommendations for exercise intensity ranges and times. This means that tomorrow, although I have to help run a kayak pool session, I am going to squeeze in a spin class before I go. So I get more minutes at the "high" cardio zone that the HR monitor is asking for. And I'll be sure to burn calories even if I have to spend a lot of the evening standing in the pool helping people learn to roll.

This is a little odd for me, actually. Because kayaking is WHY I do the spinning (and the weight lifting and watching my food, etc.) But in this case it seems more important to take a half hour away from boating in the pool - or helping others do that and burn off calories to regain the level of fitness I want.

3) I went and entered all my common foods in Lose It in grams. So I can quit estimating what a "large" sweet potato or apple or mango or banana is, and just weigh the dang thing. And I'm back to Very Strict Tracking. No more estimating anything by volume or eye. Something is off with my current calorie burn calculations these past 2 weeks and I suspect it has to do with estimating in my food tracking. I need to figure out what the heck is going on and I can't do that without accurate data.

4) Back on Wednesday when I saw the alarming upward trend happening I signed up for a weight loss challenge at work that begins in March. I wish it started sooner because I am not going to wait to get this junk out of my trunk. I'll just have to pull my 1% per week starting from wherever I'm at, at that point. I wish I hadn't waited until today, even. Because since Wednesday I've already gained 4 lbs. Bah.

So, yeah, it boils down to the two things I figured out way back in 2010:

1) Frequent monitoring
2) Immediate correction

I seem to be getting better about the monitoring. But I need to work on making the correction happen faster.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    hey there what is yoga kayaking ? you are amazing and an inspiration for me to get to a point where i am fighting to maintain. at least now I am getting fitter and not fatter and the fitness scales and cms all all going in the right direction

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SPARKLISE 2/18/2012 2:37PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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KANOE10 2/17/2012 9:49AM

    You are so right..maintenance is constant vigilance. From what I have read the key to success is immediate correction when the pounds go up.
You are right on track in jumping into exercise and tracking..tracking and more tracking.
Planning and more planning.

You can do it.
Hope your day goes well! emoticon

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KAYOTIC 2/15/2012 10:29AM

    You have great clarity in seeing what you need to do to "fix" problems that pop up. And they always do....good for you for catching it earlier and earlier, that is opposite of the "normal" trend we always hear about.

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MOBYCARP 2/15/2012 7:21AM

    I hit maintenance last October, and maintenance sure isn't steady state. I think I've been adding or subtracting calories at least once every month since then, in response to what my weight was doing. Of course, my weight was responding to the net of calories in and calories out, and I can't measure calories out very accurately.

So I need to track calories in as accurately as I can, because that's the only place I can make precise adjustments. Being injured is another learning experience; I knew I had to cut calories, but it's a trial and error process figuring out *how many* calories to cut, and when to add them back.

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FROGGGY13 2/15/2012 6:02AM

    I love the "Week of accountability" idea! We all have so mich to learn from you. I know you'll see results soon.

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1HAPPYWOMAN 2/15/2012 1:31AM

    Thank you so much for sharing the ups and downs of your maintenance journey. It's great to get such a realistic picture of the kind of work it takes to keep it off!
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ROOSTER72 2/15/2012 1:15AM

    Three months maintaining for me, and it is still a learning exercise.
Can I relax? If so, how much?
What is my reaction point?

At the moment I am treating goal not as a number, but a range. My goal range is 58 to 60 kg (127 to 132 pounds). I like to hover about 59kg. If I see anything over 60 it is time for an immediate reaction. (Measuring food again, eating cleaner etc)

Seems to be working so far, but struggling a little at the moment - got a cold, which makes me want to comfort eat! And weighed in at 60.0 this morning!

I will keep an eye on your progress - we can all learn from each other.

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    This gives me usable ideas for when I hit maintenance. Thanks for sharing! You can do this!

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    It is so amazing how easily and quickly it piles back on isn't it? I like your determination. You WILL get it off!! I also like how encouraging and understanding you are with me, I get tired of hearing people tell me to relax and enjoy the weight loss. RELAX? What's that? Don't tell me stuff like that....I guess they just don't realize what a BIG deal this weight loss was and is, and how hard it is to keep it off. Every single minute of every single day of every single week of every single month of every single year...you get my drift. Coming up on 10 months of maintenance--WOOHOO!!!

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KHAYNES_WDE 2/14/2012 11:44AM

    I am right there with you! Sometimes you have to get very strict with yourself to get back to where you want and need to be. Good for you for making the change immediately.

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DDOORN 2/14/2012 8:42AM

    Just KNOW you'll be back on track...most likely in RECORD time...! :-)

Kudos to workin' it!


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CARRIE1948 2/14/2012 6:17AM

    You CAN do this. The real issue is why do we keep having to do it over? As we discussed Saturday, this is a forever thing. I think I'm finally understanding why my friend who lost weight 50 years ago is such a Nazi about food.

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WENDYWITKOSKI 2/13/2012 9:41PM

    emoticon I'll be watching for your blog saying you are back at your goal.

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TAMPATINK67 2/13/2012 9:13PM

    Love the plan and know you will implement and correct the trend immediately!

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WATERMELLEN 2/13/2012 8:26PM

    Love the image of punching it down -- like rising bread dough kinda.

And totally agree that maintaining requires frequent monitoring and immediate correction.

I have to track what I eat. I have to weigh myself -- if not every day, at least several times a week. And I have to take action when I'm up even a couple pounds. Immediately.

Thanks for your comment on my venus blog: absolutely I agree that for the most part, I'd rather look like the photoshopped versions . . . plus a bit of muscle. I want a body that is strong and functional.

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CHOUBROU 2/13/2012 7:56PM

    Wow, I really needed to read this!!!

I'm about to enter a period of punching it back down...I'm really out of my comfort zone because I gave up on some good habits...I really need to think about accountability this week, and get back into my healthy eating and fitness routine.

