Monday, September 10, 2012
Iím joining in on TANYAP71ís blog question challenge.
I donít often manage to post blogs daily, so Iíll be answering questions here when I can and posting them en masse.
Itís been fun reading the responses from others, and to help me keep track of them, Iíve made a spreadsheet, here:
(this way Iíll be able to find those posts in the future, even after theyíve been buried by more recent ones)
1: Your stats. Starting stats, current stats, goal stats. Are you currently trying to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain weight or something else? Do you have a goal for the month of September?
Started at a BMI of 52.56, not sure what % body fat (highest measured was 54.2% after Iíd lost about 30 lbs)
Currently at a BMI of 24.22, approx 20% body fat
Iím right now just outside of my +/- 3% range around 150, so I want to get back in there.
My goal for the rest of September is to get my eating back under control (it occasionally goes off the rails).
2. How did you pick your goal weight? Did you pick an ultimate goal weight at the beginning of your weight loss? Did it change? Did you set smaller goals along the way?
At the beginning I just wanted to get my BMI under 30 (obese). Then I wanted to get it under 25 to see if I could (160 lbs). In the past 6 months Iíve reset my goal weight to hover around 150. When I lost the weight I aimed for a 5% reduction. Then another 5% reduction. And so on.
3. Who have you shared your weight loss goals with? What has been good about sharing your goals?
When I was losing weight I shared my goals with anyone who would listen. It was helpful to have everyone on board. Since hitting goal over 2.5 years ago Iíve slowed down on telling people about my history. Most of them met me after I lost weight and it really doesnít come up unless weíre discussing food or exercise or something like that.
4. What are (or were) your fears about weight loss?
That I wonít be able to keep it off. Over time Iím starting to believe more and more that this process can be learned and is achievable. Iíve stumbled, but Iíve also gotten back up.
5. What is your weight history like? How old where you when you first 'went on a diet'? Have you lost and regained? How is this time different from others?
My first diet was probably when I was 8 or 9. Iíve gained and lost a lot of weight. Most notably I gained and lost over 100 lbs in my 20s, only to regain it all plus almost 100 more. I lost it again in 2009. This time is different because I saw how easy it was to regain before, and Iím determined not to do THAT again!
6. What has been most challenging about maintaining a weight loss (now or in the past)?
In my 20s I was unprepared for the difficulty of maintaining. There is a critical mental shift that needs to happen in order to make it stick. And it takes vigilance and work to keep myself focused, engaged, and doing the behaviors that help me stay fit. Iíve set the bar pretty high for myself, and itís not easy keeping my food and exercise on point. It takes a lot of work.
7. How do you measure progress towards or maintenance? Scale weight? Body fat percentage? How your clothes fit? Other?
Mostly I rely on weighing myself every day and tracking the moving average trend. I also track my % body fat to get a handle on my composition.
I have a couple of pairs of favorite pants that let me know when the number on the scale reflects more than just water gain. And I can tell how Iím doing strength-wise by whether Iím increasing the pounds Iím lifting, over time.
8. What do you think will be different when you reach your goal weight? If you are in maintenance, what did you think would be different? What actually was different?
I wasnít sure what, if anything would be different. It turns out I can eat more. But as I said earlier in #6, I knew it would require a mental shift. I tried preparing for this shift while still in loss mode, and that helped. But over time Iíve had to experiment with maintenance strategies just as I had to experiment with loss strategies. Iím still fiddling with it, trying to figure out what works best.
9. How old are you and do you think your thoughts about weight loss, fitness, and wellness have changed over time?
Iím 46 and with age has come a level of discipline and maturity that I didnít have in my 20s. It is a lot easier to carry through with things when youíre sure of yourself. I was very unsure of myself the last time around. Something about just going around the sun a bunch of times seems to have helped provide the spine and inner strength I lacked before.
10. Why are you working towards the goal you talked about on Day 1? Particular health goal? Size goal? Activity goal? Vanity goal?
Simple survival. I donít want to live my next 40 years the way I lived my previous 40 years. I was suffocating inside a coffin of my own flesh and couldnít physically do things I liked and didnít like how I felt, and didnít like what I saw in the mirror. Life is too dang short to live like that, so Iím going to take the time Iíve got left and live in a way that I like.
