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    4A-HEALTHY-BMI   47,870
40,000-49,999 SparkPoints

Rockstars of Maintenance

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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!!!!
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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.
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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'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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LADY_MARIANA 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!


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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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Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.