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    I won't dispute Very Strict Tracking (TM) but I bet this will come off faster than you think. Prove me right :)

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TMW54812 2/13/2012 6:06PM

    There is nothing more powerful than a woman with a plan.....you will succeed!


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A week of kayaking class III-IV rivers in Costa Rica - with pictures!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

As a reward for not desparing and eating everything in sight while recovering from rotator cuff surgery this year (I missed my entire kayaking season which was a terrible blow) I signed up for a one week vacation in Costa Rica, kayaking in January.

The PT and surgeon cleared me for boating in rivers again starting October 1 and I worked hard between then and the trip building back up my strength, agility, and stamina.

The trip was run through a group that are based in North Carolina and primarily run kayak workshops and classes for women:

They typically run several trips every winter somewhere warm. This was advertised as their "advanced" (and only co-ed) trip for the winter. The minimum requirement for participating was having a 70% successful roll in white water. Since I have almost 100% success rolling in white water on both sides, I qualified, although I've only been kayaking for about a year and a half.

Here was their description of how the week would go:

All the details were extremely well taken care of. They'd tell us how things would go and it would happen that way. The food was amazing, the guides competent, knowledgeable, friendly, and likeable. I never felt like a number, although there were TWELVE participants. No wonder so many of their trips sell out. (There is still space on an intermediate trip with this itinerary Feb 11-18 if anyone is interested. You only need a 50% roll for that. And you have to be female. Sorry, guys.)

Here is a zoomed-in picture of Costa Rica, showing where we kayaked each day:

I've got detailed GPS maps and lots more photos uploaded here:

One of the guides took 800+ pictures and they sold us discs of them at the end. Most of these photos are hers.

Just getting out of the Northeast was a challenge - there was snow closing and delaying the airports I was trying to connect in; I ended up having to drive an hour to a different airport just so I could get a flight that changed somewhere outside the stormy area. I didn't end up getting to San Jose until about 10pm and they had to send a couple of guys specially to pick me up; my luggage and gear got lost too and didn't show up until more than 24 hours later.

Here is the view I woke up to at the B&B.

It is up the hill from Turrialba and named La Cascada. It used to be a restaurant so the food was amazing.

The first day we kayaked a couple of short stretches on the nearby Pejibaye River which is named after a particular palm that has fruit. It was easy class II water so they could see what our skills were like.

I borrowed some clothes and gear. It was short sleeved and I forgot to put on sunscreen.

We stopped for lunch at an open air school (it was Sunday so they weren't using it)

The other participants on the trip were a lot of fun too. I hope I get to see them again someday.

That night we had a salsa dancing lesson.

It was really fun until I pulled a muscle in my calf. In the end that injury turned out to be the worst thing that happened to me, even though later in the week I had to swim a class IV rapid because I got stuck upside down next to some rocks where there was no room to roll up. The swim resulted in a few interesting bruises, but my calf is still a little stiff. Darn salsa. More dangerous than kayaking!

The next day we were to go on an overnight trip to the Sarapiqui River. When I got up, my luggage and gear were outside the door. It felt like Christmas to have my Very Own Things. I had no idea I could be so attached to just Things.

This was the first day on the Sarapiqui (7 miles)

That night we stayed in a beautiful lodge with a pool, gardens, wireless, and a bar that served really interesting mixed drinks. www.hotelaraambigua.com Some of us got together and each ordered a different one so we could figure out the best and get that. I was partial to the Samba, the Pina Colada, and especially (and appropriately) the Pura Vida.

Every morning we did yoga, even while away from the B&B.

I got a DVD so I can continue doing it at home: www.amazon.com/Yoga-Kayaking-

The next day two people headed to a technical and challenging class IV section of the Upper Sarapiqui with one of the guides and the rest of us ran the Lower section again (8 miles).

We drove back and stayed at our regular B&B in Turrialba that night and the following day headed out to the top section of the Pacuare River(7 miles).

That was a pretty nice easy day, except for that swim I took in a class IV rapid that kind of scared me and banged me up a little. It was the only swim I took this week; my roll failed because I was in a narrow channel right between some high rocks and there was nowhere to stick the paddle to get up.

The next two days were long. We drove to the put in for the Lower Pacuare and paddled about 6 miles in to a beautiful camp in the jungle.

The organizers were very good about making sure I had lean protein available so I could stay close to my usual food plan.

The camp we stayed at on the Pacuare was cozy and beautiful. Here is my very own tent:

There were little clusters of them.

We hung our gear out but it rained so I think it might have ended up wetter than it was when it came off the river!

We did yoga there, too!

The last day was very long. We got back into our boats and paddled about 11 miles. Some of the rapids were tough. This one has a name translated as "Lost Indian Burial Ground." It didn't claim me. I did not even flip. I did take an easy line, though.

There were deep gorges in places. This was definitely the most beautiful section we paddled all week.

I got tired during 6 straight days of paddling, but I still had strength to do it.

There was one rapid that 5 of us chose to portage instead of run. If I hadn't had that nasty experience on the Top Pacuare I probably would have run it too, but I'd had enough of those shallow river rocks banging into me, so I decided to just take the good day I'd had and not push my luck.

We got a rainbow on the way home.

The last night we had dinner and all exchanged emails and prepared to leave the next morning. The microorganisms of Costa Rica had one more activity planned for me, however. About midnight it started with pretty violent trots. To which was added projectile vomiting (there was a little waste can next to the toilet, fortunately). Followed by about 4-5 hours of excruciating stomach cramps. I have never gotten sick while traveling. And I've never felt cramps like that before. It was so bad I couldn't help groaning and crying out. I tried taking multiple warm showers to help the pain subside. It helped me be a little quieter while a stabbing pang was happening. But eventually I'd end up back in my bed, moaning again. At times I actually just wanted to die. It seemed like it went on forever. Finally around 5am it stopped.