Monday, August 20, 2012
GOING4HEALTHY, a member of the At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance (AG&M+TM) team recently described what used to be her annual loss and regain cycle:
- Dec 31: begin weight loss
- March: achieve goal weight
- Sept: lose all motivation
- Oct, Nov: pack the pounds on
- Dec 31: let the games begin...again!
How many of us can relate to this? I sure can. My own Gain-Loss-Regain experiences havenít always been annual in nature, but Iíve definitely experienced what she describes, in terms of waxing and waning motivation. And weíre not alone, because 80-95% of people who reach goal weight donít manage to stay there, either.
Not only does this yo-yo take a toll on us physically, but as GOING4HEALTHY said, even *thinking* about this cycle can be exhausting.
So, how and when do you get off?
One option is to simply give up and get off at the top of the cycle. Iíve done that. Where I landed wasnít pretty. Or healthy. Life was easier in the sense that I didnít bother much with thinking about what or how much food I ate, or what kinds of physical activity I did.
Life was harder in a bunch of other ways, like trying to find chairs that wouldnít collapse and without arms, asking for seat belt extenders on airplanes, the pain of arthritis and plantar fasciitis, etc. I lived there for about 15 years.
Another option is to get off at the bottom of the cycle. Iíve done that too. Itís actually kind of hard to get off at the very bottom, because thereís usually a little bounce ~3 lbs when I go from a deficit into maintenance. Down here, I definitely have to stay on top of my food and exercise to avoid sliding back onto the ride. On the other hand there are lots of cool things I can do here, that I canít do at the other end.
And then you can also get off in the middle somewhere, either on your way back down or on your way back up, where you might not need to be so vigilant about your food and exercise, but yet life can also be somewhat manageable.
All of these options are choices. None of them are a failure, as long as youíre DECIDING thatís where you want to be. If you find you are NOT where you want to be, then you need to get back on, and choose your stop. And then get off and work to stay there, if it is a stop that requires work.
You donít have to do this alone. Most of us have been through this, ourselves. In fact, 80-95% of us are STILL going through it.
The remaining 5-20% of us who are NOT going through this anymore are a minority, but weíre right here on SparkPeople.com, and we want to help.
The AG&M+TM team has lots of people who understand what this cycle is like, and we also understand what weíve needed to do to break it.
- It requires wrapping your mind around maintenance, well before you reach your goal. The ride isnít going to stop for you, so you have to plan where youíre going to jump off and how, without hurting yourself.
- You will be dizzy and need to sit down and wait a bit for the world to stop spinning.
- Then you will need to start taking the first wobbly steps you planned for staying at your desired place.
We can help you with all of that.
And we can help you (as we routinely help each other) to stay focused and engaged so that all of us are less likely to slide back onto that exhausting ride. And if we start slipping, everyone reaches their hands out to help pull us back onto solid ground.
Come see us.
And bring your friends. We may be a minority here on SparkPeople.com, but what we have to offer is huge. We can offer our help and experience with the one thing that ALL of the weight loss folks here aspire to - a way to get off and stay off the merry-go-round.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
I was saddened to see a feature on the front page of SparkPeople.com today.
It is a feature that was written five years ago (the first comments date back to November 2007) listing 5 "secrets" of the "elusive" 5% of successful maintainers. Who "prefer to stay relatively unknown."
Although I am glad they recycle this column at all (at least it addresses maintenance), I am very sorry to hear that our At Goal and Maintaining team of 16,300 is practically invisible.
I am sorry that the community at SparkPeople.com are exposed to a 5-year old feature every six months that lists strategies with no scientific basis, and no links for people seeking additional help or information about maintenance. A feature that portrays maintainers as people who would prefer to stay in the shadows and keep to themselves. This is a disservice. We can do so much better.
Three weeks ago I burned a perfectly good vacation day off work that I would have preferred to spend kayaking so I could go on national TV (at SP's request) and advertise them and address maintenance.
That doesn't include the time it took to drive an hour each way to two different local affiliates to record the audio part of the segment, gas money for those trips and to the airport, not to mention airport parking fees, the cost of buying healthy meals in Manhattan, etc. The flight, transport between the airport and the hotel, and one night at a hotel were paid for.
