Wednesday, August 15, 2012
This is not the first time I've had these thoughts so for anyone who has read this before I apologize in advance and hope to be adding something new this time around. These thoughts about maintenance come around every couple of months, usually prompted by reading about weight maintenance somewhere, sometimes by the concept of maintaining in another arena of life: fitness, health, finances, knowledge, relationships etc.
On the surface it seems like maintaining is a good thing, definitely better than going downhill (whatever the hill is) and probably also better than going uphill too fast.
But still, maintaining sounds an awful lot like stagnating, which sounds an awful lot like stale which sounds a lot less desirable and possibly very boring and even harmful.
When it comes to maintenance of weight most people don't really mean just weight. They often assume that health and fitness are included and related. They may even think emotional/mental health as part of the package. The reason is that many people feel overall healthier and happier when they lose a significant amount of excessive body weight/body fat. While losing is improvement, not just maintaining the status quo, maintaining means staying the same. But don't we always want to improve?
So how does someone who reaches their goal weight continue to improve? Maybe they will set a new goal weight, a little lower than they previously thought reasonable or possible. But at some point weight loss is no longer desirable and healthy. So what to do next? Just staying in the same place? Is some of the difficulty of weight maintenance due to the fact that weight loss is a MAJOR LIFE GOAL, sometimes life saving, that takes a huge amount of attention and energy and can give us a long-term focus and purpose. It can be somewhat like raising children. While they are at home they are all-consuming, taking first priority a lot of the time, sometimes to the detriment of other important aspects of life. When the kids are raised and ready to leave the nest, there is an emptiness, a lack of purpose and a lack of focus for a while. This may not be a lack of goals and desires at all, but mostly an emotional state that is brought about by the change. The goals may be there but the desire to reach for them may still be lacking. Maybe we feel that we deserve a long break and treat ourselves well (not always in healthy ways).
So how do we get from that phase in life to the next one, one of being passionate about new goals, new purposes, new joy in life?
For me it has to do with giving to others, sharing what I have learned, being an example when I can be, sharing my struggles to make it easier for others to accept their own.
Weight maintenance is no longer a goal for me, no more than maintaining a regular exercise routine. It has become a natural part of me, in a different way than for someone else as we are all different. It does not require conscious planning and thought any more. It is as natural as driving my car without thinking about pushing the gas pedal and break pedal down, turning the steering wheel right and left or turning turn signals on and off. I am now teaching my 15-year-old daughter the principles of healthy eating just like I will teach her how to drive a car in the coming year. Teaching someone else will bring those things that I do naturally now back into my conscious mind where I reflect upon them again, maybe tweaking small things here and there. But I feel free to go where I want to go. And that freedom is what it is really all about. I had it to start with and now I have gained it back, knowing that I will never lose it again.