In the morning I somehow got my stuff sort of packed and took some final pictures and rode the bus back to the airport. My flight wasn't until very early the next day so I stayed overnight in a hotel. I'd kind of hoped to sit by the pool and even out my sunburn but I was so wiped out I just slept and slept and slept. Around 7pm I got up and wandered across the street to a Denny's and had chicken soup, hung out with some friends who also stayed a couple of extra days and then went back to bed. The flight the next day was uneventful, and I arrived home to a couple of very happy cats.

It was a good trip, but exhausting. I've never paddled 6 days in a row, before!

Since I'm a novice paddler in years of experience (1.5) I had expected to feel out of place on an "advanced" trip, but among the 12 participants I think I was somewhere in the middle in terms of skill. There were definitely people better than me, and I didn't take a couple of the advanced options offered to us, but only a few actually did, so I was not out of place, after all. Some participants swam several times on what seemed fairly easy rapids compared with things I've run. I needed plenty of combat rolls (on both sides), but fortunately the only swim I had was on a gnarly thing that also claimed a bunch of other people.

And everyone was great, personality-wise. I really enjoyed all of the other participants, as well as the leaders. What a fun group!

Considering that I couldn't even FIT into a boat three years ago, I'm pretty satisfied to be in this kind of shape, now. I'm glad I took the effort to push myself back into shape after the surgery rehab, and I'll take it.

I'm looking forward to improving so next time I go on a trip like this I can style the class IV things rather than swimming, portaging, or turning them down.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MADZOE 2/18/2012 7:00PM

    This looks like a pretty amazing trip. Definitely rekindles my desire to really learn to kayak. I've been on one 3 hr sea kayak trip in the San Juans and 2 lake paddles. You make it look so exciting, I better get to it this summer.

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    That was ONE AMAZING trip, and some beautiful pictures. I think I would have preferred the B&B to the tents though! I like my beds SOFT.

I had a bug this weekend, sounds similar to yours, maybe not as severe. But had the problem at both ends, and didn't grab the garbage can in time, if you get my drift. What a mess. I too slept away the next day.

I like the part about how you didn't fit in a boat 3 years ago, and on this trip you kayaked for 6 days straight. WOW--what a transformation! You should be PROUD!

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XNANNY 2/3/2012 9:50PM

    You were lucky to have such a good time on your vacation.

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ABETTERSOUL 2/1/2012 12:04PM

    Wow...Looks like a fantastic trip! Thanks for sharing!

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DDOORN 2/1/2012 8:43AM

    Trots and bangs notwithstanding, it sounds like the trip lived up to your hopes & dreams...which you've now fulfilled! Woo hoo!

Thx for taking us along on your journey! :-)


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KAYOTIC 1/31/2012 10:22PM


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WENDYWITKOSKI 1/31/2012 10:08PM

    Wow! So Awesome!

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WATERMELLEN 1/31/2012 9:08PM

    Except for the final bout of illness . . . what a fabulous trip! And what a very fitting way to reward yourself for: getting fit!! Love the pictures and especially that huge grin on your face!!

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JENNSWIMS 1/31/2012 8:04PM


I'm so happy for you! That sounds fantastic and clearly you enjoyed it! I'm so happy that you decided to reward yourself with what you love, after having it yanked unceremoniously out from under you for the season, and do it in such fine style!


Is it wrong that I had the thought, "well, that is a good way to lose a few pounds quickly"?

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GEE-KNEE 1/31/2012 5:44PM

    Except for the sickness and injury looks like a fun trip... I hope you like yoga :)

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TMW54812 1/31/2012 5:27PM

    Your transformation to Wonder Woman is now complete!....lol

You sure are making the most of being fit and healthy!


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FRENCHIFAL 1/31/2012 4:06PM


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WOLFKITTY 1/31/2012 3:58PM

    Wow. I'm in awe.
Simply amazing!


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KRISZTA11 1/31/2012 3:55PM

    Wonderful! Thank you for sharing the pictures!

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STEVIECAT4 1/31/2012 3:51PM

    You are SO adventurous! I'm so proud of you, girl!!! emoticon

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ZIRCADIA 1/31/2012 2:59PM

    Wow, what an AMAZING trip!!!! :D

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BLUE42DOWN 1/31/2012 2:59PM

    Beautiful scenery. Thank you for the pictures!

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RG_DFW 1/31/2012 2:23PM


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CCASKEY37 1/31/2012 2:16PM

    That looked awesome. I'm totally jealous.

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MISSANGELFACE 1/31/2012 1:57PM

  Looks like an amazing trip! Beautiful scenery.

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TAMPATINK67 1/31/2012 1:55PM

    I loved the scenery, and daily yoga sounds amazing. But my favorite would have to be a tie between the smile on your face during salsa dancing, and the hat in the last photo - gotta get one of them!

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    Wow, that looks helluva cool. Do you have a link to the bigger pics?

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I look OK in street clothes, I think. :-)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Here's what I wore to chair my session and give my talk at the conference I'm at this week:

And can I just say "yay" for thrift shops? Because that whole outfit (including the 100% silk skirt and the shoes) came from Salvation Army.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SPOOKYTHECAT 2/23/2012 9:29PM

    You look Fantastic! Great outfit~ & I love thrift stores. I shop at Savers all the time! emoticon

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    You look so pretty and SLENDER! LOVE the outfit! Bet you wow'd 'em!

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OOLALA53 2/13/2012 6:15PM

    I am so used to getting clothes at thrift stores I can barely stand to buy new. I hardly know how to shop in a department store anymore.

And as others have said, you look a lot better than okay and you know it! But it's okay to crow, too. emoticon

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VALERIEMAHA 1/27/2012 12:19PM

    Like we used to sing, "Hubba hubba, ding ding, baby you got EVERYthing!"