Nor does this include the humiliation of having all those very unflattering "before" photos available to the world. On the internet. Forever. Post weight-loss discrimination exists, and I have exposed myself to it. See this reference if you do not believe me. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2
Yet I was glad to do all of this, because I think raising the visibility of maintenance is that important.
SparkPeople.com have said that they were very happy with the segment, and that lots of people have joined because of it.
It is just so very disappointing after all this to see SparkPeople.com now put up an old feature that says maintainers are invisible and secretive. What are we? Chopped liver?
Thank God we maintainers have each other. Because sometimes it sure feels like we're all we've got.
At the very least I would like to see this feature updated with a link to the maintenance teams. Or a link to the somewhat dusty and self-contradictory "Maintaining Your New Weight" Lifestyle Center.
Many of us absolutely do NOT hide away in the shadows, forcing others to figure it out on their own, keeping our "secrets" to ourselves. We would like to help folks so that the statistics do not have to be so dismal, in the first place.
Our longest term maintainer, NELLJONES (41 years and counting), sticks around expressly for the purpose of helping the rest of us out.
I firmly believe that 5% success is the current stat with the current climate and resources and tools available. I think if we can build a supportive maintenance environment to prepare people for the issues they will be facing and help catch them when they fall, that we can change those statistics.
Heck, it helps me, just being able to see that other people are DOING IT day after day after day, for years, through good times and struggles, and hearing about how they feel and cope in the process.
Like those tiny little Whos no one believed existed on Horton's dust speck, perhaps we maintainers need to post comments on that feature, saying "WE ARE HERE! WE ARE HERE! WE ARE HERE!"
Because a person is a person, no matter how small.
Wednesday, August 01, 2012
I believe maintenance can be learned. Iíve been at this for over two and half years, and I seem to be getting better at it. Hereís a way of looking at my progress in terms of what is going on in my head at any given time. See the bottom of this post for a related blog post about framing my progress in terms of levels of maintenance.
Over the past 2+ years Iíve noticed some phases that I seem to go through. I donít think I ever saw these phases so clearly before because I never got this far in maintenance in the first place. This time around is different because I havenít given up - Iíve persisted enough to gain some longer perspective. And I have some very good buddies who keep an eye on me and offer up tuff love on the occasions I need it.
Phases of Maintenance
1) Honeymoon Phase
ďWoo hoo! Iím smaller! I can wear normal-sized clothes! Who IS that person in the mirror, anyway?!Ē
ďWait a minute, what should I be eating, now? How much should I be eating now?Ē
2) Is this it?
ďIs this all there is?Ē
ďHow come my life isnít magically better in all aspects?Ē
ďSure I look better and can move better, but this sure feels like a lot of work. Can I stop tracking, now?Ē
3) Regain. Ouch.
ďMaybe Itís just water gain. Maybe this is just normal fluctuation. Maybe the goal weight Iíd picked isnít sustainable.Ē
ďOMG, itís starting all over again. Iím going back to square one, I can feel it. Iím going to gain it all back again! Damn, damn, damn.Ē
ďDo I have enough courage to admit thereís a problem and I need to track more carefully and increase my exercise?Ē
4) Re-loss. Sigh.
ďWell, this situation isnít pretty, but itís reality. At least I know how to get the weight back off. Ugh.Ē
ďI canít believe I let this get away from me. Never again.Ē
5) Yay, Iím finally back in my ďHappy Range.Ē
ďThis isnít as exciting as it was the first time I was here, but itís nice in a homey sort of way. I like wearing my favorite jeans.Ē
ďYeah, tracking is a pain, but I like my life at this size, so Iím gonna do it.Ē
6) Body Recomposition and new goals.
ďI wonder if I could benefit from skin removal?Ē
ďWhat about body fat and muscle? How can I manipulate them?Ē
ďI wonder if I would prefer to be more (or fewer) pounds?Ē
ďWhat would it be like to run a marathon? Squat more than my body weight? Kayak cleanly down a class IV-V river?Ē
You can see a graphic example of these phases here:
Phase 1 (Honeymoon) happened once to me in this most recent bout of weight loss. It lasted about 6 months, from January 2010 until June 2010. By June 2010 Iíd slid thoroughly into Phase 2 (Is this it?).