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RUSTBUCKET1 1/19/2012 11:24PM

    Smart and fantastic looking! You're ready to go and ROCK that talk! emoticon

Comment edited on: 1/19/2012 11:25:28 PM

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SPARKLISE 1/19/2012 8:34PM

    I love to shop there!
You look fabulous!
Have a great day! emoticon

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MIRAGE727 1/18/2012 2:53PM

    Thrift shops goood! And I would have paid attention to your presentation!

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REDSHOES2011 1/18/2012 10:56AM

    I think you look better than okay absolutely wonderful!

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FRECKS96 1/18/2012 10:56AM


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DDOORN 1/18/2012 10:20AM

    Great looks at even BETTER prices! :-)


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KAYOTIC 1/18/2012 9:38AM


I used to love to shop the consignment stores too.....gotta find some up here!

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WATERMELLEN 1/17/2012 7:15PM


You are waaaaay too modest. You look terrific!! The clothes are great: even greater, the way you are carrying yourself!!

Like you, I'm a huge fan of thrift stores . . . most recent "score", a pair of brand new, no-scuffs-on-soles, purple leather ankle boots, leather lined: $15.00!!

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 1/17/2012 6:27PM

    @ BMB I started getting my hair cut that way sometime in the spring, if I recall correctly...

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JENNSWIMS 1/17/2012 5:25PM

    You look damn fine, girlfriend. :)

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    did you get yer hars cut too?

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TMW54812 1/17/2012 2:34PM

    You look marv-o-lous dah-ling! emoticon

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KRISZTA11 1/17/2012 2:26PM

    Wonderful! You are very pretty!

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    title correction: I think I look pretty damn hawt in street clothes.


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FROGGGY13 1/17/2012 1:19PM

    You look absolutely great!

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NIMNIX 1/17/2012 1:13PM

    You make the clothes look good! emoticon

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.DUSTY. 1/17/2012 1:06PM


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TAMPATINK67 1/17/2012 11:53AM

    I can only hope you posted this this picture because you can see and apprecaite how far you have come and that you recognize what a truly beautiful woman you are.

Stand tall, feel confident - you look emoticon

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RG_DFW 1/17/2012 11:51AM


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WENDYWITKOSKI 1/17/2012 11:49AM

    You look better than ok!

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ZIRCADIA 1/17/2012 11:48AM

    Pretty! :)

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KELLIGIRL523 1/17/2012 11:44AM

    Super Yay for thrift shops!! You look wonderful! Good buy!


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JLPEASE 1/17/2012 11:42AM

    Wow, you look terrific! I hope your talk was a huge success!

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I have 50-50 odds of regaining my weight! Woo Hoo!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Doesn't sound like very good odds, does it?

Flip a coin. Heads I gain, tails I keep it off.

But I'll take it.

Because I've reached the 2-year mark in my maintenance and it's a whole lot better than the odds I was staring down two years ago.

It hasn't been all smooth sailing. At one point I gained back 30 lbs and got it back off again. This past summer I gained back 20 lbs and then got it back off again. Right now I'm about 7 pounds less than I was when I reached goal two years ago. here's a graph, in case anyone wants to see the gory details:


As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, the chances of regain when you actually hit goal are about 80-95%. The scientific references are linked.

So now those 50-50 odds aren't looking so bad, are they?

And it gets better. By the time you've maintained for 5 years, your chances of regain drop to 25%.

Here is a reference for the 2-year and 5-year odds:

No one really knows what the odds are beyond 5 years because it's very hard to track that long for the purposes of a scientific study and given the relatively high proportion of relapse you'd have to have a huge dataset to get decent statistics.

The best estimate we have is from the National Weight Control Registry, who published that after you've maintained for 15-20 years the chances of regain are about 20%.

By the way, you should join the National Weight Control Registry if you've lost more than 30 lbs and kept it off for more than a year. www.nwcr.ws Because it aids research in weight management, and the more we know, the better we can get at it.

I aim to continue doing everything I can to keep this weight off. If it means being hypervigilant. I don't care. I LIKE being this size, and I LIKE being able to do the things I can at this size.

Some have even described as eating disorders the lengths that folks go to to maintain weight loss.

I've made the comparison myself on occasion:

The difference here is that I'm aiming for optimal athletic performance. A high strength to weight ratio. I don't want to look "skinny" although I admit I'm happier with what I see in the mirror when my percent body fat is around 20. It's not about looks, or clothing sizes. It's about being able to kayak and XC ski and snowboard and ride my road bike well.

In the At Goal and Maintaining team we acknowledge and celebrate these milestones with our own database. If you're in maintenance, feel free to join us! You can sign up here:

Lots of really kind people have dropped by to give me a pat on the back when I hit my anniversary yesterday. I'm still catching up on thanking all of them!

We keep track of our statistics, too. We have a Maintenance Hall of Fame (one person on there has maintained for over 40 years!),

and a graph showing how many pounds people have lost and how long they have kept it off:


Eight people on there have lost over 150 lbs! One has kept it off for 3.5 years!

I'd like to thank collectively the folks here at Spark people and especially members of the At Goal and Maintaining team and the High Intensity Thinkers for supporting me in this.

You guys have been great. Watching me, prodding me, noticing when stuff goes well and asking me what's up when it doesn't. And helping me figure out what's going on when it's not right. The Broscience Free Zone is awesome.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

OOLALA53 2/13/2012 6:58PM

    Your information on probablility of relapse has helped me so many times even though I haven't reached goal yet! It's because I don't want to get involved in doing things I won't keep doing. I'll think, "If I depend on that behavior to lose, will I be willing to do it forever to maintain, or will I relapse?" I'm lucky enough that it is not an emergency for me to lose weight. I'm whittling my way down and it actually gets easier because the habits feel comfortable and doable. And having models like you who have faced down much greater odds is a huge boon. emoticon

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MOBYCARP 1/15/2012 5:04PM

I think you'll beat the odds.

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SHANTODD420 1/15/2012 4:35PM

    Congrats on maintaining that for two years.

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FROGGGY13 1/15/2012 3:30PM

    Thank you for doing all of this for the group, and congratulations on your 2 years!

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KRISZTA11 1/15/2012 3:17PM

    Great blog!
Thank you for compiling all this information for us, especially the Wall of Fame, and the milestone celebrations.

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KITT52 1/15/2012 1:30PM

    thanks for sharing the info, I have kept 200 pounds off for just over 2 years, I gain 5 then loose it..it's not easy but i think thats how it's going to be.....once I get over the 7 pound mark I cut way back on calories till I get to my goal weight....
it works for me

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JESPAH 1/13/2012 9:58AM


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RUSTBUCKET1 1/13/2012 1:13AM

    I loved that you charted all of this and provided citations. It is good to see the data and it can help a lot of people. Great and thanks for sharing. emoticon

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FRENCHIFAL 1/12/2012 10:05AM


Great job! I hope that soon I'll be maintaining like you! Keep it up, the odds are DEFINITELY in your favor!


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KAYOTIC 1/12/2012 9:59AM

    You always come up with such great info and tools, thanks for all you do to bring all that to our attention, and congrats on 2 years!

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TRAVELNISTA 1/11/2012 9:03PM

    You are doing emoticon

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KNH771 1/11/2012 7:02PM

    Awesome! I'd never seen the stats for two and 5 years. In March I will have maintained for three years. I just got paperwork for the Weight Control Registry over the holidays. Still have to send it in though...

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ZIRCADIA 1/11/2012 12:19PM

    1/15 is my 5 year sparkiversary... :) 4 years of maintaining a healthy weight as well. So I'm getting there!

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DDOORN 1/11/2012 9:59AM

    You most decidedly have MUCH cause for celebration!!

Love to cheerlead, but WOW do you deserve SO much credit for walking (kayaking, swimming, cycling, etc...!) that tough walk!

Thank you for your unflagging inspiration!


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AZURELITE 1/11/2012 7:33AM

    Great blog. Thanks for posting this!

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TAMPATINK67 1/11/2012 7:02AM

    No need to reply -
Thanks for sharing your story and the information.

Congrats on your anniversary - it's awesome! And Inspirational!

PS - from what I know about you... I'd say your odds are way better than 50/50!

Comment edited on: 1/11/2012 7:04:56 AM

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SALSIFY 1/11/2012 6:15AM

    It must feel so great to go from 5-15% odds to 50%. It's good to know that probability is getting on your side!

(there should be a 'happy dice' emoticon for this kind of occasion :)

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    Those odds are much better than the 15% odds! Woohoo!! You can do it!

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KIYOSHI04 1/10/2012 10:31PM

    awesome links... and awesome blog. great job, you.

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WATERMELLEN 1/10/2012 9:23PM

    Fantastic!! Don't care what the "odds" say statistically: I'd bet on you to maintain that weight loss anytime.

You are determined. Knowledgeable. Thorough. And you know why you want to do this. Because it feels good to be strong and healthy. The very best reason of all.

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    I like dem odds. I second the nomination for the Maintaining group. We've got questions, they've got answers. I'm with you, kid. I *LIKE* this size. I *LIKE* what I'm capable of doing and will do whatever I can as long as I can to maintain or better yet improve.

We're lucky to have had helpful people along the way. I wish I could be helpful, but unfortunately, I'm sarcastic and unhelpful. (sound the wah-wah trumpet).


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JENNSWIMS 1/10/2012 5:18PM

    Congrats! Your hard work, dedication and stubborn streak have paid off! :)

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How I minimize binge triggers in my life

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Out of control eating while alone is probably one of my worst problems for controlling my size. It's particularly a danger late at night when I'm tired and should be going to sleep (around 10 or 11pm). Here's an old blog post about a typically uncomfortable case:

Since this topic has come up a few times lately, I'm listing my strategies here so I can refer to them in the future. Each individual strategy may have only a small effect, but in combination they seem to work pretty well. I've certainly had my share of episodes, although they're pretty infrequent these days. These strategies also sometimes help me keep from overeating when at parties and other social events.

I realize that I'm very lucky to live alone and not have to consider a family or a partner when it comes to availability of food. I'm not sure I could do this if I did have to consider them - I have tremendous respect for those of you who do!

1. I keep almost no food in the house. It's all at work where people would see me indulging if I binged. And its not just snack food. I am talking about any food. I have watched myself binge on raw oat grains, along with carrots, apples, or whatever else is in the house. If it's just not there then I won't be able to eat it.
2. I eat a minimum of 1500 calories per day because if I go below that for more than a few days in a row the genuine hunger will trigger a binge.
3. I rarely eat starches, grains, or added sugars. Those trigger binges later in the day. I have to limit fruit for the same reason. If I DO experience a craving for something sweet or starchy, I've found through trial and error that eating lean protein makes the feeling go away. If I eat the starchy or sweet thing I'm craving, the craving just grows stronger. Go figure.
4. I eat 150g of protein per day. That helps with satiety and thereby controls the binge trigger. www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_pu

5. To push that much protein through the system I usually try to have at least 40g of fiber per day. That helps with satiety too.
6. If I get at least 20% of my calories in fat (~50g) I seem to do better, as well. Fat helps with satiety.
7. Plan ahead. I carry protein bars for emergencies. www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_pu
And to get those macronutrient levels I mentioned earlier requires having the right foods on hand. If I don't plan ahead for my nutrition, I am setting myself up to fail. Real physiological, hormonal effects happen because of the food I eat. If I can make sure that what I'm taking in is along these lines, then I'm less likely to crave and thus less likely to binge.
8. No TV in the house. That is a trigger. Especially at night when I need to go to bed.
9. I exercise after work so the appetite suppression will kick in at night when I'm most vulnerable.
10. I rarely attend parties where they feature snack foods. Processed foods loaded with sugar, starch, fat, and/or salt sometimes trigger binges later in the day. I do not need the temptation. The longer I'm exposed to it the more likely I'll eventually give in. If I have to go to one I make sure I bring a vegetable tray with dip made out of nonfat Greek yogurt.
11. I rarely eat out. (Same reasons as above.)
12. I drink herbal tea when I want a treat. Sure, I still like mindlessly sipping something while reading, etc. This satisfies the urge without adding calories. It's a comfort thing. I'm partial to Good Earth Original Sweet and Spicy tea. www.amazon.com/Good-Earth-Ori