I stayed in Phases 2 (Is this it?) - 3 (Regain) until around March 2011, with the result that I regained about 30 lbs. At that point I went into Phase 4 (Re-loss). I seem to have amazing abilities to sit around and watch myself gain weight in Phase 3 (Regain) and KNOW what to do about it, but delay flipping the switch and going into Phase 4 (Re-loss). :-/
I reached Phase 5 (Happy Range) briefly in June of 2011, only to cycle back into Phases 2-3 with the result that I regained 20 lbs by September. At which point I went back into Phase 4 again, and returned to Phase 5 in December 2011.
As you can see from the chart, I have continued to cycle through Phases 2-5, but every time the ďbumpĒ up in weight is smaller, and the length of the cycle is smaller too.
Phase 6 (Body recomposition) has been kind of going on throughout the process, but I seem to focus on recomposition more when the overall weight is stable in Phase 5.
The reason I think Iím getting better at this is because over the past 2+ years I seem to be spending more time in Phases 5 and 6 and less time cycling through Phases 2-4.
I am spending more of my time with my head in the game and my eyes on the prize, doing the work I need to do in order to keep myself where I like to be. It isnít necessarily less effort, but itís certainly becoming less of a struggle to make myself do it.
Here is a related blog post about learning maintenance framing the subject in terms of definition and stringency:
...and here is a similar recent blog post by THETURTLEBEAR who has been fortunate not to get stuck in any cycles:
Wednesday, August 01, 2012
I believe maintenance can be learned. Iíve been at this now for over two and half years, and I seem to be getting better at it. Hereís one way of looking at my progress, based on the number on the scale. See the bottom of this post for a link about how I frame my progress in terms of mental phases.
There are various levels of maintenance. You can define weight maintenance in many ways. www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
I have several nested weight-based definitions Iíve been using.
1) Keeping off at least 10% of my original weight (under 302 lbs)
Iíve managed this since January 2010. This is the broadest definition I use when Iím talking about my overall maintenance path since losing the weight in 2009. Iíve been within this definition consistently since January 2010.
2) Keeping under 160 lbs, with attention paid to body composition.
This was my original goal, since at this weight my BMI is under 25. I removed the emphasis on BMI in order to be consistent with my more recent philosophy that any BMI under 30 can be considered ďhealthyĒ (since BMI doesnít account for muscle mass or bone weight). I like how I look and feel here. When I am above 160 itís usually because I have more fat on me.
Iíve been inside and outside of this range since January 2010. I had a 4-month streak within that range January 2010-April 2010. Then I gained out of this range. I briefly dropped back under 160 in June 2011. Then I regained. I again dropped back under in December 2011 and Iíve managed to stay here for the past 8 months. In two weeks Iíll have managed 9 months here. Iím shooting for a year - that will be an accomplishment, for sure.
3) Keeping within +/- 3% around 150 lbs (145.5 -154.5)
This is the most stringent definition that I use. Itís based on the paper described here:
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=4924102 . Itís also the definition we use for the maintenance challenges in the At Goal and Maintaining Team teams.sparkpeople.com/maintaining .
My central goal weight has slowly dropped. At first it was 155 (150.4-159.7), then it was 152.5 (147.9-157.1), and now itís 150. Iíve discovered that I can do more stuff in my kayak at a smaller size, so thatís where I like to be. As with the previous definition, if I weigh more than this range itís usually because I have more fat on me.
So far I havenít yet managed to stay within my chosen +/- 3% weight range during one of our team maintenance challenges. I keep trying, though, and I think Iím getting better at doing it. We just started a new one this month, and Iím going to do my best to hang in there for the next 12 weeks. Part of the reason I run these challenges is to give myself the accountability and motivation to keep working at it.
The good news is that I am getting better at staying within a goal weight range, with less and less fluctuation. There are people on the At Goal and Maintaining team who consistently manage this, so I know itís possible. And since I am getting better at it, I think itís reasonable to assume that if I keep working at it, one day I can be one of them, too.
Perhaps in a couple of years Iíll discover I like life better at a higher weight or a lower one, or maybe Iíll have found a more accurate way to assess body composition and that will become how I gauge maintenance. But for now, watching the scale and my % body fat and my athletic performance suffices.
(Update and clarification; I DO track my body composition, and here is a post explaining how: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
Here is a related blog post about learning maintenance, framing it in terms of mental phases:
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