13. I weigh myself every morning. If I binge at night I see the effects immediately. I track the moving average so normal fluctuations won't bother me: docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?hl=e
More about moving averages for weight trackers here: teams.sparkpeople.com/hackers

14. I try to be actively engaged in weight-based challenges; I respond well to competition and it helps suppress the urge to stray from my plan. (Here's a shout out to my buddies in the current challenges where I've managed to lose nearly 8% of my weight (13 lbs) between Halloween and now.) www.sparkpeople.com/myspark/m

15. I sometimes try to wear tighter clothes if I know I'm going to be around temptations or feel emotional or otherwise off-balance for the day. It helps provide a physical reminder of my size and that I need to pay attention.
16. I have a tattoo on my arm of a kayaker to remind me that I want to be at my peak fitness and be able to continue to fit into my boats.
17. I have put images from this hilarious blog on the back of my iPhone to remind me of where the food crazies can lead. hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/

18. I try to limit consumption of non-nutritive sweeteners to the evenings. If I have them earlier in the day they sometimes trigger cravings later. If I drink diet sodas at night I'm asleep during the time a craving might happen, so it's safer.
19. I forgot to mention this earlier because it's so integral to my life - MOBYCARP's comment reminded me. I track EVERYTHING I eat. Even the binges. It's one way I can make sure I get at least 1500 calories per day. Since I like to have a standalone app that works even where there's no internet or signal, I use Lose It! They have free apps for iPhone/iTouch and Android that sync to a website when there is signal. It's what I wish the SP tracker did, but doesn't. www.loseit.com/#Products
20. If I can stop myself in time, I sometimes track the things I WANT to eat on a separate tracker (without eating them) . www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo

21. Add a negative consequence. One time I managed to avoid a binge by making an agreement with BREWMASTERBILL that I would have to send him $20 if I binged that day.
22. Stall for time. Another time I whined that I wanted to overeat and Bill suggested that I do 20 pushups. Having nothing to lose, I shut my office door and did, and it helped. So, yeah. If I can, I go for a walk. Do some crunches. Do some pushups or tricep dips. Anything to stall for time. Because if I can just hold out for about 20 minutes the feeling usually goes away. It might come back again later, but at least temporarily it goes away.
23. Get adequate rest. Things go downhill for me when I'm short on sleep, spending too much time in the car driving, trying to do to many things, etc. Some evenings I have to go to bed early and shut the cats out of the bedroom to make sure I get a decent night's sleep. The effect of sleep depletion is cumulative, at least in my case. I can handle a week or two short on rest, but if I keep it up, it eventually catches up with me - and one of the ways that happens is I find my resistance to binges is much lower; I make more unhealthy decisions.
24. Minimize alcohol consumption. Yup, it lowers my inhibitions, just like it does for the rest of humanity. And while that can be fun, it can be also dangerous if there happens to be food around...
25. Making my bed, keeping my house clean, putting away my laundry - doing the little things that help make me feel like someone loves me. Disengaging in general from self-neglectful behaviors. www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_pu

Every one of those habits was discovered to help by trial and error. I've collected them from suggestions from other Spark People, articles, etc. They all add up to constructing a world where I can live reasonably safe from binge triggers most of the time.

I'm like an addict in recovery. I have found I need to remain vigilant and some days it's all I can do just to get through one hour, then another hour, then another hour, even with these strategies. Like NELLJONES says, it's One Day at a Time. But I do think they help.

There is a whole section about managing binge behaviors in At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance Team Big Page of Links:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AUNTBEE6 3/23/2014 1:33AM

    Wow, I see me in almost every line. Thanks for your honesty and for taking the time! Lots of GREAT helps here for sure!!!

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AUNTBEE6 3/23/2014 1:31AM

    Wow, I see me in almost every line. Thanks for your honesty and for taking the time! Lots of GREAT helps here for sure!!!

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JOELEVENACIOUS 12/17/2013 10:15AM

    yaker here too! The level of stress comes out in these well thought out points. I feel for you and your struggle.

I couldn't help but notice that you haven't talked about what you allow yourself to gorge on?
e.g. so what is the down side of binging on carrots? Binge away on any healthy non starchy veggies.

Just curious about that one? I let myself consume large salads. I try to limit food in my immediate area too, but my wife has rights too! Stacking your fridge with salad foods would be a positive I would think,

thanks for your leadership here on this blog and team. I have learned a lot here already!

Keep paddling!

I got the feeling you were trying to keep a raging bull in a box.

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ANOLETTE 10/27/2013 12:30AM

  I really enjoyed this post, and I totally agree that turning around emotional binge eating is much like being an addict in recovery. (I have a daughter in recovery from heroin addiction, and I'm often struck by the similarities in the challenges.) That being said, I find the idea of never going to parties or out to dinner or even watching TV as depressing as being overweight. I've always believed life requires a balance. Any plan that extreme would be impossible for me to maintain for any length of time, and it just sounds so lonely. But I commend you for your success and really appreciate your ideas.

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PASCAL921 7/28/2013 6:16PM

    Thank you so much.

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SWAMSER 5/9/2013 11:40AM

    just the advice I needed today

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IAMTOLOSE 4/21/2013 9:13AM

    Wow! You put it all into words and I thank you. This is what I so needed to hear today. Hugs.

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USMAWIFE 3/30/2013 8:38PM


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SMARGED 3/30/2013 6:38PM

    Loved your blog! Lots of your triggers are mine too! You motivate me to use some of your solutions to get over them! Thanks for sharing!

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TRIANGLE-WOMAN 3/30/2013 3:08PM

    Agree this belongs in the Spark Blog Hall of Fame.

I don't understand the whole "popular blog" post thing and how things get voted there!!

..*) ♥.*)
(. .♥ (. .♥ (.*`* ♥☆.*`*♥☆
`*♥☆ Spread the Spark!!!

Comment edited on: 3/30/2013 3:08:30 PM

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AMBERDAWN64 3/25/2013 5:44PM

    WOW...that's a fantastic list...thanks for sharing in such detail...

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FREELADY 3/4/2013 1:06PM

    This one goes in my blog hall of fame.

I can't express how valuable these concepts are to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for taking the time and effort and mental energy (and probably a huge amount of emotional energy) to put all this down so we can benefit.

At what store do you find your Good Earth tea?

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KIMCOLLINGS 2/4/2013 5:23PM

    Great post. Thank you

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KYLAR_STERN 2/4/2013 4:49PM

    Thanks for your blog comment on mine, problem is I really don't want to have to use any of these methods. I've done things like keep nothing in the house, decline every opportunity to eat out ect. That was when I was being strict on my diet and fighting so needing to keep myself in range to make weight.

Now I'm back at college with friends, and just want to be able to relax. I want to go for beer and pizza with friends, that doesn't bother me. What bothers me is that either A) I eat more pizza than anyone else, or B) I want to eat everything in sight when I get back. I'm just trying to find a way to enjoy 2 slices of pizza, couple beers, and not think its a big deal. After this upcoming 4 day party, I'll be trying new stuff and seeing if it works for me to find a balance of relaxing and still eating healthy.

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JUDY106 2/3/2013 12:39AM

    This is so helpful. Thank's for sharing.

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SEEINGCLEARLY53 1/13/2013 2:54AM

    Good post, t emoticon hanks!

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KAREN91 12/16/2012 8:57AM

    emoticon emoticon Great advice and links. Thanks so much for posting this! emoticon

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MILBERTWORKS 11/18/2012 12:56AM

    I love this post - I can identify with the part of living alone - and the suggestions are perfect for my situation I have much less night binge eating than ever before. I try to keep busy with mind and hands and I don't think of eating. Keeping favorite foods out of the house is also a great idea. Thanks for the info.

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OSUBUCKI101 11/11/2012 7:43AM

    For me my weak time is right when I get home from work. I want to snack, snack and snack some more. I've found though that when I have a snack at around 3:00 in the afternoon it helps. Something like cottage cheese and trail mix or anything involving some natural peanut butter. The peanut butter really sticks and allows me the control I need when I step in the door after work and gives me the time to prepare a healthy dinner.

I love all of your ideas and will incorporate a few! Keep up the good work.

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LOGOULD 10/18/2012 2:56PM

    Wow! So much good information. I need to read and re-read this one!!!

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RAWRRACH 10/17/2012 8:36PM

    How did you create your AB FitnessLog? I love that way it shows the trends and everything, but I can't figure out how to make out for myself. I also weigh myself daily, and a chart like this would be very helpful.

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SURRENDER21 10/14/2012 7:36PM

    How do I save this to SP "favorites" so I can come back to this post again and again? I need to memorize this post. Thank you so much for compiling this list, many things on here to try.

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ANDASI 8/29/2012 3:30AM

    I very much appreciate you sending this link to me. I can sure relate to a lot of these trigers. Especialy the night and being alone. I work nights and on my days off i tend to stay up very late to the early hours of the morning and its just me and so the cravings do come.

This blog makes it so real that it is an issue and i need to really deal with it. I do well for a few days and then binge for a few days and gain all of it back. I really need to be able to return from a binge quickly the way i read people do at the next meal and not continue it for days this is the reason i dont progress. It is disheartening because i do love working out but am not seeing the benefits of my hard work. This has become a cycle for me tha i want to stop.

Thank you so much for the support and the tools you have extended.

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LAINYC 7/5/2012 2:10PM

    emoticon emoticon

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VALERIEMAHA 1/27/2012 12:14PM

    Gawd woman, deep gratidue for framing the work you're doin'...it definitely helps put your success into perspective. I cruise by your SHome now-and-then and I'm always blown away by who you are and all you've done.

My major loss back-when was a "mere" 80 pounds, but I was also seriously obese at that weight (and also tested diabetic, which disappeared with the weight loss) and I experience the same challenges and fluctuations you describe, though with less coping diligence. My age *may* account for that to a minor extent.

BTW, will you saunter over, when you have a *hot minute* (after the conference?) to give some tech info and encouragement to our friend Don?


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JENNSWIMS 1/10/2012 11:37AM

    When you say binge, do you mean 5,000 calories at a time binges that bring to mind bulimia, or do you mean more like overeating?

I love your tips. Your idea about keeping very little food in the house is interesting, because I keep tons of food in the house and make jokes that if the apocolypse were to happen we would be ok for months. I'm wondering if I'm a bit of a food hoarder, even if it is healthy stuff like dried beans that can keep for years.

Your list has really made me think today. Thank you.

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NOTGIVINGUP49 1/7/2012 5:44PM

    emoticon Tips! Thanks for sharing! Love the one "I sometimes try to wear tighter clothes if I know I'm going to be around temptations or feel emotional or otherwise off-balance for the day." I am going to try that one myself! Great idea!

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BUSY_BEE68 1/4/2012 7:12AM

    I can relate to eating too low of calories sparking a feeding frenzy. It occurs if I don't eat enough for breakfast and lunch. As I eat a larger dinner to compensate, I tend to keep going until bedtime. The tighter clothes idea is one I plan on trying. Thank you for sharing! emoticon

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MOM5INFL 1/3/2012 5:02PM

    Way to go on the binge control! I've got to tighten the reins in my home. There are way too many triggers! Cool tattoo! Makes me want one! Birdie

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    hey love your kayaking tattoo and also thanks for the tips, I have survived the festive season well, about to go away to tasmania to go crayoning, kayaking and trekking hope you had a great xmas and all the best for 2012 you rock

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DAVEINSEOUL 1/2/2012 4:52AM

    Thanks for the tips on controlling binges - they are important to keep under control.

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AMBERZADE 1/1/2012 7:44PM

    dang you work HARD!!! Congrats and thanks for the tips!!

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TAICHIDANCER 12/31/2011 7:48PM

    Thanks for sharing that with us. Happy New Year.

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KAYOTIC 12/31/2011 7:05PM

    It takes all that trial and error and time to figure out what works for each of us individually, what a great way to document what works for you! I might have to give that a try myself....

and I totally agree about the herbal tea, we make iced tea all the time, it helps me keep hydrated with flavor!

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DOODIE59 12/30/2011 10:14AM

    Thank you so much for sharing your tips.
May 2012 be your best year yet (and the first of many :))

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BATYAFA 12/30/2011 9:50AM

    Thanx for sharing these strategies.

Perhaps the most basic thing I'm learning is that yearning to binge - and constant vigilance - never end!!! Oh dear ....

Happy New Year! emoticon

Comment edited on: 12/30/2011 9:50:50 AM

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HDHAWK 12/30/2011 8:55AM

    This is a great list. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

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GLOBALDAD 12/30/2011 8:38AM

    Thank you for sharing your tips. This summary is very helpful to me and I know to others as we fight the "binging addiction". I have never thought of this as an addiction but this helps put this into perspective!

Your sharing was a gift today and very helpful to me.


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KELLIGIRL523 12/30/2011 8:22AM

    Out of control eating while alone.

That is the first item on my list of things to conquer in 2012.

Great blog. Thanks for sharing.


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ONEKIDSMOM 12/30/2011 7:58AM

    Good list. As some others have said, one size does not fit all... I find I have to keep certain foods out of the house, but I also have to keep certain foods available in abundance, too! I have never binged on veggies!

Good one about not going *below* an intake level.

And I'm a tracker, too... even if I binge, I try to estimate and track. Honesty with myself is vital to this addict!

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MOBYCARP 12/30/2011 7:42AM

    Interesting list. I share some of the same strategies, but not all of them. It's interesting that some of your strategies are important to me, while others are irrelevant to me. One size does not fit all.

One key for me that didn't make your list: Track everything I eat. Even when I overdo it, make an estimate and move on. The act of recording makes it real to me, and reduces the chance of my doing it again.

Comment edited on: 12/30/2011 8:37:23 AM

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KRISZTA11 12/30/2011 4:57AM

    Thank you for sharing, great summary!

For me, the triggers are: any alcohol, leftover food of kids, emotional stress and being bored.
The first is easy to avoid, but the other 3 are rather challenging sometimes.

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FROGGGY13 12/30/2011 2:19AM

    Good strategies! The top two binge and weight gain inducers in my case are stress and lack of sleep, so I try to avoid them. I had first gained a bunch of weight after having my daughter: I weighed more when she was 12 months old than the day after she was born. It was the chronic, unrelenting sleep deficit.
Now I try to get good sleep no matter what; stress I only have limited control over. This year has been relatively good, I'm hoping 2012 will not be too stressful, either.

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MAGGIEROSEBOWL 12/30/2011 1:17AM

    GREAT blog and good tips. I too am an addict, and must be constantly vigilant, moment to moment. Right now I know I must avoid temptation and just go to bed rather than grab a piece of dark chocolate on the way up to my bedroom. I'm not hungry and I don't need it. I wish I had the luxury of being able to keep no food in the house. I found out over Christmas, if it's in my house I am tempted and usually give into the temptation. From now on, no BAD food comes in this house!

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    This blog spoke volumes to be- the careful monitoring and attention every single day is so important. You can and will maintain! emoticon

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WOLFKITTY 12/30/2011 12:48AM

    It's so easy to forget where we've started from or what strategies worked when everything is going swimmingly! This list will serve as a great reminder if you're just living "naturally" and forget, for sure!!


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DDOORN 12/29/2011 11:46PM

    Great tips and agree with most of them...not so caught up with the competition thing. Now if only I was HALF as diligent as you in FOLLOWING THROUGH with what I know works best for me!

Starting to get psyched up about cycling goals for 2012 though...big motivator to shed pounds so I can fly faster and farther! :-)


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BETTA13 12/29/2011 9:52PM

    wow. That is amazing. You are on to something.

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NEWKAREN43 12/29/2011 9:21PM

    A few of these I haven't thought of before (1, 13) and some things aren't an option as I have a family though I'd love to think just of me for a time to see if it made the journey easier (just for a little while)(5)...6 works for me too, 7 has been an issue for me during this holiday season and I didn't put together the processed foods v binging issue, I'll have to investigate that further...so, very interesting. Thank you for sharing, your blogs make me think and I like that. I also went through your pictures and they are really amazing! I would love to know how much you were working out when you were losing sizes every several weeks? I have surges of loss but then I stop (completely stop for weeks) and then I surge another loss. I'm going back to your calorie burn blog from the 23rd after the first of the year (I've had the flu so my data is all a mess). Thanks again for blogging and inspiring! Karen

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WATERMELLEN 12/29/2011 7:56PM

    Eternal vigilance and avoiding temptation because I can resist anything but temptation: that's what does it for me too.

Plus avoiding my binge triggers: potato chips, French fries in particular.

But you've given me some specific new ideas and I appreciate it. Gotta keep my protein count high: that's one area I tend to fall down on.

Imagine KNOWING Leonard Cohen! Amazing. Hate to sound star struck but . . . he's somebody I'd be star struck around for sure!

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